- File Size: 1093 KB
- Print Length: 152 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: Kokoro Press (July 7, 2014)
- Publication Date: July 7, 2014
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00LLWDU5I
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #549,760 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
The Czar of Wilton Drive: A Novel of Self-Discovery, Betrayal and Deceit Kindle Edition
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Top customer reviews
I pretty much walked into this one, when asked for an honest review without looking into it first. I jumped on the bait for ‘dark eroticism’. The ‘gay ghetto’ reference was the first hint I wasn’t going to like this one. First off, it’s Urban and YA. They don’t tell you this, so I am.
I was going to be nice, just leave this as a DNF, and not give it a star rating. As of now, I would give this a negative 5 stars if I could. The reason being I was going to go nice was that I stopped reading it after chapter 1 and figured there could have been a chance the story would have developed into something others might enjoy. Just for me, there were things annoying me, little things that got in the way that by the time I reached chapter 2 I just couldn’t go on.
What first set me off is that gay people don’t go around calling themselves gay every five sentences; we don’t divide our family and friends up by who is gay and who isn’t. I didn’t see the author titling the straight ones, or the black ones, just the gay ones. So the passive aggressive separation didn’t sit well with me. The playing around with the nose ring was weird, I’ve never seen a person twist the ring around and no they don’t take them out to go on the airplane. Nose picker came to mind when I read it, that and the sudden urge to go wash my hands. Throwing in the random PA bit just showed you know little about body piercing, they don’t come out like earrings.
Information like this is thrown at you with the consistency of someone with ADD and not always relevant, but that was somehow the world building. Then there was the squirrel in the road tactic of explaining the mother’s father’s grandfather’s mother accident... yeah, totally lost me there.
Fans of Urban might like it, I can’t speak for them, but at 4.99 for a mere 150 pages, it’s hard to offer any optimism for anyone
Adjustment: After writing this review, I thought maybe I should give it a second chance and explore a little more. I wish I hadn’t. The constant nose picking is a turn off, yet it kept being brought up as if the nose ring was significant or made the character appear badass and cool.
The list of stupid is never ending and mind you, I am only in Ch. 2:
--The lawyer was about as professional as a punk kid, about a dozen laws broken and how he ‘took the liberty of…’ and then touching the kid.
--the continuation of gay ghetto, gay bars, gay this, and gay that. I’m surprised it didn’t come down to gay dishes and gay bathrooms for the gay vacationers that come from all over the world to visit the 2 gay bars in a city that has nearly 30 of them, yet somehow owning 2 makes this nose picking punk urban kid the czar of gay wealth.
I had to skim just to reach the end of Ch. 2,
--four more mentions of nose picking,
--a naive 21 yr. old virgin, who grew up in Stanton Island, now in a strange city, trustingly invites a stranger over the phone to come over. The kid had already been played at that point. The case of the stupids didn’t stop until he had unprotected sex with the HIV positive stranger then act as if it was no big deal afterwards. It might be fiction but I don’t want it in my reads.
The list of stupid never ends. But I’m done.
For original review see The Prism Book Alliance® Blog online
I know why the Prism folks assigned this one to me, although I have to say it was a tough read. I had to think about what bothered me, because I need to be fair. What I liked about R.P. Andrews’ “The Czar of Wilton Drive” is the fact that it focuses on hairy men, rather than on waxed gym bunnies. Secondly, there is a lot of attention paid to older men—men even older than I am—as romantic interests. Both of these are refreshing changes from my usual reading. The premise of the story is fun: a twenty-one year old Italian-American boy (hairy, of course) inherits everything from a great-uncle he barely knew. Raised by his grandfather, a homophobic delivery-truck driver on Staten Island, Jon keeps his sexuality hidden and indeed is a virgin (other than wanking sessions with his childhood chum Ernie). His grandfather’s gay brother has been shut out of the family’s life, and thus Jon is a little nonplussed to realize that his uncle was not only a millionaire, but owned the two biggest leather bars in Fort Lauderdale, not to mention a glamorous condo close to the beach and an emerald green BMW.
Then it began to go a little off the rails for me. Fair warning: very spoilery from here on. Faced with this sudden shift in fortune, our high-school educated hottie (think Vinnie in “Welcome Back Cotter,” which is to say John Travolta) immediately adapts to the world his great-uncle Charlie left him. He starts taking drugs, having unprotected sex and consorting with criminals. Jon also stumbles across a memoir left on his great-uncle’s computer, and through it learns the story of Charlie’s life as well as all of Charlie’s secrets (not the least of which is a partner of forty years with whom he has been miserable and on whom he has cheated for nearly all of those years). Jon comes to realize that his uncle made good financial choices throughout his life in exile, but bad personal choices. OK. I could deal with this; but then it totally went off the rails for me.
Jon’s epiphany at the end of the book seems to be: “Eh, he was an adult, and the choices were his to make.” Then Jon makes the same choices. Oh, yes, he does good things for his family, because they’ve all had a hard life. He never tells any of them or his homophobic grandfather that he’s gay (that’s nobody’s business) or even defends his late benefactor to the family who rejected him. He just smiles and lets them think he’s getting lots of hot babes down in Florida, now that he’s rich. In the most bizarre twist of all, Jon decides, after telling off the lawyer that covered up the cause of Uncle Charlie’s death, that the love of his life will be the hot hairy drug dealer who was in fact responsible for that death. Because, after all, Uncle Charlie chose to become addicted to meth. Apparently. The forty-five-year-old drug dealer, who as a felon needs Jon to acquire more bars (i.e. more liquor licenses), seems to want Jon to be his boy toy. And Jon’s down with the program as his happily ever after.
The weirdly amoral compass that guides this story is not unbelievable. It’s just rather alien to the values and consciousness that have formed my perspective in forty years as a gay man. It is very hard to read this book with any sort of detachment, especially as I see the central character, who is an appealing young man, making the exact same mistakes his great-uncle laments making in his memoir. My unhappiness with this book has nothing to do with its adoration of bears or leather culture. I’ve read plenty of BDSM books. Not my thing, but so what? The irony is that the only leather bears who are actually admired are the ones who work out at the gym enough so that they look 20 years younger than they are. The rest are objects of ridicule and pity, just as older men often are in the world of m/m romances. Uncle Charlie is a hero to Jon because he doesn’t look 65 or act 65. The fact that he’s a drug addict is less important than the fact that he can still attract men a generation younger than he is to his bed.
Andrews has written another book called “Confessions of a Str8 Gay Man,” published in 2011, which might point to the source of my discomfort. To quote its description, the book offers the perspective of “a member of the great silent gay majority who do not espouse the fluff of gay sub-culture or all its political correctness but lead quiet, ordinary lives.”
Hmm…I’ve always assumed I led a quiet, ordinary life. But apparently I am mired in the gay subculture of fluff and political correctness.
Now, back in the 1980s, I read all of John Rechy’s books, including “City of Night” and “Sexual Outlaw.” Those were gritty memoirs of a butch gay man who had no romantic notions about being gay or using sex. No political correctness there, and yet a strong sense of self as a gay man in a hostile world. None of that sort of honest self-appraisal surfaces in “The Czar of Wilton Drive.” Moreover, Andrews needs a good editor. The ARC I read was riddled with grammatical and vocabulary errors. I mean, the expletives are spelled wrong. Jeez.
I gave this book three stars because it’s an interesting slice of life—a life as alien to my worldview as if I was straight. I’d love to see some discussion about this among the women who write and read m/m romances. And also among the gay men who write and read them.