Written as a transcript between a mysterious interrogator and an unnamed narrator, Michael Turner's The Pornographer's Poem
is an unusual take on the coming-of-age novel, transforming the standard elements of teen awakening into a sexy and provocative thriller. The teenage narrator and his friend Nettie Smart live in an affluent part of Vancouver, where they discover that beneath the surface, their cushy world is rife with sexual impropriety. A new teacher, Penny Singleton, turns their social studies class into a film studies course, creating in her two young students a keen interest in filmmaking. When the narrator surreptitiously films his bohemian neighbours in a unique sexual performance, the resulting movie becomes a hit in alternative art circles. Despite his best intentions and the intellectual and artistic encouragement of Nettie, who remains his muse even after she goes off to school in England, the narrator is escorted by a charismatic hoodlum named Flynn into the seamy and dangerous world of pornography, where he quickly falls out of his depth.
Michael Turner's punk roots as leader of legendary folk punk group the Hard Rock Miners, gave a truthful ring to his most famous work, Hard Core Logo, a novel that became a feature film by Bruce McDonald. The Pornographer's Poem, which won the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, further reveals Turner as an intelligent and original voice in Canadian fiction. --Moe Berg
From Publishers Weekly
An unnamed narrator recounts his sexual awakening as it relates to porn movies in this odd, inventive and overwrought novel composed of recollections, interrogations, letters, lists and screenplay fragments. At 16, the narrator makes a scratchy Super-8 of his neighbors getting down with their dog and also witnesses his first real porno; after that, he enters the business himself, as a filmmaker and a performer. He and his feminist friend Nettie have a volatile relationship—they fight and make love heatedly and endure long separations. After she gets back from school in England, they start work on a new project, Rich Kid Gang Bang
, which pokes fun at all the fancy folks in their Vancouver neighborhood. That's when they meet the magnetic and psychopathic Flynn—and that's when their previous pornographic escapades begin to look nice and wholesome. Dirty talk and drugs, dreams and reality all swirl around in a strange and sometimes impenetrable world, relayed to the reader by a character who prides himself on his ability to lie, even as he's being interrogated by a mysterious and threatening tribunal.
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