Review: Looking After Joey by David Pratt

From the author of Bob the Book comes a funny, fast-paced, touching tale of love, laughter, family of choice and fabulousness! Wouldn't it be great if a character from a porn movie stepped right out of your TV, into your life? Well, be careful what you wish for. Because that's how Calvin and Peachy end up looking after Joey. Then Peachy decides to make Joey the center of in a social-climbing scheme that will take them all from Chelsea to Park Avenue to Fire Island and will entangle a rogues' gallery of eccentric Manhattanites, including portly, perspiring publicist Bunce van den Troell; theatrical investor Sir Desmond Norma; studly thespian Clive Tidwell-Smidgin; and evil lubricant king Fred Pflester and his mysterious nephew, Jeffrey. Tender, wise, witty and utterly deranged, Looking After Joey will make you wish you, too, had a porn character sitting at your kitchen table, pointing at the toast and asking, "What's this called again?"

I had to cogitate on this one once I finished. There were so many things I liked and appreciated, but just enough things that felt extraneous that diluted the story. It’s a really interesting premise and reading between the lines makes you think about relationships of all forms, self-awareness, self-doubt and perceptions of those around us. I was expecting a light hearted misadventure and really got so much more. There were definitely funny moments, as well as some of the most memorable characters I’ve read. But, there is an underlying sense of despair from Calvin that runs throughout the book.

Calvin is not as young as he once was and he is lonely. Very, very lonely. He has his best friend Peachy, as mentioned above, one of the most memorable characters, but that isn’t the same as having someone to love and to love you through life. Honestly, I’m still not sure how I feel about Calvin. I think I liked him, he definitely frustrated me. I think he’s very much a “real” person rather than a character and I have to respect the fact that he isn’t a stereotype, he’s a real man.

This conversation between Calvin and Peachy summed them up quite well:

“Peachy, why are we single?”

“Because,” Peachy said, “you are pessimistic and self-loathing and I am a cunt.”

“You’re not a cunt, Peachy.” Calvin said. “You’re too hard on yourself. You’re just a major league bitch.”

“Are you sure?”

“But not a cunt. What happened to the ‘fetching’ one from a few weeks ago?”

“He fetched someone else. There was a little dalliance which you were away. He was the one who thought I was, well, ‘overbearing’ was the word he used.”

“You’re a lot of woman,” said Calvin. “Some men can’t handle it.”

“You’re not just saying that?"

So, basically these two are feeling their expiration dates fast approaching on their marketability and the looming specter of loneliness is throughout the book.

When Joey enters their world, through a truly magical porn portal, they have a lot to deal with. Joey becomes more than just a project and a ticket to give an old nemesis a come-uppance as time goes on. Granted, the majority of the book is preparing Joey for his debut at the party of the year, but slowly priorities shift and the two who are supposed to know the most, Calvin and Peachy, learn from the one who knows the least, poor confuzzled Joey. I liked Joey once he started to acclimate to the “real world” and once he got to know some more people. Mainly Doug of course, Doug ran a close second to my Peachy for favorite characters. These guys may not have been a traditional family, but they became a family of sorts and that part I liked very much.

But, there were so many other things going on it pulled my focus away from where this little dysfunctional group was going and growing. The obsession with the party was too much. I get that it was what Calvin considered his “last stand” but a LOT of time and energy went into trying to make a point to a man who probably wouldn’t care. Secondly, the endless streams of cultural references, pop, gay and otherwise. I understand these things are important to them, but, it was a case of, and pardon me while a quote a little Syndrome to you “when everyone is super, no one will be”. Again, it was just too much, the impact was lost in the flood of name dropping. The references I didn’t get I wasn’t even interested in looking up at that point. And finally, Calvin’s trip to Spain, it was a side trip that didn’t give Calvin enough of an epiphany of any sort to justify being away from the other characters for that long.

Overall, I liked the meat and potatoes of the story, the characters and where they ended up. The other stuff just diluted the important points and people for me. I loved the unique plotline and appreciated reading something unique, the book is definitely that and definitely worth reading. Personally, I’m a “less is more” person so a little more focus would have made it even better to me as the characters had great depth and didn’t need the extras to make them memorable.

For more info on this book, check it out on Goodreads!

*** a copy of this book was provided for an honest review ***

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