Book Review: Dog Days by Gene Gregorits

Editor Tommy Dean, Fiction, April 16th, 2013

He’s prone to castigating the present literary generation’s hipster-laden irony...

review of dog days

Gene Gregorits doesn’t write words, he bleeds them. He is a man with burned bridges and scarred wrists, a man whose biggest affliction is an inability to stomach the world he lives in. In a culture overrun with smug hipster irony and domesticated do-gooders, Gene Gregorits is modern literature’s much-needed anti-hero, who may be relegated to languish in obscurity, save for a cult following of fans who see the specks of gold in his steaming pile of shit.

Dog Days, Gene’s first novel, is an immersion in a Baltimore cesspool of squalor, paranoia and self-degradation, in which the anti-protagonist writhes endlessly in the company of younger generation of art school girls he can’t comprehend or tolerate. With no beginning, middle or end, Dog Days is one sordid episode after another, a testament that read-worthy lit is made by simply holding up the magnifying glass to humanity and recording the cracks. Gene uses the amphetamine-fueled two-fingered typing sessions to craft a first-person narrative the way it should be done—straight firewater no chaser, crudely descriptive and deeply affecting; the filth and the fury of Sid Vicious with Lester Bang’s penchant to pontificate.

Gregorits’ down-and-dirty style is a reflection of his literary preferences and his distastes. He has an affinity for the hardened authors of yesteryear whose works were extensions of their grit, like Bukowski and Celine. One can’t help but feel Gene was born two generations too late. He’s prone to castigating the present literary generation’s hipster-laden irony—the toothless Williamsburg ilk of politically correct pussyfooting. “I am as anti-Dave Eggers I can possibly get,” says Gene over the phone, remarking on the author who has captured the minds, hearts and book sales of America. “He’s too nice I think, I just don’t trust him as a media entity and as a writer.”

Whereas most contemporary authors honed their chops in university classrooms and writer’s workshops, Gene spent his salad days in Baltimore, Detroit, New York, and Harrisburg, PA, indulging in the unholy trinity of drugs, booze, and copulation. Divorced before twenty, and addicted to coke by his mid-twenties, he followed in the footsteps of his booze-addled forbears, laboring feverishly at the one thing he concedes he’s the best at—writing.

Where Gene succeeds and other authors who languish in angst and alcohol fail, is his willingness to reveal something better. “I’ve made an oath to rescue as many ‘cutout miracles’ as possible,” he writes. “Chancing upon something neither hipsters nor scholars have ever recognized as essential gives me the overweening sense of having rescued a dying animal.” Through his long-running publication Sex and Guts, which started as a cut-and-paste fanzine, Gene sifts through the insipid waters of American culture for mavericks like Simon Stokes, John Waters, and the Kills, who serve as vital counterpoints to the weak-kneed mainstream messiahs.

Inside the front cover of my copy of Dog Days is a note scribbled in permanent marker by Gene: A good anthem for this is: ‘Shoot Speed Kill Light’ by Primal Scream. Share it with someone dangerous. Thanks. Also included is a mix CD full of beautiful and tragic numbers—funeral music for the proudly dysfunctional. The emotionally-charged ballads of Warren Zevon and Stiv Bators are proof that Gregorits is not all sex and guts, but sentiment and a candid sensibility as well.

Gregorits’ new book was just released, Dog Days II, which was penned on napkins during his bid in the mental hospital, and Intra-coastal, a novel about his time living on the beach is also in the works. Like all of his treasured artists, directors, and musicians, Gene is best when discovered by accident, enjoyed in solitude of some decrepit watering hole. This is the stuff that makes you go out and create yourself—insightful semantics for the hopeless and hate fucked, stuck in a cracked and crumbling world, screaming at walls. Someone has to feel something. And that someone is Gene Gregorits.

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Tommy Dean

Tommy Dean is a New England native, one-time Bay Area denizen, and a current Midwest resident. He’s worked as an assistant editor and content writer to pay the bills, but likes to spend his afternoons crafting his caffeine high at the local coffee shop while typing madly about whatever enters his mind. Follow him on Twitter @tommymdean or check out his misadventures here.