17 April 2010

Books: Candy Everybody Wants by Josh Kilmer-Purcell

After the success of his memoir I Am Not Myself These Days, author Josh Kilmer-Purcell takes a left-turn into fiction for his follow-up book, Candy Everybody Wants. The novel, I guess, is a sort of fantasy/alternate universe story about a fifteen-year old boy named Jayson, who is gay, out and proud in the early 1980's, growing up in the Midwest who wants the same fame and fortune that he see’s on TV.

While waiting for that fame, he spends his time writing, directing, editing and acting (along with his neighbors) in short films inspired by his love of such then hit TV shows as Dallas and Dynasty. While his mother is a free spirited, an artist and occasional lesbian, she sends her son off to New York to live with his father (whom he has never met) when one of his antics gets out of hand. It is here, that Jayson goes on some very odd adventures (well, the whole set up is pretty odd also).

As with most coming-of-age stories, the hero is pretty screwed up, but his family is even more dysfunctional than he is, which is very true here. Then you add on some bizarre plot turns and an pretty predictable, fairly unsatisfying ending and you get a novel that has merits - I could understand Jayson’s fascination with 1980s pop culture - with Kilmer-Purcell’s sharp wit and honesty, but never achieves anything beyond being a quick read that you’ll not remember after putting it down.

I’m not disappointed with it, just worried on how I can juxtaposition this novel between two great memoirs - I Am Not Myself These Days and the forthcoming Bucolic Plague. Kilmer-Purcell could be a great satirist, but his real-life is more fun than this one.

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