Dean Seagrave was having an extraordinary day. All his belongings just went up in smoke, and he's tooling around Los Angeles in a rental car with a handheld tape recorder. The police are on his trail for assaulting an old woman outside a grocery store, or so he was just told by the man in a wheelchair he attacked at Venice Beach. "He's an ...Read MoreDean Seagrave was having an extraordinary day. All his belongings just went up in smoke, and he's tooling around Los Angeles in a rental car with a handheld tape recorder. The police are on his trail for assaulting an old woman outside a grocery store, or so he was just told by the man in a wheelchair he attacked at Venice Beach. "He's an emotional serial killer," he says, explaining his frenzied quest for Pablo Ortega, his lover, who disappeared one night going out for cigarettes. But what bothers Dean more is Pablo's connection to a cult, all the disappearing animals, and the story about torture in Chile. Problem is, Dean might be crazy. Or everyone might be lying. But now Dean has a machete (because the chainsaw made too much noise), and he just found Pablo. James Robert Baker is the author of four other novels: Tim & Pete, Boy Wonder, Fuel Injected Dreams, and Right Wing (published on the Internet). His sixth novel, "Testosterone," will be published by Alyson in October 2000. On November 5, 1997, he committed suicide.Read Less
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Testosterone burns with a frantic energy that is difficult to explain. Told through a series of audio tapes instead of chapters, the story burns rubber from page one and skids to a frightening, abrupt stop at the end. The narrative, as told through the voice of Dean Seagrave as he drives through LA in search of Pablo Ortega, has a stream of consciousness feel as if I was reading a lunatic's rant, and I possibly may have. It's remains a bit unclear by the close of the novel. At first I started off sympathizing with Dean, I mean who hasn't been uncremoniously dumped? Then as event by disturbing event unfolds I began to question Dean's motives. Does he really have to kill Pablo? Is Pablo really involved in palo mayombe? Does Dean have to take such drastic actions to get answers? By the end I was unsure if should hate Dean, feel sorry for him or if everything that he told me was just an overactive fever dream of a drugged up obsessive mind. That's what makes this such a brilliant novel. I couldn't put it down.
The narrative as told through audio tapes may come across to some as a gimmick that wears thin and is difficult to follow. I found it compelling, as if Dean was telling me the story through his tapes. Every time he stops the tape and then continues his narrative minutes or sometimes hours after he left off, there was this edge of your seat sense of anticipation that I felt. I think expecting anything more than pure entertainment from Testosterone, like some underlying message about homosexuality or obsession or something like that, is a huge mistake. This is pure entertainment.
Definitely one of the bleakest of Baker's novels, possibly influenced by Baker's state of mind when he wrote this but it 's also one of his best as well.
A caveat: steer clear from the awful movie version of this book. Outside of using the same character names it bears no resemblance to the novel.
Publishers Weekly, 2000-09-08 Controversial gay cult author/filmmaker Baker (Tim & Pete) committed suicide in 1997, but left behind this previously unpublished novel, an amalgam of inner torment, sexual addiction, lost love and angry retribution. Revised, edited and updated for prime time, the novel consists of the transcripts of tapes dictated by harried protagonist Dean Seagrave describing a tumultuous, frenetic Los Angeles odyssey. In the middle of the night, Seagrave's house is set on fire, sending him on a quest to find the guilty party. But he already suspects the culprit is his missing lover, Pablo, who went out for cigarettes one day and never returned. Hopped up on drugs and rage, and carrying a Glock, Seagrave embarks on a hunt to find (and murder) his errant boyfriend, starting with random visits to mutual friends. His search turns violent when he happens first upon Pablo's best friend, Calvin, a wheelchair-bound AIDS victim, and then upon Pablo's terrified mother, and attempts to physically shake answers out of each of them. As his search progresses, Seagrave finds a series of sinister clues to Pablo's mysterious past: a home video of a missing, mutilated pet; a secret apartment stocked with bondage equipment; and evidence that Pablo has ties to a demonic cult. Still, it's never clear quite what is true and what isn't, and by the time the tale builds up to its ultra-violent, surrealistic conclusion, Seagrave has proved himself a wholly untrustworthy narrator. Baker is adept at generating suspense, and he exhibits a sharp wit when ruminating on gay culture. But the tape-transcript device is tired, and reading Baker's high-strung prose style is often like eavesdropping on an overcaffeinated cell-phone conversation. Still, this is a fitting if flawed valedictory effort. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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