Hmmm…an existentialist tragi-comic gay romance. Yep, that’s what I think we have here.
Author: Kevin Klehr
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publisher: Wilde City
From the Publisher:
Close friends Allan and Warwick are dead. They’re not crazy about the idea so to help them deal with this dilemma are Samantha, a blond bombshell from the 1950s, and Guy, an insecure angel.
They are soon drawn into the world of theatre – Afterlife style, with all the bitchiness, back-stabbing and ego usually associated with the mortal world.
Allan also has a secret. He has a romantic crush on his friend, Warwick, but shortly after confiding in his new angel pal, his love interest falls for the cock-sure playwright, Pedro.
Not only does Allan have to win the heart of his companion, he also has to grapple with the faded memory of how he actually died.
Update: Drama Queens and Love Scenes has been picked up by Wilde City Press and will be re-released on 1 October along with its sequel Drama Queens and Adult Themes. The review below reflects the original version, but only editing has changed between the version. Watch Prism for a review of the Sequel soon.
Allan and Warwick are best friends. In fact, Allan is pretty sure he’s in love with Warwick. Allan’s uncle surely seems to think so.
Trouble is, they appear to be dead.
Kevin Klehr’s debut novel kept me a little confused at first. The tone of the writing seemed somehow…off. I couldn’t quite roll with it. However, as I got to know the protagonists, Allan and Warwick (who are, by the way, Australian, as is the author), the consistency of this odd tone allowed me to settle in and just embrace the book’s quirky style. There is an underlying camp quality to Klehr’s writing that, as I acclimated to it, became part of the surrealism of the setting. Magical realism isn’t something I’ve read a lot of, and I think that term best describes the overall manner of this quirky, interesting novel.
The closest equivalent I have experienced is the 1991 film Defending your Life, with Albert Brooks and Meryl Streep. I can’t remember reading any novel, and for sure not a gay novel, that dealt with this topic in this way. In the end, Klehr’s novel moved me in much the same way that Brook’s film did.
The “drama queens” in the title shouldn’t let one think this isn’t a serious book. There is a certain farcical aspect to the plot—a series plays within a play, all involving the various characters who befriend our puzzled protagonists in the afterlife. Both Warwick and Allan were wannabe actors in life, and this fact is at the core of their existential destiny.
I don’t want to reveal too much about who these supporting characters are, because those revelations are part of the pleasure in discovering the oddball world that Klehr has created. I will say, because we meet him right away, that there is a beautiful gay angel named Guy. Who can’t fly. I really loved him; he becomes the emotional lynchpin of the book.
Something that makes me fond of Drama Queens with Love Scenes is that it flouts m/m convention throughout. It is clearly a love story, but it is not the sort of highly choreographed plotline that the m/m market seems to want. It is a messy plot, and perhaps at times a little too messy. The denouement took me by surprise, and left me a little rattled; but that’s existentialism for you.
Klehr thanks his editor in his foreword, but I’d have to gently suggest some more careful editing next time around. Mostly it was fine, but there were some weird errors that threw off my concentration, and in a delicately structured narrative like this, it is especially unfortunate.
In the author’s after-notes, Klehr says that he’s working on the sequel. I’m not sure how one would follow this story, but I’d appreciate the opportunity to find out. As much as I resisted at first, I ultimately fell in love with the premise and the people; I’d like to find out more about where they go next.
Keep on writing, Kevin. We’re waiting.
While you are waiting on the new release, check out the new book trailer.
I would like to thank the author for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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