Permanent Obscurity: Or a Cautionary Tale of Two Girls and
Their Misadventures with Drugs, Pornography and Death
Author: Richard Perez
Published by Ludlow Press
It's tough to decide where to start with this novel. I loved it, I couldn't put it down. The characters and situations invaded my thoughts even when I wasn't reading it. At the same time, it's a bit disturbing, bizzare and odd. Of course, I mean those words in the most complimentary way possible.
Taking place predominately in the East Village, circa 2006, this is the tale of two best friends, Dolores Santana and Serena Moon. Both the bohemian "artsy" types, by most standards they lead very eccentric and random lives. Serena is a performer, she's been a singer in any number of bands, none lasting too long. She does whatever comes along to scratch out the financial means needed to fund her lifestyle. Most of the money she uses comes from Sebastian, aka Baby, a man who serves as a submissive or slave to Mistress Serena's dominating and dominatrix personality. Dolores is an artist, mainly in photo media, and supports her art work and lifestyle with a never ending string of temporary jobs, mind-numbing and soul-stealing jobs, but a necessary evil nonetheless. Raymond is her significant other, an older lawyer who always tries to get Dolores to think more seriously and professionally about her art.
Serena and Dolores are larger than life, two alienated non-conformists, sharing a strange and unusually intense relationship in every sense of the word. In Perez's novel, the girls embark on a mindbending orgy of drugs, petty crime, porn and more, leading to an ending nothing short of inspired and genius.
Using the fetish film subculture that was born in the 60's, mixing in petty and escalatingly more serious crime, recreational drug use and various forms of betrayal, Richard Perez has written an oddly breathtaking view of the directions life can take once you lose control. The characters, even fairly minor ones, are drawn in many dimensions. The novel illustrates profoundly the unusual and sometimes ugly roads we chose to take. While not always easy reading, it's a wholly gratifying story and the characters stay with the reader long after the book is finished. A warning note: more tame souls might be tempted to skip past a paragraph or description here and there, and may think the language is too salty for them. If you can put these feelings aside, you'll be glad you did. I can't wait to read other works by this very promising author. In fact, I am ordering his first novel today, as soon as I complete publication of this review.