Fri-gay the 13th

Look closer… it’s a book, not a movie. Sad times indeed.

Summer camp slashings ensue as they have many, many times before… but never (as far as I know) at one of those ‘Corrective’ camps for gay teens, though there were a few in The Blood Season.

In Camp Carnage, Billy, an introverted suburbanite, is packed off to Camp Genesis by his parents after coming out to them in the summer of 1986. Run by Joan Ferguson-a-like Katherine Creevey, the boys are packed in together and mentored by a kindly priest and ex-gay counsellors.

Typical 80s hi-jinks follow with the usual heterosexual pairings reversed: Billy likes Neal, but so does Kyle. Jem likes Michaela, Michaela strives to remain straight etc… Meanwhile, those who venture into the woods (stray from the path of heterosexuality, as it were) soon meet nasty ends at the hands of a mystery killer.

A fluid read, I zipped through Camp Carnage over a few lunch breaks and, while the blades n’ whodunit subplotting was decent, the book shied away from commenting overtly on the operations of such an establishment, thus I didn’t root for the characters as much as I wanted.

Writers Cross and Winning twist the expected outcome in regards to the last ones standing, which is always brave, although in this case I’d have preferred them not to.

3 comments

  • Huh, cool. I’ll look for it along with I Know What You Did Last Supper.

  • Eric Henwood-Greer

    Just came across your blog (how have I not stumbled upon it before??) and have spent the past few hours going through it.

    Anyway, not sure if you even read comments for such old posts but, though I’ve never heard of this book, it’s premise slightly reminded me of a very good novel I read last year, How to Survive a Summer by Nick White. In fact, it would seem almost like a meta take on this… Not to sound like I’m White’s publicist, but the best description is on Penguin’s website:

    “A searing debut novel centering around a gay-to-straight conversion camp in Mississippi and a man’s reckoning with the trauma he faced there as a teen.

    Camp Levi, nestled in the Mississippi countryside, is designed to “cure” young teenage boys of their budding homosexuality. Will Dillard, a midwestern graduate student, spent a summer at the camp as a teenager, and has since tried to erase the experience from his mind. But when a fellow student alerts him that a slasher movie based on the camp is being released, he is forced to confront his troubled history and possible culpability in the death of a fellow camper.

    As past and present are woven together, Will recounts his “rehabilitation,” eventually returning to the abandoned campgrounds to solve the mysteries of that pivotal summer, and to reclaim his story from those who have stolen it. With a masterful confluence of sensibility and place, How to Survive a Summer is a searing, unforgettable novel that introduces an exciting new literary voice.”

    One of the better “gay novels” I’ve read recently. It may not be Alan Hollinghurst, and I did have a few issues as it went along, but from reading this blog, I think it would really interest you, especially if you have any interest in gay issues and slasher films (which, I’ll just go out on a limb here, I suspect you do).

    It doesn’t look like it has a UK release yet (except on Kindle) but here’s the amazon.co.uk link which allows you to read a few pages (it also has only ONE customer review who gave it 1 star and called it slow, while I found it a very quick read, so take that as you will…) https://www.amazon.co.uk/How-Survive-Summer-Nick-White-ebook/dp/B01N0KIVNA/ref=la_B00M8IPAT8_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1535402643&sr=1-1

  • Sounds good, I shall look for it!

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