Candyass - Nick Comilla

Arthur is a young gay man in Montreal at a crossroads. He gets lost in a blizzard of boys and endless possibilities—looking to fall in love and to experience devotion—but he finds himself increasingly immersed in a world of hedonism and deception, especially as he deals with the messy remains of his relationship with Jeremy, his chimerical ex-boyfriend and first love. He moves to New York in search of something more, but due to a lack of foresight and chaotic romantic entanglements, he finds he still yearns for authentic connections with others. In a world that celebrates youth and extended adolescence, what does it mean to grow up?

I want to start this review by noting that while I normally review children's and YA on this site, I have reviewed adult fiction in the past. This is definitely not a book for a young adult audience, even though the protagonist starts out at seventeen years of age in the opening part of the book. There is a lot of sex... and I do mean a lot. That being said, below the surface, there is a good amount of complex discussion on innocence and virginity, sex and intimacy, promiscuity and monogamy.

Comilla's debut is tough to swallow at times with the sheer amount of sexual interaction and the certain obsessions that Arthur develops throughout the course of the text. Though for Arthur, "the goal was to become impure, to finally lose the sense of innocence that I loathed," there is still in many ways a desire for a purity in a sense, a hope for a long-term love and a dedication to a single individual. One of my favourite scenes, though, is when Arthur is thinking about differences between LGBT oppression in the past and the supposed freedoms of the present:
People tend to talk a lot of shit about the gay village.... Apparently, being free is boring. They want a return to secrecy, to feeling deviant, to a past we can't experience. It's a nostalgia for oppression, born out of privilege. What was once liberation has warped into assimilation. Now there is 'gay,' and there is 'queer.'  
Others disagree, giving up on the term gay altogether and adopting, partially due to their own overly academic lives, the queer identity. Queer is the new cool. At the end of the day, we are still mostly just guys fucking other guys, with some gender non-conformity thrown into the mix and an awareness of class and privilege--smart fags....
These moments definitely spoke to my academic side, and made me think about my own views of the often dichotomous relationship between the gay village where I live, and the suburban gay individuals and couples I know personally.

There isn't as much character development as I would have liked, and the timeline moves so swiftly at times, that I was nearly unable to keep up, going from teenage years, to Arthur's twenties and later in mere page breaks. So much of Arthur and Jeremy's relationship felt rushed, as well. I also found myself tiring of the sex scenes after a while, though, and the acts and descriptions became repetitive over time, especially where Arthur's obsession with asses was concerned. 

That being said, there were many moments of sincerity, depth, and humour which kept the book from becoming erotica or a pure treatise on contemporary queer culture. I would Recommend this book with minor reservations to fans of books with raw, in-your-face narrative styling and a lot of interesting takes on LGBT culture and history.

(NOTE: This book is from an Advance Reading Copy - Out Sept. 2016)


Popular posts from this blog

Black Chuck - Regan McDonell

Althea & Oliver - Cristina Moracho

A List of Cages - Robin Roe