TITLE: SubSurdity: Vignettes from Jasper Lane
AUTHOR: Eric Arvin
GENRE: Literature/Gay and Lesbian
POINT OF SALE: Amazon
Snooty, sexually repressed, self-righteous, bible-beating suburban lawn Nazi Melinda Louise Gold has the perfect suburban life: perfect hair, perfect clothes, and a house that just screams, “Look at me!” Life couldn’t be more perfect on Jasper Lane. And then James moved into the neighbourhood with his running shorts and exposed nipples, adding just one too many half-naked gay men to her perfect paradise. But sometimes the illusion of paradise is just that, what goes on behind closed doors may not be as pretty as the shutters on the house. This story got off to a roaring start.
As we meet the cast of characters:
Terrence gives Ricky sanctuary upon his break-up with a gambling addict, which resulted in the loss of his eye; and then there is David and his porn star steroid enhanced boyfriend Cliff; Cassie with the secret government agent dead husband, whom everyone gossips that she might have killed him herself; Becky who does editing in the porn industry…Not to mention Steve, who recently lost his job and can’t begin to fathom how to overcome his feelings of being a disappointment to his wife. We also have sexy UPS men, a drag queen, and naked running military man who has just discovered he shares a secret with his deceased uncle.
The story is well written and the dark humour is funny as hell, witty, sarcastic, campy even, and yet so full of truth. The story has a wonderful mix—shaken not stirred—of quirky albeit rather clichéd soap-opera styled characters, and it reads a little like the script to a Queer as folk/Desperate Housewives episode, gay porn parties and all. But that’s not a bad thing. There is a lot going on with this grouping of oddly intertwined lives. The catch is, these are all very normal everyday lives and that is the beauty in this type of story—it exacerbates the ordinary and makes us laugh at our own ridiculous struggles and miseries. We have everything represented in this tale: marital issues, job loss, errant teenagers, Christian moral values at stake, illegitimate children, wicked mother-in-laws, addictions, block parties, pornography, tinis and sex in the afternoon, a little stereotypical bigotry, a minor jewellery entanglement, intrigue, desperation .. and some of the sex scenes are absolutely hysterical. Oh, did I mention the dead body?
This book is a good fun comedic romp into the absurdity of the suburban lifestyle—albeit a dark yet very realistic one, as the subplots provide for some very serious themes. And although the ending is predictable, it still gets you where it counts, right in the heart.
You don’t have to be gay to relate to the struggles in this story. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes gripping human drama peppered with a little camp to lighten the mood. This is also a remarkably clean text; I only noted a few typos.
reviewed by Cheryl Ann Gardner
Cheryl Anne Gardner, author of four novellas, is an Executive Assistant by day, an avid reader, and an independent reviewer with Podpeople.blogspot and Amazon where she blogs regularly on AmazonConnect. She is an advocate for independent film, music, and books, and when at all possible, prefers to read and review out of the mainstream Indie published works, foreign translations, and a bit of philosophy. She lives with her husband and two ferrets on the East Coast, USA.