Friday, March 21, 2008

Review: You Can Run

By Jesse Archer
You Can Run: Glam and Gritty Travels in South America

Published by Haworth Press

Reviewed by Karl Barry


Imagine a hot guy murmuring in your ear a series of hilarious and sexy travel anecdotes at a party. This is the experience of reading You Can Run, an extended group of vignettes cataloguing the adventures through South America of Jesse Archer. Like a glamorous gay Alex Supertramp, Archer rejects settling into a middle class existence and lives for new experiences in the unknown. His delivery is pitch perfect combining his witty observations of a foreign land with a smattering of historical facts and a bounty of wild sexual escapades. At one moment, Archer and his on-again/off-again boyfriend in crime, Zane, are being chased by a crazed knife-weilding man intent on watching straight porn and at another he is being apprehended by the police for public indecency after stripping outside of a bus station’s bathroom as an act of defiance against the bitchy attendant. Numerous exciting sexual experiences are imaginatively retold and when no man is available the creative author tries to make due by using an under-ripe plantain as a dildo. This outrageously impractical travel guide serves up some delectable treats.

As the author readily admits, this book would be nothing without the colourful characters he meets along the way. These range from a larger-than-life pink-clad hotel mistress to a fantastically bitchy drug-addled party boy named Vu. Archer stumbles through the continent sometimes taking work as a waiter who can’t speak Spanish and an English teacher whose wealthy student only wants to know the meaning of cryptic ghetto rap lyrics. Archer backs up his superficial beauty and frivolous attitude with a fiery intelligence and passion for life. Through his travels the author proves that there is a beauty in pointlessness even if a “potato-faced” Bolivian justifiably declares he is ugly for the whole world.

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