It was destined that I would read this book, as the same day I was offered a review copy, I won an ecopy from Johnny Williams via another blog site competition! I am very pleased destiny stepped in because I had a great time reading Klub Kids, which is almost a trip down memory lane for me, although set in New York City.
Title: Klub Kids
Author: Johnny Williams
Publisher: New Punks Publishing
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
In one fall/winter season in the clubs of NYC, a lost soul parties with friends while looking for gay love. “Do you think that punk’s dick hair is blue too?” Packed with humor, candor and sex, Klub Kids takes readers on a ride as they join Johnny Williams and his friends on their clubbing quests to find love and the music to dance and dance and dance their butts off in this fictionalized fun read.
This novel works so well because the characters are all so colourful, interesting and so easy to love. The world of club nights and parties is viewed through Johnny‘s eyes, at a time when he is almost giving up on real love. I felt so much for Johnny, who doesn’t have the best of luck in his search for fun, friendship and something elusive and meaningful in a loving relationship. His adorable friends may seem superficial because the world they inhabit is, but they too are looking for love from behind the many masks and facades people use to protect themselves. In addition these friends show how close they are to each other in a variety of ways, not all of them obvious. The layers in these friends’ personalities and lives add something special to the wonderful humour.
In Johnny’s circle we meet his best friend, Danny, who works but is from a wealthy family and never seems to lack for money, friendship or partners. He tries repeatedly, to assure Johnny that he is gorgeous on so many levels, throughout the story, but Johnny’s low self esteem is too firmly entrenched. Brendon, is a slightly mysterious Goth figure. Seemingly always grumpy, smoking heavily and outwardly, disapproving of the outrageous displays of the likes of another of their circle, Jason. Jason is an adorable, fun loving Twink, always skipping, and seeing a rainbow coloured world sparkling with glitter and love despite a, hinted at painful childhood. His gorgeous looks and almost innocently manipulative manner bring him a lot of attention and expensive presents. There is also a slightly less influential couple in Johnny’s life, Carl and Jonathan who maybe represent a lot of what Johnny wishes for himself. The circle enlarges as the friends bring others in as boyfriends and wannabe boyfriends.
This circle of friends conduct the highs and lows of their lives against the backdrop of the club nights and parties, which will continue with or without them. The narrative style is such that you are swept along unaware of the amount you are learning about these young gay men and their hopes and dreams.
There is wonderfully ‘snarky’ but clever humour in this novel that had me snorting coffee several times and there are scenes that stay with you. Johnny, whilst earning some money as a waiter, is literally captured by a huge muscle bound drunk who takes a stubborn like to him. He imprisons Johnny on his lap, in the restaurant, bound by muscley arms and refuses to allow him to stand or leave, the police are called and at one point the manager tries with,
“Let our waiter go.” Will said. I felt like the Israelites being bargained for by Charlton Heston. Only this guy could EAT Yul Brenner.
Johnny’s following thoughts are,
My whole life started to pass before my eyes. God, how fuckin boring HAVE I been? Geez. I start to think of Danny’s life instead.
This story had me laughing out loud in so many places but through it all, I rooted for Johnny to find real love and he really does try. I won’t give away if, or where he finds it and I know there is a sequel coming hopefully this spring, which I have already said I wish to review and maybe persuade Johnny Williams to do an interview with me for our site.
I would have bought this book just for the scene, set on a small plane, flying the group to Key West for a holiday. One of the funniest pieces I’ve read in a long time.
There are some unfortunate editing problems, but I know the author is aware of them. The story is too absorbing for them to do more than niggle.
Like the Klub Kids themselves this story is not as light or superficial as it may seem at first glance. There is a darkness that haunts this tale and the lack of tolerance for young gay men is ever present in the background. Johnny quips,
…The World loves a bubbly sissy…I took notice that Jason’s bruises were still there. Well, not everyone loves a bubbly sissy, but by God, they will when I was around.
This book takes us to the end of New Year’s Eve and the next one starts just after New Year, and I can’t wait to read it.
2nd Edition Klub Kids
This is definitely an easier read thanks to better editing of Johnny’s work. All the same wonderful elements are here, the humour, witty introspection and heartbreaking sadness beneath the surface. Johnny is still the loveable, self deprecating romantic, desperate for true love, and who can blame him, we are all basically looking for the same thing.
As this was my second read I noticed more and different aspects that kept my rapt interest going throughout. I paid more attention to the humans of New York City who provide a backdrop to Johnny’s story, as much as the city itself. The Crazy cab guy, the make-up girl Jenny, the cruising hopefuls in the clubs and online, the skaters at Rockefeller Plaza and the ‘alien’ carriage driver. Johnny’s bit characters provide a human backdrop reflecting life back, and somehow make Johnny seem more alone.
On this second read I caught more of the fabulous turns of expression and mood, which this author can create in one paragraph,
What was my reaction? I didn’t know. I felt a loss again. But that’s always there. I felt cheated. Sad. Embarrassed. And stupid.
a few lines after this poignant sentence he remarks,
Maybe masturbation should be my main squeeze…maybe an occasional hotel room may make me feel special. Maybe I’ll buy my hand a glove…
I still loved the humour that I highlighted in my first review, the ‘let our waiter go’ comment still made me snort coffee. I found a new favourite as well as the adorable Jason wants a drink and asks,
Do you have anything that goes with little umbrellas? Brendon looked over and snapped, ‘Little galoshes.’
Along with the humour there is always the slightly cynical and sad reflections on life. Johnny made my heart ache with this wonderful visceral expression of loneliness,
I knew somehow I may end up alone forever. It slammed into my heart like a speeding car and I physically shook. As I gazed out onto the moonlight water, I cried once more for my dreams and hopes…
I was also taken with the amazing cultural references and intertextuality. References far more intricate and spanning a greater passage of time than you would usually expect in an author, as young as Johnny Williams.
I was going to finish with one of the jokes, but I found the words below so haunting I had to quote them here. Johnny is taking in Christmas New York, with his close friend, Jason,
He did snake his hand out to mine, holding it, pleased he had me blush a lot. But truth be told, holding this beautiful boy’s hand was no real bother. Just being near him was a treat to my soul.
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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