Print Review: “Boy in the Middle”

Boy in the Middle

Boy in the Middle
By Patrick Califia
269 pages, soft bound

Nobody has ever accused persistently boundary pushing erotica writer Patrick Califia of pulling any punches except, perhaps, long enough for him to lube up his fist before going back in deeper. Boy in the Middle, his latest book of hard hitting and invariably transgressive short erotic fiction stories, doesn’t deviate from his deviant norm other than to continue to explore the nervous marriage between hot sex and psychological complexity.

Living in a world between genders and sexes as Califia does, it’s hardly a surprise that the landscapes he selects for his characters to endure, overcome, embrace, fight, love, hate, and fornicate in lack an absolute certainty about moral, physical, or emotional issues of right or wrong – while simultaneously providing an almost reassuringly uncompromising structure to work within. Califia’s writing is spare, precise, and capable of communicating volumes.

As Califia explains in Boy in the Middle’s insightful “Introduction: Pansexual Passion,” all of the sex in the book’s 11 stories is “queer,” even if it’s not necessarily same-sex. After all, how does one define sex between transsexuals? What about bisexual transsexuals? What about biological women and/or men and transsexuals? Exactly when is it a “same-sex” sex encounter when a chick was born with a dick or a dude was born with a pussy? How about someone born with a little bit of each? For Califia, whose transition within the gendersex continuum is ongoing, these are not merely the questions of a clever erotic fiction writer hoping to cook up a really good read, they are the questions of daily existence, increasingly reflected in the words that stimulate, arouse, intimidate, and excite not only himself but his eager and opinionated readers.

An ostensibly straight punk who negotiates sex for drugs with a vampire, a broken hearted gender bender who remembers that being a boy’s Daddy can be delicious, a chunky calved cutie who haunts the heart of the date rapist who loves her, a queer bi trans Master who indulges the sorrow of a trans boy and the masochism of a bio girl – these are only a few of the deep, twisted, and fascinatingly provocative characters that Califia employs to remind readers that sex and love are visceral, illogical, and deeply satisfying experiences regardless of how one’s genitals are classified.

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