Sunday, June 5, 2011

Book Review: I Am Not Myself These Days by Josh Kilmer-Purcell

Lily Childs' winning piece for the monthly challenge over at the Talkback forum, Consciousness. Stunning, lush imagery with that hint of decay beneath it all, and perhaps more than a bit philosophical in its gorgeousness. Lily has, after all, just returned from Crete. And who can resist a slipperful of mythology? Go read.


I'm reading THE MOST INCREDIBLE BOOK right now. More on that as soon as I've devoured it, then devoured it again. After all, I may end up hating it. Highly unlikely, but it's almost impossible to believe an author can keep up this level of genius for so long. Almost.

In the meantime, whilst you are awaiting that review, may I recommend this:

I Am Not Myself These Days by Josh Kilmer-Purcell

You may recognize the name from my frequent gushing: JKP is, after all, one half of the Beekman Boys. But who was Josh before he was a Beekman Boy?

He was Aqua. Drag queen extraordinaire, with fishbowl tits and a mean vodka habit. And, as ever, a biting sense of humor. This book chronicles his time as a budding ad exec with bad habits and a host of Buy Me A Drink lines that I have, admittedly, been memorizing. Shame I can't think as quick on the fly as Aqua. Else I'd be two sheets to the wind as we speak.

This is also a memoir of his first great love, Jack, a highly successful male prostitute with a rapidly growing crack addiction.

If you're thinking, "This can't end up well," you would be right. But before we reach that conclusion -- and it starts sinking in, slowly, about a third of the way through -- we're first treated to some of the best, funniest, most sharply told tales of the City, as seen through Aqua/Josh's eyes. I rarely laugh out loud, no matter how brilliant something is, and I Am Not Myself had a bunch of parts that had me rolling off the sofa, tears streaming. Let it not be said that JKP never had a good time. In fact, I'd say he made Having a Good Time a legally taxable occupation.

Also, it's quite educational. If you've ever wondered what, precisely, a man must go through in order to become a drag queen, this is more than your primer. This is everything but the QVC Instructional Video with Josh himself. Or perhaps you've been saying to yourself, "Hey, I've got this huge ass chunk of rock; how, exactly, do I smoke this fucker?" Well, ponder no more, friends. It's all explained here.

Maybe you've thought to yourself, "You know, I may have a tiny problem here, what with the crack-smoking love of my life and this whole vodka-as-a-legitimate-meal-choice plan." If that's so, read this.

Do you want the serious review? Here it is: When I stopped laughing, I started crying. If there's one thing Josh can do well, it's find the sad joke underneath the divine pathos of life. This is handled so well, so subtly and yet so uncommonly realistically, so harshly, that all one can do is keep reading. And smile, even if it's the saddest smile in the world.

Well, fuck. That's pretty pathetic writing right there. Trust me when I say that Josh can do it a thousand times better.

I won't tell you how it ends, but if you've known me for a while, then you know that Josh and Brent are still hanging in there, up in Sharon Springs, NY at the Beekman Mansion, with their friends and goats and farm cats and one diva-licious llama. I'm not sure if you should read this before going on to The Bucolic Plague and then watching all of seasons 1 & 2 of The Fabulous Beekman Boys, but having come to it last, I can say that it's added more than a bittersweet note to my perception of them, and it's made Josh, if possible, even more "real."

And though I rarely talk about my own personal life, I will say one last thing about this book: Once upon a time, I, also, was not myself. And while I don't suppose I'll be writing a book about that period of my life anytime soon, I can say, with heartfelt appreciation, that this book has helped me immensely.

And did I mention the outrageous, uproarious laughter? :)

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