Ranging from sour and superficial to occasionally moving, an uneven eight stories treat urban gay angst, for the most part, by a newcomer published in Open City.
The best of this unpolished collection is “Disability,” the first-person account of a youngish gay man on prolonged disability who lives in a basement in Queens, drinks a lot, and is generous toward his friends, though rejects a handsome lover for himself because he’s ashamed, at bottom, that he’s a “fuckup.” Here, McIntyre demonstrates a terrific sense of control and character development, allowing each of the man’s friends to uncoil suspensefully through dialogue and action. “Foray,” similarly, pursues a potentially charged relationship between a teenaged boy who retreats into his books while on holiday at his grandparents’ beach house and his younger cousin with Down syndrome, Vance. Assigned the educational task of reading Moby Dick to Vance, Raymond recognizes through the enthralled reaction of his cousin the power of the word: “He loved the story in a way I couldn’t, and it put me to shame.” Other stories lack the same thoughtful delineation of character, such as the first, “Binge,” a glib-feeling account of a married woman’s evening at a meaningless party sneaking “bumps” from her bag of cocaine; or the bizarrely misdirected “Sahara,” which follows the kidnapping of a restaurant’s kangaroo mascot by a group of idiot high-schoolers who mistake him for the rival team’s wolverine. “Octo” concerns the creepy affection that a troubled young boy (hostilely considered “retarded” by his schoolmates and sister) develops for his growing, carnivorous octopus. And “ONJ.com” explores the easygoing party friendship gone terribly awry between a graphic designer making her way successfully in New York and the charming gay man she hires. McIntyre chooses to tie these stories up hastily, giving the entire collection a half-baked, amateurish feel.
A disaffected new voice that doesn’t offer a lot of depth and warmth.