Book Review”Skin Prayer”

Jason Okamoto

When reading Doug Rice novels don’t be surprised if you end up paying closer attention to the way you breathe. In a world that encourages superficial escapism, Rice’s novels put us back into our body. His latest book, “Skin Prayer,” published by Eraserhead Press, is no different.

Rice’s past novels have been controversial, to say the least. In 1996, Senator Jesse Helms spoke out against the author’s first novel, “Blood of Mugwump,” regarding its sponsorship from the National Endowment for the Arts. His follow-up, “A Good Cunt Boy is Hard to Find,” caused a stir when it appeared in the Sac State Bookstore with the “C-word” covered with tape.

‘Skin Prayer” is similar to “Cunt Boy” in that it is not one fluid story, but rather 27 stories split into three sections. Titles range from, My One Night with God, A Cancer of Desire and, my favorite, The Following is Digression. One might describe these writings as meditations or breathing exercises. Others might be taken aback by Rice’s freedom of language and could find it abrasive

Although some might view the book as being vulgar, it has an undeniable sexiness. Even in Rice’s recollections of the most violent nightmares, his prose exists primarily to arouse the senses.

The writing style of this book tends to mimic writers like William Burroughs and Kathy Acker, the later whom the first chapter is dedicated to. If one were aspiring to improve their use of proper English, this is not the book to read. First timers might think they are reading a maniac who was just given a typewriter.

Doug Rice himself insists that people buy the book to look at the pictures, but not actually read it. I would say he was joking here, but really, he’s serious. Photos include Doug at the beach, Doug as a child and Doug finishing a running marathon. Despite these sporadic photos, there is much more to the book and if one were not to read, they wouldn’t know what type of experience they were missing out on.