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An innovative poetic interrogation of wrestling, queerness, and staying true to oneself Quinn Carver Johnson’s debut collection, The Perfect Bastard, follows its titular protagonist, a nonbinary and queer professional wrestler, as they travel across Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Missouri, working for a booker known as the Puppeteer. Inspired by their idol Adrian Street, the Perfect Bastard strives to positively represent queerness and resist the Puppeteer’s stereotypical and demeaning kayfabe. In the ring, they face off against the likes of champion Jack Holiday and the First Crusher, but their most important battles, against the Puppeteer, take place behind the scenes. They must choose between person and persona, authenticity and humiliating hype, if they want to succeed in the industry. When offered success on the grandest scale—the championship belt—in exchange for mocking their own queerness, the Perfect Bastard questions their path: Will they betray their identity to achieve their dream, or will they walk away from the world of professional wrestling—a world that refuses to make a genuine, healthy space for them?