This book is deeply unsettling in the best way. When not stalking his ex or working at the hotel front desk, Sam is in the back of the sex shop, spending tokens on private gay porn viewing rooms. Arcade follows him as he gets deeper and deeper into his obsession with these back rooms as he leaves the world outside them behind. A modern day Dorian Gray without gentility, this story is raw, gritty, and definitely worth reading.
Also, Drew Nellins Smith has a great Twitter handle.
-- Cody— From Cody M. Staff Picks
A new world opens up to Sam when, fresh from a breakup, he discovers a XXX peepshow on the outskirts of town. More than a mere venue for closeted men to meet for anonymous sex, it's an underground subculture populated by regular players, and marked by innumerable coded rules and customs. A welcome diversion from his dead-end job and the compulsive cyberstalking of the cop who broke his heart, Sam returns to the arcade again and again. When the bizarre setting triggers reflections on his own history and theories, he contemplates his anxious, religious upbringing in small-town Texas, the frightening overlap between horror movies and his love life, and the false expectations created by multiple childhood viewings of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Then, of course, there is the subject of sex. As his connection to the place strengthens, and his actions both outside and within the peepshow escalate, Sam wavers between dismissing the arcade as a frivolous pastime and accepting it as the most meaningful place in his life. Arcade is a relentlessly candid and graphic account of one man's attempt to square immutable desire with a carefully constructed self-image on the brink.
About the Author
Drew Nellins Smith's essays, reviews, and interviews have appeared in many places, including The Los Angeles Times, The Believer, Tin House, Paste Magazine, The Millions, and The Daily Beast. He lives in Austin, TX.