Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5
Funny, sexy, evocative, and brutally honest, Ripe is Alan Semrow’s ode to relationships with men. In this epistolary book, Semrow writes to the men who have impacted his outlook, reminded him of basic life lessons, surprised him in more ways than one, and left him reeling for days. Writing to one-night-flings, men he has never met, and men he’ll never stop running into, Semrow touches on some of the most constant human themes—love, lust, desire, and the yearning for connection. All the while, the book details a man’s journey navigating and blooming by way of the modern gay scene. Readers will find familiarity and hard truths in Semrow’s statements about the intricacy and explosiveness of the intimate moments we share.
I honestly thought that reading someone’s letters written to men that they’d met and slept with would come with, well, more introspection, more self examination in depth and less self frippery. Instead of getting the feeling that the author has spent real time pondering these man and their impact upon the direction his life took, the reader comes away thinking Semrow was writing his hookup version of Jimmy Fallon’s Thank you notes. These letters read just that shallow.
And about as sexy and funny.
Each with a title such as Dear Sunday, Dear Flannel, Dear Only Child, they all quickly blend together into one familiar narrative. The author meets someone or arranges to hookup with someone, they go to bed, he leaves thinks about him/them, letter over. On and on. If you are looking for sexual details, yo can skip that too.
Ripe: Letters just comes across more as someone keeping track of all the men he slept with or couples and then making a note next to them. “Liked him, would do him again”. ‘Nice sex, he made me smile.’
Something you might expect to see in a little black book (do they even have those anymore?), or a diary. Certainly not anything of enough heft for a book, not in this format, at any rate. Might have been funny but again, not as the letters posted here. Perhaps instead of posting letters, the author will reflect on the whole, wait a while, and find a new path for an narrative adventure.
Cover art is cute.
Sales Link: Amazon