Rating: 2.75 stars out of 5
“In this nonfiction coming of age mini memoir, Kevin and Jason embark on an adventure to Philadelphia to visit friends and to get into their normal hijinks. Along their journey, they confide in each other the only way best friends can; through laughter, love and pain. They share stories of coming out, first time sexual experiences and dramatic events that changed their lives forever. This hilarious and heartfelt journey through the past can only strengthen their friendship in the present.”..Jason Lloyd
I used the author’s blurb for his story because, honestly, this book is hard to describe in plot or category. Fiction? Non-fiction? Jason Lloyd himself calls his book “creative non-fiction” so anyone’s guess would be accurate. It features Jason Lloyd taking a car trip with his best friend Kevin, aka” Monkey”, on their way to a weekend reunion of sorts with some old friends. Jason Lloyd uses their road trip as the framework for a succession of personal remembrances and flashbacks into his childhood and early adult years.
It all starts in the Prologue, 40 Minutes After. Jason and Kevin are in route and a tractor trailer is coming at them head on. Jason’s life passes before his eyes and the flashbacks begin to….exactly 40 minutes before.
Not exactly a bad beginning but shortly after we find out that this is all so much smoke as the truck misses them and they are back on track to make their rendezvous in Philadelphia.
My issues with this story started almost immediately with the arrival of Kevin at Jason’s place. His “brazen steps” announce Kevin’s presence like a “herd of elephants”. Loud, heavy, right? Then Kevin appears and “prances” and “frolics” over to the refrigerator. So heavy and assertive have given way to light and airy? The word choices here are enough to flummox Funk & Wagnalls. Kevin himself is no picnic. Is Kevin real? A character? A real character? Not sure exactly. However, he is prone to calling people the “F” word, he is unshaven, wearing old Christmas pajama bottoms, a dirty t-shirt without sleeves as Kevin typically cuts off the stained, smelly armpits rather than wash them. Offensive thy name is Kevin. And this is someone the reader (and Jason) will spend the entire book with. I found Kevin and his nigh constant verbal spouting of derogatory terms and epithets not only irritating but repulsive. And you are in the car with him and Jason for 150 pages.
As they motor down the road, a conversation between them will bring up a memory which is followed by a flashback into Jason’s past. Whether it is childhood bullies and the nickname Troll from grade school or remembrances of his closeted years, each segment seems to pop in and out without much effect or depth. And those events should make an emotional impact on both the reader as well as Jason but that never comes across.
In additional to a jumpy flow to the narrative, the reader is also offered up such insights into Jason’s thoughts like this one:
“Bi was just a slippery dick before Homoville.”
This is Jason remembering how he told people he was bi because he wasn’t ready to come all the way out of the closet . Jason figured bi was more palatable. And yes, I can almost see the cringing from some that this sentence causes. Jason is the narrator here of his own life and freedom of speech certainly applies. But I found this offensive and I am certain others will too. But this is one of the less derogatory sentences to appear here. The “F” word is so liberally thrown around that I thought I must have been at a anti LGBTQ march. How you feel about that will let you know whether this is the book for you.
And all along the way, there are just plain odd sentences strewn here and there. Jason says at one point “his voice can no longer make a signal only dogs can hear..” Uh, you don’t make a signal with your voice, you make a sound, signals being, of course, a sign or gesture. Jason also believes in “fate, kismet, and serendipity.” Hmmm, one of these things are not like the others as the saying goes but Jason Lloyd appears unaware of that fact. Here is the quote:
I have always been a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. That just maybe the stars hold our fate. I would like to believe in fate. Serendipity. Kismet. I guess I am like a sappy Hallmark card in that way.”
Well, I can hear Hallmark shuddering now. I would like to think a rather large red pencil and a determined editor could have fixed some of these problems but honestly, I just don’t know. I hate being the person who rains on a new author’s parade so to speak but I can’t see any way around it here. If you are a friend or fan of Jason Lloyd’s, then pick up a copy and see if you appear inside. But for all others, wait for the next book from Jason Lloyd to be released and give this one a pass.
Cover art by Jason Lloyd. The picture is unfocused. Is that intentional or not? I suspect not as the type font for the title and the author’s name is blurry too. Poor quality control cheapens the entire design.
ebook, 150 pages
Published June 12th 2014 by Ginge Publishing