Tangled affairs and a murder plot hit a gay beachfront community in this rollicking, lightweight tale.
John Lee is a morose 29-year-old professor of French living in Georgia Beach, Georgia, an upscale town with a hidden seedy side. One day at the beach, he falls into a three-way with two random strangers—the mysterious, titular green-eyed hunk and an Englishman named Maurice—who then disappear. They turn up again at an orgy later that night. Maurice confides to John that he was brutally raped by a cop that day (who also raped his ex-wife) and collapses with internal injuries; the responding paramedic, Alex, is none other than the green-eyed man himself. Languishing in intensive care, Maurice is attacked by the same rapist cop, who wants to eliminate witnesses, and is barely rescued by John’s hapless intervention. The novel arranges itself around a contrived thriller plot: the police villain stalks his prey as Maurice’s friends—including John, Alex, and the bossy emergency room chief, “Dr. Dyke”—try to goad the indifferent district attorney’s office into action. Finally, they take matters into their own hands. Although the crimes motivating the story are quite brutal, the novel jarringly uses them for laughs, light intrigue, and pretexts for John to wander from one pornographic sexual encounter to another—with Alex; a young hitchhiker; and local BDSM enthusiasts (including, for a change of pace, two very aggressive women). None of these trysts leave a mark, including John’s allegedly serious romance with Alex, who’s supposed to be soulfully depressed but comes off as annoyingly pedantic (“Foreplay is a set of emotionally and physically intimate acts between two or more people meant to create desire for sexual activity,” he intones—as foreplay). Ampersant is a talented writer with a droll wit (“There never has been any suicide in my family, perhaps that’s why it is so dysfunctional”) and a knack for colorful supporting characters; a Wagnerian local burgher with a dildo fetish, for example, is a hoot, and John’s sad-sack tea-party dad stirs real pathos. Unfortunately, he doesn’t often know what to do with his other characters other than have them spout flirty banter amid unfunny trauma. The result feels less erotic than it does narcissistic and hollow.
A somewhat entertaining, somewhat feckless, and definitely lubricious picaresque.