BForeman Books (2017)
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (6/17)
Article first published as Book Review: ‘Heaven Is a Gay Bar’ by Bryan Foreman on Blogcritics.
In “Heaven Is a Gay Bar,” author Bryan Foreman takes us on a journey with a 30-year-old single, overweight recluse named Benjamin Oldman. Ben or “B” works for his father at his construction company, lives in a small apartment, has no social life to speak of, and wants to be a famous writer.
Ben’s co-workers invite him to go out to several nightclubs hoping he will gain confidence and social skills. However, their trip proves that Ben is an outsider as he notices people around him are looking his way and laughing. Several bars and drinks later, his so-called friends take him to Club H, a popular gay bar. Ben is in total shock at what he sees, yet at the same time feels he fits right in with the misfits. Ben and his friends swear they are straight, but they love the excitement, strangeness, and mood. Little does Ben know that there is more to Club H than meets the eye. Several women approach him and flatter him to no end. “Finally, I am being sought out, so I mustn’t be such a misfit.”
His friends Matt and Sean seek out different thrills in the form of drugs. As time goes on, more clubs and drugs become their downfall. Matt and Sean shift their attitude about being straight, and Benjamin falls in love with a younger woman who chooses to use him. Nightly partying, drugs and out-of-control behavior becomes an issue for his job, parents, and misfit friends.
I found the story to be interesting and descriptive. The author writes of his experiences in the nineties when many of his friends passed away from AIDS. I like that Foreman was able to show what goes on in the mind of those who seem to get thrills of at the expense of others. One thing of note is there are so many characters and action presented at once that it was a bit hard to keep track of everything. This does however, smooth out as the story progresses.
The author’s writing is very expressive. Foreman provides excellent descriptions of the club scenes, eloquently illustrates the feelings of those who feel out of place in society, and graphically displays the impact of drugs on one’s behavior. As I was reading, I was reminded of the first transgender club I went to in college. Like Ben’s experience, I was in awe, and his writing took me back to that place in time.
Overall, I found “Heaven Is a Gay Bar” by Bryan Foreman to be an entertaining read. It is a fun, unique, and provocative semi-autobiographical story, sure to delight and engage.