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.
The novel is told from the perspective of an eleven-year-old boy, who is unnamed, but frequently referred to as "cocksucker." It is not clear where the action of the story takes place. The narrator mentions various nearby areas - "Crawhole," "Frontwater," and "Ellenville," all apparently fictional locations in a nameless city which is portrayed as a sort of industrial wasteland, with much of the plot occurring at docks, truck-stops, and other seedy locales, and many of the characters described as workmen or wearing work clothes. The atmosphere is one of extreme filth, with most of the characters being both physically and mentally dirty - though this filth is enjoyed enthusiastically by the narrator and his companions, and becomes part of the novel's sexual landscape.
At the start, the cocksucker is living with a Hispanic boy named Pedro, and performing sex acts on older men in the basement of the dwelling for money, along with Pedro's teenage sister Maria. He engages in sex with Maria, Pedro, a gang of bikers, and a group of black men who are referred to as niggers. The cocksucker consistently assumes the "bottom" role in these sex acts, either fellating the men, licking their anuses, or stroking their testicles. He also enjoys licking the hands and feet of these men, in a further act of sexual submission. Most of the men engage in sex with Maria, though allowing the narrator to stimulate them or receive them sexually at the same time. One out of the group of "niggers," though, chooses the cocksucker specifically, remarking that he appears of possible part-black ancestry, and they continue their sexual experience. At the end of the day, the narrator and Pedro have made several dollars in quarters for their services.
The next chapter, unrelated to the first, introduces Hogg, first seen raping a woman in an alley. Immediately thereafter the cocksucker rushes to him and offers himself, greatly pleasing Hogg. The latter mentions that if the boy had refused to suck him, he would have shot and killed him for knowing too much about "his business," which, as he explains, is raping women for hire. Hogg travels in a truck, and is supposedly a trucker by trade, but his main vocation seems to be rape. He tells the narrator about his job, and a bit about himself and his personal history, painting a picture of his overall persona, which is one of extreme filth, violence, and sexual sociopathy. With the narrator, he drives to the house of Mr. Jonas, a very wealthy and mysterious man who pays Hogg to rape various women. After receiving payment for the job, he arranges the next one, assuring Mr. Jonas that the rape will be even more brutal and "effective" than the last one, as he states his intention to bring along several other men, and the narrator as well, to participate. Jonas reluctantly agrees and the two set off to rendezvous with the fellow members of Hogg's rape-gang. At this point the narrator's place as Hogg's companion is solidly established.
We are introduced to these men - Nigg, Wop, and Denny. Nigg, it turns out, was the black man who the narrator first encountered at the beginning of the story. Wop is a greasy and violent Italian-American workman with a brass ring through the head of his penis. Denny is a rather shy and impressionable teenage boy, older than the cocksucker but quite a bit younger than the other men. The quintet of rapists set about on their mission, which includes raping several different women in a remarkably brutal manner. The women are, variously, beaten with chains, stabbed, and sexually assaulted by all of the men, while the cocksucker stimulates them anally or, in some cases, orally. Each successive rape becomes more and more violent, and the victims' young children (male and female) are also descended on by the lust-crazed pack. During one of these rapes, Denny, in a fit of mania, decides to pierce his own penis, in imitation of Wop. With the help of Hogg, he manages to hammer a nail through the glans, and bend it roundways with a pair of pliers. Denny's penis begins to swell and bleed, seemingly infected, and at this point he begins repeating the phrase "it's all right," apparently having lost his wits after the self-mutilation.
When their last job is completed, the group retires to the "Piewacket" bar, where they drink beer and fraternize with members of a biker gang - the same one from the very beginning of the story. Denny drinks a soda and nurses the wound on his penis, all the while continuing to mutter his new mantra. Nigg and one of the bikers, Hawk, hatch a scheme to sell the cocksucker to a black tugboat captain called "Big Sambo." Without consulting Hogg, they ride away (all three of them) on Hawk's motorcycle to meet Sambo. A limousine - driven, as it turns out, by Mr. Jonas, Hogg's employer, causes them to crash the motorcycle, but they nevertheless make it to their destination eventually - the docks of "Crawhole," a waterfront area which seems to be occupied mostly by blacks.
The reader is introduced here to the character of Big Sambo, who eventually purchases the cocksucker for twenty dollars, negotiating the price down after alleging that the boy is part-black. Sambo is a very large, physically-powerful tugboat operator who keeps his twelve-year-old daughter, "Honey-Pie," around as a sex object for his own pleasure. While engaging in sex with Honey-Pie, he instructs the narrator to "eat his ass," which he does enthusiastically. Sambo then defecates - a great deal - into the cocksucker's mouth as he comes to orgasm, and the latter eats it up happily, pleasing Sambo very much. The narrator wishes, to himself, that he was still with Hogg, and while not completely unhappy with Sambo, expresses to the reader some desire to be reunited with his old companion.
The narrator then goes walking around the docks at night, where he overhears a radio on the deck of a garbage scow. The newscaster on the radio reports on a series of murders that has occurred recently - as it turns out, the suspect is Denny. This is confirmed to the reader when it is noted that the phrase "it's all right" is written in blood at the crime scenes. The Piewacket bar, where the gang had previously stayed, was attacked by Denny with gunfire, and several people including the bartender and some bikers were killed. After listening to the radio, the cocksucker has a brief stretch of time alone which he spends taking in the night air and observing the people on the garbage scows, the dockworkers and their wives, chatting and carrying on a friendly conversation. He spies two garbagemen - one white, one black - joking and kidding each other. The garbagemen spot the narrator, and approach him, at which point they both begin a prolonged sexual encounter with the boy.
It is at this time that the reader meets these two men. The white garbageman, "Red," is burly and red-haired; the other, "Rufus," is black. Both of them, the narrator notes (to his delight) have a great deal of "cheese" (smegma) inside their foreskins. The cocksucker goes to work on both of their penises, sucking and eating the "cheese" with great joy, and eventually eating feces from Red as well. Assuming correctly that he is Big Sambo's property, the two garbagemen plan to "borrow" the cocksucker from his owner, and keep him around their scow on a collar and leash, so delighted are they with his sexual enthusiasm. The narrator, for his part, seems to greatly enjoy the two men, praising their amount of "cheese" lavishly in his internal monologue (and even mentioning a recipe to make one's own.)
After being interrupted by a policeman (who joins in the sexual activity,) the group is surprised to hear gunshots and commotion, apparently caused by Denny, who has been traveling around continuing his murderous rampage. In addition, Hogg has taken advantage of the confusion to sneak into Crawhole and "rescue" the narrator from Big Sambo, who he beats severely after first having sex with Honey-Pie. The two escape in Hogg's truck, and it is then revealed that Hogg had found Denny and is now sheltering him, hiding him from the police. After driving out of the Crawhole area and getting clear of the law, Hogg has Denny bathe himself, dress in clean clothes, and sneak out to a truck-stop to hitch a ride out of town. Afterwards, Hogg and the narrator engage in vigorous sexual activity, during which the cocksucker uses some of the new "tricks" he has learned from Big Sambo, Red and Rufus (eating feces) which pleases Hogg tremendously. Thrilled that his young companion is now game for event the lowest and most taboo sexual activity, Hogg declares some sentimental feeling for the boy, and expresses his happiness that they are reunited.
However, unbeknownst to Hogg, the narrator has already tired of Hogg, wishing to return to the docks, Big Sambo, Red and Rufus. Specifically he laments (to himself) Hogg's relative lack of "cheese" as compared with the garbagemen, and desires to escape eventually and return to them. As he is formulating the plan in his head, Hogg finally asks him "What's the matter," to which he responds, "Nothin," speaking his only line of dialog in the entire novel.
Hogg, the title character, is a trucker, and he displays several traits which are stereotypically attributed to long-haul truck drivers. He is profane and harsh; he is greasy and dirty; he is constantly in a state of lust and sexual arousal. However, his characterization goes far beyond any commonly held notions, into the territory of broad caricature in an over-the-top fashion which, in its obscenity, is a testament to Delany's creativity. Hogg lives in utter filth, and revels in it. He proudly claims to "piss in his pants" rather than use the restroom, and he never wipes after defecating - a habit which gives him worms, which he claims he refuses to get rid of "'cause I like the way they make my asshole itch." Everything about Hogg is flagrantly filthy, and he delights in shocking "polite society" with his persona, as in the sequence in a truck-stop diner where he urinates on his seat, grabs at a waitress, and screams obscenities at the staff.
On a deeper level, he is an eternal wanderer. With no home, he lives out of his truck, which has a sleeper cab in the back - appropriately filthy, smelly and containing "dog turds." He has no bank account, being paid only in cash, and his only friends appear to be the fellow rapists in his "crew" who help him attack women. The cocksucker, therefore, provides a degree of comfort to him, however crude. The narrator's eager and ceaseless acceptance of whatever sexual act Hogg throws his way makes him the ultimate traveling companion, someone who is eternally receptive to him. The cocksucker, by choosing never to speak, allows Hogg an audience to confide in, albeit a silent and non-responsive one. Nevertheless, Hogg's affection for the narrator is sufficient that he goes out of his way to "rescue" him towards the end of the book, superficially an act of selfishness, but arguably also one borne of a legitimate desire for the boy's companionship, sexual and otherwise.
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, 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, 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.
Delany provides little information about the 11-year-old boy who is the narrator. He is described as being white, blond-haired, a little over five feet tall, and he is clearly capable of complex thought and a degree of self-analysis through his own internal monologues (as he never speaks a word until the book's last line.) One of the more confusing, and interesting, dimensions of the cocksucker is that of his race, which is quite ambiguous. He is frequently referred to as a "white boy," a "honky," and other slang terms for a Caucasian by the other characters, both black and white. On the other hand, Nigg suggests fairly early on in the book that he may have black ancestry, pointing to the kinkiness of his hair and the shape of his nose, suggesting that he is a "quadroon or octroon." When he is bartered to Big Sambo, Nigg and Hawk insist on his being white, in order to demand a higher price (assuming that a young white boy would be more valuable as a sex slave.) However, Sambo does not believe them, citing the cocksucker's physical features as evidence that he is at least partially black. However, towards the end of the novel, the narrator wonders to himself "what they would think when they find out I'm a nigger" - clearly indicating that he views himself in this way. His casual use of the term suggests that he means it merely as a descriptor and not with any negative connotations.
Much like the questionable Hogg/Eric connection, some readers have suggested that the narrator is a veiled version of the author himself. However, 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.
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.
Wop is a very greasy Italian-American workman, who is described as handsome, although filthy, and quite hairy. He wears a jumpsuit which is partially unzipped. He sports a brass ring through the head of his penis, which he makes other characters (including the narrator) pull on forcefully during sex. Wop's real name is later revealed to be Anthony Danatto, when he is mentioned in a radio broadcast towards the end of the book after surviving Denny's murder spree. He is married to a blonde woman named Alice, who he offers to his fellow rapists for a gangbang.
Nigg is a very dark-skinned black workman who is an acquaintance of Hogg's and accompanies him on his rape jobs. He is first encountered by the narrator at the beginning of the book, and then later after he joins up with Hogg. Nigg is generally a good-natured and cheerful individual, rarely displaying anger, and readily agreeing to any sexual practices, including urinating on Hawk. He wears no shoes, and is dressed in frayed denim clothing.
A tugboat captain, Big Sambo lives aboard his vessel (which, at the time of the story, is temporarily out of commission.) He is an extremely large black man who enjoys being the recipient of analingus. He has a twelve year old daughter named Honey-Pie who he engages in sex with and offers to other men as well; the narrator is traded to him for fifteen dollars to serve as a live-in sex partner.
Red is a burly and hairy garbageman who works aboard a garbage scow in the harbour. He is covered in red hair, which is the source of his nickname. He is notable for his extremely long foreskin, which contains a prolific amount of "cheese" (smegma) which the narrator loves to eat and lick. The narrator suggests that he must pro-actively "raise" his amount of cheese by ejaculating inside the foreskin, then urinating a small amount, and then tying it in a small knot so that the urine and semen ferment to produce "curdy" cheese. Red is a friendly denizen of the mostly-black Crawhole harbour and seems to get along very well with his black neighbours despite the racial difference.
Rufus is Red's partner who operates the garbage scow with him. He is a compulsive masturbator and has been known to practice this activity in public, even in a movie theatre at one point. Rufus and Red have a brief sexual encounter with the narrator after the latter wanders away from Big Sambo's tugboat, and they express an interest in borrowing him and keeping him on a leash in the cabin of the garbage scow which they live aboard. Towards the end of the book, the narrator actually expresses a desire to run away from Hogg and return to Rufus and Red.
Literary significance and criticismEdit
Despite the book's pornographic surface, respected authors have given their endorsement. Norman Mailer, for instance, said "There is no question that Hogg by Samuel R. Delany is a serious book with literary merit."
- Brown, Charles N.; William G. Contento. "The Locus Index to Science Fiction (1984–1998)". http://www.locusmag.com/index/b132.htm#A1755.21. Retrieved 2008-01-01.
- Samuel R., Delany (1995). Hogg (1st ed.). Fiction Collective 2. ISBN 1-57366-049-3.
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