A debut volume delivers a trio of irreverent short stories.
A small bar on Jefferson Avenue in New Orleans is the focal point of the main story in Uncle Mike’s collection of three sketches. At this bar, the longtime patrons spend their time swapping tales, ogling lovely barmaid Valerie, joking with drag queens, and speculating on the nature of the universe. Two such regulars, Al Token and Henry Schmitt, decide to attempt to confirm with experiments (conducted on rats they catch at the dump) a theory that sound waves from a quasar are responsible for “turning” so many of the bar’s new clients gay (at one point, a habitué asks, “It looks like this bar is becoming a gay bar. Why are there so many gay people these days?”). That sound doesn’t travel through space is never mentioned as an impediment to the theory. Al and Henry and their fellow customers theorize that this quasar may have made all the dinosaurs gay before they became extinct, and they don’t exempt one another from doubts —characters are suspected of being gay if they have flower gardens, for instance, and they’re flat-out assumed to be homosexual if they have the latest smartphones. The collection’s other tales, “To Be or Not To Be” and “Pilgrim’s Day,” are lighthearted trifles, but the title story is an odious piece. The author prefaces it with a warning: “If you are not gay and want to stay that way, read this book today”—leaving few doubts about his two main implications: that there’s something very wrong with being gay, and that this is a work intended for readers who share that belief. The first is of course untrue (a thing that shouldn’t need restating in 2017) and the second warrants serious reflection—who would find this schoolboy mockery even comprehensible (flower gardens?), much less amusing.
A collection that includes a baffling fantasia that mixes sexuality, dinosaurs, and a quasar.