Matt Forney
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Tool. by Peter Sotos

toolTool. (yes, the period is part of the title) is one of those books that will neatly divide everyone who tries to read it into two camps. The first will be disgusted, horrified, repulsed by Peter Sotos’ depiction of the seedy, taboo underbelly of modern sexuality: child molestation, peep show booths, crack whores and worse. They’ll call it a degenerate book and demand that Sotos be locked away from polite society where he can’t hurt anyone.

The second camp will enjoy Tool. as a disturbing, haunting look into areas of the modern world that few dare to explore.

Peter Sotos is yet another GenX “subaltern” writer along the lines of Jim Goad, Hollister Kopp and more who rebelled against the America of Prozac Puritanism and paid for it with his freedom. In 1985, Sotos was arrested for possession of child pornography based on the fact that the second issue of his zine PURE (a zine dedicated to serial killer and sex crime lore) had a close-up of a little girl’s vagina on the cover. As he comments in Tool., written not long after his prosecution, the three leading TV stations in Chicago all showed that image in their coverage of his arrest.

Hypocrisy, much?

Tool. is more than just an intricate exploration of the thoughts and motivations of child molesters, serial killers and other like-minded criminals; it’s a blistering attack on the prurient, hypocritical manner in which society treats these crimes. We condemn “sex offenders,” serial murderers and the like all the while obsessing over news coverage of them, filling the airwaves and newspapers with detailed down-to-the-minute updates of their escapades. A white girl goes missing in Aruba and it becomes the lead story on Fox News for months. Casey Anthony murders her daughter and her trial is broadcast live on every cable news station. Ted Bundy abducts and murders young women for years and is besieged with love letters while he’s on death row.

We piously proclaim how evil these men are, yet we just can’t get enough of them.

Just be warned that Tool. isn’t for the weak of stomach. From the very beginning, Sotos assaults the reader with graphic intensity, shoving you nose-first into the depravity of the world, forcing you to inhale every scent. The introductory chapter, loosely inspired by the Moors murders, gives you a taste of what’s to come:

I like to watch you cry. It gives me such a hard-on. Do you know what a hard-on is? Cunt? Have you ever heard of a boner? An erection? A blood-engorged penis? No? A hard-on is for you. That’s right. Just for you. It’s what defines your entire existence. It’s what made you. It’s what drove your stupid fucking father to plug your disgusting pig-slut of a mother and produce you. But it’s more than that. Because, really, your father’s imbecility and your mother’s greed are hardly worth dwelling on here. An erection, which is another name for a big fucking hard-on, is what forces men—lesser men—to lower themselves to even consider women. You didn’t know that, did you? You see, men and women are very different, and yours is a rather sorry lot.

Feeling a little nauseous? If you’re a typical Prozac Puritan, Sotos knows exactly where to shiv you. His violent, erotic prose is designed to make you uncomfortable by presenting you with the consequences of your obsession. While at times a bit overwrought, Tool.’s prose maintains the same level of intensity throughout. Each chapter is also bookended with quick observations on Sotos’ arrest and trial.

To be frank, the darkly orgiastic tone of Tool. is possibly the only honest way to approach this kind of subject matter. By confronting the reader with the inner monologues of child rapists and degenerates on the down and out, even if fictional, Sotos presents a more complete analysis of taboo sexuality than all the serial killer biographies in the world. This is life, whether you like it or not, and closing your eyes won’t make it go away:

Second token: her top comes off. She tugs at the rubbery nipples and presses her ugly tits against the window. Her breasts are relatively young and on the firmish side. However, the stretch marks tell a story of disgusting motherhood, so I assume their non-sagginess is explicable due to the needs of a wanting water-head. It is a pleasure to see one so young and yet already so used-up. It is heartening to know she’ll raise more humans in her own image. Tits, which are probably the most hideous thing on Earth next to the cunt, are dead giveaways in the failure stakes. So many women build their entire personalities on these homely appendages that it can only do a man good to see them slap and fidget here in their natural habitat.

The one major flaw of Tool. is “Mine/Kept,” a translation of a presentation given by Sotos two years ago. It’s not terrible, but its tone completely clashes with the much-older and better written text of Tool. I found myself skipping through large parts of it out of boredom.

Aside from this, however, Tool. is a poignant and penetrating look at the underbelly of modern sexuality. Prozac Puritans beware: Peter Sotos has your number.

Click here to buy Tool.

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