Tuesday, January 3, 2017

by Alec Butler 

In Alec Butler’s Rough Paradise (Quattro Books, 2014) there is a fable/parable like quality that uses the authors seamless knack for creating a frolicking air that wafts though a tragic - yet somehow uplifting - series of events.

Like Butler’s seminal play Black Friday, nominated for a Governor General’s award in 1991, dialogue rolls off the tongues and through the thought processes of provocative and loveable protagonists like rhythmic love lists wrought from the consciousness of people constantly fleeing from the drudgery of oppressive perception, violent taunts, and restrictive sex/gender labels. Aboriginal images and stories mix with the presence of Tiresias, Sappho, and Artemis - making the overall narrative a rich tapestry of mythology, folklore, and profound historical/familial knowledge passed down through the ages yet not so easily retrievable in an environment that only honours present greed and buries past hope.

The writing is seamless and breakneck as the reader is propelled thorough 124 pages of relentless pursuit and retreat. In a quick exchange, one fell swoop, Butler manages to engage with playful language that quickly and concisely spells out the gender being simultaneously embraced, resisted, and re-arranged into a more comfortable space for bodies to live, breathe, and fuck within - 

as usual, Darla knows just what to say; “Ummm, nice man boobs, Pussy Boy. Let’s call them ‘moobs’ shall we? Or would you prefer chesticals?” We laugh so hard we piss ourselves, literally. We are a hot, wet teenage mess…

And then there’s the erotic segments. Not to be missed as Darla and Terry find a way to spell out the love that dare not speak it’s name in an environment where the syntax of sexuality is a restrictive two pronged pitchfork that destroys difference and flattens the potential diversity that transgendered experience embraces.

I love fucking the silken walls of her pussy, steady and firm, in control, as she writhes on the end of my arm. Amazed when she comes, squeezing my fingers inside her, over and over. My hand is soaked with juices. It smells like strawberries…

Or the very direct missives between lovers when the question of gender is posed in a world that makes room for only the most traditional socio-sexual gender formations. 

If you feel like a boy, you’re a boy. Doesn’t matter if your father makes you wear a dress or if he makes you shave. It’s how you feel inside that counts.

If Rough Paradise wasn’t so X-Rated it would be a young adult novel written for all ages. In the right hands it can be both, passed among readers as an accessible, joyful, painful, fast paced read that re-affirms one’s belief in hope for future genders - future sex…

Alec Butler's film trilogy "Misadventures of Pussy Boy" where the character of Pussy Boy from Rough Paradise originated, won the best short/audience favourite at TranScreen (International Transgender Film Festival, Amsterdam) for further info about Alec Butler's work see www.alecbutler.com 


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