Comfort and Joy
by Jim Grimsley
Category: Fiction / General
291 pages; ISBN: 1-56512-250-X
Rating: 5/10 (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: William Fare
Dan and Ford, the couple whose lives are followed in the novel "Comfort and Joy" (1999), just can`t seem to get comfortable in their own skins. Ford, a doctor in residency, finds time to do little more than sleep after his grueling days at the hospital. Dan, a hospital administrator, seems incapable of making even the most simple relationship decisions. The two gay men do manage to make a meaningful connection and blindly pursue it.
The majority of the conflict in the mens` lives revolves around their parents and the different ways that they handle their sons` homosexuality. Ford`s wealthy parents, of good stock in the fair city of Savannah, refuse to acknowledge a son that could share his bed with one of those "creatures", and just want him to settle down with a nice girl. Dan`s mother is a bit more understanding, and incidentally, turns out to be one of the warmer characters in the novel.
Grimsley`s melodramatic and teary-eyed scenes of anger and passion seem forced to me. While the plot is strikingly routine and predictable, another author could have sent memorable characters through these scenes and pulled it off. The problem here lies in the blandness of almost everyone involved and their lack of humor. The main characters ramble along aimlessly, painfully pulling the reader through every stereotypical "coming out" scenario that`s ever been portrayed. Even with the subject matter at hand, there isn`t a daring or even surprising page in the novel.
What brings this book to even an average rating is its portrait of Ford`s elitist Southern family with their gardeners and mansion and Dan`s family`s humble trailer life. Expanded upon, this could have been the "hook" that raised what is essentially a genre novel up to the level that it strives for. It`s interesting to see the values that accompany money and how they manifest themselves. Without more of this, however, there are too many pages of the worst definition of romance. This seemed contrived and sappy to me, and it`s been done better.
Buy Comfort and Joy at amazon.co.uk
Buy Comfort and Joy at amazon.com