Below is the latest Book Stew Review from Eileen MacDougall, the host of the 80+ episodes of Book Stew, a 30-minute video and podcast devoted to writing in all forms, featuring authors, playwrights, voice artists, and journalists.
‘The Guncle’ by Steven Rowley
If you’re lucky, you’ve got a guncle (gay uncle) in your life. This novel starts out in formulaic mode, overflowing with gay male clichés and sentimental tropes, but it ripens and deepens as the lead character, Patrick, labors through the losses of his lover and his best friend.
The twist is that his best friend Sara had married Patrick’s younger brother Gary, who collapses after her death from cancer and checks himself into rehab, leaving Patrick with a Palm Springs summer as custodian of his young niece and nephew.
Patrick has exiled himself to the desert community after the end of his successful TV series and the loss of his lover Joe in a drunk driving tragedy. His humor and sarcasm initially fly over the heads of nine-year old Maisie and six-year old Grant (with his endearing lithp, like Ron Howard in The Music Man), who are also fragile and learning tough lessons of living without their mom.
The recovery of all seems predestined, but there’s mistrust and canyons of grief to overcome. Patrick is a hoot, and his journey of learning how to return to the world while keeping the lost loved ones close is very affecting and enjoyable.
Quote: “Many friends hugged him tight and declared some version of Where Have You Been?, each putting their emphasis on a different word in the question.”
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