Laugh Cry Repeat, by John Inman
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: Dec 4, 2017
Wyeth Becker is a quiet man. Staid, serious, calm. A librarian. When he meets preschool teacher Deeze Long, he discovers joy for the first time in his life. With joy comes laughter, excitement, and a new way to look at the world through the eyes of the kindest, most loving man he has ever met.
When tragedy strikes and Deeze loses his joy, it is Wyeth who helps him find it again. It is Wyeth, the man who never truly understood happiness, who pays that gift back. Giving all he can of himself to the man who changed his life. Restoring in Deeze what he now so desperately needs.
But the road of their relationship doesn’t end there. The joys and sorrows of life are never-ending. As they set out to weather the highs and lows together, Wyeth and Deeze hang on to the one thing that makes all the tears and laughter worthwhile.
For only through love can life be truly savored at all.
Content Warnings for:
school shooting, mention of suicide, bad treatment of homeless people, coercion
Trigger warnings for gun violence (school shooting) and mention of suicide
I honestly don’t know where to start with this review. Should I open with the very odd way it’s narrated, moving from talking to the reader directly, to the standard third person and back again, all in the space of a few paragraphs? Or should I begin with how this book is presented as an amusing story about two men falling (literally) in love but how it turns terribly tragic at the 70% mark with nary a warning in sight, and how it still tries to maintain its light-hearted tone throughout? Of course, I could always begin with the frankly insulting way it treats homeless people. Then there was the forced spray tan. God, the possibilities are endless.
Needless to say, I almost DNF’d this book several times. Along with the weird choice of narration, I was dumbfounded that Deeze didn’t give up on Wyeth within the first 5 minutes. Quite frankly, Wyeth is a downer, a buzz-kill, a negative Nelly. All we know is that he’s been hurt in the past (only because he says he has), but he gives no real indication of why he was initially so reluctant to get involved with the perpetually upbeat Deeze other than he’s kind of a cranky bastard. And not charmingly cranky, just plain annoyingly cranky.
At least Deeze has some personality. He’s a little funny, kinda sweet and does try to bring Wyeth out of his shell. To be fair, though, I’m not sure I’d want to be with someone who took me for a spray tan on our first date.
“Spray tans? I’m not going in there,” Wyeth announced, clearly appalled. “Yes, you are,” Deeze replied, giving him a gentle bump with his hip to get him moving. “Huh-uh. No way in hell am I going in there.” Still unflappable, Deeze reached out and pulled open the door. “They’ve opened early just for us. So yes, you are. We’re here. We have an appointment. It’s already paid for. You’re going.”
Things do start to improve after this as Wyeth and Deeze settle into a fairly cute relationship. I was even enjoying things at one point. Deeze stopped being bossy and Wyeth stopped being cranky. And then it all went to hell.
The plot twist had no business being in this book. It’s supposed to be a light-hearted story for crying out loud. I had expected something minor would likely trip our MCs up, but then they would resolve it and all would be good. End of story. I did not expect a school shooting. I did not expect the death by suicide of the 13 yr old shooter, and I certainly did not expect the suggestion that Deeze (a teacher) would recover from the emotional trauma in mere weeks – which goes by in the space of a few pages – and have the book still continue with its faintly amusing, light tone.
The icing on that shit cake was the death of an elderly, isolated neighbour and the shenanigans that ensued when Wyeth and Deeze enlisted some homeless people to attend the funeral – because they have no pall-bearers – and bribed them with food.
Any fool in the world could have seen the man might have been bought and sold for far less than an energy bar, but since an energy bar was what was being offered, an energy bar was what he took. The same could be said for Itty Bitty Bob. He liked energy bars too. For a second energy bar, which for any homeless person in the world was the gastronomical equivalent of striking the mother lode, Bill and Bob were easily coerced into the role of recruiting surrogates, and set off on their own search for more homeless to entice.
Oh my gosh, isn’t it so funny to dangle food in front of a homeless person and watch them jump?? Lolz!!
In the end, despite the few parts that were good and actually kinda funny, I can’t recommend this book. It’s tone deaf and contains some rather jarring themes that need to be addressed either in the blurb or by way of a trigger warning. This one is a pass.
John Inman is a Lambda Literary Award finalist and the author of over thirty novels, everything from outrageous comedies to tales of ghosts and monsters and heart stopping romances. John Inman has been writing fiction since he was old enough to hold a pencil. He and his partner live in beautiful San Diego, California. Together, they share a passion for theater, books, hiking and biking along the trails and canyons of San Diego or, if the mood strikes, simply kicking back with a beer and a movie.
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.