Trying to get a feel for this book before you buy? Hate spoilers? Pull up a chair and let me break it down for you. The first thing you’ll discover ab...moreTrying to get a feel for this book before you buy? Hate spoilers? Pull up a chair and let me break it down for you. The first thing you’ll discover about Homo Action Love Story! is how sexually charged it is. Usually that sends me scurrying away from any book, since I prefer sappy and sweet, but it quickly becomes obvious that Monopoli can write long detailed sex scenes that are fun and playful. This is the sort of sex long-term partners find together—comfortable, but scorching hot at the same time. So even though I normally prefer less sex and more romance, Monopoli soon loosened me up (yeah, I know) and had me looking forward to the next tumble in bed.
Like his previous books, the essence of this one is about relationships. Dealing with separation, loyalty, unrequited love, ex-boyfriends, crushes, and even first and last times. Because the sex is more graphic this time around, Monopoli is better able to explore relationships in-depth, meaning the whole gamut of experience is there. As the novel progresses, it slowly eases into more familiar territory. If you’re worried that romance takes a back seat in this novel, don’t. There’s definitely a lot of love in this book to get you sighing and misty eyed.
The setting of Homo Action Love Story! is interesting. Set in the near future, Monopoli fast forwards our era to a time when sexual transmitted diseases are no longer a threat, homosexuality isn’t controversial, and people are a little more liberal with their bodies. This isn’t a future full of hover cars and robot maids. It’s very much like our world today, except without haters ruining all the fun. This creates the perfect playground for Monopoli to spin a wild tale. And yes, there are pirates, fashion models, and paintball pros, but each of the characters are handled with care and have depth. Likewise, every conflict has gravitas. There are no slapstick situations or resolutions in this book.
Ultimately, Homo Action Love Story! is a playful tale containing disarmingly astute commentary on what makes us tick. Sex is a force of nature in this book, but so is love. The characters set out on a journey of self-discovery, and by the time you the reader set the book down, you’ll likely have learned something about yourself as well.(less)
I can be prude when it comes to sex scenes, needing time to get to know the characters before matters progress too far. Every Time I Think of You star...moreI can be prude when it comes to sex scenes, needing time to get to know the characters before matters progress too far. Every Time I Think of You starts with a sex scene, but one so beautifully written that I wasn’t put off at all. In fact, it’s a fantasy that regularly went through my mind as I was growing up. I wonder how many other boys in the woods were having similar dreams. Regardless, the writing style is what first lured me into this book, and the characters of Everett and Reid kept me coming back for more. The relationship between the two characters develops almost instantaneously, and even though I’m a sucker for a long build, Jim Provenzano masterfully weaves the lives of two very different characters together. Everett is educated, strange and aloof, and his counterpart Reid is so earnest in his feelings that the reader can’t help but sympathize with him.
The happy couple is put through the wringer toward the end of the novel, and I have to give the author kudos for not skirting around the gruesome details. Disabilities are often treated with a manic optimism in many stories, I suppose with the intent of putting a positive spin on a difficult situation. Provenzano doesn’t avoid the shadows, allowing his characters to struggle, which feels refreshingly real and fair. He also provides a light at the end of the tunnel, so those that need their happily-ever-after should be okay by the end of the novel. I understand a sequel is in the works, which I think could be great. I finished the book still uncertain about who Everett was. Things like the Polaroid made me wonder if he was ever as dedicated as Reid. And Reid seemed to grow strongest on his own, although some of that surely came from his feelings for Everett. I’d love to see these two characters again, to discover what kind of relationship they have when the world isn’t keeping them apart.
There’s a reason this book is a 2012 Lambda Literary Award finalist, and Jim Provenzano has certainly earned the honor with this wonderful tale. Check it out yourself and see what you think. You won’t be disappointed.(less)
Had the pleasure of reading these two books from Josh Lanyon late last year, and have no choice but to join the army of zombie fanboys and girls that...moreHad the pleasure of reading these two books from Josh Lanyon late last year, and have no choice but to join the army of zombie fanboys and girls that follow Josh around everywhere. There's good reason this author is so immensely popular! I look forward to catching up with the rest of the impressive Lanyon back catalog soon.(less)
Who isn’t fascinated by prison life? I’ve watched a slew of movies and documentaries, but they always left me hungry for more detail. When I heard an...moreWho isn’t fascinated by prison life? I’ve watched a slew of movies and documentaries, but they always left me hungry for more detail. When I heard an interview with the author on BBC radio some years back, the concept of a gay man being behind bars intrigued me. Would he find it easier to cope with the sexual aspect of playing a boy to a man that protected him? I finally got around to reading this book recently, and boy was it a much needed eye opener!
I’m not much of a nonfiction guy, but Tim’s story reads like a work of fiction. The truth of prison life is even wilder than the glimpses I’ve seen on TV. What Tim went through, and what countless others go through while awaiting to be judged innocent or not, is sickening. And yet, the story also surprised with the occasional romantic moment. I only wish that the more positive and willing sexual moments were described in as much detail as the rape scenes. I understand why the author didn’t hold back with the unpleasant details, since the ugly reality needed to be exposed, but I would have liked to experience those rare and fleeting moments of beauty alongside of them.
As many other reviewers have pointed out, the book is riddled with typos, especially the second half. None of them take away from the compelling story though. It’s always clear what the author intended to say, and I didn’t find them troubling. While not always easy, I highly recommend this book to anyone curious about prison life, and the strangely homosexual/homophobic world that exists there. (less)
What you probably want to know from this review is if this book is any good. Rest assured, The Painting of Porcupine City is very, very good. Excellen...moreWhat you probably want to know from this review is if this book is any good. Rest assured, The Painting of Porcupine City is very, very good. Excellent in fact! The story is about two men, one who lacks direction in life, the other that’s well aware of his destiny and is seeking a way of getting there. One of these characters, Mateo, is so lovable that you’ll be sighing his name into your pillow at night. The other, Fletcher, is far from perfect, but it’s his journey that makes the story so interesting. If you can forgive him for being human (and you’ll need to a few times) then you’ll likely have a more sympathetic picture of him by the end.
The story focuses on relationships, platonic as well as romantic and sexual. I found the interactions between characters to be one of the great joys of the novel—the casual banter and minutiae of life making me feel I was there among close friends. Monopoli’s prose never disappoints. The lines on the page come across as loose and easy, which is a masterful deception because the book is full of carefully crafted descriptions that will knock your socks off. In fact, I went through about ten pairs of socks per sitting.
Sexy, sweet, and sometimes strange, The Painting of Porcupine City is a story not to be missed! Ben Monopoli’s second novel is a triumph, one that will leave me and countless others begging for more.(less)
I've read this series a million times and have been inspired by it for my own writing. This and Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality series are brill...moreI've read this series a million times and have been inspired by it for my own writing. This and Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality series are brilliant!(less)
Simply one of the best gay themed stories I've ever read. Brave and original, Orientation challenges the reader to question what love really is; somet...moreSimply one of the best gay themed stories I've ever read. Brave and original, Orientation challenges the reader to question what love really is; something physical, emotional, or spiritual? This one deserves to be one of the great gay classics.(less)