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Book review: <i>The Giddy Death of the Gays and Strange Demise of Straights</i> by Redfern Jon Barrett

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the cover of the book

In Swansea, Wales, a nightclub burns down. A seemingly small incident, but inflaming a section of the community keen on white pride and general bigotry. Word flies while the club burns and Dom, his girlfriend Caroline and flatmate Richard, Richard's sort-of-friend Rutti, and their friends are all drawn to the flames. To each of them, the destruction seems to portent a significant shift in their lives. Can each of these friends weather the coming storm?

The story

Rutti and Richard have been living together for a long time, but Richard has reached the end of his tether with Rutti, who keeps trying to fix Richard up with girls. Dom and Caroline are seemingly dating in perfect happiness, but when Dom moves in with Richard, the two housemates start spending all their time together, and Caroline becomes concerned. Dom's friend Zeebedee and Caroline's housemate Nomi are dating as well, and the two of them think Dom's in a secret gay relationship with Richard and try to convince Caroline. Meanwhile, Rutti moves in with his friend Steph, who doesn't appreciate Rutti's desire to save every stray who crosses his path. But Rutti has his own problems. Can High Hopes, drag queen and enigma, help get Rutti on the right path?

The style

The Giddy Death of the Gays and Strange Demise of Straights is exceptionally written. The story is told by several different characters, each taking their turn at narrative, and flashes back and forwards through time, giving the reader a glimpse into the future for each of these relationships. The emphasis of the story is very much on navigating and interpreting relationships through the lens of contemporary society, the attempted rejection of preconceived notions about what that society believes to be right, and the struggle to find happiness within these parameters. Obviously, when an author writes about pertinent social issues like LGBT issues, there can sometimes be the temptation to sacrifice good writing and solid story lines for the sake of getting one's point across. Thankfully, Redfern Jon Barrett didn't do that. He lets the characters inform the reader just by being themselves, and the result is not only thought-provoking, but also a great read.

Who is this book for?

The Giddy Death of the Gays and Strange Demise of Straights should be mandatory reading, because the subject matter is important thematically and so well conveyed. I would certainly recommend it for anyone looking for LGBT literature, but absolutely anyone else looking for a love/coming-of-age story.

In short

Title: The Giddy Death of the Gays and Strange Demise of Straights
Author: Redfern Jon Barrett
Publisher: Lethe Press
Year published: 2015
Pages: 182
Genre(s): Contemporary literature
Review Type: