We Review the Self-Published ‘Now That I’m a Ghost, I’m Gay’
“If I was invisible,” Clay Aiken once sang, not quite nailing the subjunctive mood, “then I could just watch you in your room.” That’s from “Invisible,” the first single off his debut, Measure of a Man. Many people have heard that song over the years; just as many people find it incredibly creepy. (The name of the album, alas, doesn’t help.) But let’s be honest here. If you were invisible … wouldn’t you sneak a peek?
That’s what I was thinking about as I read Josh Lark’s self-published erotic short story “Now That I’m a Ghost, I’m Gay.” Which is, let’s just agree upfront, an amazing title. So amazing, in fact, it probably doesn’t even need the parenthetical that follows—“(A Paranormal Sex Straight Seduction Story)”—but I’m not sorry it’s there.
Now, I don’t make a huge practice of reading indie erotic fiction, but I do spend a lot of time on the Tumblr “Kindle Cover Disasters,” which I mine for e-books to review here—“here” being my semi-regular series semi-officially known as “Kindling.” It’s been some time since I posted anything—turns out reading self-published fiction biweekly isn’t super for mental health—but I’ve summered in warmer climes and am now feeling sufficiently recovered to try again.
“Now That I’m a Ghost, I’m Gay,” which I chose mostly on the basis of that title, begins like this: “The most painful event of my life was slowly admitting to myself that I was gay.”
It’s a strong start.
Second sentence: “The second most painful event of my life was probably getting thrown off my bike by a speeding pickup truck on the scenic route around campus into a tree that shattered my skull and killed me.”
Even stronger. (Well, except in the sense of “what doesn’t kill you,” etc., since he’s technically not stronger. He’s dead.) As is sometimes not the case in e-books, these sentences are actually sentences. Notice the almost Didionesque way Lark breaks up the phrase “thrown into a tree” with not one but four prepositional phrases: “ off my bike  by a speeding pickup truck  on the scenic route  around campus.” It’s a very sophisticated semantic strategy. By delaying gratification at the sentence level, Lark foreshadows the exact way in which his narrator, Alex, has been delaying gratification sexually: He has to die before he can finally be gay.
Alex’s best friend and I share a name: Jason. We do not share a body type. Alex’s Jason, for instance, has a “gap between his muscular shoulders.” We know this because Alex, having no doubt internalized Clay Aiken’s message after a misspent youth of listening to Clay Aiken, is watching (invisibly) as Jason steps out of their dorm shower. Yes, Alex has returned as a ghost, and his great unfinished business is, well, finishing inside Jason. But Jason didn’t even know Alex was gay before the accident. As Alex says: “The thing that broke my heart even before a pine tree broke my skull and spine and a dozen other bones was that I would never ever know how that conversation would have gone.” It’s moving, in much the way the pickup was moving when it slammed into poor Alex.
If you think sex is gratuitous, “Now That I’m a Ghost, I’m Gay” is just 3,900 words—you can probably read it in less time than it takes to watch an HBO sex scene. And this might even be a more fulfilling (if similarly NSFW) experience. In finding new ways to pleasure his flesh-and-blood man, Alex goes deeper than any human being has ever gone before. Hey, love is love. Call it the new (para)normal. (And if you want more, Lark’s author page on Amazon is a veritable Fifty Shades of GAY. See, for instance, “The Samurai and the Dragon,” which he describes as a “gay shapeshifter Asian folktale about a dragon god punishing a cruel samurai warrior with anal sex.” Other notables: “Anal Sex at Area 51” and “Sucking Out the Snakebite.”)
And don’t just take my word for it: Both Amazon reviewers gave “Now That I’m a Ghost, I’m Gay” five stars! That includes A. Wolf, a “very old man” who “gave up a few years ago and started having lots of sex with other men (most of whom are also straight like me).” That’s what I call a success story. Nobody should have to die before they get to sleep with the man—or men—of their dreams.