The hilarious New York Times–bestselling cult classic “of such perfectly realized awfulness that it will suck your soul right out of your brainpan” (The Village Voice).
For talk show host Gillian Blake, the suburbs have long been a paradise. On the radio, she and her husband are Gilly and Billy, local media stars and “New York’s Sweethearts of the Air.” At home they’re the envy of their neighbors. Only in the bedroom is their life less than perfect. When Gillian learns that her husband has a mistress, she takes revenge the only way she can. With each lover she takes, her lust multiplies, until this demure housewife becomes a creature of pure passion. No man on Long Island—be he hippie, mobster, or rabbi—is safe when Gillian goes on the prowl. Written by Newsday columnist Mike McGrady and a couple dozen of his reporter colleagues under the pseudonym Penelope Ashe, Naked Came the Stranger was one of the great literary hoaxes—an attempt to produce the steamiest and most over-the-top novel of all time, good writing be damned. A sensation upon its first release, this tale of Long Island lust remains a wildly amusing parody potboiler.
Gotten Better Over Time
I recall “Naked Came the Stranger” when it was first published and the notoriety it achieved when the way it was created became known. I also recall the “author,” a suburban housewife called to service when the book got traction and the consortium needed a front to appear in the media, pregnant too.
At the time I was just out of college and wouldn’t stoop to read a woman’s sex novel and when its pedigree was revealed, I was even less motivated to pick it up.
Many years have passed since then and my expectations of style, plotting and character development have changed. When I saw this novel recently, I downloaded it. I enjoyed the new preface which refreshed my memory of how the book was created and added detail and insight.
But the book itself seemed contemporary in plot and style and pretty much equivalent to popular fiction being published today. If there were revisions made to update the technology mentioned and substitute contemporary references, “Naked Came the Stranger,” would be competitive with most if not all current popular fiction. It has a casual, zingy plot, strong female protagonist and even message (if the reader is willing to accept it).
Fun book that makes no claim of enduring value, but now a book that I not only enjoyed but heartily recommend. The story of how it was created just adds to the enjoyment.