PERMANENT OBSCURITY, Or a Cautionary Tale of Two Girls and Their Misadventures with Drugs, Pornography and Death by Dolores Santana (as told to Richard Perez)


Engaging, edgy story-telling, believable characters. A wild and fun page turner.


Strong language, sexual references. Not for the squeamish.

Full Review

PERMANENT OBSCURITY: Or a Cautionary Tale of Two Girls and Their Misadventures with Drugs, Pornography and Death by Dolores Santana (as told to Richard Perez)

BOOK REVIEW by Gianna Porcelli

Appropriating the form of the sexploitation novel (think of PIMP by Iceberg Slim), Richard Perez's PERMANENT OBSCURITY tells the tale of two women "on the outs" -- that is to say, broke or destitute. Dolores and Serena are like many outsiders who prefer not to buy into the American Dream, but instead want to create their own definition of the world, live life on their own terms. The question remains: is this any better? Or even possible?

This is a book about a subculture primarily. Losertown, some might say. Artistville. Grub Street, more accurately named, perhaps.

Drugs play a part -- a huge part -- both in this story and in this culture: this subterranean socio-class of disgruntled and angry artists (or would-be artists). And it appears that the author, Richard Perez, knows this world intimately.

Dolores is a photographer, Serena a singer/performer. They both want to pursue their own dreams; or at least escape the world of the mundane. The problem is, drugs. At least in this case, and mostly likely in most cases like this.

Dolores and Serena have substance abuse issues, although like most in this situation, can't bring themselves to admit it. Dolores is a pothead, Serena a snow queen. And both women are in debt right from the beginning, with no bailout in sight. Angry drug dealers are out there, and they're gunning for these two, which only further drives Dolores and Serena underground. At last, an opportunity arises, this opportunity evolving from Serena's involvement in the fetish world and her identifying as a domina (dominatrix); this chance comes in the form of a project they must produce and deliver: a femdom film, which will serve to pay back some creditors and possibly jump start their dream of independence.

With a writer on board (drafted through an ad placed, appropriately enough, on Craigslist), a scenario in hand, a camera "borrowed," the two stumble about in a haze of self-medicating drug-taking and paranoid accusations, but eventually pull it together ... and what is the result?

PERMANENT OBSCURITY is an artist's nightmare of sorts. The subtitle of the book gives you some indication of how things turn out. It's not as somber as it sounds; in fact, one of the impressive things about this novel is how the author manages to inject humor at every dark turn. This is not a mainstream book because of its subject matter and language. The novel contains a staggering amount of profanity, and there are times when the sexual nature of the material is a little hard to take. But if you like your entertainment on the edgy and dark side, don't mind a little vulgarity, then PERMANENT OBSCURITY may be perfect for you. But you've been warned.

I purchased this book through Amazon.

In Closing

This novel deserves to find an audience.