Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Book Review: Subsurdity by Eric Arvin

Reviewed by Alan Chin
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Jasper Lane is a well-trimmed, upper-middleclass neighborhood with a mixture of gay, straight, liberal, conservative, young, and old people, all a bit wacky and all reaching for the brass ring. There is not one central character, but rather everyone seems to play a part with equal billing. The story jumps from house to house, neighbor to neighbor as their stories intertwine, and in some cases collide. There is Cassie Bloom, the grand dame who likes to throw gay-porn parties and hides a deadly secret. There is Melinda Gold, the religious overbearing mother to son Patrick, who is trying to cut those apron strings. There is Steve, husband to Sandy, who gets laid off and ends up performing gay-for-pay porn to pay the bills. And there is Rick Cooper, the gay boy who just moved in with the neighborhood token gays, David, Cliff and Terrence. There is even a dog who goes by the name of Gay Hound.

This is a fast paced, easy read. It’s the kind of carefree read people take to the beach. It is often interesting, often silly and often funny. The story jumps from one character to another every three or four pages, of which there are about seven or eight main characters to follow. These characters often stumble into interesting situations, but unfortunately, because the story kept switching characters as it breezed along, I never got the impression that any of these characters had any real depth. Most of them were somewhat believable, and some, like Patrick (the young boy trying to pull way from his overbearing mother) were sympathetic. There were a few that we’re not so believable and neither were their situations.

There were also a couple of plot points, the murder mystery for instance, that simply didn’t work for me. There was simply not enough effort devoted to making it interesting or to impact the story in a meaningful way.

This is certainly not the kind of character driven, thought provoking book that I normally enjoy. Twenty pages into it I was rolling my eyes and wondering if I should continue. However, I must say that it did grab me, and I wanted to find out what happened to a few of these wacky characters. I do wish the author would have devoted more time into giving these characters more depth, however, I walked away from this one smiling.

If you are looking for gay “Literature” then I suggest you keep looking. If you simply want a fast and fun read that will lift your spirits, they I suggest you give Subsurdity a try.

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