The Cool Part of His Pillow by Rodney Ross

Title: The Cool Part of His Pillow

Author: Rodney Ross

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Rating: A List  

Blurb: The midforties are that time in a gay man’s life when his major paradigm shifts from sexy to sensible. But when Barry Grooms’s partner of twenty years is killed on Barry’s forty-fifth birthday, his world doesn’t so much evolve as it does explode.

After navigating through the surreal conveyor belt of friends and family, he can’t eat another casserole or swallow much more advice, and so, still numb, he escapes to Key West, then New York. He embraces a new mantra: Why the hell not? He becomes so spontaneous he’s ready to combust. First, he gets a thankless new job working for a crazy lady in a poncho, then has too many drinks with a narcissistic Broadway actor. Next, it’s a nude exercise class that redefines flop sweat, and from there he’s on to a relationship with a man twenty years his junior, so youthfully oblivious he thinks Karen Carpenter is a lesbian woodworker.

Yet no matter how great the retreat from the man he used to be, life’s gravity spins Barry back to the town where he grew up for one more ironic twist that teaches him how to say good-bye with grace.

Review: This is not what I’d call an easy book to read. The sentences are rich and full and deep, and you don’t want to race through them to find out what happens. You want to savor each word, because they’re all quite tasty. Mr Ross, I am very happy to say, can write, my darlings.

This is a book to savor, like that very expensive bottle of wine you’ve been saving for a special occasion. Told in first person by Barry Grooms, it begins with happiness. He  and his partner of twenty-three years, Andy, are celebrating Barry’s 45th birthday. They are comfortable with one another, they know each other’s secrets, and they are still in love.  They have wonderful friends with names like LezbyAnn and Potsy. They have a beautiful house and enviable jobs.

And then the unthinkable happens: Andy and their two pugs, Gertie and Noel, are killed in a freak accident and somehow, Barry has to figure out how to deal with the sudden gaping hole in his heart and in his life.

There is sadness, sweeties, both harsh and soft, but there is also joy and humor and unexpected fun. The author describes Key West and New York with such intimacy, I know he’s been there and is letting me in on things only residents would know; I just love that, don’t you? Chickens and iguanas in Key West and ghost bikes in NYC: who could have imagined?

Two of my favorite lines (and believe me, there were many): His stride has quiet dignity but his aura is only an essential oil.

What I see is a tranny who refers to her penis as a vagina with a neck…

Parts of this novel had me hooting aloud with laughter, and honeys, I don’t do that often! Watch for and enjoy the multitude of pop culture references. I am proud to say I got every one of them, and now you will all know just how ancient I am while I teeter about on my red spike heels.

Filled with wit and brimming with beauty, this is a novel to treasure. I heartily recommend it! It will stick with you long after you’ve read the last page.

Reviewed by: Red Licorice

Posted on September 19, 2012, in Red Licorice and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Loved the review. One of the best books of 2012.

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