Author: Marshall Thornton
Publisher: Self Published
Beverley’s Rating: 3.75 of 5 Stars
Ulysses’s Rating: 4.0 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 04/17/2015
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: BDSM, Contemporary, Erotica, Gay Fiction, Humor/Comedy, M/M Romance
Before Kim Kardashian broke the Internet with her butt, Peter “Praline” Palmetier brought it crashing down with his own bubblicious booty. When he falls in love with a reality TV show contestant, Praline leaves his home in rural Georgia and—failing to recognized this might be considered stalking—travels to Hollywood to find and meet his soul mate, Dave G. Once in Tinseltown, he encounters a collection of startling, and often horny, characters in his quest. They include a studly steward, the Godfather of the Gay Mafia, a bondage-crazed landlord and casting assistant Jason Friedman, who always manages to be there in time to save Praline from total disaster. But it is conservative pundit Malcolm Wright who propels Praline’s derriere into the Internet hall of fame when the two are filmed in the backseat of an SUV. Will Praline eventually realize his dream of becoming a same-sex celebrity spouse? Or will he find everyday, ordinary love?
I loved the ‘idea’ of this novel, and the writing is very good, and confident, although both Ulysses and I noticed a few spelling errors, which should not have made final edit, but nothing to throw one out of the story. This is a romance with erotica, and a lot of humour.
The Perils of Praline, satirises those perils of the 21st century; reality television, celebrity culture, and easily obtained no strings sex. Reality TV and the celebrity culture have sadly been introduced to all countries who have television. Indeed in England we have our own cross between, Peter ‘Praline’ and Dave G, a lovely young man called ‘Joey Essex’, whose passport through life, like Praline’s, is his appearance, including a ‘bubble butt’. For Joey in his TV show, and Praline in this novel – this mixture of attractiveness, innocence / guilelessness, and lack of obvious intelligence (Joey cannot even tell the time) is a trope cleverly, but for me overly invoked.
This novel is satire, and funny until no longer funny. I do enjoy satire, and here the clever idea of using Voltaire’s Candide to parody, worked very well. The humour was heavily entrenched in American pop culture, but although there were a few programmes or references, which I didn’t get as an Englander, this did not mean I failed to get the joke. The part of the book surrounding the ‘institution’ that is Hollywood, is less problematic for a non-American than it might have been in an earlier time.
Blithely, Praline falls from one sexual adventure to another en route to finding his ‘beloved’, who he believes is the attractive Dave G., a man Praline has only seen on television. It did make for a light hearted way to look into a number of first world issues and there is a sweet romance lurking. I think a small problem might have to do with the book’s assumption that the reader understands the idea of a ‘young southern gentleman’, in the same way as the author does.
I loved our programme Educating Joey Essex, but after the first few episodes, the joke wore a little thin. I’m afraid I felt this about The Perils of Praline too.
Beverley Jansen thought it would be a good idea for us to team-review this 2010 book from Marshall Thornton. Not only is this picaresque sex comedy entirely different from Thornton’s moody “Boys Town” detective series, but it falls into a special category of novel, a darkly funny in-joke about Hollywood, that peculiar American institution. The closest thing to this that I’ve read recently is Joel Perry’s “Stealing Arthur,” also set in Hollywood (reviewed on 2/27 here on the Prism Book Alliance). “Perils of Praline” is less cynical than Perry’s book, but really only because of the lack of actual bloodshed and also due to the singular personality of Peter “Praline” Palmetier himself.
Praline is a sweet, pretty southern blond boy with a bubble butt and a moral compass that, while not actually broken, is severely misaligned. Raised with unwavering devotion by an evangelical pot-dealer in rural somewhere, America, everything Praline knows has been gleaned through the internet and watching reality television. One of the things he knows most surely is that he is in love with Dave G., a perfectly beautiful participant in a reality show called “Housebound.” Accordingly, he sets off for Hollywood to find his beloved and begin his life as a same-sex celebrity spouse.
As the subtitle suggests, Praline is barely off the plane when he begins a series of sexual misadventures that will take him through the peaks and valleys of The Industry. While I can see myself being offended by Praline’s casual approach to sex if he had been written in a different way, it is Praline’s innate sweetness, his innocence (to the point of imbecility), and his deeply-rooted desire to be polite to everyone that ultimately make him fully lovable. His peculiar moral direction is guided by his desire not to hurt anyone, including his accidental roommate, Jason. Jason is the cynical Greek chorus in this book, the disappointed Hollywood insider steeped in despair over his own dead-end career. He tries (mostly in vain) to keep Praline out of trouble, even as he refuses to have sex with him.
Praline is joyful in his love of sex, which makes his escapades both erotic and endearing. His inability to separate sex from love (or, sometimes, right from wrong) seems to be based on his spectacularly bad education on both points.
Just think for a moment: Praline=Candy=Candied=Candide. Praline is the modern-day Candide, wreaking inadvertent havoc as he hunts for his true love in a world he honestly believes to be the best of all possible worlds.
My team-reviewer Beverley Jansen might find parts of Thornton’s novel confusing. It is very American in its pop-culture references, and very familiar for anyone who, for example, watched the TV series “Entourage” a few years back (or, for that matter “The Beverly Hillbillies” back in the 1960s). Conversely, I recently read Jonathan Kennedy’s marvelous “Patti DeVere and the Case of the Missing Slingbacks,” which is a gay detective comedy set in the heart of Wales. It was a true lesson in the fascinating cultural differences within the English-speaking world, and had me scratching my head as much as it made me laugh.
“The Perils of Praline” is both very naughty and completely heartfelt. It is a darkly contemptuous view of an industry I personally despise for its treatment of gay people, and yet in the end offers a lesson in optimism and human kindness that surprised and moved me.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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