Written between March 1969 and October 1973, author Samuel R Delany’s hugely controversial and notorious novel ‘Hogg’ was a gigantic sidestep away from his usual science-fiction subject matter.  Although Delany already had numerous published and successful novels under his belt, no publisher would go near ‘Hogg’ due to its outrageously pornographic and extreme subject matter.  Indeed, the sheer volume of graphic depictions of sexual depravation, incest, rape and paedophilia meant that it was not until March of 1995 that the somewhat daring 'Black Ice Books' finally published the novel.  Later, in 2004, following on from some further corrections to the text, the novel was re-released by Fiction Collective 2.  This release is considered by the author to be the correct and definitive version of the novel.

DLS Synopsis:
’s June of 1969 and a pre-adolescent young boy - who has been somewhat appropriately dubbed ‘cocksucker- is being willingly used by the neighbourhood lad, Pedro, to perform sexual acts on the local lowlifes in the basement of a dingy building nearby.  Together with Pedro’s young sister Maria, the two are subjected to a multitude of sexual acts and quickly become a popular attraction for the bikers and the underbelly of the black community.  Night after night of these depraved sexual orgies go on until, after Pedro’s father makes a visit, our silent narrator moves on from these underground all night orgies.

After witnessing truck driver and rapist-for-hire Franklin Hargus (aka Hogg) viciously rape and assault a woman in an alleyway, cocksucker is spotted by the grimy blond bulk of a man and quickly wins favour with him by performing fellatio on his grimy penis.  Now taken under Hogg’s wing, our narrator climbs into the man’s lorry-less cab and so the beginning of their relationship together forms.

Whilst picking up his pay for the last rape, Hogg agrees to perform three more brutal rapes.  However, for these his employer wants something extra – something more.  He wants Hogg to bring along other filthy men for the rapes, so as to further add to the horrendous nature of the ordeal.  Hogg knows just the men for the job – nigger and wop.  Upon collecting the two lowlifes, Hogg also picks up the young sexual obsessive Denney.  Together, this despicable band of unwashed reprobates are to cause untold misery on the unsuspecting victims that they have been sent to rape.

But Denney’s scattered mind is always ready to jump on to a new idea of sexual gratification – no matter how challenging it may be.  And swinging precariously on the edge of madness, the pathway is a treacherous one before he finally snaps...

DLS Review:
From the very first page, the reader is thrown in head first and subjected to some of the strongest and most depraved pornographic storytelling that has made it to print.  The author bombards the reader with endless depictions of the sexual depravation on the pre-adolescent youngsters (including our narrator) as the author wallows in the sheer delight of the grimy and nauseating details.

Written in the first-person-perspective of our silent narrator (cocksucker), Delany instead spends a vast proportion of the novel describing in detail the uncontrollable delight that our narrator finds from the corruption and escalating depravation that he is continuously subjected to.

A gay man himself, the author throws in every first hand detail in his arsenal on the relative experiences of homosexual sex; delving deeper and deeper into the lustful details and the shocking acts that the sex can move on to.

Incest, coprophilia, coprophagia and urolagnia soon follow in the spiralling depravation which forms the predominant flow of the novel.  The loose storyline of Hogg’s rapist-for-hire role takes almost a backseat to the storyline, as instead, the reader is subjected to a near endless flow of pornographic acts which are clearly meant to split the audience by arousing or completely and utterly repelling them.

A good two-thirds of the way through the novel, Delany does inject in a sudden change to the flow of the tale, throwing in a surprising twist that embarks upon a whole new route for the storyline.  This new direction is a breath of fresh air away from the suffocating sexual depravity that has thus far enveloped the entirety of the novel.

For the most part, the tale is an overwhelming show of pornographic depravation that will (usually) shock, appal and downright sicken the reader with these repellent acts and the graphic details for each.  In this way the novel is somewhat akin to that of Dennis Cooper’s ‘Frisk’ (1991) or Poppy Z Brite’s ‘Exquisite Corpse’ (1996).  However, due to the sheer over-the-top nature of ‘Hogg’, after a while the reader does slowly become numb to the endless barrage of nauseating perversion.  From utter exhaustion at the non-stop and overwhelming depravation on show, to near-indifference, to the beginnings of boredom; after a while the novel fails to achieve its constant craving for shock or sexual stimulation.

The novel ends with a quiet and mildly surprising new glimmer of a change in direction.  It’s in no ways mind-blowing or an epic finale, but still brings up certain unasked questions on our narrator’s motivations, desires, wants and deep-rooted feelings.

All in all, the novel is possibly the most depraved and appalling novel to see publication to date.  It is challenging, engaging and impactful.  Questions and ideas are presented within the text for the reader to ponder and attack as they see fit.   It is what it is, and it most certainly is not a novel that the vast majority of the population will want to get on board with.  And rightly so.

For its overly repetitive nature at wallowing too far into the sexual acts, I found the novel to quickly become too tedious.  After a while the energy and passion to corrupt seemed to waiver, instead merely treading along the same over used and worn out route.  The characters are all too one-dimensional, with little time put into their development other than the over-descriptive nature of their smell, taste, look and feel (particularly around their genital or anal areas).  Delany missed a major trick by leaving the characters to be almost faceless and shallow representations of themselves.  By exploring their individual personalities and emotions more, the novel could have taken to a whole new realm of impactful possibilities.  Instead, it merely meanders down a road of over-the-top pornographic and grotesque fiction (but in this it has pushed the boundaries further than any other).

The novel runs for a total of 268 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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