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Soma [Paperback]

Kemble Scott

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Book Description

Jan. 30 2007
Welcome To The Neighborhood

To outsiders, San Francisco is all one big city. But to those in the know, there is SoMa, South of Market, where sleek eateries are squeezed between bail bonds storefronts and high-priced lofts look out over still rough edges. It's home to a generation of hipsters disillusioned by the dotcom bust, restless and searching for the next thrill, the next high, the next step too far. Sex, drugs, kink--you can find it anywhere in SoMa, if you know where to look. But first, you'll need your tour guides. There's Raphe, a writer torn between two worlds, belonging to neither. Lauren, the poor little rich girl living on the edge and pushing farther out. Mark, beautiful and cruel, who lives for games, the more extreme, the better. Baptiste, hot, smooth, and maybe as real as it gets. And Julie, both an object of desire and a pretty pawn to be played.

In a glittering, surreal subculture of private sex clubs and kept boys, identity theft and betrayal, nihilism, redemption, and sometimes love, they're spinning out of control and into each other's orbits, desperately looking for something real--something that will show them who they really are. In this provocative, intense novel, Kemble Scott puts a new neighborhood on the literary map for good, in a tale that is disturbing, gritty, wholly original, and utterly unforgettable.

Praise for SoMa and Kemble Scott:

"Scott provides us with an insider's look at a little known and gritty underground world. . .Shockingly, his raw and gritty account of this dark world is all true, which makes for an even more fun ride." --Andy Behrman, bestselling author of Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania

"I read the first page of SoMa and never put it down until I read the last page. . .I know people who are less real than these characters." --Joe Quirk, bestselling author of The Ultimate Rush

"SoMa tells. . .what's really happening in San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood. . .It's one man's story of a twisted journey and compromised redemption. San Francisco can be a city of extremes, and we see one here." --Craig Newmark, Creator of Craigslist

Kemble Scott is the pen name of a successful and influential journalist. Using this pseudonym, Kemble is a writer and editor at San Francisco's subculture e-zine, SoMa Literary Review. In the non-fiction world of television news, he has been honored with three Emmy awards and is an alumnus of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington (Jan. 30 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0758215495
  • ISBN-13: 978-0758215499
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 14 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,546,672 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Scott, the pseudonym of a Bay Area journalist, has compiled a fun, frisky novel of shock horror from a grab bag of urban legends, but it's somewhat spoiled by Scott's spin on the material as a Graham Greene-esque spiritual journey. In San Francisco, realtors and developers call the bohemian district that lies South of Market Street "SoMa," trusting that a trendy acronym will boost condo sales in a squalid neighborhood. Would be-writer Raphe survives the crash by manning a penis enlargement scam joint while testing the limits of his sexuality in the "anything goes" SoMa sex world. When a homeboy roue, Baptiste, shows interest, Raphe can't help but perk up and love him back, finally coming out in an explosive sex encounter. Simultaneously, Raphe pines for stylish, redheaded Julie, a successful web executive who persuades him to begin what turns out to be an addictive regime of high colonics. Will bisexuality suffice, or will Raphe's anomie seek bigger thrills? In separate subplots, a sadistic millionaire, Mark Hazodo, plays dangerous games with unprotected "bareback" sex, while two comic suburbanites, Lauren and Jessica, crash private sex clubs and erotic shows (like "Bondage a Go Go") in search of excitement. Raphe eventually novelizes his own hesitant journey from white bread to pansexual potlatch, and the top-level conceit is that the book one is reading is the book he'll be writing. Scott can turn an amusing phrase and has his ear to the underground of the sexual revolution, but his characters are thin as shadows and his story gets unbelievable very quickly.
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  17 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exploring a unique neighborhead and sexual mindset March 7 2007
By Bob Lind - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It is said that those who relocate to San Francisco start off with a blank slate, and are free to explore their dreams and desires, from the practical to fetishes. The latter is more likely to be explored in an area of the city known as SoMa, for South-of-Market, which is the setting for this novel.

SoMa follows a small group of gay and straight characters through their explorations into the sexual carnival of that area's sex clubs, hookups, underworld connections, personal ads and creative cruising options. Raphe is a young gay man, a would-be writer who lost his job in the dot-com bust, is working under-the-table at a sleazy mail-drop storefront, and is disturbed by his unexpected attractions to other men. Lauren is a spoiled yuppie from an East Bay suburb, who drags her best friend Jessica out to explore SoMa clubs with names like "Bondage a Go Go", looking for excitement and memorable sexual experiences, but getting more than she bargained for. Mark is an Asian-American gay boy who is the head of a successful video game empire, which he has danger of losing if he doesn't rein in his wild sexual compulsions. Their paths intersect at various points, usually in the context of a sexual escapade or two, but the author is skilled at making them more than one-dimensional party boys or girls, and delivers vivid characterizations that tunes into their underlying insecurities and needs.

Not for the squeemish, SoMa is definitely explicit in its depictions of S&M and similar fetishes, but doesn't detract from the underlying development of the progress of the characters. A noteable first novel from an author I will choose again. Four stars out of five.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SoMa is Mesmerizing April 13 2009
By Teresa LeYung-Ryan - Published on
"SoMa by Kemble Scott is one engaging tale. So pulled into protagonist Raphe's world (South of Market, San Francisco), I read the first chapters standing not sitting. Scott is a wordsmith. Mesmerizing." [...]
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wild, fun, not to be missed book April 6 2007
By CL - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I just finished Mr. Kemble Scott's book SoMa and am almost sad to be done. In case you don't know, "SoMa" refers to the area in San Francisco that's south of market (kind of like SoHo in NYC...similar names anyway). This is not just one tale, but it's the shared story of multiple characters whose lives cross at key moments throughout the book.

If you're looking for a peek into the underground scene of SoMa, look no further. Then again, I think the book is a kind of peek into all things we don't always talk about aloud - those things we're all a little curious about. Finding the next extreme thrill pops up throughout the story. I won't ruin it, but, trust me, these thrills aren't for the faint of heart. There are all sorts of sexual shenanigans going on if you just scratch the surface a little.

Finding a place to belong amidst all the craziness is perhaps the most enjoyable journey in the book. I love how the author uses sex and the fuzzy lines of sexuality to chip away at something deeper. These characters are unforgettable, and I can't wait to read Mr. Scott's future novels/stories/etc.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Rollercoaster Read Aug. 14 2009
By Alon Shalev - Published on
This is not for the sensitive. SoMa is for those who love San Francisco and the myriad of strands that make up the tapestry of this beautiful city and those who make it their home.

Scott's quality as a writer is to connect us through the depth of his characters, no matter how different and unpredictable they are. His ability to end chapters so superbly, forces you to start the next chapter.

Warning: clear your weekend calendar before beginning this book.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Warning: this book is not for the faint of heart! Jan. 30 2007
By S. Mahaffey - Published on
SoMa by Kemble Scott will make you laugh, it will make you cringe, it will make you blush. If you read it in public watch out! SoMa, the debut novel by Kemble Scott, is a gripping glimpse into the lives of Gen X and Gen Yers who raised in a world of immediacy, find themselves seeking escalating means of stimulation. The book centers around Raphe, the main character who's become debris adrift after the collapse, as he navigates what on the surface appears to be a downward spiral in the South of Market community of San Francisco. But, if you read beneath the surface, you discover an EKG-like motion that makes your heart speed up and slow down until finally you are hooked and turning the pages faster and faster because you want to get to the end as quickly as Raphe does. The book gives deeper meaning to the plight of today's youth and offers social commentary that can't be ignored--is this what happens when people get too much too fast? And if so, what is next? My only question is what does Kemble Scott have for us readers next??

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