Author: Marshall Thornton
Publisher: Kenmore Books
Cover Artist: Design by Marshall Thornton, Image by markovka via 123rf
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 07/28/2016
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction, Gay, Gay Fiction, Humor/Comedy
Queeny cocktail waiter, Lionel, wakes up to find himself in bed with Dog, a straight-acting softball player and the two embark on a rocky road to romance. A journey that requires coming out of the closet, going into the closet, a pair of red high heels, many pairs of red high heels, a failed intervention, a couple of aborted dates, and homemade pom-poms. Mostly, Lionel and Dog learn what it means to be a man.
Marshall Thornton, you rock my world, once again. Rock. My. World.
How… yeah… how am I supposed to… what? Gah! F@#! Because, fo reals, how does one review a Marshall Thornton story? You’d think I’d know since I’ve been here several times, experiencing, revelling, sinking, loving, pumping of the ‘YES!’ fist, but reviewing?
I shall do my best!
I was waiting for a compliment. Instead, Dog said, “I don’t live here.”
“What a relief! I hate it when people move in uninvited.”
Actually, I might not have minded so much if he had moved in uninvited. He was cute in a lumbering, jockish sort of way.
There’s obvious humor, subtle humor, in your face humor, clever humor, and Thornton knows and uses them all in this tale and these characters, Lionel and Dog, and their friends, and their not-so-much friends, and their family.
That was Lionel. And then? We get Dog’s point of view. pumps fist (See! Told ya.)
This allows us readerly types to learn two important things about both of these people: the mask they’re often wearing for most of the rest of the world which leads to their initial perceptions of each other, and the reality that is going on underneath. I was immediately wanting good things for them, whatever the context. I did feel like the switches sometimes come too quickly (they’re clearly marked), but I think this has more to do with the fact that I like both of these guys’ voices a lot and didn’t want to leave one for the other, each time, making for the most satisfying of vicious circles.
This story is a big F.U. to stereotypes, and how people use them to hurt one another, and how that action is never justified. No one is a stereotype but everyone feels love and pain and everything in between. There is so much more I could say on this but I refuzzle to give anything away.
As usual, Thornton places these ordinary people in ordinary situations (and some not so, in some of his other books), working his magic to create unforgettable characters and emotions that leave permanent marks. This is a much more realistic “meet cute”, with runny noses, missed opportunities, and the appreciation of a good blush.
He blushed a bit. I like a man with good circulation.
There are ups and downs and all-arounds in this story, with conflicts that aren’t avoided or used as cheats but instead headbutted and dared, placed in the spotlight. Upping of ye ol’ stakes, anyone? And all of this takes place around a couple of local bars and a softball team. Getting back to the mask theme, this is about why so many people have to walk around hiding who they are, always self-evaluating their behavior to make sure the mask hasn’t fallen. It’s exhausting. Frustrating. Maddening. Painful. Life is already a giant spider of a challenge, no one deserves to carry that extra burden around practically 24-7. This is also about how respect, love, humor, and all of the good things in life can help fight against the forces that foster this current reality.
All of the supporting characters are well-played and well-placed, from the sarcastic sister – and the awesomely portrayed sibling relationship between her and Dog – and the parents on opposite ends of the support scale, the odd friends, jerk of a hole who thinks he has everyone under his control, and the dive bar owner with her knowing ways.
Thornton exceeds my expectations in unexpected ways. Not that I go into one of his book with any specific ideas about what’s going to happen. I know better than that. His stories get me pumped. Inspired. And make me grateful. His insight and the way he shares it are abilities not many both have and are willing to share.
Thornton writes the way people really think:
The look on his face told me that he knew I was avoiding capitulation, and he didn’t mind. And that was kind of interesting. He didn’t have to make me wrong for him to be right. I couldn’t remember another time where I’d fought with someone and it was okay to be right and wrong at the same time. I wondered what that meant?
I love this book. I love Lionel. I love that there is much more he and Dog have to learn about each other, and I imagine them being able to spend their lives doing just that. Also, they’re both funny as all git out, even when they don’t realize it. At the end, I lost count of how many times a guffaw leapt from my gut. The end itself felt a bit rushed, and I think that’s because most of the story itself covers a relatively short amount of time, so this was out of sync.
Back to the love, though, because I looooooooove this book and it is one of my top reads for 2016 and one of my favorite’s of Marshall Thornton. You betchur sweet bippy I recommend this’n!
This review is based on a copy purchased by the reviewer independent of any review copies offered.
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