Monday, December 16, 2019

Opening(s): An Education

When Salvador Dalí was asked about Fred Halstead's fisting classic L.A. Plays Itself showing at MoMA, he is said to have exclaimed, "New information for me." If, like Dalí, fisting is new information to you, then artist William E. Jones' I'm Open to Anything, published by We Heard You Like Books in 2019, wants to be your introductory text.

Jones' 169-page novel is a literary primer of sorts on the art of fisting. No, not the actual act itself, but the literary and artistic art of the act. The book's plot is spare: queer Midwest boy escapes the Rust Belt, ends up in Los Angeles, and becomes a skilled fisting partner to the Latino men in the immigrant communities there. It's seeped in the derelict L.A. of the late 1980s and early '90s that no longer exists.

But the book's potency is found more in the protagonist's musings and conversations with his friends and lovers. Heir to the quasi-pornographic literary legacies of writers like Jean Genet and Georges Bataille, Jones revels in his ability to deliberate with articulate insight on topics ranging from the material conditions of the porn industry to the political machinations behind the Central American crisis. This book also contains some of the shrewdest film analysis you'll find in any form, but especially that of a novel.

At its worst, it's well-crafted erotic fiction. At it's best, it's an education. If you read one book about fist fucking this year, make it I'm Open to Anything. It is the perfect antidote to the anodyne garbage that was Call Me by Your Name.

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