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Non-gay-themed Book Reviews > Faun, by Trebor Healey

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Ulysses Dietz | 1608 comments How odd. Like a magical "Catcher in the Rye," perhaps?

I read this on my Kindle, under the distinct impression that it was recommended as YA/LGBT friendly. Hmmm...

"Faun" is a fascinating, sometimes touching, always interesting picaresque novel about a Mexican-American fifteen-year-old in Los Angeles who finds himself transforming into a satyr - or faun. Aside from the disconcerting physical characteristics (horns, hairy haunches, hooves, and a tail) that bedevil him, Gilberto also seems to have a remarkable ability to cause spontaneous germination - which in human terms tends toward untrammeled sexual activity.

Jeez, what a lousy situation for a young Angeleno just trying to please his very religious mother and avoid the gangbangers in his East LA barrio.

As I read this, I thought of Candide and Don Quixote, both of which I read in college. It is a similar rambling, at times seemingly disjointed voyage of self discovery. It seems to follow a trajectory that leaves Gilberto a wiser, sadder, and cautiously optimistic young satyr ... and yet the ending felt entirely too lonely for me. But that's just me.

Two things about the context of my reading this book that threw me off completely. Somehow I got to this through a Young Adult LGBT book site on Goodreads - but I'm really not at all convinced this book is YA or LGBT friendly. There is no sex (well, lots of peripheral sex, thanks to Gil's gift), but lots of discussion and depiction of orgasms. (You'll have to read it, I can't really explain.) Also, for a book written by an apparently gay author, I found the relatively minor (if pivotal) gay component in this book to be largely negative and off-putting - reinforcing Gil's own clearly hetero disdain for anything gay.

Although, as the father of two teenagers, I really enjoyed the crazy alienated experiences of this teenaged faun-on-the-run; as a middle-aged gay man I found very little that would comfort an LGBT teen.

Clearly, from my rating, I liked this book - but it was not what I expected it to be and thus it left me feeling slightly disoriented, just like its hapless protagonist.

Ulysses Dietz | 1608 comments Actually, for my BackLot friends, I'll add that the book left me more than a little pissed off - in spite of the good rating. You all know how I feel about gay authors who dodge gay themes. I really felt the gay themes in this book were not only paltry but depicted negatively...the only (ironically) fully legitimized relationships in this book are heterosexual ones - albeit as a result of the faun's, um, powers. Sigh.

message 3: by Octobercountry (new)

Octobercountry | 1169 comments Mod
If only the main character was gay, I think this would be a must-read for me. But... the way you describe the book, it suddenly doesn't seem so appealing. (I've had it on my Amazon wish list for ages, but think I'll now put that purchase on hold for the foreseeable future...)

Ulysses Dietz | 1608 comments Octobercountry wrote: "If only the main character was gay, I think this would be a must-read for me. But...

I've been thinking - and perhaps I'm a little unfair. There are fairly strong plotlines about transexuals, gay folk, at satyrs, seeing them all as oppressed because they're different. But while Gil learns a strong lesson (like Candide or Don Quixote), he is very clearly straight, and it is straight relationships that are at the forefront (in a sort of a not very flattering way) of this tale. I still find myself annoyed at an award-winning gay writer who seems to pander to a straight readership. I'm sure he'd say that being gay doesn't matter in literature and he doesn't want to limit himself to gay. Ugh. (see, being a bitch again)

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