Dahl, Ken – Monsters




Herpes!  Did I scare any of you away?  If so, it’s OK, you can’t get herpes from reading this review.  Well, I guess it would technically be possible if you’re reading this at a public library, and a guy with herpes put his infected dick on the keyboard before you walked in and, after typing for a bit, you put your fingers on that cut you got on your lip the other night.  Then you might get herpes.  Herpes remains a shockingly awful disease in the eyes of a good number of people, as it’s incurable and can pop up at any time once you contract it.  This graphic novel is Ken’s tale of going from a guy who made fun of people with herpes to a guy with herpes, and the transition is about as smooth as you’d expect.  It starts off with cold sores and moves down to the vagina of his girlfriend, as you’d probably have to expect.  Their life is turned upside down, as how do you react to something like that?  Every sex act became a question and a hassle.  The relationship quickly crumbled, or “quickly”, as it did take both of them a while to get over the fear that nobody else would ever love either of them again so they’d probably better stay together.  They were quickly given proof that they were contagious (his ex gave it to her new partner), and Ken’s real life of shame began.  He thought that he was utterly unworthy of love, a monster that existed solely to infect other people, and everything became a question.  Should he even share a bottle with somebody without telling them?  What about kissing?  What if somebody snuck a kiss in before he had a chance to tell them?  The guy tortured himself about it for years before finally digging into the scientific literature, and at that point it gets a whole lot less terrifying.  A few numbers for you, oh readers, just in case you don’t buy this book for some ungodly reason.  75% of American adults have HSV (herpes), and 70% of new cases are acquired during asymptomatic shedding, meaning that the person has no visible signs of the virus.  The main STD test available doesn’t even test for herpes because it’s so common.  But hey, you may be thinking, I’ve never shown a symptom of any kind, and neither have the bulk of my friends, so that 75% is ludicrous.  Actually, most of the people who get the virus don’t show any outward signs, often for their entire lives.  You could get married and grow old without showing a single sign, then have an affair at 60 and pass it on to your new (though old, technically) lover.  When it comes to herpes we’re all doomed.  So fine, but isn’t there a comic in here to talk about?  Yes, there is.  Ken gets more than a little maudlin at times (hey, wouldn’t you if you thought your sex life was forever over?), but this book is packed with facts and sources for those facts.  And did I mention that it’s funny?  He’s self-effacing where needed, and it’s rare that you see such an honest journey of self-discovery without it being a TV movie.  It’s never overbearing or preachy, and I just flat out learned a lot from this book while being thoroughly entertained.  That’s a hard line to walk.  As Jeffrey Brown says on the back cover, this book is required reading for anybody who has had sex, is going to have sex or wants to have sex.  It’s just a fantastic book in every way I know how to judge ’em.  $18


Posted on April 24, 2010, in Reviews and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Dahl, Ken – Monsters.

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