Some Books Are So Good It Hurts

I was looking forward to reading Edgar Gomez’ memoir, released earlier this year to no small acclaim. I expected a young, proudly girly Latinx gay man who danced at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub and attended cockfights with his uncles in Nicaragua would have interesting things to say.

And after attending a Zoom interview of Gomez and other writers sponsored by the Duende District, a community of bookstores by and for people of color, I had a feeling High-Risk Homosexual was going to be good.

‘Good’ is an understatement.

What I hadn’t expected was the brilliance of the writing. I mean, drop-dead brilliant.

And so fresh and gorgeous and funny that it hurts to read it at times. That’s this writer’s opinion, at least.

Norman Mailer said that no writer of his generation wrote sentences like Truman Capote. I’d say Gomez is a contender for that accolade today.

A few examples:

  • Here he is describing a day with his mom at Florida’s littered, less-than-prime Cocoa Beach: “Probably she chooses Cocoa because it’s closest. We blast her favorite Bon Jovi CD on the drive over. Park for free at the surf shop a block away from shore and walk. I see a white sun ahead. Black water. Purple sand. It looks like God ran out of the right crayons.”
  • Or this, his view of how he measures up to his macho brother’s obsession with girls and sports: “When he came home after soccer and rugby practice with bruises on his arms and legs, he proved she [Mom] wasn’t doing a bad job raising us.”
  • Or this, his longing for his brother’s recognition of what the shootings at Pulse meant to him: “After Pulse, more than ever, I needed Hector to say the obvious thing out loud: I don’t care that you’re gay. I love you. Once would have been enough. I am a love camel. I would have made it last.”

Pages filled with insight …

Gomez writes about sex with humor and pathos (and detail). He also shows remarkable maturity in the grace he shows toward those who have done him harm.

He even writes with empathy about Omar Mateen, the young man who committed the atrocities at Pulse. In one stunning passage, Gomez considers his and Mateen’s similarities as repressed, bullied teenagers, attempting to divine the point at which their two paths diverged.

… and inspiration.

It is sometimes challenging for a writer to read another’s work, especially a book this good. Like my memoir, High-Risk Homosexual is about the coming-out experience. I can’t help but make comparisons.

Still, I understand that Gomez’ style is more poetic, more fluid than my journalistic one, so I make sure that his writing inspires me rather than feeds my “what-if-I’d-said-it-this-way?” doubts.

“The arrival of a major new talent,” reads the blurb on the cover of High-Risk Homosexual.

I have to agree … and look forward to what this young author does next.

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