[Attention folks near NYC! This Friday, October 12th, 2012, there will be a book release party for Roving Pack at Bluestockings. Details after the review. ]
Roving Pack, the debut novel of writer Sassafras Lowrey, follows a year in the life of Click, a trans kid in Portland navigating the meaning of family, love, longing, and belonging within circles of queer homeless and transient youth. The novel gives voice to a sea of characters that ring so true and familiar to those heard in our queer lives , but are so rarely depicted on LGBT pages. Click’s story begins with a heartbreak and keeps them coming; we follow along in the search to find a stable home for Click’s pack made up of daddies, boys, dogs, cats, and rats (with an occasional femme*) that come and go from Click’s life with the blazing hot intensity that often accompanies our exploration of new adult desires. Click’s sexual desires are honestly depicted by Lowrey in way that is deeply validating – this book fiercely shows the hotness, the complications, and the everyday details of leather and BDSM, as well as transitioning and genderqueer living – but the similarly complicated desires of home and loyalty are the main focus of Click’s story. Every moment is an opportunity for a character to disappoint or surprise both us and Click.
Roving Pack is told in the first-person by Click, with a blend of public online journals, inner friend filters, and the private diary. For those of us who came through the early-adopter Livejournal years, this book is like being included on EVERY filter, and seeing as much in the public face Click presented for the sake of loyalty as you do the private pains of difficult love. This intimate voice pulls you immediately inside the vividly depicted communities of trans and queer youth in Portland and the book soon becomes a compulsive read that quietly devastates you all the way to the end. Immediately upon turning the final page, I missed Click. I still want to hit refresh on my browser to see if another post will appear. And while steeped in contemporary culture and online narrative styles, the novel also reminded me of the smart and ragged intensity of Sarah Schulman’s early novels about dykes and fags in 90s NYC. There’s a universality to Click’s desire to belong, as well as the wish for home and looking for it within the faces of our queer loved ones who are supposed to understand us more than any one else in the world. There is also a shared devastation in those moments when our new queer families let us down. Roving Pack is an emotionally difficult read at times, but I couldn’t turn away from Click, nor from Lowrey’s elegantly rough and direct storytelling. Ze’s writing pairs the passion and authenticity of Click’s voice with sharp observations and strong narrative momentum.
*This book is for every member of the pack, though femmes be warned, Click and various other characters are very butch- and fag-centric, so there are occasionally some opinionated moments of ignorance. While they made me wince, they also felt true to the characters and the community.
Please join us at the official NYC release event for “Roving Pack” to celebrate the publication of this highly anticipated debut novel by Sassafras Lowrey (editor of Kicked Out)
OCTOBER 12, 2012
Bluestockings Bookstore – 172 Allen St. NYC
A. Raymond Johnson is a writer, shiatsuist, DJ, and karaoke aficionado. He received his MFA in Fiction from Antioch University in Los Angeles and has been awarded writing residencies at Ragdale and Millay Colony for his novels-in-progress. He has blogged since 2000, including at Out Magazine’s Popnography and I Fry Mine In Butter. His short story “Tammy Faye” is part of the upcoming book, The Collection (Topside Press, 2012).