Thursday, August 02, 2007

Review: Brendan Wolf by Brian Malloy

Brian Malloy
Brendan Wolf

Published by St. Martin's Press
Reviewed by Shaun Frisky

Brendan Wolf is the kind of man that gives me a huge boner. He’s a complex mystery who likes to exercise his mind as much as his body. Amidst the quiet life he seeks with his daily push-ups and flipping through pages of Jack London, he finds himself embroiled in outrageous situations involving a rich lecherous old man, a fanatical group of pro-lifers, a scheming brother & his wife and a boyfriend blinded by his passion. Despite his flaws and delusions, Brendan emerges as a fully-fleshed gay man struggling to find his place in this messy world.

Brendan’s consciousness is split between the physical world and the fictional world. He imagines he can control the way people see him. He wears carefully constructed identity masks so certain people will view him as a grieving Christian widower or the attractive boyfriend who can be witty and charming at dinner parties filled with model gay couples. It seems that for every new person Brendan meets, he invents a new past and a new name for himself. The reader himself isn’t even allowed to know Brendan’s true name till late on in the book. The more Brendan tries to hide the man he essentially is the more chaotic his life becomes and the less connected he is with those he cares about most.
Detailing scathing critiques of both straight groups of religious fanatics and shallow gay groups of friends, this novel is a savage attack on insulated communities within our society while exploring the isolation of a complex and compelling individual. All this with a rip-roaring plot that will get your heart thumping as the illusive and incredibly sexy Brendan goes on the run from the police. This gives the book a fantastic momentum so that it feels like a train running faster and faster, always threatening to careen disastrously off the tracks. Brian Malloy has a powerfully creative mind and I’d love to spend a shirtless great-outdoors weekend with him and a thick book, bundled up together in a cozy lamp-lit tent.

Photos by Kurt



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