by Matt Micheli
Smut is a very accurately titled book. If you don't like meaningless sex, hedonistic drug use, or incredibly hypocritical characters, you should never, ever read this book. However, if you're looking for an interesting character study of a character falling down a self-destructive rabbit hole, this is it.
Smut is, ostensibly, about Sam-- an overly rich and self-absorbed guy who lives with his best friend, John. Their lives consist of doing a lot of cocaine, drinking a lot of Maker's Mark, and having sex with a whole lot of easy, empty-eyed girls. This could almost be Patrick Bateman's early years, before he got all corporate, but was still pretty batshit.
Despite the characters seeming to be completely unlikable and Sam's self-professed sociopathy, everyone with speaking lines and a name are remarkably human. The friendship between John and Sam is real and true and, at times, heartbreaking, but in that oh-my-god-I'm-lucky sort of way. Like, if you've ever had a best friend, you know how they feel. They betray each other, take one another for granted, and, ultimately, really seem to care about the other. Through all of the awful things they do and all of the terrible decisions they make, it stays easy to be on their side.
There's a thing I really like about it, but I can't say it. It's too much of a spoiler if I do. If you want to know, after you've read the book, you can always message me somewhere and I'll tell you what it is.
You might have caught on in that first paragraph that I called the book a character study. It really feels more like that than a clear novel. There are hints that mean nothing, very little foreshadowing, and plot lines that serve mostly as distractions. And, when I say it like that, it sounds messy, but I was so intrigued by the style and character voice that I kept going. And all of those things, the distractions and stuff, it was so very true to Sam and integral to the plot. It's a story about how all of the stupid things we do and fill our days with can cost us the things we love the most.
*I was given a free copy of the book to review.