It would not be unusual for a reader to begin this book and think it a memoir. I did. A quick check on the jacket confirmed that it is a work of fiction. Perhaps there are people who are this funny in real life but most of us can only hope to encounter so many zany characters through our own experience.
The novel begins with Jamie as a young lad surrounded by a crazy group of relatives. They are crazy in the most hilarious fashion. Because of his interest, perhaps obsession, in knitting, a bit of foreshadowing occurs early on. It makes sense later in the novel.
The kindness of the womenfolk contrasts with the queer boy’s interests. They are more indulgent and accepting of his behavior than the men. Not a surprising dynamic for many adolescents.
The author makes the quotidian come off in terribly clever ways. That takes talent and a writer with keen skills of observation. There are sentences, even paragraphs, that elicit hearty chuckles, yet they might be about the most mundane matters.
Jamie heads off to art school, leaving his dreary hometown in the Midlands. Though a creative talent, the end of art school does not lead to a glam life in London. Instead, it leads him back home and the drudgery of a job in a supermarket. His boyfriend through much of the book is Billy, another talented fellow whose life does not follow its anticipated trajectory.
Desperate, Jamie decides to take a risk by moving into a hideous apartment with Matthew, an acquaintance of Billy’s. The flat sounds like a filthy nightmare AND is full of religious iconography. Maybe Matthew views himself as some kind of martyr? He engages Jamie in what can only be (kindly) called a self-help cult. A sojourn to Taos, New Mexico turns into a hellish trip that might make you think you should not read any further.
Shifting more to the Billy character, the novel changes direction again. Billy is intrigued by an older man in his building and begins his pursuit.
To avoid spoiling the remainder of the book, I will be rather vague. Justin David knows how to write an erotic scene. His characters can make drugs sound amazingly fun but also show the dual nature of that path. Sex and drugs can be fun. Substance abuse and addiction are not.
The book is interspersed with many photographs, seemingly inspired by the characters. Since the author is a multi-hyphenated individual, it is no surprise that his novel would draw on his varied talents.
Roger Walker-Dack interviewed Justin David for queerguru.com and I highly recommend watching. However, you should read the novel first.
He’s Done Ever So Well for Himself
By Justin David
Published by Inkandescent Press
Available at Amazon.com and discerning Book Stores everywhere
REVIEW: STEPHEN COY
Queerguru Contributor STEPHEN COY has been an avid reader all his (very long) life 😉 and is finally putting his skills to good use. He lives in Provincetown full time with his husband Jim, having finally given up the bright lights of Boston and now haunts the streets mumbling to himself that no one reads anymore …