Getting Over Homer by Mark O'Donnell

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Unfair to a book to write about if you read most of it while you weren't feeling well. Aside from life being annoyingly unfair I'd like to make a note of Getting Over Homer before it all fades.

Annoyingly I can't find the funny quote I thought most worth citing. The book's strength is witty one-liners and plays on phrases. The gift for short bursts of wit is as easily dismissed as it impossible to emulate.

My quote lost I guess I'll mention the plot. Blue, the protagonist loves foolishly. Yeah, who doesn't? His foolish love for Homer (not to be confused with the Happy Homo) is the glue that sort of holds the narrative together. O'Donnell is good at capturing that frustrated, unrelenting bafflement that the loved one isn't who we thought he was.

Interwoven with the story of Blue and Homer are flashbacks to Blue's childhood. At first they worked for me. As the book progressed they seemed to merely intrude, as if from a different novel. I grew tired of his family. Not that I blame O'Donnell. I'm not Irish, Catholic or from Ohio.

Back in Blue's recent past when our hero falls for a too young boy that he sleeps next to without having sex with. With whom Blue falls in love without the slightest sane reason other than the boy is pretty and seemingly naïve the story moves again for me. Partly it is the old story of the cruelty of an aging gay man and the youth that is slipping away from him and from the guys he can love. O'Donnell handles it without the clichés.

But the visits to the family worked increasingly less and less for me. They seemed to obtrude annoyingly into the narrative. By the end Blue wises up, for me it was as unbelievable as a Mark Sandrich musical. But you don't expect logic when boy who has met and lost girl is finally reunited with her. In a starker context when a mature man makes peace with his folly you need clearer integuments.

As much as I enjoyed Mark O'Donnell as a funny gay writer I left him as a gay novelist with a feeling of disappointment. Not that I wouldn't try his next novel or his other books.

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