Review of Bashed
Copyright 2009, Jim Penny
Word count: 617
I learned about Rick R. Reed on FaceBook. We were members of a writers' group, and we shared some friends. We still are and do. One day, FaceBook suggested I send him a friend request, and I did. He accepted. We are FaceBook friends. Do understand that I doubt I'd recognize him walking down the street, which is likely to never happen given there's a continent between us.
As a point of reference, Reed is often referred to as the gay Stephen King. I would rephrase that. King is the straight Reed. It works better for me that way.
Bashed was published by MLR Press in 2009, and it is available on Amazon for $13.49, as of this writing. I bought the Kindle edition for $4.79, and I have no regrets. However, I did not start reading one minute later as the ads suggest; I waited until I reached the lake. If you buy it in paper, there will be 212 pages, and you'll wait a few days to get it. I prefer electronic books because they weigh less, and it doesn't hurt that they're cheaper. The instant gratification doesn't hurt either.
Bashed is a very fast read, if you let it be. Had my schedule permitted, I would have finished it in a day. Instead, I finished it in two afternoons. This is not to suggest that Bashed is a trivial read. Oh, no, no. It's a compelling read. I found myself flipping the upper right corner of the Kindle to turn the page, which does not work. There is a button for that. In part, that's good testimony for the machine, but far more, it's tribute to Reed's ability to spin a web that transported me from a dreary reality through two afternoons. The man tells a good story.
Most gay people face hate-based violence at some point and in some manner. My last instance was the summer of 2008. There will be another all too soon. As Reed described the surroundings in Chicago, I found myself flashing back to my own parking lot. In my case, nothing happened other than I could not focus on work any further that afternoon. I also found myself remembering that I had walked the very street Reed described, and it gave me pause that I had never considered that haters would venture that deep into what is called Boy's Town. I can be so naive. Perhaps I will think twice the next time I seek dinner at my fave Mexican restaurant on Halsted, but I doubt it; the skirt steak there is too good to miss, and I like feeding the leftover chips to the sparrows on the street.
Bashed presents a story predicated on a horrific hate crime. From that single nexus that left me checking over my own shoulder, life continued, spinning threads of reality ostensibly unrelated, but in fact just loose, the intertwining not apparent to the richly multidimensional players on the stage. I found myself periodically pausing in the read, closing my eyes, and inhaling deeply to feel and absorb the scenes and characters.
Of course, the business with aluminum baseball bats is an entirely different matter that I'll leave for another day.
Will I read more of Reed's work? Oh, hell yeah! I downloaded two titles this morning. One is for my weekend recovery from food poisoning and sinus infection. The other is for another day when I'm feeling decadent, or at least indulgent. It is somewhat difficult to find good fiction in this genre, and now that I've found a source of decent story-telling, I intend to fill up.