Gene Gregorits, as proclaimed by Lisa Carver, is “the greatest writer you’ve never head of”. I don’t know how much her Vice article helped him in becoming discovered by its 10-second-attention-span-hipster readership, not much I assume by the well documented struggles of his life as an underground writer.
30-40 years ago Gregorits probably would have been published by Grove Press and his notoriety (the substance abuse and self mutilation) would have had fans flocking by the dozen. Instead he is left to self-publish via Monastrell Books and sell books to a generation that increasingly don’t research, become obsessed or actually own/collect the things they like. I don’t give a fuck if I come off as an elitist, your PDFs, AVIs and MP3s are PRETEND collections.
For those of you who don’t know about Gene read the Vice article or check out Crimson Celluloid’s interview here.
And onto the book…
Do You Love Me is a unique concept, the first of its kind I believe, and one I wish every artist, author, director and musician that I like would release. Its essentially a collection of stories, recollections and encounters from friends, enemies, fans and family. With contribution titles such as “You Cunt”, “Tenacious Survivor Cunt”, “Naked and Bloody”, “Gregorits Painted my Pussy”, “How Gene Ruined Shit” and “The Ultimate Master of Extreme Hyperbole and Vociferous Pontification” oh and lets not forget “Scewing Gene on Bath Salts”, you are in for some very sordid tales, character assassination and worship. My favourite piece by far would be “His Family Calls Him Justin” by Gene’s Uncle who tells a couple of stories where you can see Gene’s obsession and oddness at a young age. His uncle spies on a meant-to-be-asleep young Gene/Justin and sees him on his haunches gesticulating and conversing with Star Wars characters on his bed-sheets, later on in the evening Gene appears buck naked in the kitchen removing everything from the cupboards. There’s also a sweet anecdote about a young Gene obsessing over a song he liked. It was a nice entry among the depravity.
From teenage high school friends to lovers and fans he has never met, you get an in-depth character study of the man. There’s also some interviews, a review of Dog Days and Johnny Behind the Deuce all interspersed with Gene’s paintings and some photos. It’s really well put together too, hardly any layout or typo issues which were rife throughout Dog Days 2.
I wondered if a whole book of stories about Gene would get tiresome but it didn’t (there are one or two tongue-up-ass pieces). I couldn’t put the book down and there’s not a boring story among them and that’s what makes Gene so interesting, he isn’t safe so he isn’t boring. Being that most of us are comfortable and non-risk taking consumers in our air-conditioned houses it’s hard to comprehend someone (especially today) living such a self-destructive and rough lifestyle. He drifts, often has no stable income, hasn’t settled and I am sure he won’t either. This makes him attractive to us couch potato voyeurs who want a bit of excitement without the highs, blood, unemployment and crazy women.
Gene’s life appears to be like a never ending kitchen-sink film and this book captures some of that drama, the fall-outs, the poverty, the abuse but it also gives an insight to Gene you can’t glean from his Facebook rants, ultimatums and routine deletions of friends. So instead of buying a copy of On the Road on DVD or Blu-Ray check out a writer who has the spirit of writers from a bygone era. American literature has lacked voices like Gene’s for too long. It has become bloated, indulgent, meta, pseudo-this and post-that. Hell if you are so poor that you can’t buy a copy then suggest it as a purchase to your local library, that costs nothing, well at least it doesn’t here in Dunedin.
An awesome book that would make a great addition to your Gregorits collection, for neophytes start with Dog Days.
Available in paperback.