Review of IM
Copyright 2009, Jim Penny
Word count: 566
IM, written by Rick R. Reed, was published by Quest in 2007. It is available in paperback (256 pages) at Amazon for $17.95. The Kindle version will set you back $4.79, and you'll have it in a single minute instead of waiting a week.
Trust me, you do not want to wait for this one.
However, be judicious regarding when you plan to start reading this title. You want to be sure you have no substantial responsibilities for the time it'll take you to read those 256 pages. That is because you are unlikely to put it down until you finish, and let me warn you now, the last 30 pages will leave you breathless with tears streaming. Have the tissues handy.
IM is the story of a serial killer in Chicago who specializes in the brutal murder of gay men who use a particular web site to arrange hook-ups. That is all I'm going to tell you about the story because it's a whodunit, and the more I tell you, the more I take from you the thrill of riding this roller coaster. Besides, there is no way I'm going to do Reed justice in my retelling of his tale. Do yourself a favor and hear it from the horse's mouth.
Although the story in and of itself is worth the price of admission, and it's telling is a study in how to do tell a story, neither was my real take-away from this compelling read. No, the story and it's telling were just the icing on the cake. The cake was the underlying analysis of the dysfunctionality in the gay community that makes it difficult to establish, and damned near impossible to maintain, loving relationships.
Mind you, I'm not sure this theme would be visible to the straight reader.
In particular, we have what I call the filters, which are the requirements one man places on the other men to exclude them from social contact. Too hairy. Too smooth. Too tall. Too fat. Not enough time in gay church, aka the gym. Style of clothing not quite on target. Check the M4M side of Craig's List, while it lasts, and see it for yourself. The list is freakin' endless, and it drives me ber-T-zerk! We pile on requirements for particular physical attributes until if there is an man who meets specifications, he's probably time zones away and unlikely to ever cross your shadow.
Is there any wonder we spend so much of our lives alone?
While presenting all this nonsense, and yes, he does snortle at it all, Reed asks the important question, doing so in a manner that left me processing the question in the background as I continued to race through his prose. And he knows the answer, just as I know the answer, just as every thinking gay man knows the answer, but he leaves it for you to find, which is the real genius lurking just under this delightful and rending story. You can miss it, and you'll still have your excellent read. You can catch it, and now you have your story, and you also have your take-away.
Why are we so screwed up, and how do we get over it? That's another question for another day, but IM and Reed are all over it.