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Perv - A Love Story

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  652 ratings  ·  52 reviews
Fresh from the success of his hugely successful memoir, "Permanent Midnight", Stahl makes his sensational fiction debut with this whacked-out, sometimes wrenching, tour de force that's destined for cult-classicdom. Film and TV rights have been sold to Showtime for a two-hour movie and TV series.

In 1970 sixteen-year-old Bobby Stark runs away with Michelle, who is escaping f
Paperback, 342 pages
Published January 9th 2001 by William Morrow (first published 1999)
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Average rating 3.61  · 
Rating details
 ·  652 ratings  ·  52 reviews

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Bob Fingerman
Sep 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the great unsung novels of our time. Alternately hilarious and harrowing. The penultimate chapter—a 90-page claustrophobic nightmare set entirely within the interior of a car—is one of the most gripping, knuckle-whitening reads I've ever experienced. I truly could not put the book down. Horny adolescence has seldom been so brutally depicted. Or brilliantly.
Richard Morrell
First, it shouldn't be offered in the classroom setting, and don't be fooled by the critics' asinine comments suggesting it is a modern-day Holden Caulfield character or a Catcher in the Rye for the 21st century. It is graphic, lurid, and plodding. It culminates in a vivid depiction of a hallucinogenic sexual assault, that makes me glad I only experienced the drugged state, and physical abuse vicariously. If you never experimented with drugs, this will reaffirm the wisdom of your choice: you did ...more
Apr 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: have, e-book
Although this book is very dark, it also encompasses a hopeful feeling. It is so well-written, so distorted coming-of-age that I couldn't help but be drawn into this vulnerable and dysfunctional world, always rooting for the unlikely Bobby as he searches to find meaning in his life. Although at times vividly graphic and sexual, the novel also has moments of humor that are so abruptly inserted into the narrative that their chief effectiveness lies in timing and not necessarily subject matter.

At t
Jan 03, 2014 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: teenage boys, men who wish they were still teenage boys, virgins, people who suck at sex
Shelves: dumb
fun as it is to write about how badly shit sucks, i've decided to remove my snarky bitchy review, under the premise that the author put everything he had into it and therefore deserves better than some random disgruntled reader ripping his work apart.

i stand by thinking Perv is overrated. i further think that sex and drugs are shiny objects to some readers, sidetracking them from the absence of a story.

what was good about it was the descriptions of using various drugs for the first time. the in
Mark Reiter
Mar 03, 2013 rated it did not like it
342 pages of angsty 90's nothing. More notable for all the books it's trying to be than for anything else. You've seen this Salinger-informed flotsam before: ugly characters in ugly circumstances set up for easy sniping by the author. As a coming of age story, it's bleak. As a sex-a-logue, it's depressing and dark. It's ultimately style over substance and a morose tribute to the writers Stahl so desperately wants to be: Jim Carroll, Salinger, Phillip Roth.
Jul 15, 2010 rated it it was ok
I never thought I was a prude, but this book made me feel like one. So relentless! Well written, but not my cup of sex, er, tea.
Feb 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The dichotomy between the simple young-adult style prose in this work and the hilariously depraved content made for a remarkable and truly unique literary experience. Every time I began to think that the novel was bordering on being too light-hearted for my tastes, the characters' extraordinary experiences brought me back to the gritty reality of the tale. Life's most formative adolescent experiences are retold in Perv through the eyes of someone who experienced them in the most unfortunate of w ...more
Dec 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Rounding up a little just because there was one chapter I didn't exactly love. But still, I want Jerry Stahl to write ALL THE THINGS. The writing here is just killer. His characters and dialogue are so funny, especially his older characters. (In particular, Dolores is exactly who I want to be when I grow up.) This made me laugh out loud several times and hit me in the feels and had one of the best epilogues I've ever read. So glad that I read this!
Eric Byrne
Sep 04, 2014 rated it it was ok
I liked this book. I found it funny and it had some good insight into the times (early '70s). I thought Bobby was an interesting character, I wouldn't go as far as Holden Caulfield, but still interesting. The book is very well written, fantastic style, there were a number of good scenes, scenes that made me a little uncomfortable, but Stahl's words were getting a reaction, sooo... But then pages 249-319, 70 pages of torture to read and it really ruined the whole thing. The last 30 pages were jus ...more
Aug 06, 2010 rated it liked it
My nostalgia for adolescence and flower power have waned over the years, but I was still not totally turned off by this book. The character was sympathetic, if not frustrating, but then that makes sense for a coming of age story.

What made this book frustrating was the rambling. How much detail about drugs and boners and insecurity do we need? And the rape scene just went on forever. The length made it more horrifying than it would have been, I found myself almost lulled into thinking it would be
Dec 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Another good read from the awesome Jerry Stahl, this one is a bit more leisurely than his other books. Oh, it's got its fair share of perversion and strangeness, but it's more laid back and touching in a way (get to the end, you'll see what I mean). It's about the misadventures of a teenager that's thrown out of boarding school to face the hell of living in 60's Pittsburgh with his mentally ill mother - and his attempts to escape. It's very funny, though there's an incredibly uncomfortable 50-pa ...more
Robert Mitchell
Feb 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Perv - A Love Story is a Y2K The Catcher In The Rye. Published on the eve of potential apocalypse in 1999 but set during the Vietnam War; Holden is Jewish, Mr. Antolini is a Charles Mansonesque rapist, scotch and sodas are replaced by every illicit drug known to man and you can't help thinking page after page that Quentin Tarantino should make the movie. If Perv had been published in 1982 instead of 1999, and Nancy Reagan (who realistically wouldn't have made it past the second page) would have ...more
Lee Morgan
Jan 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Stahl's a good storyteller. His ability to describe the effects of drugs on the mind and body are incomparable. But long before you get to any of that in the book, the story itself is solid. Even though this is fiction, the frightened, depressed and otherwise troubled "Bobby" is obviously the boyhood version of the author, based on what I know from the film version of Permanent Midnight. I assume what happens with the HippieSmack chapter is simply a story from his imagination. But shit like that ...more
Jul 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
My fave local used bookstore was moving a few blocks and having a sale to help clear shelf-space. I got a first edition autographed copy of this one for a BUCK!! Without giving up any details, I'll say it's a completely un-stereotypical coming-of-age-in-the-sixties novel with encomiums by Mark Mothersbaugh (of Devo), Hubert Selby, Lydia Lunch, and other coolies.

Click here for "The Jerry Stahl Experience":
Dec 06, 2015 rated it did not like it
This started well. A little crude but entertaining. Different than what I normally read. Then it just started going downhill.... Down, down, down until it just plain fell of a cliff. At that point I had like 70 pages left so bucked up and stumbled through. What a waste. I should have just ended it all... In relation to the book that is. This certainly wasn't worth my time and probably isn't worth yours.
Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
I had no idea this was written by the same guy who did Permanent Midnight. I remember reading it while working during the ol' solitary shifts at Bargain Books. I remember almost nothing about it terms of detail now (hence the lack of a rating). It was basically an adolescent tale of sex and drugs, etc. Fine subject matter for me then at 16 in the grip of 7 dollar an hour boredom at the crappy bookstore.
Ben Haskett
Read in high school. I think when I was... 17? 16 or 17. We had this thing called SSR (sustained silent reading) where the first 10 minutes of each class was set aside so everyone could read something. I stole this from my older sister, Elizabeth, and chose it specifically because it had a somewhat shocking cover that I hoped would make me appear edgy. I do not remember anything about it. Nothing at all.
Jun 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
It started off freakish and hilarious, and the more freaky it got, I actually ended up crying instead of laughing. The most difficult scene to read I almost didn't finish, but I'm glad that I did. I feel that fictional accounts of violence are usually less-than-necessary to read or think about, but in some cases, I feel it does make for a worthy, thought-provoking story.
May 05, 2009 rated it did not like it
UGh. I couldn't even get through the first chapter. I tried the second chapter, it was just as bad.

what an awful book

I had heard Jerry Stahl on a Moth podcast, recounting episodes from his life. His stories sounded brutal, honest but still funny. Somehow, this style just did not translate to the page for me.
May 07, 2008 rated it liked it
OK, it's definitely titled "Perv" for a reason...16 year old boys are all pervs, aren't they? My favorite part is the epilogue. It's a perfect end to all the awkward, uncomfortable, and bizarre happenings in Bobby Stark's life.

I took this book from a friend clearing off their bookcases about four years ago, so I decided it was about time to actually read it.
Apr 25, 2011 rated it liked it
The single line "there is no deodorant for desperation" earns this book 2.5 stars. Beyond that it is a strange little easy read and revealed the apparently well known fact that men masturbate into their socks (ew.).
Aug 26, 2009 rated it liked it
I remember borrowing this book from a friend a few years ago, but it must not have left that great of an impression, otherwise I would have added it to the list before now. I remember liking it, but that's about it.
Sam "The Record Man"
A tale of drugs, sex and escape in the early 1970's. Bobby Stark chooses to leave his middle class existence for the chaos and tumult of the Haight. Filled with brutally honest imagery and a dark sense of chaos. A read for anyone who likes to be shocked.
Jun 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-read
Well written. Doesn't shy away from the filth and nastiness of life. Not much of a plot, but the epilogue tied things up nicely. Reminded me of Chuck Palahniuk. Will likely read another, but I'm skipping his drugs books.
Jan 21, 2013 rated it it was ok
I loved the cover. Other than that it was a so so read. I usually like disturbing coming of age stories, but something about this book didn't click with me. It is well written though. It is a story you just have to read for yourself and not go by reviews.
David Flynn

I read this book wanting to read something of Jerry Stahl's and found it to be as much of a trip as I was hoping for. Equal parts funny and difficult, while showing a world no screen can afford to display.
Jan 11, 2009 rated it it was ok
Very Bizarre. That is really all I have to say about it. It was weird and I am left with not really knowing what the purpose of the story was except to confuse the reader constantly by running off on tangents that really don't have much importance to the story.
Klaudyna Z.
Nov 12, 2010 rated it it was ok
I did not like this book at all. I felt like the author dragged on each thing that happened in the book for way too long. I felt like nothing significant happened in the book and that it was just a waste of time to read.
Jul 14, 2010 rated it did not like it
got to page 150 and felt like I had read this before, like it was his other book Permanent Midnight without the crazy mother, or like Philip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint with more pot smoking. been there done that.
Kris Bennett
Jun 03, 2009 rated it liked it
That my teenage years were no different than anyone else's. Drug filled and awkward.
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Jerry Stahl (born September 28, 1953) is an American novelist and screenwriter, He is best known for the darkly comedic tale of addiction, Permanent Midnight, which was revered by critics and an ever-growing cult of devoted readers, as one of the most compelling, contemporary memoirs. A film adaptation soon followed with Ben Stiller in the lead role, which is widely considered to be Mr. Stiller’s ...more
“Sometimes what I did five minutes ago scared the fuck out of me five minutes later.” 9 likes
“There's no deodorant for desperation.” 6 likes
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