REVIEW: F**cking Through The Apocalypse- by Jason Werbeloff

When Harold, not a day over 86, hears that the asteroid is going to hit in 27 days, he doesn’t sink into depression, nor jump off a building, nor move to Hawaii like his neighbors. No, Harold fulfills a dream. Harold decides to open a brothel.

F**king Through the Apocalypse is a short story about loss and redemption … with a hint of fuchsia.

A crass title splayed across an image of pretty flowers(thematically significant!)- the cover is a good analogy for the book, as F**king through the Apocalypse is crude on the surface but at heart its a sweet and humorous tale about finding comfort and connection in the darkest of times.

The focal point of this story is Harold and he is a great character. He is a convincingly written old man, whose lost his wife and is dealing with the imminent end of the world. He deals with his grief in a very stiff upper lip kind of way, continuing to live each day as he would normally, buying flowers to replace the ones lost as his wife would have done because he doesn’t know what else to do; he’s lost and doesn’t quite know what to do with himself. This is a more subtle portrayal of grief and it’s very well done, and is certainly not something you’d expect in a story like this. After he ‘adopts’ a duo of homeless prostitutes, this lonely old man begins to find human connection and he gradually begins to process his past and let other people in. The ending of this is touching with an emotional pay-off that’s very well earned.

Two things are kept conspicuously quiet in the blurb; firstly, the brothel isn’t Harold’s dream, and secondly, it isn’t a brothel full of women: no, the brothel is run by a couple of gay boys whose age is never confirmed- and I am unsure whether they are actual children or teenagers. What I am sure of is that in these two characters lie the only problem in this otherwise excellent short story. While Harold is a well rounded character, the gay strays he takes in… Are a little more than a collection of gay stereotypes. When you include damaged gay sex workers, you’re sailing into pretty tropey waters to begin with; but when you make them ‘mince’ and ‘sashay’ and don’t elaborate on their motivations beyond ‘gurls gotta grind’, you’ve driven the portrayal off the cliff.

These boys are ‘whores with a heart of gold’ to the tee, and are there to serve as little more than morality pets for Harold to forward his character ark. Although it preaches tolerance, acceptance and criticises homophobia, the story doesn’t portray its two gay leads as fully realised characters and instead reduces them to stereotypical helpless morality pets who exist as plot devices to further the (more human) straight character’s development, which is a very problematic portrayal at best.

In spite of the less than stellar treatment of the gay boys (children? teenagers ? young men of 16-18? I don’t know he is deliberately unclear on this point), F**cking Through The Apocalypse is still worth checking out, as it has a great ending and a good character ark for our lead.

RATING : 3 days left till you go out with a (gang)bang / 5

 

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