Review – “The Boy Behind the Red Door” by John Goode
Just A GREAT Christmas Story
Very Highly Recommended
Ten Reasons John Goode Rules the World
1. He creates memorable characters that experience real emotions, talk like real people talk, and worry about those things real gay guys worry about. They may live in North Texas, but the guys could really be in any small town in the United States.
2. He knows the difference between being alone and being lonely. One a guy can live with, the other sucks really really bad.
3. He knows there are three types of gay guys – virgins, sluts, and the rest of us. Virgins don’t know the difference between being a slut and being a regular guy yet. Sluts want Mr. Right now. And regular guys, we want Mr. Right, and will go through periods of voluntary celibacy in order to be true to our hearts.
4. He believes in true love. Or Twu Wuv, Buttercup.
5. He isn’t afraid to make his characters afraid. His gay men know it isn’t easy to be vilified as evil and perverted, loved (falsely) as icons a la Queer as Folk or something out of Sex in the City, or to be a young guy who knows he is different and thinks he is the only one in the world who feels that way.
6. He focuses on the main characters, and doesn’t waste energy creating characters who don’t serve any purpose than as window dressing. His guys have lives, people in them, and have things to do, but the focus never shifts off of where it needs to be – with the two guys who matter.
7. He doesn’t shy away from making his men unlikable in some ways. They are real, and have feet of clay sometimes. Not all of us can be super heroes every day; sometimes, we need to be saved. Or slapped silly. And he does both.
8. He gets that the moment when a gay boy discovers “the gay”, it can scare the pants off of you, fill you with no small amount of self-loathing, and can go a couple of ways. Denial and to the nearest girl, or eventually to quiet self acceptance. Sometimes step two follows a good long period of step one.
9. He writes stories that are just the right length. And friggin leave me wanting more more more, but gets the value of tying the story up in a way that leaves the reader satisfied without being stuffed.
10. Have you seen the boy? I mean, SERIOUSLY adorable.
Now, for the real review.
Matt is a North Texas transplant, living in San Francisco. A former high school jock, now he is the technical editor for a high tech blog. Single, frustrated, he hasn’t met anyone who can live up to his teen obsession, the teen who lived down the street from him, beautiful and unapproachable. He couldn’t wait to get the hell out of Dodge (well, Texas) and get on with his life.
Reluctantly making his annual Christmas trip home, alone again, Matt is restless as he sees his brothers, all married with children. A quick trip to the local electronics store to pull his brother’s fat from the fire, he runs into Tyler, the mysterious boy who lived in the house with the red back door. Will the meeting, a long time in coming, live up to his long held fantasies or will the boy behind the red door be just that – a fantasy?
Mr. Goode has revisited the town of Foster, Texas, setting of “Maybe With a Chance of Certainty”, and introduced us to two more wonderful teens who grew into fine adults. His strength is in his characters – the men in his stories are nice guys who happen to be gay and looking for love. They are also unfailingly charming in their own way, blundering through their lives unaware of their real charm and looking for a man to love who wants them for their one-and-only.
This charming short story sits just right for a cold winter evening, warming the heart and satisfying the hopeless romantic that, let’s face it, we all become at this time of year. Merry Christmas, Mr. Goode – I just hope you have something as wonderful under your tree this year.