Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Book Report - Last Summer by Michael Thomas Ford

I almost put this book down after reading six pages.  Not another story about some thirty-something drama queen in a tizzy because his boyfriend cheated on him.  But I decided to give Last Summer by Michael Thomas Ford a chance.  After all I was I in PTown and this was my one unread book on the shelf I picked for beach-reading.  (As we know, I don't read with much speed, so am now just finished - weeks from when I last sat on the beach.)

The initial scene with Josh's angst and indignation about his boyfriend cheating with a guy at the gym was just too familiar - it hurt.  I was reluctant to keep reading, but, thankfully both the writing and the story line improved in subsequent chapters.

Josh, the storyteller, heads to PTown for a few days to clear his head and emotions after learning about his boyfriend's infidelity.  The few days becomes an entire summer of new friends and assorted characters:  there's Ted and Ben, the owners of a guest house where Josh lands and who made me think of the Hat Sisters; Jackie, the dyke who owns a restaurant, and wants to have a baby; Toby, the gay teenage runaway; Emmeline, the Southern born M to F transsexual nightclub singer who wants to make her transition complete; Reilly, the butch townie carpenter who is engaged to be married to his childhood sweetheart; Ty, the hot new Hollywood star who is in the closet but in love with his producer and a cast of other more or less interesting characters.

Michael Thomas Ford draws his characters with adequate depth and personality and they are able to tap the appropriate emotions to keep the reader engaged in the unfolding events.   Last Summer may not be the great American Gay Novel but it is rather quintessential; it is light, humorous and entertaining.  The style is almost too conspicuously similar to Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City, with the characters weaving in and out of one another's lives in short, fast moving chapters that keep the reader wondering what will happen next.

Grab this book and a lawn chair , pour a gin and tonic and put an ocean soundtrack on your iPod.  You'll enjoy a trip to a somewhat surreal Provincetown.

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