SAY UNCLE by Eric Shaw Quinn


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 A schizophrenic debut with a suspenseless first half about a gay man fighting for the guardianship of his orphaned nephew and a tedious second half about their life together that offhandedly dismisses the issue of sexuality. Michael is out: His sister endearingly calls him ``fag,'' and he doesn't hesitate to call attention to his ``hourglass figure.'' When this sister and her husband die in a car crash, having named Michael as their son Scott's guardian, the child's grandfather thinks he has the ammunition to declare Michael an unfit parent. But there is little drama in the courtroom, since Michael is the ``ideal'' gay man: Successful and stable, he ``doesn't hang out in bars, attend orgies, molest children, or want to wear women's clothes.'' Nor is there much drama on the home front, since Michael's new role as parent is efficiently taken over by a nanny named Gray. And any hope that these two might get together is squelched when Michael seemingly ignores Gray's declaration of love and claims he didn't realize Gray was gay. (Oh, sure.) In the second half, Scott tells the story of his precocious upbringing with an unconventional parent who advises him not to pay attention to the idiot teachers in kindergarten and who honestly discusses matters like masturbation. Inexplicably, and unbelievably, the only thing Michael doesn't discuss with his nephew until Scott's 13 is that he is gay. Equally disappointing, Quinn fails to acknowledge, let alone balance, the homophobia in scenes like the early one in which Michael's mother encourages him to fight for Scott so he doesn't have to be if there's no hope of a gay man finding a lifelong mate. Unfortunately, this proves true since Quinn never even lets Michael date. Loses its focus. Ask any psychoanalyst--a classic case of denial.

Pub Date: July 11th, 1994
ISBN: 0-525-93780-3
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1994