I wish the protagonist in The Destroyers was gay. Sharply, strongly, sassily gay. Since the author Christopher Bollen is gay, I expected (or at least hoped) that his main character Ian Bledsoe would be too.
Ian’s sexy, smart, screwed up and strangely likable. Ian goes for girls – but has a sharp eye for the men around him too. He admires men’s muscles, watches a gay couple have sex, and eyes his best friend’s below-the-belt wardrobe malfunction, comparing his friend’s scrotum to a newborn’s head.
The novel is a beautiful escape to the Greek island of Patmos interrupted by some hot takes on New York City. This line was one of my favorites: “The only redeeming quality left in a New Yorker is their ability not to take up space.”
The book reads a bit long to me, but the reader’s patience are rewarded with reflections on “all the jobs that growing this 1.5 oz. bag of potato chip to the beach grass of a Greek island . . . ” and the hymn On Eagle’s Wings.
Bollen dedicated this book to his agent Bill Clegg. Bill Clegg’s memoir Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man is a great gay memoir.
I like that this book makes reader’s question what a queer novel is or what it might be. Is a novel about gay men written a straight man, like Call Me By Your Name, any more or less gay than a book written by a gay man about seemingly straight men?