Booze, Bullshit & Buttfucking is one of those books you can only describe with negative adjectives, despite your enjoyment of it. It’s quick and easy and invigorating in the way stimulants often are, coke drip included. Reading this book feels like falling into a pit of Twitter-esque idiot savant would-have's, if not for Elon Musk to ruin it. The whole thing is in crisis. There is a deep hole at the core of these pages.
I received the novel in the mail directly from the author, Jordan Sullivan. Upon seeing the cover, I decided to consume a 30 mg edible, as it seemed the only reasonable way to connect with the potentially chaotic text. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a novel with William Blake's Whore of Babylon on the cover reads like the world is falling into the aforementioned black hole. Things are ending and the masses have turned to orgiastic farewells. There’s a sense of apocalypse — not in the revelation of innate truths; these are already evident — but in the mania, the disorder, the pure stench of bodily fluids and freebase refuse. The fact that the novel insists on communicating to the reader with cultural references places the hole in technological and consumerist excess. To take this review's nose out of its own ass for a second: the book suffers the pain of late-stage capitalism, like all of us. To quote one of the author’s manifold quotables, "Entertainment is hell."
A constant feature of the book is a need to humanize and humiliate public figures, perhaps to placate the ego or instill a sense of sardonic absurdity. There's a lot of dejection and cynicism. There’s also loads of humor. The vacuum at the center of the absurd imbues the novel with a sense of insanity. That is to say, a conversation with Magic Johnson, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Eddie Furlong slowly crumbles into nonsense. Dehumanization of celebrity is key here. They're no longer people or representations of anything in particular, but we will continue to listen to them, no matter what spews forth.
In one of several photos in the book, Jeff Bezos stares out with a flat-eyed smile that betrays a misery and understanding of his role in the dooming of the world that seems unlikely to be felt by Bezos himself. Bill Clinton masturbating with a rubber on calls to mind that part in Selfish, Little where Peter Sotos wears condoms at gloryholes to distance himself from the subject to fuel the cruelty, the depravity. Skinless feeling engenders the fantasy of objectifying distance.
Thomas Kinkade makes an appearance, expressing extreme dissatisfaction with the world. Meanwhile, his work is interpreted as joyous. It’s kinda hard to not feel the identification between author or artist and Thomas, and therefore the work at hand. This is painful, angry and messy, and yet it's hilarious. It’s hilarious precisely because it is absolutely fucking miserable.
The novel, at least when the text is simply a scrawled psychotic chicken scratch, feels like it’s hurdling towards death with a Bataillian smile. Everyone and everything is hollow, and within that hollowness is their souls. Figures of power, whether through celebrity or institution, are ever abusive, vain, violent, and pathetic.
Booze, Bullshit & Buttfucking seems to make a case that art itself is not going to get us out of the hole, the butt being fucked. Ron DeSantis reads The Wretched to his assistant while vacationing at Mar-a-Lago. The awareness of the toothless state of art digs deeper than it should, and that's...oddly funny. The emptiness is a lot more subtle and banal than we'd like to think.
There are moments of pause, however, where the pretension of detached irony falls apart in light of pain. Nothing was ever good enough to be missed. This is decisively hammered home in the final section, where we are treated to Justin Bieber’s (alleged) alt shitpost twitter account. Are you a cunt or a brilliant comedian, @StephenDaedalus666? You sound like a disarmingly honest Republican, with a limp penis and hands extended in indignation, awaiting an entitled reward. Your tweets sound more like a plea for help and attention than it does a joke in disguise.
So, when does it all stop being a joke? I'm not sure it ever does. I'm almost certain Jordan isn't trying to be funny. I think at some point the absurdities just become perfectly logical.
Sometimes the black technohole at the center of this book pokes its dick through the fourth wall and asks stark questions that itch in the way the truth behind intention usually does. Are you up for the challenge? Are you ready to love a celebrity more than yourself? Sometimes it questions its own value, and whether it's worth maintaining the system that produced it for us. Would you rather see the Amazon rainforest disappear, or the Amazon marketplace disappear?
There is decrepity, inequity, death, abuse and cruelty all around the periphery of Pseudobieber's story, and, sometimes, it knows this. The legacy of America will be its perfect execution of violence. Maybe the problem with being alive is that we are so aware of living we do none of it at all.
My edibles spilled in my messenger bag and melted in the heat as I was reading the book in the sun. On the run to catch my train, I shoved my copy of Booze, Bullshit & Buttfucking into my bag. I didn’t notice what had happened until later that night and spent a long time wiping melted drugs from the book cover and its pages. I don’t think that should inform your opinion of this novel, but I do mean it as an accidental metaphor to express how I feel about it. It’s sticky. It’s disgusting. It’s sugary, bright and textured. There are intoxicants in it. Lick it and it’ll fuck you up. It gets all over your fingers, your brain. It refuses to leave. It stinks. You will feel its grime in the aftermath.