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Spunk Rats

Spunk Rats - Barry Lowe The blurb about this book is just so wrong. The full title of this book is "Spunk Rats: Tales of Sex and Obsession" and the definition of spunk rat is: (noun) (Australian, New Zealand slang) An attractive person (usually male). A male who seeks out semen, sometimes in dark and dingy surroundings.So BE WARNED and don't complain if the practices described here turn you off.Spunkrats is a collection of stories about men with an obsession. It's not a pretty obsession and it's probably not a healthy one. But look behind the guy with the obsession at the characters and the world they inhabit. All your senses become involved:I expected the smell of stale piss, sperm and urinal cakes, although most of those had disintegrated long ago and had never been replaced, I suspect, because they were too Princess and the Pea lumpy for those of a sensitive disposition who liked to lie in the stainless steel urinal. Nor was the smell that of rampant testosterone. I sniffed again.“Some demented queen has adorned the place with air fresheners,” a voice beside me whispered.“Mm, sure is minty fresh,” another hissed not altogether in approval. Barry's prose is deliberately convoluted at times, using long words and stilted phrasing. Sarcasm being one of the biggest guns in his arsenal (pun intended).As I mentioned in my review of "Love and the Odor of Red Leatherette" in appreciating Barry's writing, you really need to understand the man and his times. Now 63, Barry was "out" in the days when homosexuality was illegal.Those were the days when if you were gay you had to hide it. Sex was furtive fumblings in the fringes: seedy clubs, dark alleys, cars, toilet blocks, parks, the beats. It would have felt like them against the world.Secondly, it's important to understand that Barry doesn't write m/m romance. He writes gay erotica and originally wrote them for men only. So included in his stories are many sexual practices that most women find it difficult to stomach. Licking up semen off dirty floors, multiple partners, sex without affection, heck in some ways the less affection there was, the more some guys liked it.They almost felt they didn't deserve any more. Society had been bashing them over the head with the message that their attraction for another man was wrong, so if that man bashed them over the head in the process of having sex, well that was to be expected wasn't it?Don't look for romance in his stories, look for the nitty gritty (and sometimes it will be gritty).Underneath the rough, tough, sarcastic exterior there is a wistful desire that things would have been, could have been different. But there is a need for survivors to chronicle the situation as it really was.Barry writes short stories. Often deliberately so for inclusion in magazines, anthologies. There is no time for emotional or even plot arcs. He is describing a situation, an attitude, making a point. You might not approve or even like the point he's making, but the scenes and pictures he paints are a reminder of what the world was like for them.Since the advent of ebooks and his discovery that women read m/m Barry may be tempted to change the tone of his books, soften them. In a way that would be a pity.Instead of reviewers wishing this book could be different, read and learn what life was like. Being a homosexual in those times was anything but easy. Only the tough survived.