Xperiment by Dan Skinner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
One of the things I've come to enjoy in reading anything by Dan Skinner is his unflinching need to see the world as it really is, even in this not so dystopian novel. The setting is St Louis, and I'd be hard pressed to see much difference between his version and the city I could visit next week, right here, and now. It's an ugly place, filled with prejudice, and hatred, and fear, and populated by small minds and smaller consciences.
Geoff Markham is a lonely, quiet man, awkward and unsure of himself, gay in a city where he feels out of place, unattractive enough to court mockery and rejection. His boss is a bully, his job unfulfilling, and the only saving grace is being far away from his abusive stepfather and drunken mother. After a typically awful day at work, he runs home in a rainstorm, with only a newspaper to provide cover, a newspaper containing an ad which catches his eye. He can join an experiment, take supplements which will improve his health, and get paid, too. What does he have to lose?
I don't want to spoil this novel, because it deserves to be read in full, and not in a cliff-note version via review. But what I will say is Dan's eye for imagery lends a power to his words, a lyrical pull which draws you into Geoff's world. The pills open his eyes, and as Geoff discovers who he really is, I couldn't help but get lost in the gorgeous prose. Geoff finds love with a blind street musician, Chris, learns about the beauty in life, and in the process, kindles hope in his own heart, and in mine.
Dan Skinner has offered up a glimpse of a world where evil cannot triumph, as long as we are willing to embrace everything we can be, and never lose hope. It is a vision which feels all the more welcome in these strange days, when we've allowed the ugliness of which he writes to taint our world. I hope we find the same wisdom as Geoff.
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- Morwen Navarre
- I've been writing since I could first hold a pencil, and by all accounts I didn't limit myself to paper. Walls, tablecloths and the occasional sibling were all fair game, and it shouldn't be surprising to learn that markers were banned in my home with all due haste. Although I now content myself with inconveniencing electrons, the desire to bring the stories in my mind to life hasn't waned. In my spare time, I read, putter in the kitchen, and relax on my terrace or at the lake, weather permitting, with my corgi who strives to be part muse, part food disposal. I'm also addicted to coffee and have a close relationship with my Keurig.