Kearnes, Thomas. “Texas Crude: Stories”, Lethe Press, 2019.
Sordid Passions, Literary Porn
Thomas Kearnes’s collection of short stories, “Texas Crude” is quite bold and transgressive. Our characters here are fueled by alcohol and drugs in an atmosphere where maturity is eschewed. The landscape is one of roadside bars and western vistas populated with men looking for sexual release with other men or just plain rest.
Loaded with “smut” and “camp”, we still see humanity but of a different kind and that is man was not meant to be alone. Here the men want to give themselves to each other and sometimes that comes only with the help of crystal meth. Love, if it is indeed love, comes uneasily or not at all. It all seems to be for the pursuit of happiness, be at momentary or long range.
This is erotica and therefore should not shock yet it still manages to do so. The prose is compelling reading and I found myself turning pages quickly thinking that no one should know that I read porn. But there is also what I call “literary porn” and that is what I think “Texas Crude” is.
When we begin to read the early stories, we meet unsavory, unlikeable characters who are shallow and totally pretentious. The men are blue-collar, young, white Texans whose only goals are sexual. But that changes about halfway-through and once into the collection, I find myself really into the action. Here is a book where the men all seem to be transgressive yet with sense and desires. The writing becomes very candid and the stories become very interesting. Living on the edge characters are not for everyone.