I really thought Jonathan Parks-Ramage’s ‘Yes Daddy’ was one fo those fun frothy summer reads. I knew nothing about it beforehand except for the fact that it had a gay protagonist. And the beginning of the book kind of felt that way. It turns out this book is a modern gothic thriller. That genre is normally not my cup of tea but I found the book very interesting, and as a natter of fact couldn’t stop reading it till the end – I finished it in three sittings. This book takes you to a wild journey and is totally unpredictable. You think it is going some place but takes a left turn somewhere. There were times I felt infuriated with Jonah, the main character/narrator b uty that even made the book more engrossing for me. I have to say that thsi is pretty well-written and is an auspicious debut novel from Mr. Parks-Ramage. I bet it becomes a summer hit.
When I was a college Freshman, I had an English class where we had to turn in an essay once a week, and it could be about any topic. I remember one time I did not know what to write about, so I wrote a ‘review’ of a film I saw over that weekend, ‘Pretty in Pink.’ I remember gushing about it, as I had enjoyed the film immensely. After I submitted the paper, I was called in by my professor, and he told me that I should explore writing about films, but I should also look at art with a somewhat ‘critical’ eye, and also write about things I do not like or agree with.
I just remember this anecdote as I write about ‘brat: an ’80s story,’ which is Andrew McCarthy’s memoir about his experience in the 80s. That film is what catapulted him to stardom. In the book, he writes about his experience shooting the film and had some great anecdotes: how Molly Ringwald was instrumental in getting him hired as her leading man yet they really did not have a close relationship while making the film. He also says he never really read the script until he was ready to shoot, and was right about how his character was portrayed (they had to do reshoots to rectify that)
The book is certainly well-written, but I still think he still held back some. He was forthcoming about his struggles with alcoholism, but we only get small bits about his bouts with cocaine and Xanax addictions. All in all, this is a much entertaining read, especially for someone who is a fan, like myself. I would have liked more on what happened next, and how he became a travel writer, and I am betting there’s a sequel tot his book.
YA books have the best ‘gay’ stories nowadays. I am continually amazed on how inclusive and accepting young people are when it comes to sexual orientation.I always say that my generation was the last generation to make a big deal about sexuality – after me we have kids who grew up watching reruns of Will and grace so to them it’s really no big deal.
Robbie Couch’s ‘The Sky Blues’ shows us that kids nowadays still have a tough time, though. There are still stray bullies out there who probably are being raised to be bigots by their parents. But this book also shows that those kids are in the minority – most younger people rally behind those who are oppressed.
I was attracted to the book’s premise, about a teenager, Sky, wanting to ask a fellow student to the prom. But there were big holes in the plot for me. First of all, kind of don’t like stories where gay men obsess over straight guys. Secondly, there were too many convenient coincidences in the plot to make it truly believable for me, especially in the ‘mystery’ part of the story. But it was a pleasant enough of a read for me.
Carter Sickles’ touching novel ‘The Prettiest Star’ is an AIDS novel. I remember there was a time when there were a lot of these kinds of stories – stories of gay men during the late 80s and up to the mid 90s affected by the plague. I used to devour these kinds of stories – these were the stories of our lives then. But things got better. Advances in medicine made the plights less urgent. Still, there are a lot of stories left unwritten, and I am glad Sckels wrote one.
The=is is Brian’s story, from Chester Ohio. After his lover Shawn dies, he goes back to his hometown of Chester, Ohio – to reconcile with his family, but really, to die. This is still 1996, though, wherein middle America still does not know much about the disease, and he faces discrimination and judgement.
The story is told from different points of view: from Brian himself, from Sharon, his mother, and also from Jess, his sister. I thought the voices were a little too close to each other’s, but the points get told. It’s a sad story of people’s intolerance based on ignorance. I would like to believe people now are more educated about AIDS but this story is a good snapshot of what was happening then. I was into the story deeply, and found myself deeply affected by it, probably reading the book during the pandemic did not help.
‘The Sunlit Night’ is a movie with a promise unfulfilled. It is based on a book, and stars a charming Jenny Slate, playing a character that could have been annoying. She plays Frances, who goes to Lofoten, a city in Northern Norway, to help a famous artist, played by Fridtjov Såheim, paint a house that will put his name on the map (literally) He is not nice to him at first, but eventually warms up – this could have been the central part of the story, and I would have been fine with it, but we get a sub story line with Frances meeting Yasha, who she remembers from Brooklyn – that romance is half-baked so you do not get a sense on why the characters are drawn to each other – and I felt the film almost forgets about the initial storyline, the one that drew me into the film. And they they add some weird characters and I am totally lost, and disappointed. I felt that the film was choppy and I bet the book and screenplay, both by Rebecca Dinerstein, was richer.
I have been in a reading rut. It was a good run there for a while but nothing has been sticking to me, so I thought reading something I coukd potentially relate to will get me out of it, so I chose Matt Ortile’s “The Groom Will Keep His Nam: and other vowd I’ve made about race, resistance, and romance.’
The book is a collection of essays from Ortile where he writes about his life, and his struggles as a gay Filipino-American in New York City after moving to Las vegas from the Philippines at the age of twelve. Surely, something in there should stick with me, as I have lived in both NYC and LV. But Ortile is a millennial, and honestly, I am a genration older from him. For me, the resistance was AIDS, for him it’s Marriage Equality and the Trump administration. I appreciated his honesty, and when he gets personal especially with his love and sex life, it’s refreshing and relatable. But part of his essays seem to be very lecture-y, probably part from his academia influence, and frankly, not what I am looking for, reading wise, in these pandemic times. I was expecting this to be a quick read, and it took me a while to get through it. It’s very good, but it’s mostly not for me.
I was looking forward to reading ‘Big Summer’ by Jennifer Weiner. Based on the synopsis, it sounded like one of those big summer books, one I can easily dig into while relaxing. And yes, it started out like that – a plus size influencer, Daphne, gets invited to the wedding of the year by her former BFF, and I thought this was going to be a story of renewed friendships and all that went with that. But no, the book veers into something else – a murder mystery. I mean, I am not averse to that, but really, it’s not what I paid for, And while the ‘mystery’ part started out well, I didn’t think it was as interesting to me as I thought it would be. In the end, this book became a big disappointment.
I think I was at about the seventh chapter of Mason Deaver’s ‘I Wish You All the Best’ when I exclaimed to myself, ‘this is very good.’ Nowadays it’s getting rare and rare for me to really emotionally connect with art, and I can say i connected with this one. The book is about Ben, who in the beginning of the book comes out to their parents as non-binary. he gets immediately thrown out in the middle of the night – in thirty degree weather with just his socks on. They call their sister who they have not seen in ten years, and they start to live with her, and study at a new school. So you could just imagine what they – and the readers – have to go through. I found myself riveted by everything – as he gets paralyzed by what is happening to him. They meet Nathan, and they fall in love with him. I have to admit this gave me a lot insight about what non binary is – I have not really been educating myself as deeply as I should have. But all in all, this is a fantastic story about self-acceptance and finding yourself in a world where you have to pick yourself up.
I have a pile of TBR books, and when I finish one, it is always tough for me to choose what to read next – do I go serious, or light? My mood changes a lot, and there have been many instances that I would give up on something a couple of pages after starting it. But I just randomly chose to read ‘Swimming In the Dark’ by Tomasz Jedrowski next. I knew this was a gay love story, and nothing else about it. I find out later that the title comes with a lot of hype, a bidding war for its rights when it became available.
Written in. first person in a form of a letter, the story is Ludwik, and tells initially of growing up gay in Poland. He realizes his orientation early on, and meets Janusz at a summer camp in 1980. They become lovers, as they go back to Communist Warsaw in 1980. It feels like a doomed love affair – Ludwik dreams of freedom, Janusz wants tp stay, and why not, since he has connections in the government and can lead an easy life – he has to pretend he is straight, and has no problems with that. Their story develops as the country has more conflict – rebels want freedom, and the government in charge desperately holds on to it. Even though we know that Ludwik is able to escape (he starts his letter writing fro m New York) we still get caught in the suspense of his story, and feel the depth of his longing for Janusz. It’s onw of those once-in-a-lifetime love affairs, and its setting has made it infinitely more romantic. This was one of those books I couldn’t put down and in fact, I finished it in a day. I wanted to know what happened next, and I luxuriated in the romanticism of it. This feels like it would make a wonderful movie as well.
I wanted something light and easy to read this time around, so I thought Jack Harbon’s ‘Meet Cute Club’ fit that bill. The title alludes to the weekly book club that main character Jordan holds in his house, basically a discussion book of romance novels. He meets Rex, who works at the local book store, and, well, you can probably can tell what happens next. If you want something warm and familiar, go for this, but do not expect depth. It’s cute, and with everything that is happening in the world right now, that could be refreshing.
P.S. I would be surprised if a man wrote this,