Laughing Really Hard 

Former Berkeley author mixes sex and humor.

Former Telegraph Avenue scenester and zinester Stewart Home -- his zine nom de plume was Karen Elliott -- has since been called, in Harper's, "the most interesting writer to come out of England for quite a while." There, he sold his personal archive to the Victoria & Albert Museum and honed a literary style that mixes laughs, lofty criticism, and, well, porn. New this month, Home's novel 69 Things to Do with a Dead Princess (Canongate, $13) concerns a young woman whose sex life involves a ventriloquist's dummy, stone circles, and serious discussions about Home's friend, the late novelist Kathy Acker.

"One way I could trace back my attitudes about sex and humor," Home tells the Express, "is through my mother, who worked in a lot of the sex clubs in London's Soho district in the '60s. It could be a tough life. When she was a hostess, my mom had to get the male customers to drink as much as possible to get her commissions which were based on the amount of booze the blokes she sat with consumed, so that meant she had to down as many drinks as she could get them to buy her. The clients were a pretty warped lot, so my seeing sex as humorous could well be traced back to that."

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