elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,

God’s Gargoyles by Johnny Townsend

This is a collection of short stories, all of them around the theme of gay Mormon boys trying to find their path in life, as I seem to remember, the same author, Johnny Townsend, did. Most of the stories would be worthy of a full novel, the characters are deep and captivating; sure there are some I’m entirely sure I like, like Private Dick, but most of them are sweet and romantic, like The Sneakover Prince, probably my favourite of the bunch. What probably surprised me is that the undertone of the collection is not sad or dramatic, on the contrary, it’s full of hope, and joy, and most of these boys will find their happily ever after.

God’s Gargoyles is about Thorne, a Mormon boy who was always fascinated by gargoyles; I think he identifies in that mythological creature his same uneasiness to live in his own body and society. At an Halloween party, he takes advantage to masquerade as a Gargoyle, and for the first time in his life he allows himself to do everything he desires, like entering a gay club. At first they seem to him all strange creatures, they scare him, but then he starts to realize they are more like him, and that among them he could find the true love he is expecting.

Swollen Testicles is funny and ironic. It’s about a repressed (and in the closet) gay college professor who is awakened to his desires by a naughty student. Something that could have turned nasty is instead the reason why Mr. Babin rethinks his priorities in life; and even if rearranging his priorities will lead him to be a little less honest and a way more happy, that doesn’t mean that someone will suffer for it, well, no one if not his girlfriend, but I bet not for long.

Private Dick is probably the most daring, and odd, story I have ever read, and truth be told I’m not sure I completely liked it; it’s about an elder of the church who is worried about his son being gay, and while wondering with himself what he would be willing to do in that case he arrives till the point to think killing him would be an option, after all how many fathers in the Bible killed their own son? But this is not the only sin he arrives to commit, and probably not even the worst; it’s little consolation that all of this will revert back to him double.

Rocky Mountain Horror Show is funny and light and even a little bit sarcastic; a young Mormon boy loves Rocky Horror Picture Show, loves his two gay friends and loves also the Church, or at least the chances the Church can give him, and he is able to see all these three side of his life like a big Show, where he is the main performer… probably the best way to approach that life.

Learning to Sing in Antwerp is not as light as you could think; it’s about Lenny, a Mormon guy who has his life planned in front of him, even if he knows he is gay. That is what I liked most, Lenny knows he is gay, but nevertheless he is planning to marry a woman since it’s in the “plan”; the plan is more important of his personal interests, or at least that is what they taught him. Another point I liked is that, even if Marcus, his gay best friend, knows Lenny is doing a mistake, he doesn’t impose his opinion on Lenny, letting the guy arriving to his own conclusion and decision.

Robbing People Blind is quite a strange tale; Ricky, the man in it, is not really gay, and being a gay Mormon in the closet is not his trouble. Ricky is not at ease with his life, with him being a teller when his dreams were to be an artist, but his Church and his wife didn’t think that was the right thing. Now his wife is dead, but the Church is still there and it’s still directing his life towards a goal that Ricky doesn’t understand. When Ricky helps an homeless man on the street trying to rob him, and at the same time he has a very bad experience inside the Temple, it’s time for him to reconsider his priorities.

Ronnie and Clyde is about two former Mormon boys who are living happily together but feel as they should do more to help people; the way they choose to help is not exactly your normal charity organization, and indeed there is to wonder if doing what they are doing is not worst than not doing anything. That is more or less the same conclusion the two of them arrive to, and this is one short story with a nice and romantic happily ever after.

The Sneakover Prince is about a virgin 38 years old Mormon guy who is awaken to love by a 42 years old daring gay man; if you think this story will be naughty, think it over: it’s one of the most sweet and romantic story I have ever read. I can so see Balzer, a openly gay man with a full and satisfying life falling for repressed Alan, but instead of pushing him, of being angry with him for not being able to immediately take the right decision, Balzer leads him step by step, like you would do with a teenager, letting him see the goods and bads, and letting him decide what he really wants from life. In this way, when Alan will arrive to the right decision, it will the best of the happily ever after.

Healing the Sick is about two committed gay men, committed to each other but also to various charity organization; only that one day they don’t find each other agreeing on the last “mission”, Public Healthcare. It’s something stupid, and it’s not that one of the two was completely of the opposite opinion, but in any case this lead to the other reconsidering their relationship and his choices in life. I was really scared this was the first story with a not happily ever after, but lucky me it was not. And it was even fun, since I clearly remember a lunch I had with a gay couple friends of mine and they did have the same argument… and they are still together.

Superman’s Brain Tumor is unfortunately the reality hitting this otherwise light anthology; Daron is one of those guys who didn’t find the strength inside them to fight homophobia, even if he was given the chance to meet good people, willing to help him and prove that being gay is not the worst thing that could happen you. I know you need to read also about these lives, to know that while there are guys and girls who are able to come out, there are probably more of them who live miserable lives or that, worst, don’t live them at all.

A Light Going Out is again on the sad side, about Pereith, a 58 years old man living alone in a post Hurricane New Orleans, ill, on a wheelchair, and with no money or friends, if not Matt, who is living in Portland. Even if it’s probably not an happily ever after story, I could feel that the bond between Pereith and Matt was strong, and that Matt was willing to do everything to help his friend; maybe he would not be able to, but at least Pereith had the comfort to know that he was not completely alone.

Sex at Sunstone is about Jared and Tony, a couple of former Mormons who built an happily life together; they were excommunicated by the Church, but Jared’s relatives still talk to him, and he has even a gay nephew, and so apparently there is hope in the Mormon community. That is what Tony is probably thinking when he decides to accompany Jared to his yearly visit to his family at Salt Lake City; but both Jared than Tony will unfortunately find out that the path is still long, and that they will probably not see the end… nevertheless, they are going along that path together.

African Queen Meets Alien is light, funny and tender. Ted is a vanilla gay man, former Mormon, and wanna be leather man; he has not really it into him, but posing for a fake reportage (as an African Queen, him who is as white as the bleach) he meets Royce, and well, for once going outside the usual path will lead to nice surprises.

The Lithium Prophecies is the strange apple in a bunch of mostly romance stories. It’s about a schizophrenic guy who starts to “hear” voices in his head from aliens; of course he is conscious enough of his illness to understand they are not real, but in any case, all these events will lead him to reconsider his life, and of course, people around him, helping him to find the one who really loves him back.

Amazon: God's Gargoyles
Paperback: 294 pages
Publisher: Booklocker.com, Inc. (November 20, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1609100573
ISBN-13: 978-1609100575

Reading List:

http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle
Tags: author: johnny townsend, genre: contemporary, length: novel, review

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