Cover image for Perv--a love story
Title:
Perv--a love story
Author:
Stahl, Jerry.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : William Morrow, [1999]

©1999
Physical Description:
341 pages ; 22 cm
Language:
English
Geographic Term:
ISBN:
9780688170943
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

Set in 1970 -- the last, dark days of hippiedom, when everyone was high -- Perv is the story of Bobby Stark, a sixteen-year-old bundle of angst and hormones who loses his virginity in a drug-addled tryst with a one-armed barber's daughter. His best friend, Tennie Toad, rats him out, and Bobby gets kicked out of prep school and shipped to Pittsburgh to live with his mom, a sozzled electroshock aficionado who still can't get over the insult of Bobby's father's suicide-by-streetcar. After myriad weird encounters with his mother's "dates," Bobby flees the horrors of Mom's condo and hooks up with Michelle, the girl of his dreams, a lapsed Hare Krishna-ette he's known since kindergarten. The couple decides, in the spirit of the times, to hitch to San Francisco. But before they make mile one, they're picked up by a pair of Bad Hippies -- Meat and Varnish -- spiritual cousins to Charles Manson. The adventure gets harrowing, as the duo narrowly escape rape, vanquish their assailants, and stagger from Meat's hell-fueled Lincoln Continental transformed, traumatized, and ready, of all things, to fall in love.

Set in 1970 -- the last, dark days of hippiedom, when everyone was high--Perv is the story of Bobby Stark, a sixteen-year-old bundle of angst and hormones who loses his virginity in a drug-addled tryst with a one-armed barber's daughter. His best friend, Tennie Toad, rats him out, and Bobby gets kicked out of prep school and shipped to Pittsburgh to live with his mom, a sozzled electroshock aficionado who still can't get over the insult of Bobby's father's suicide-by-streetcar. After myriad weird encounters with his mother's "dates," Bobby flees the horrors of Mom's condo and hooks up with Michelle, the girl of his dreams, a lapsed Hare Krishna-ette he's known since kindergarten. The couple decides, in the spirit of the times, to hitch to San Francisco. But before they make mile one, they're picked up by a pair of Bad Hippies -- Meat and Varnish -- spiritual cousins to Charles Manson. The adventure gets harrowing, as the duo narrowly escape rape, vanquish their assailants, and stagger from Meat's hell-fueled Lincoln Continental transformed, traumatized, and ready, of all things, to fall in love.

Set in 1970--the last, dark days of hippiedom, when everyone was high--Perv is the story of Bobby Stark, a sixteen-year-old bundle of angst and hormones who loses his virginity in a drug-addled tryst with a one-armed barber's daughter. His best friend, Tennie Toad, rats him out, and Bobby gets kicked out of prep school and shipped to Pittsburgh to live with his mom, a sozzled electroshock aficionado who still can't get over the insult of Bobby's father's suicide-by-streetcar. After myriad weird encounters with his mother's "dates," Bobby flees the horrors of Mom's condo and hooks up with Michelle, the girl of his dreams, a lapsed Hare Krishna-ette he's known since kindergarten. The couple decides, in the spirit of the times, to hitch to San Francisco. But before they make mile one, they're picked up by a pair of Bad Hippies--Meat and Varnish--spiritual cousins to Charles Manson. The adventure gets harrowing, as the duo narrowly escape rape, vanquish their assailants, and stagger from Meat's hell-fueled Lincoln Continental transformed, traumatized, and ready, of all things, to fall in love.


Reviews 2

Booklist Review

It was 1970. Woodstock was over, Nixon was in the White House, and the Vietnam War continued full steam ahead. This is the backdrop for Perv, Stahl's excellent first novel about adolescence, tacky sex, lots of drugs, and a horrifying cast of misfit parents and predatory adults. The early 1970s provides convenient wallpaper, but this book could be set any time in postwar America. Bobby Stark, the 16-year-old hero, finds himself back home in Pittsburgh after being thrown out of prep school. With the public schools on strike, he's stuck at home with his pill-popping mother and her creepy crowd of misfit boyfriends. A chance encounter with a grade-school acquaintance, a disenchanted Hare Krishna named Michelle, gives him a chance to go on the road and into even more perilous situations. This is black comedy at its darkest--alternately funny, poignant, and neurotically absurd. At some points, Stahl goes over the top, and his self-indulgence becomes painfully unpalatable. But overall, it's a worthwhile trip back into teenage nightmares. --Ted Leventhal


Publisher's Weekly Review

Memoirist Stahl (Permanent Midnight) breaks into fiction with this sharp novel, which starts as a tale of wisecracking teenage malcontents and ends as blazing testament to the human ability to endure pain. The narrator, prematurely jaded 15-year-old Pennsylvania prep-schooler Bobby Stark, begins his saga on the night in 1970 when he loses his virginity. Two older boys introduce him to the local barber's compliant daughter, and they are enjoying her favors, gang-bang style, when they're discovered by her drunken fatherÄwho brands Bobby with a tattoo. Expelled from school, Bobby returns to his native Pittsburgh and his pill-popping, alcoholic mother, who's inconsolable over the recent suicide of Bobby's father. Desperate to escape, Bobby spots Michelle Burnelka, a girl he's adored since kindergarten, singing Hare Krishna chants at the Pittsburgh airport. He tracks her down, learns that she is fleeing the cult, and the two decide to hitchhike to San Francisco. They travel first with an eccentric older couple, and then get a ride with Meat and Varnish, two predatory junkies who drug and trap the teens in their Lincoln Continental for a night of verbal, sexual and psychological abuse. This grim, drawn-out scene darkens the tone considerably after the sometimes glib buoyancy of the early chapters. Stahl spikes his protagonist's drug-addled adolescence with sardonic sagacity; his embodiments of middle-class despair (Bobby's mother), youthful ambiguous rebellion (Michelle) and sensitivity masked with sarcasm (Bobby) are lucid through the haze. But when excruciating brutality erupts, the novel goes haywire, nearly capsizing under the powerful horrors. However, Stahl pulls the story together with tender, erotic surprises and poignant emotional transformations. While the tale is risky in its darkness, and sometimes swerves into cartoonish violence, Bobby's honest voice pierces through the chaos and makes for a memorably harrowing journey. Author tour. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved