“Got til it’s Gone” by Larry Duplechan
c.2008, Arsenal Pulp Press $17.95 U.S. and Canada 207 pages
It starts around 45.
First, you notice that you need glasses. Then, you don’t remember things quite like you once did. You get up one morning, and everything creaks from head to toe. Pretty soon, your bathroom cabinet has sprouted a garden of bottles, each one staving off or tamping down some symptom that wasn’t there before.
You’re falling apart. You’re suddenly eligible for a Senior Discount. Face it, you’re no spring chicken anymore, and in the book “Got ‘til it’s Gone” by Larry Duplechan, Johnnie Ray Rousseau is feeling it, too.
Staring straight down the middle of middle age, Johnnie Ray Rousseau knows things could be worse. Although many of his friends have died of AIDS or diseases of living, Johnnie Ray is in shape, strong, and healthy. He’s also avoided becoming an Auntie, which he fears is his destiny as a going-on-older gay man. And slowly, though it’s been fifteen years since Johnnie Ray’s husband, Keith, died, Johnnie Ray’s just beginning to believe in having something more than a friends-with-benefits relationship.
He wasn’t prepared to get caught in The world-wide Web.
Joe’s profile on dudes.com was yummy, but Joe in-person was even better. Seventeen years younger than Johnnie Ray, Joe was caramel-colored and baby-faced with a pin-up’s body, literally: he was a centerfold model once, a porn star, and a call-boy. He’d had dozens of men in his short lifetime, and because of that, he was HIV-positive. But Johnnie Ray knew that people could live for years with a diagnosis. He let himself fall in love, hard.
And life would be good, if it weren’t for what was happening back home. Clara, Johnnie Ray’s mother, was dying. She had a brain tumor, and although she asked Johnnie Ray to lay his hands on her (healing she believed in, and that Johnnie Ray wasn’t sure about), the tumor grew and shrank and grew again, putting the entire family on a Tilt-a-Whirl of emotion.
So how does a man who’s about to find love prepare for losing his beloved mother? Johnnie Ray isn’t sure, but he knows he’s going to have to learn the meaning of “goodbye” real soon.
“Got til it’s Gone” is the kind of novel that will make you wish Johnnie Ray Rousseau was a flesh-and-blood person so you could find him and spend an evening in his company, such is author Larry Duplechan’s deftness with fiction. It’s the kind of novel that will have you calling your friends so you can read bits of it over the phone. It’s the kind of novel that will make you laugh at the top of the page and blink tears away at the bottom.
From the hint of a tease cover to the why-didn’t-I-see-that ending, this book is a wonderful mix of character and unforced, conversationally-real dialogue, and I loved every page of it.
When it’s time to relax and rest your bones, this is the book you’ll want to take with you. “Got til it’s Gone” will have you gone over the moon.