Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Book Review of Comfort&Joy By Jim Grimsley

Dan Krell is an introverted hospital bureaucrat with a painful childhood past. Ford Mckinny is an attractive, successful doctor raised in an old-money, Eastern family. The two meet and form a somewhat shaky relationship, and before it achieves stability, the holidays roll around and they decide to go home as a couple. But the depth of their commitment is sorely tested when Ford’s family cannot reconcile themselves to their son’s sexuality, and Dan’s long-kept family secrets are somewhat revealed. Will strife tear them apart or make their love stronger?

My impressions while reading the first hundred or so pages was, here we go again, another coming out story, that is, searching for love and acceptance, not only between the main romantic-interest characters, but also from friends and family. Admittedly there is much of that, but Comfort&Joy blossoms into a story of thoughtful beauty that explores the complexities of commitment and desire as two men journey towards love.

There were times with the prose seemed too detailed, tediously so. Yet that detail, I realized, transformed mundane situations into glittering moments filled with meaning.
Beautifully written as it is, I had two major complaints about the story. The first was that much of Dan Krell’s past that was supposedly so painful, was hinted at but was really never exposed to my satisfaction, which left me sorely disappointed. He was the one character that I liked and wanted to understand, but either I didn’t get it, or the story fell short.

The second problem I had was that Ford McKinny’s back story was long and tedious, and a bit too cliché. Also, the fact that he was nearing or slightly beyond 30 years old and was afraid to come out to his parents, did not make him a sympathetic character in my eyes. It’s a personal bias, but I’ve grown tired of gay men who are shown as being weaklings who are afraid to come out. I felt that anyone who had the strength and gumption to survive years of medical school and internship would have the nerve to face his parents and say “I’m gay, deal with it!” Had this story happened in the fifties or sixties, I could better understand, but not today.

That said, I still enjoyed the story and recommend it to anyone looking for a sensitive, passionate, and finely wrought love story. The prose is delightfully written, which added greatly to my enjoyment of a truly worthwhile read.