Permanent Obscurity by Richard Perez

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Book: Permanent Obscurity: Or a Cautionary Tale of Two Girls & Their Misadventures with Drugs, Pornography and Death

Author: Richard Perez

Type of Book: Fiction, transgressive (sort of)

Why Do I Consider This Book: The content is outre at times.

Availability: Published by Ludlow Press in 2010, you can get a copy here:

Comments: I’m in a slump. I don’t mind admitting it. I find myself reading mainstream fiction and sewing cat toys (if you want some, send me an e-mail). I look at the stack of odd books I need to discuss and I decide it’s time to clean the toilet or watch another barely coherent horror movie, and since Mr. Oddbooks got one of those Apple TV things, I have plenty. Lots and lots of really cheesy, really stupid horror movies. And every one of them seems more appealing than discussing books.

Is it a phase? Is my slump due to the fact that the drought caused the back of my house to sink an inch into the dried clay? Is it because I wake up every morning with a primitive need to pray to Tlaloc, begging him to just let it rain already? I’m not to the point that I’ll consider human sacrifice but I can see how it might come to that if this fucking summer will not end. Perhaps I will feel more kindly disposed toward my stack of oddness once the weather finally breaks and I can go outside without needing to go to the hospital after five minutes or so. Perhaps…

So I’m totally forcing myself to discuss books when I really want to be figuring out how to make my catnip fabric fortune cookies more realistic. And you should bear in mind this shitty mood of mine as you read any book discussion that occurs before Central Texas gets five inches of rain and goes two weeks without hitting 100 degrees.

Okay, Permanent Obscurity is not a bad book but it is not a good book either. The protagonist, in addition to lacking self-awareness, is one of the most tiresome, irritating, foolhardy, aggressive heroines you will ever read. She is best friends with a sociopathic, self-absorbed sadist. Together, the two of them, in the bowels of New York, decide to escape from the terrible financial situation they find themselves in by making a porno. Oh yeah, they owe a ton of money to a drug dealer. That should have gone without saying. The porno goes terribly wrong, as you knew it would, ending in a high speed chase and jail time.

The author tries to justify creating characters that irritate and annoy by saying, through the mouth of Dolores:

You better recognize this fact: People are complicated.

People are indeed complicated. Dolores, the heroine, and her friend Serena, are not that complicated, however. There is really only one complicated character in this book, a man called Baby who is in thrall, in a very controlled manner, to Serena. Everyone one else shows clearly how being completely fucked-up often passes for being complicated.

As I read this book, I imagined Dolores, our pregnant and drug abusing heroine, to be what would happen if you crossed the actresses Rosie Perez and Michelle Rodriguez with a fierce, constantly yapping Jack Russell terrier. I imagined Serena, the best friend who is hardly a friend and governed by a psychopathic self-interest, to be what would happen if you crossed Lindsay Lohan and any random porn actress with a Siamese cat.