No Church in the Wild – Multi-genre mind and gender bender

Who is Bacchus Paine? You’ll wish you knew her by the time you’re done with this book.

First, why No Church in the Wild? Ms Paine is a scholar of ancient Rome. She teaches us that homosexuality is a modern notion that emphasizes gender, a state of being, whereas back in the (ancient) day, same-on-same sex was an action. You did it, or not, but that didn’t make you any more or any less a woman or a man. The modern load is much more to bear, since the action now implies that your manliness or your womanliness now requires a modifiying label; that is, homo- or heterosexual, for starters. In a state of a nature, that is in the wild, where are the judgements of the figurative church freighting us down? Nowhere.

Her tale explores the sliding scale of sexual preference, taking us through many of San Francisco’s festivals and a few of the neighborhoods, sometimes lovingly, sometimes with mocking, but always with finely rendered details of place or person. In that way, No Church in the Wild is a travelogue of the author’s beloved adopted City. Her ability to put you in the moment peaks simultaneously with her own frustrations, and you’re given a fearless exposition of her route to relief. Don’t miss it.

Woven throughout are her thoughts on the nature of memory, an oracular homeless man who may or may not be there, a long cast of beautiful characters, and some vocabulary straight out of the Annual Convention of the Modern Language Association.

This is a surprising and surprisingly ambitious book. I highly recommend it.


Author of Moby Dx: A Novel of Silicon Valley

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