Review: My Favorite Uncle by Marshall Thornton

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

My Favorite UncleMartin Dixon lives a life of quietude and certainty.  Having reached the age of almost 50, Martin has his job and his friend Ricky, his condo, a failed love affair in his past which continues to torment him (as he often tells others), and not much else.  But he is content or at least he thinks he is.  Martin has not kept in touch with his family since his coming out, so no one is more surprised than him when his 18 year old nephew, Carter, shows up unannounced on his doorstep.  Carter is hungry, dirty, and in need of a place to stay and Carter intends that place to be with his Uncle Martin.

Martin doesn’t know what to do.  He hasn’t seen his nephew since he was in the single digits and he has never been all that fond of kids, no matter whose they are. Then Martin finds out that his brother turned ultra Christian conservative and when Carter was discovered with another boy, Carter’s parents turned him over to a mental hospital hoping to “cure” Carter of his “gayness”.  With that fact in his possession and his gay nephew eating in his kitchen, Martin knows he  can’t turn Carter away.  But what is he to do with Carter, someone who has always been home schooled and kept away from society at large?

And the situation is further complicated because both uncle and nephew irritate the heck out of each other.  But they are more alike than they know when each decides the way to the other’s heart is to provide them with a boyfriend and romance.  Can things get more complicated?  Why yes, they certainly can!

How I wish I liked this book half as much as I love its cover.  By all accounts, I should adore My Favorite Uncle.  The premise is priceless…almost a guaranteed shoo in to my affections.  The writing by Marshall Thornton?  Wonderful.  He has a way of writing snark that will have you smiling, the narrative flows with a rhythm that works with dry comedy and that cover?  Hell to the yes, I am almost singing the Brady Bunch song just looking at it.  So why the long face, girl, as they say?  Well…that would be the characters who I like about as much as they like each other.  And that’s not a lot.

Basically Martin is an old codger at 50 (almost).  His life is as dry as a Texas gulch in summer.  He works on close captioning for a profession at home, he has a friend with whom he goes about a limited schedule of things he wants to do and places he wants to go.  He’s intelligent and semi happy with his life.  And when his nephew pops up unannounced at his door, expecting sanctuary, or at least a shoulder to cry on and a place to live, Martin is profoundly unhappy.  That’s not the problem.  Who would be thrilled under those circumstances?  That’s a typical human reaction to a stranger, albeit a relative, arriving needing help. Thornton even has Martin aware that his reaction to his nephew is as small hearted and cold as it appears  to  Carter and the readers.  But this reaction continues throughout most of the story, and while I was waiting for Martin to warm up to Carter, I was equally aware that I was unable to warm up to Martin.  I could understand his reactions and predicament. Martin didn’t want his orderly life upset.  Got it.  I just couldn’t find it in myself to like Martin who continued more out of guilt than  a sense of compassion.

Carter too is a special case as far as a character goes. He’s a naif who finds himself in a sort of gay Disneyland or in this case Long Beach.  Want sex because everyone knows gay men have sex like a gazillion times a year?  Get told to stand outside a gay bar at closing time and take your pick and do it!  Carter’s assumptions about what it means to be gay are both hilarious and sad.  I  really liked Carter. His unformed personality actually made sense.  Thornton kept that persona true to a teenager isolated in a conservative Christian household (or any ultra religious household, doesn’t matter what religion) where any connection to society and modern cultural milestones is kept at a minimum.   His family’s reaction to finding out Carter is gay?   Send him off to a mental hospital to be “de gayed”.  How true and horrific that this continues to be legal.  But that’s another issue for me here.  What happened to Carter is undercut by the manner in which it is brought up and brushed off for most of the story.  Only towards the end does that segment of Carter’s life get the appropriate attention. And by then its almost too late.  But Carter is that character who won’t be suppressed and he bounces back and right into the reader’s heart.

Is this a light, dry comedy? Realistic family drama?  Bit of both, as it should be. But for that to work in a story it has to flow seamlessly and realistically between the two, incorporating it into the plot as just one more thread amongst  many in a tapestry.  Instead both are highlighted here by the author’s treatment and it feels more jumbled than a realistic messy whole.

I liked the end.  All were family although not friends.  Some things don’t change.  Never did enjoy being in Martin’s company, I had hope for Carter and his furture, and liked his adopted group of friends/family.  Ernesto, his mother, Ricky, and all the rest. That was nice and even familiar.   That’s how I feel about My Favorite Uncle.  It was mostly nice, while parts of it were wonderful, consistently funny and dry.  Other segments are so detached that the reader is kept at arm’s length away from any emotional attachment to the characters and their fate.

If you need to feel intimately connected to characters and their stories, then the almost indifferent air to the narrative here might make My Favorite Uncle not the story for you.  But if you find that fine writing, interesting characters, no matter how detached or impartial you might feel about them, and a terrific premise are all you need, then My Favorite Uncle is right up your Kindle!  I will leave the choice up to you.

Cover art by Wilde City Press.  OK, I love that cover.  Shear perfection!

Buy Links:   Wilde City Press                 Amazon                 My Favorite Uncle

Book Details:

ebook, 220 pages
Published June 25th 2014 by Wilde City Press
ISBN139781925180176
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.wildecity.com/books/gay-mainstream/my-favorite-uncle/#.U61yfLG4O8Q
charactersMartin Dixon, Carter Dixon
settingLong Beach, California (United S

Booking it with Richard Longfellow’s Private Practice! (contest)

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 Richard Longfellow has stopped by today on his Private Practice book tour with a contest to enter and an excerpt to heat up your day!

Book Name: Private Practice
Author Name: Richard Longfellow
Author Bio: Richard Longfellow resides in London, Great Britain. He’s tall, dark and handsome and currently unattached. When he’s not tending to his patients, he enjoys stroking cats, films with happy endings and opening the very best champagne, although not necessarily in that order. He has absolutely no connection with the school described in the text and his father never wore a Rolex watch. This is his second novella of quintessentially British, gay erotica.

PrivatePractice3Title:  Private Practice by Richard Longfellow
Cover Artist: 3 Rusted Spoons
Publisher: Dark Hollows Press
Buy Links: Dark Hollows Press
Blurb:

Mark has film star looks, a body to die for and a successful career as a gynecologist, but he’s
lacking something – like a boyfriend, for instance. He’s also a porn star on the side with a
hundred DVDs to his name and a libido to match. Then, along comes a patient who seems all
set to destroy everything. Will he be able to talk his way out of the mess this time? Perhaps
he’ll need to call on divine guidance from Holy Joe, the school chaplain, who already knows
so much about his past…

 

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PrivatePracticeBadgeTour Dates: 8/8/14

Tour Stops: Parker Williams, LeAnn’s Book Reviews, Prism Book Alliance, MM Good Book Reviews, Love Bytes, The Hat Party, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Jade Crystal, Amanda C. Stone, Cate Ashwood, My Fiction Nook, Because Two Men Are Better Than One, Hearts on Fire, 3 Chicks After Dark, Fallen Angel Reviews, Iyana Jenna, Smoocher’s Voice

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Contest:  Use the Rafflecopter link provided to enter and for additional contest details.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Rafflecopter Prize: E-book copy of Private Practice.

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Excerpt  NSFW:

The venue for Mark’s screen test was in the swankiest part of Notting Hill and the stucco-fronted house looked straight out of the eponymous romantic comedy. He walked up the steps of the porticoed entrance and just knew there’d be a butler. The guy who answered the door addressed him like a butler, but his topless uniform and knowing smile definitely broke the mould. The ornately-framed pictures lining the stairs hinted at wealth and nubile youths featured prominently; in fact, some were almost three dimensional in their prominence. The sound of talk and laughter trickled down from the first floor.

Following where the noise was coming from, the room Mark entered wasn’t like that of a typical party. Aside from the lavish buffet set out to one side, it looked like a plush home cinema, with reclining chairs arranged in rows and a huge flat screen TV at the end. Curiously, there was a dais to the right of the screen on which a cello stood waiting to be played. Most of the guests were men but there were a few women as well. Mark fleetingly wondered whether he was on the menu for their entertainment.

Someone kissed him on the cheek. “Doc, it’s good to see you again!” Mark was pleased to see it was the irrepressible Steve fully recovered from his operation and looking exceedingly handsome in a tuxedo and bow tie, his rebellious spiked hair complementing his conservative garb.

“Shush! Remember I’m here incognito.” Mark stepped back to inspect his night-time lover. “You look incredible! How come the tuxedo? I thought you’d be entertaining everyone in your jockstrap.”

Steve smiled. “Ah, that might come later, but first I’ve got something more serious to attend to.” He started walking towards the dais. “They’ll call for you when they’re ready,” he said over his shoulder.

Steve walked up to the dais. Mark decided he must be the master of ceremonies in charge of the evening’s delights. Instead, Steve sat down behind the cello and lifted the bow. He smiled at Mark, as if to say, “Hey, this is the real me.” As the prelude of J. S. Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 cast its spell, the guests stopped talking and moved to the chairs. Mark found himself thinking back to the comment made by his registrar. He wished the bigot could see Steve now: a dancer, porn actor and amazing musician who probably brought more meaning into the world than any third rate surgeon. A tap on Mark’s shoulder brought him back to the here and now.

“They’re ready for you, sir,” said the semi-naked waiter with a wink.

Mark followed the waiter to a corridor on the left just past the buffet. The guests were entranced by Steve’s playing and barely cast him a glance. He was glad he hadn’t eaten anything as butterflies were busy at work in his stomach. An open door with bright lighting beckoned. He’d expected something like a smart bedroom. Instead, it was a sizeable photographic studio with centre stage appropriately given to a super king size bed with black sheets surrounded by all the paraphernalia of filming.

“Hey, posh boy, long time no see,” said someone to Mark’s right.

 

Mark turned to look at the guy. He was the same height as himself and had blond hair that flopped into his eyes. He was grinning broadly. He was also naked and his dick and balls had been freshly shaved.

“Christ! I don’t believe it!” exclaimed Mark. “You’re the one who gave me a blowjob! And you’ve had your tooth fixed!”

The guy ran his tongue sexily across his teeth. “Yeah. That’s one of the perks of this business.”

“So, how long have you been doing porn?”

“Just over a year.” He looked long and hard at Mark. “You know, I sort of wondered whether I’d see you again. I mean, that dick of yours is quite something.”

e cupped Mark’s groin. “Yup, still there.” His own dick was getting more erect by the second. “Mm, I can’t wait…”

Mark looked surprised. “So, it’s us together, then?”

“Of course, darlin’.”

Just then, someone who seemed to be in charge came over to greet Mark.

“I’ll be on the bed waiting for you,” said the naked guy, walking back to the bed with his dick bouncing energetically. Mark realised they still hadn’t exchanged names.

“You must be Mark,” the man said, shaking his hand. “I’m Eduardo and BritSpunk’s jack of all trades and master of none – in other words, Talent Manager and Assistant Director.” He was a bit short but had a nice, engaging smile and was nothing like the sleazy character Mark had imagined. “I see you’ve met Frank. He’s clearly keen to get on with the shoot. But let’s run through some preliminaries first.”

They found a couple of chairs and Eduardo started checking items on a clipboard. “So, Mark, how old are you?”

“Twenty-five.”

“Gay, straight or bi?”

Mark was initially surprised by the question but remembered some guys were gay-for-pay. “Gay, although I’d probably be okay with bi.”

“Excellent. Top or bottom?”

“Both.”

“That’s even better. Flexibility is a big help when we’re casting. Now, what about your dick size? Steve’s a size queen, so it must be big.”

“Nine inches.”

Eduardo raised his eyebrows. “And girth?”

Mark had measured that before he came out as he thought he’d be asked. “Six and a half.”

Eduardo looked surprised. “Really? That’s impressive. Have you done any sort of porn before?”

“No.”

“Finally, do you know your HIV status?”

“Yes, I’m negative. I’ve got my test results if you need them.”

“Fantastic, Mark. I think that’s everything we need for the moment. If you’d like to take your clothes off and join Frank on the bed, we’ll get on with the shoot.”

As Mark was undressing, he could hear Steve’s cello. He found it surreal but also comforting, as the music seemed to bridge one world he knew and another he was just about to discover.

 

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