About this book
The boy sleeps and dreams and wakes and feels the same. Different, but the same. The core of his body burns bright, hazy but strong. He's never felt so strong as he does now, on the verge of something he's not sure about, and terribly excited.
—from "The Boy Who Stopped"
In these raw, uncompromising stories, author George K. Ilsley explores the thin line between love and hate, and the outer parameters of desire that can both heal and destroy. Random Acts of Hatred infiltrates the dark confines of decidedly queer sensibilities, in which young men are undone by self-loathing and the powers-that-be, begging the question: What happens when people know they are hated?
And yet in between the primal fantasies and bitter ironies are images of humour and light: the wayward families, the unspoken gestures, and the faces in the mirror—of posers and dreamers, saints and demons. Both gay and straight, they suggest a new definition of masculine power as a field with two poles, dissonant and equal at the same time.
Evocative of Dennis Cooper and David Wojnarowicz, Random Acts of Hatred collects the fragments of a disintegrated generation, numbed yet empowered by their varied, inexplicable desires.
This is an amazingly strong collection, fearless and promising.
—University of Toronto Quarterly
Strong and poignant.
—Quill & Quire
Ilsley doesn't fall into the trap of writing stories that lead the gay characters into despair and/or death. Not that he puts forward happy endings; what he does do is give stories what can be called positive endings- ones filled with potential if the characters know how to grasp it.
—LAMBDA Book Report
Ilsley's language brilliantly pinpoints kinds of "difference.... Whatever form the violence takes, it resonates with truth and the queasy feeling of having a secret you don't understand but know you must come to grips with.
There are echoes throughout of Dennis Cooper's poetic depravity, of A.M. Homes' ironic eroticism, and even of Bernard Cooper's memoirish emotionalism - but Ilsley's lucid prose is infused with invigorating originality. . . quite a range, evident in every one of these accomplished pieces.
—Bookmarks by Richard Labonte
The tales [Ilsley] tells are uncompromising, stark and forceful reminders of where we came from and where some of us still live.
[An] edgy and engrossing debut story collection. . .
[Offers an]. . . unvarnished vision of developing gay identities warped by ignorance and abuse. Ilsley's subtext is clear: Gay Life, healthy or hellish, begins at home.
—The Globe and Mail
While the first half of the book includes fairy tales about quirky boys and men in dyfunctional relationships, the second half is a sucker punch in which llsley dregs up all manner of ugliness.
—The Ottawa Citizen
Random Acts of Hatredcracks the door wide open for us the reader, flooding the lives of boys and young men with a disturbing but radiant luminescence. Lovely book, Mr. Isley. More, please.
—Front & Center