on October 2, 1999
I have just three words for M. Bayard - "More, more, more!" Louis Bayard's first novel is a small miracle! It's one of those "I wish I had written that," kind of books. There is no fuss and little flourish - just a comfy economy of words that strolls by easily and with the familiarity of a dear old friend. "Fool's Errand" speaks of the true Gay Agenda - not of toppling governments and insidious infiltration, but of all the "banal things...like lightbulb storage...that would be of no interest to any reasonable human being except themselves." The characters for once are not apologetic about being gay or dysfunctional except in the most human, endearing ways. Neither are they boring in their ordinariness. Bayard resists the parade of pectorals and stone-chiseled features to reveal the beauty of common lives like our own. And lest you begin to picture this book as dull, fear not! There are enough plot twists and quirky eccentricities of character to persuade you to lock the doors and read from cover to cover in a single sitting, and then go back and read again to savor the subtleties of Bayard's genius. If conspiracies, murder and mayhem are your cup of tea, you may wish to look elsewhere for a good read. If, however, you're looking for a sweet, feel-good story that will touch and amaze you over and over, RUN do not walk to your computer or bookstore and buy this book!
on June 10, 2000
Sure, the other reviews have said a lot of very true things about this book, but they fail to mention one of the things that made "Fool's Errand" a top-notch read for me. Lots of novels out there, especially gay novels, are so predictable -- you know exactly where everything is going from the outset. Bayard manages to keep you surprised up through the last page. Just when you think you know what a character is all about, he turns around and does something completely unexpected, but when you think about it, it makes perfect sense.
Beyond that, there were many times that I caught myself breaking into a big grin, or laughing out loud. "Fool's Errand" is light-hearted, well-written, funny. It's also, quite refreshingly, the first "gay" novel I've read in some time which is not hung up on AIDS, or soap-boxing gay issues on a universal level. Nobody dies; there's not even any graphic sex. It's just about this immensely interesting, likeable guy, who's on a journey, at once very simple, yet one that digs to the bottom of his soul. It's the kind of book that makes you say, gosh, this author would probably be a great guy to have as a friend.
on November 9, 1999
Although I'm not one to ordinarily write reviews, I felt compelled to respond to the review of "Reader from Bay Area" (the "Reader") who lost out by not finishing this amusingly touching novel. And no, I'm not a friend of Louis Bayard. But after reading "Fool's Errand" I find myself wanting to be.
It's pretty incredulous of the Reader to question the value of Patrick's father and his best friend, Marianne, after stopping "mid way through". It's obvious that if he failed to grasp their relevance, he did not understand the true meaning of Patrick's journey... the quest for love.
What I like most about this book is its ability to tell the story of a gay man who could be "any man", or for that matter, "any woman". Typically, only gay readers relate to gay novels. Bayard has broken barriers with "Fool's Errand".
That the story is told through much dialogue is a tribute to Bayard's ability NOT to need narrative. Real life does not unfold that way. We learn about the characters the way we learn about our neighbors, our friends, our family members and lovers - through their shared experiences. The Reader's comments make me wonder whether he needs to read his friends' and lovers' diaries to truly understand them... and perhaps himself.
on February 4, 2000
"Fool's Errand" is one my very favorite books from 1999 and one of the few that I'm happy to recommend to all of my friends -- gay and straight alike. If you're looking for a smart, funny, and entertaining book -- and especially for those who like Joe Keenan and Stephen McCauley (and similar accomplished writers) -- you will be thoroughly satisfied on all counts by "Fool's Errand."
The central character is Patrick -- likable and intelligent, with a wry sense of humor, he's well anchored professionally and personally, but is trying to complete his life with a satisfying relationship. And, true to form, the relationship he's in is a mixed bag and not going in the right direction. Complicating matters, Patrick early on glimpses, only briefly and all too uncertainly, a man on whom he projects all of his desires. The problem is, he doesn't know his ideal man's name, where he lives, what he does, or even if he's "available." Thus begins Patrick's journey, and the story of "Fool's Errand," to find his Perfect Man.
Patrick is blessed with amusing friends, an eccentric father and other assorted acquaintances, all of whom become entangled in -- and share in some ways -- his quest. One of the great things about "Fool's Errand" is how these peripheral vignettes are ultimately resolved, but not until the reader has been taken on a wild ride, with unexpected turns and twists, which left me always wanting to read more.
I came across this book almost by chance and picked it up because I was looking for something light to read while home over the Christmas holidays. "Fool's Errand" far exceeded my expectations, and I even found myself slipping away from family time so that I could read another chapter and find out "what happens next."
Though I enjoyed the setting -- Washington, DC, where I live -- and being able to recognize familiar sights, streets and landmarks, even for those who aren't familiar with DC and its suburbs, the major landmarks are nearly-universal, so it's easy to become "a part" of the story and its setting.
But the major strengths of "Fool's Errand" are its characters and story. Though nominally "gay-themed," the story is easily accessible and recognizable to straight readers too: looking for the Ideal is a theme shared by all of us, men and women, gay and straight. In this regard, I was especially pleased that the characters' orientation was simply a "given." No one is troubled or anguished by being gay (or straight); indeed, everyone is well-adjusted and leading ordinary lives, albeit complicated by the usual matters that afflict us all.
The moral of "Fool's Errand," for me, was this: While we're all blinded to some extent by abstract expectations in our jobs and personal relationships, sometimes, if we look hard enough, the answer to our desires is right under our nose. We find that's true for Patrick and, in a way, for all of the other characters in the story. Who knows, it might even be true for us readers too.
on February 21, 2000
If I sound excited, it's because I am. I read "Fool's Errand" a few months ago and it is easily one of my all-time favorite books. How refreshing to read a gay novel in which I could actually relate to the characters. They're regular people who happen to be gay... Mr Bayard has made a literary miracle and crafted a believable, clever, and inspiring story that cannot be put down. Stop whatever you're doing, quit reading whatever you're reading and read Fool's Errand. You'll be so glad you did!
on November 26, 1999
Praise be! A 'gay' novel that doesn't reduce its subject to various athletically improbable methods of getting busy! This is a wry, whimsical, utterly winning study of longing, of all the random chances that go into collecting around us the people we end up knowing and loving. And it's delightfully written, into the bargain.
on December 12, 1999
I really enjoyed Fool's Errand. It was just a fun read. Several of the characters were terribly funny. Patrick's nutty father and best friend provide great comic relief. The book is very real and could be about any number of people we all know. As a DC native, I particulary enjoyed a novel set in DC that that didn't have anything to do with the government (except for Patrick's father casing the CIA). This book was clever, funny, and, like I said, just a fun read. I highly reccomend it.
on February 10, 2000
I loved reading it. I had a feeling it was going to end the way it did, but I didn't know how Mr. Bayard was going to pull it off. He pulled it off with a bright, witty, and touching meeting of two hearts. The epilogue makes you want to fall in love. I've read it a number of times. If Mr. Bayard keeps writing, I'll keep buying!
on July 14, 1999
I really enjoyed this book--I usually read 3 or 4 at once, and this is the one I read until I was done. The others are still sitting there, waiting for their turns.
Bayard has written a book that seems universal--it's about relationships that in this case happen to be among gay characters. That doesn't mean that they don't ring true, just that the book should have (and deserves) a wide audience.
If I laugh out loud at all while reading a book, I consider it to be funnier than most; with Fool's Errand, I laughed several times. In between, I had a great time following Bayard's characters through their daily activities and more convoluted machinations. Definitely worth the price of admission.
on November 25, 2001
I have never written a review before, but I loved this book so much that I had to comment. If you are looking for erotica, keep on moving. While this book is certainly gay-themed, it is mostly 'human'-themed. It starts out oddly, and for a while, you don't know quite where the story is going to end up. At the very least, it didn't end in the way I expected. which was a pleasant surprise. I feel that the author did a great job with those in my age bracket who have no set place in 'The Scene', and I couldn't help smiling for hours after I finished the book.