Part of me hardly knows what to say to really do this one justice. Barry Grooms has it all going for him for a guy who’s at “settling down” age – hell, at any age: a great business, awesome houses (one in Key West? Fuck yeah!), two doggies he adores, and, most of all, a wonderful partner, Andy. Only Andy and the dogs are killed in an accident, on Barry’s birthday. Damn....
Barry goes into meltdown for a while, completely understandable. He ends up transferring the business and giving his Key West place to a drag family in need. Then Barry decides to move to NYC, where he takes a job running a theatre souvenir shop with a whack-job owner. Barry then pushes himself to move on to a series of worst-than-the-last dates. Holy unresolved grief, Batman!
Ok, that sounds like a “read,” but you know what? It’s also totally realistic. Barry frustrated me a bit at times, but his grieving experience was his own, and if you don’t occasionally get frustrated with your friends' decisions you might want to evaluate the depth of your friendship. The frustration probably peaked with Barry’s “relationship” with a vigilante/artist/protester/against-everything hipster kid who might have reminded me rather a lot of my members of my own family. But hey, that kid made Barry look sensible in comparison, most of the time.
And while I said it’s a tear-jerker (oh, it is), it’s also packed with chuckles and guffaws (are there no prettier words for laughter? Really?) Ross’s writing at times put me in mind of Chuck Palahniuk, only more theatre references and less hallucinogenic what-the-fuckery.
Speaking of theatre (and other cultural) references, I, for one, genuinely appreciate Ross’s not talking down to readers and not over-explaining allusions.
Also, I keep wanting to call him Robbie Ross, but it is in fact Rodney….
Thanks again, Rodney!
(Thanks, also, from the GLCC Pittsburgh Jim Fischerkeller Library, to which Rodney donated a copy of The Cool Part of His Pillow… the same copy I absconded with first thing. Library director’s privilege! It’ll be a library featured read for sure.)