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Hogg (1995)

by Samuel R. Delany

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
226887,099 (3.3)14
Acclaimed winner of the William Whitehead Memorial Award for a lifetime's contribution to gay and lesbian literature, Samuel R. Delany wrote Hogg three decades ago. Since then it has been one of America's most famous 'unpublishable' novels. The subject matter of Hogg is our culture of sexual violence and degeneration. Delany explores his disturbing protagonist Hogg on his own turf--rape, pederasty, sexual excess--exposing an area of violence and sexual abuse from the inside. As such, it is a brave book.… (more)



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Aside: The Rating Details for this book (that little graph thingy at the top of the page) is one of the most interesting on this site. It has almost equal amounts of 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 star reviews!

I finished this book but only just. If there were any moral rules about writing books or if you had any scruples about what you read then all that would have been blown away before you finished the first page. If you are still reading at the end of the first chapter then you have done well.

I am neither squeamish nor narrow minded when it comes to books but I nearly threw up several times and had to force myself to follow the words on the page. This is the hardest book I have ever read due purely to its content.

The structure, characterisation, writing style, and flow are all superb. The book is totally coherent and it is only due to these things that I continued to read. For, mistake not, this is a truly great book but I doubt many would agree. I have read others saying that he just set out to break all taboos that you know of and then some that you didn’t. But that does not explain the solidity of the writing, it really is superb.

If you attempt to read this book it will test you like no other. Be brave because it will tell you much about yourself. If you think you are open minded or liberal or dare I say "modern" then don’t even bother because any pretensions about yourself will not last. A true test of form over content.

Even though it is only fiction it is as visceral and punishing as a good beating. ( )
  Ken-Me-Old-Mate | Sep 24, 2020 |
This is the story of a highly sexualised 11 year old blonde boy who accompanies a muscle-man for hire (who attacks women for their ex-husbands gratification or revenge). The blonde boy who is actually the narrator can only be said to fulfil the willing role of a catamite to various men throughout the story and he has a bizarre habit of being obsessed with eating shit. No other way to say it, sorry.
Yes, it is confronting and some of the scenes might disgust most people, but it's shock value is one of the tactics the author uses to give us an insight into the lives of the characters that we may never otherwise truly understand. As other commentators here have said: Get through the book to the end and you will finally understand it's meaning. Oh, and keep an open mind. ( )
1 vote Jayden.Boy | Apr 4, 2014 |
I read this book about half a decade ago now. It has stayed with me significantly, though not in the ways one would expect. I had, however, never though to write a review of it until recently, when I encountered a complaint about it online, complete with quotes around 'literature' in a description of it.
It cannot be literature, the traditional wisdom seems to cry, because it is graphically violent.

And in reading the reviews I was reminded of an incident I encountered in high school when a teacher began to introduce the famous essay by telling us how some people truly believed that it was Johnathan Swift's intention to actually suggest the sale and slaughter of Irish children for the purpose of consuming the meat. I thought to myself that no one could truly be stupid enough to take such a piece seriously. But sure enough, two days later when the class reunited to discuss the essay, one of the brighter students of the class had become convinced that the essay intended exactly that, despite the teacher having spelled the work out for us to begin with.
I read these essays if any of the reviewers are dense enough to really believe that Delany, or his fans, laud the actions of the characters of this book. I can only speak for myself, but my best guess is that no, no one does. I for one, do not.
The horrible feeling you have reading Hogg? THAT'S THE POINT. You are supposed to feel that way. If this prevents you from reading the book, I can well understand. There are several movie that I simply cannot watch, because I tend to over-empathize with the protagonist who constantly finds himself in compromising/humiliating situations. I shut these movies off half-way, but when asked my opinion about them, I do not say they were bad.
I say I couldn't watch it.
But I can tell from reading some of the reviews on this very site that if the reviewers read the book at all, they didn't read it very attentively.
"A man murders a young boy’s family and takes the child as ..." Actually, no, that never happens. Nor does anything remotely similar to that ever happen. The story begins with the narrator already in a pretty bad situation (ad fairly alright with the idea of it), and leaves with Hogg by his own choice. The reader who tackles this novel comes to learn that the young narrator is a rather evil creature (though whether this is to the horrors he has already seen or from his own nature is a debatable point).
But I seem to have sidetracked from my point. Reviews like the one quoted above seem to get so bent out of shape over the horrors of this book that they stop seeing the very narrative clearly. But frankly, if that is the condition you find yourself in perhaps you should refrain from reviewing it.
"one of the only literary characters with whom i share a surname is a violent, child molesting, coprophiliac rapist-for-hire. super." Cry me a river. Some people still share an unfortunate last name with Hitler.
Detractors aside, why the high rating for this book.
Because it has stayed with me throughout these years. Because having suffered the horrible acts within (and no, never lauding them) I have become something of a better person for it. I have taken away more from this book than many others I have read.
If you can stomach it the book can teach you much (and for those looking for a more intelligent synthesis of the worth of this book, there are several brilliant essays on it in "Ash of Stars". )
Oddly enough, I seem to be drawing a rather interesting parallel from these reviews to this piece of the book:
Every normal man -- I mean sexually normal, now -- man I ever met figures the whole thing runs between two points: What he wants, and what he thinks should be. Every thought in his head is directed to fixing a rule-straight line between them, and he calls that line: What Is. [...] On the other hand, every faggot or panty-sucker, or whip jockey, or SM freak, or baby-fucker, or even a motherfucker like me, we know --" and his hands came down like he was pushing something away: "We know, man, that there is what we want, there is what should be, and there is what is: and don't none of them got anything to do with each other unless --"
The bartender was shaking his head.
"-- unless we make it," Hogg went on anyway.
" ( )
5 vote M.Campanella | Dec 27, 2013 |
Reporting back from the beastly dark world that is Hogg…

Famous for having the reputation for being the most un-publishable book in history, I knew very well what I was getting into. But let me tell you, nothing could have prepared me for this. Nothing. This is the most disturbing, disgusting book I have ever read by far. And I have read some disturbing shit.

It begins: “This story is mostly Hogg’s. But first I have to tell you some about me.”

We learn that our narrator is an eleven year old boy. He is only known as “cocksucker” and sometimes just “boy” throughout the novel. He doesn’t utter one word throughout almost the entire novel. He doesn’t even nod or point or anything. He just does whatever is told of him. And he does it with extreme delight.

In the first chapter he tells us about his friend Pedro (“I used to suck off a sad looking thirteen-year-old spic named Pedro…”). Pedro prostitutes his fifteen-year-old sister Maria. They have a dirty mattress laid out in the basement. For a quarter, men would come to have sex with Maria. For free, our narrator would give them oral sex if they wanted it. At one point, a biker gang is having their way with Maria and our narrator, when Pedro’s father comes in. He is drunk. Instead of protesting what is going on, he walks up to Maria, pulls a guy off of her, and has sex with her.

And it gets worse from there. Much worse.

In the next chapter we finally meet Hogg. He is in the act of brutally raping a woman in an alley. He is punching her in the stomach and face. She begs him not to mess up her face because she has to work the next day and he can have it without hitting her. He continues punching her anyway. He rapes her and leaves her lying in the alley. She says that he tore something in her and she can’t walk. Hogg notices the narrator watching and goes and gets him and puts him in his truck and drives away with him.

We learn that Hogg brutally rapes women for money. That is his job. He has a couple of friends that sometimes help him. They call themselves “rape artists”. If someone is angry with a woman, they hire them to not only rape them, but to brutally mess them up.

Hogg gets his next three assignments from one of his clients, Mr. Jonas. They then go to a bar that Hogg knows his partners will be. The two men are only known as “Nigg” and “Dago”. Another boy, sixteen or seventeen, named Denny, go with them.

The three gang rapes that follow are unimaginable. The gang rapes are very long, raw, detailed, graphic, and extremely brutal. After the first one you think, there is no way it can get any worse than this. Then the 2nd one is worse (a handicapped girl is involved), and you think, okay, there is no fucking way it can get worse than this. Then the 3rd one is far worse (a “created” hole is involved).

And then someone goes off on a maniacal murder spree, killing (shooting, stabbing, strangling, beating) over thirty people in the small town.

The rapes include homosexuality too. In fact, they include mostly homosexual acts. The rapists usually have more sex with each other than with the woman being raped.

There is rampant racism in the novel but none of the characters are offended by it. It is just a normal thing in this world that Delany has created.

The feeling I had reading this reminded me of when I was young watching the movie “The Exorcist”. When the priest was in the possessed little girl’s bedroom, I would cringe with dread and horror at the ugliness, hideousness, and evil. When the priest left the room I would breathe easier and enjoy the movie more, but still knowing that he would enter that room again. That is how I felt reading the sex scenes in the novel (in between the rapes the rapists and other male characters would have sex with each other almost continuously): when there was no sex going on, I would breathe easier, but would still experience dread knowing that we would soon go back into “that room”.

On the back of the book, there is a quote from Norman Mailer: “There’s no question that Hogg by Samuel R. Delany is a serious book with literary merit.”

Do I think that Hogg has literary merit? Hell yes, I do. It has great literary merit. It reminded me of Sade a little, with the ultimate depravity, the urination and defecation during sex. But whereas Sade’s characters often seem two-sided, Delany’s characters were absolutely full dimensional people. And Sade’s characters would often speak remarkable philosophical musings, whereas Delany’s would mostly just mutter obscenities.

But if you want to read this and fully experience it and get something out of it, you must dedicate yourself to reading the entire book. Although you will want to quit it many times (like I did), read it to the end. It is at the end when you will experience an epiphany and truly understand what Delany was trying to do; and did.

In the Introduction, Rob Stephenson asks: What is the most disturbing thing about the novel? My answer? At the end, I felt sympathy for the character Hogg. The only way to truly understand my statement is to read the book .

(And by the way, please don't think I am advocating rape or violence here. The only thing I am advocating is good literature.) ( )
9 vote Quixada | Apr 19, 2012 |
one of the only literary characters with whom i share a surname is a violent, child molesting, coprophiliac rapist-for-hire. super. ( )
  Brian138 | Oct 7, 2011 |
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Acclaimed winner of the William Whitehead Memorial Award for a lifetime's contribution to gay and lesbian literature, Samuel R. Delany wrote Hogg three decades ago. Since then it has been one of America's most famous 'unpublishable' novels. The subject matter of Hogg is our culture of sexual violence and degeneration. Delany explores his disturbing protagonist Hogg on his own turf--rape, pederasty, sexual excess--exposing an area of violence and sexual abuse from the inside. As such, it is a brave book.

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Book description
Hogg is a pornographic novel by Samuel R. Delany. It was written in San Francisco in 1969 and completed just days before the Stonewall Riots in New York City. A further draft was completed in 1973 in London. At the time it was written, no one would publish it due to its graphic and copious descriptions of murder, homosexuality, child molestation, incest, coprophilia, coprophagia, urolagnia, anal-oral contact, necrophilia and rape. Hogg was finally published (with some further, though relatively minor, rewrites) in 1995 by Black Ice Books. The two successive editions have featured some correction, the last of which, published by Fiction Collective 2 in 2004, carries a note at the end stating that it is definitive.

* 1 Plot summary
* 2 Setting and characters
* 3 Literary significance and criticism
* 4 See also
* 5 References

Plot summary

The novel is told from the perspective of an eleven-year-old boy who, after being pimped in his friend's basement, joins up with Franklin "Hogg" Hargus, a trucker and rapist-for-hire. The boy, without name but frequently referred to as "cocksucker", satisfies the extreme sexual demands of everyone around him without, until the novel's final word, ever speaking. The narrator witnesses brutality after brutality, describing events in a flat tone of realism. He is treated by the men as property or disposable, even being sold to an unemployed dockworker for $15. The book's climax comes when Hogg finally expresses some affection for the boy, who is already plotting an escape.

Setting and characters

The novel takes place in 1960s America, and draws on several controversial groups in 1960s culture. For instance, the propensity for violence, murder, and rape found in several of the characters is likely inspired by the Hells Angels.

Hogg himself is most likely born of several sources, two of which can be found in Delany's autobiographical work: In The Motion of Light in Water (1988, ISBN 0-87795-947-1), Delany describes meeting a young woman who was sleeping on a school yard bench because her roommate had been the victim of some paid rapists. And in "The Scorpion Garden Revisited" (an essay collected in The Straits of Messina, 1989, ISBN 0-934933-04-9), Delany describes spending an evening at a bar with someone who claimed to have worked at that very profession. Some readers of Delany's autobiographical essay, "Eric, Gwen, and D.H. Lawrence's Esthetic of Unrectified Feeling" (collected in Atlantis: Three Tales, Seattle: Incunabula, 1995) have surmised that Eric, the foulmouthed milkman, was a prototype for Hargus, though the connection is tenuous at best. Eric's transgressions, unlike Hogg's, are entirely verbal; as Delany writes there, "Eric did not have an iota of the child molester in him . . . He would have been outraged by any such idea." Aside from the few minor characteristics in common (blond, nail-biting, truck driver), there is nothing of Hogg's despicable nature in the good-natured and friendly Eric, and no way to reconcile the two. Hogg's behavior comprises many elements of an all-but-insane sociopath, though he speaks coherently and appears to think rationally. He believes truly in the worth of his profession. He claims that to a sexually normal man, there is only what he wants and what should be. It follows that any deviant knows that there is what he wants, what should be, and what is, and those don't have anything to do with one another. Hogg's interpretation of the Is-ought problem shows that there is some rational thinking behind his heinous actions.

One of Hogg's gang of rapists, Denny starts out as a chronic masturbator but soon becomes a mass-murderer. The extensive media coverage turns him into a kind of celebrity. In a reflection of Hassan i Sabbah's "EVERYTHING IS PERMISSIBLE," found written at the scene of some ritual murders several years before the novel was written, Denny scrawls his catch-phrase of "ALL RIGHT" in blood on the wall of a bar, the window of supermarket, and the walls of several homes where he commits his crimes. This actually presages the Manson Family's notorious rampage (with its "DEATH TO PIGS" written in blood) which occurred less than two months after the completion of Hogg's first draft.

Delany provides little information about the 11-year-old boy who is the narrator. Much like the questionable Hogg/Eric connection, some readers have suggested that the narrator is a veiled version of the author himself. He has blond hair and is a little over five feet tall. He is sexually mature, able to have frequent orgasms, and seems to have a high level of intelligence. The incidents in the novel bear no resemblance to Delany's descriptions of his own middle-class, cultured childhood. The narrator speaks only one word in the entire book--the last word in the novel. According to all accounts of Delany's early years (including the above-mentioned works, The Motion of Light in Water and "Eric, Gwen, and D.H. Lawrence's Esthetic of Unrectified Feeling", and his pseudonymous autobiography.), such silence would have been all but impossible for Delany at that age.
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Literary significance and criticism

Despite the book's pornographic surface, respecte
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