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on 18 March 2006
I cannot praise Joe Babcock’s debut novel highly enough. It is unbelievable to think that it was originally self-published…it deserves as widespread an audience as possible. Yes, it is, in essence, a ‘coming out’ novel; and yes, there are a huge range of novels available in this genre. However, this one absolutely must be read.
Without going into too much detail, the novel is narrated by an initially closeted gay teen, Erick, who has been brought up by a guilt-ridden Catholic mother and a physically present, though emotionally distant father. The family is quietly tormented by the death of Erick’s younger brother in an accident several years previously. Repressed and isolated in his disinterested family home and persecuted by his peers in his rigid Catholic school, Erick meets an older drag queen, Chloe. His first meeting with the fabulous Chloe changes Erick’s world forever…
The power of this work lies primarily in the force of the narrator’s voice. The writing seems so effortless; the words just flow with such ease and fluidity, pulling the reader along with the current. One can’t help but compare it with works such as ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ due to the frank honesty of Erick’s perspective on his world. For the duration of the novel you enter into his mind, feel his self-loathing, and share his hurt, anguish, confusion, and, ultimately, his hope that the present just cannot be as good as it gets – that there must, surely, be somewhere that one can feel truly comfortable with oneself.
Without wishing to wax lyrical, it seems to me that there is a new generation of arresting authors, shaking up the establishment with vitality and a fresh, contemporary perspective. Joe Babcock undoubtedly is among this swathe, along with others such as J T LeRoy, Kief Hillsbery and Blair Mastbaum. It is an electrifying time for gay literature. Once you’ve devoured ‘The Tragedy of Miss Geneva Flowers’, check out Joe Babcock’s second novel, ‘The Boys and the Bees’. And then eagerly await his next…
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on 14 August 2011
Brilliant - sexy, eloquent, frightening, sad but ultimately uplifting. A gay teen's route map crashing all manner of red lights but doing an ultimate u-turn, seeing sense and recovering the real world. A very moral tale.
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