Losing My Religion, by Kyell Gold – Book Review by Fred Patten.
by Patch O'Furr
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Losing My Religion, by Kyell Gold. Illustrated by BlackTeagan.
Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, September 2015, trade paperback $9.95 (126 pages), Kindle $7.99.
This Red Velvet Cupcake (a novella) released at RainFurrest 2015 is not age-restricted. Oh? It emphasizes male/male relationships and lots of explicit masturbation, and a close-up of cock-sucking in one of BlackTeagan’s full-page interior illustrations. But as usual with Kyell Gold, the writing is of extreme high-quality. There should be writing this good in the rest of furry literature!
Losing My Religion is a standalone story in Gold’s Forrester U. setting. Jackson Alley, the narrator, is a 25-year-old coyote in an all-male R.E.M. cover band, REMake, on a two-week tour. Jackson (guitar) is bi, Matt (drummer and their manager; wolf) and Lars (singer; arctic fox) are gay lovers, and Zeb (bassist; kit fox who’s just joined the band) is too young and inexperienced to know what his orientation is yet. The living is unrestricted while they’re on tour, and Jackson hopes to hook up for one-night or a couple-of-days stands with a girl, but he’ll settle for a guy if the guy is cute enough. Zeb is, but he hasn’t figured out his orientation yet. Jackson offers big-brotherly advice that he doesn’t intend to lead to any long-term commitments.
The story is developed in 15 short scenes, not continuous until the tour is ending. Night 3: Begin the Begin. Day 5: Talk About the Passion. Day 6: Radio Song. Day 8: Pretty Persuasion. And so on. As Jackson and Zeb chat, they reveal the band’s and their own backgrounds and aspirations to each other.
“Zeb nodded, but without conviction. Well, I could work on making him feel like part of the band. I’d figured anyway that that’d be my job. ‘So,’ he said, ‘what kind of people?’
‘Would come look at us?’
‘Oh.’ I tipped back the rest of the scotch. ‘No idea. Matt knows what he’s doing. I just wanted to get away and play real gigs for a couple weeks. Do something with these paws that doesn’t involve hammers.’ I wiggled my fingers. ‘We toured a couple of times last year, and it’s fun, sort of like a camping trip with the guys, only you get to play music at the same time and pick up lots of girls – and boys if you like that – in bars. We can’t do it that often, though, because we always lose money. Surprisingly, there are not thousands of people dying to see four random guys play the songs of an admittedly awesome band that had maybe three or four legit mainstream hits.’” (p. 5)
Losing My Religion alternates Jackson’s and Zeb’s conversations about music and conversations about sex, except that they get all mixed together. Jackson is married and he reasonably loves his wife, but love and sex are two separate things, and he is bi. He doesn’t expect any more restraint from Jazmyn while he’s gone than he has.
“He [Zeb] tuned his strings. ‘She doesn’t mind you leaving for weeks at a time?’
‘Pretty sure I miss her more than she misses me. I mean, we got married young,’ when she thought she was pregnant, I didn’t tell him, ‘and we’re trying not to lose our youth just because we’re married, you know?’” (p. 10)
Good music (of the rock sort) goes deep into the emotions and gets both sexually aroused. That’s what Jackson is looking for, but he only wants some mutually agreeable single-night encounters. He’s not looking for real love, for something that would replace Jazmyn. But is what he and Jazmyn feel for each other really love rather than friendly lust?
The big-brotherly talk gets pretty explicit.
“He [Zeb] lowered his voice and looked around as though someone from his family might be listening. ‘They [his college friends] showed me porn once … is it better in real life?’
I laughed, still trying to work out in my head how I was going to make my limited budget buy drinks for three girls. ‘Porn is always better. Real life is messy and sloppy and you’re worried about getting the sheets dirty, and you have to go to the bathroom and she ate something that didn’t agree with her, and sometimes your timing’s off. But watching Jaz with Desiree was pretty cool.’ I turned to his ear and said, very softly, ‘And they didn’t mind if I jerked off while watching.’” (p. 14)
Jackson is taken aback when Zeb confesses that he knows so little about the changes that puberty brings because he was raised Mormon. But that’s okay because he moved out of home to explore his sexual orientation. Can or should Jackson explore it with him?
Halfway through the tour Matt gets REMake an extension:
“‘So it turned out that the guy Matt had been talking to on the East Coast had seen a blog review of our second show and left Matt a message to call him tonight. They’d signed the deal: a dozen more clubs up and down the Midwest to the East Coast, starting a week from today. So instead of four more shows and done, we were going to do four more shows and then have to drive all through a night and a day and the next night, and then ten more shows in seven cities.” (p. 23)
Two more weeks sounds great to Jackson for the music, but really frustrating for holding back on his sexual release. Zeb looks better and better. But what really happens is completely unexpected, and has longer-term results for the futures of Jackson, of Zeb, and of REMake.
Losing My Religion is another bravura Gold production. It’s obviously of more interest if you’re a fan of rock music or of the rock bands that play it, but Gold makes this story of REMake and its four players un-put-downable whether you’re interested in the rock scene or not. Gold also integrates enough animal (mostly canid) aspects to make this more than just a funny-animal story. If all the explicit talk about male/male adult sex, and the one illustration by BlackTeagan (Teagan Gavet; she has four others), don’t put you off, this is a must-read.