Saturday, September 06, 2008

Stealing Wishes

Stealing Wishes
by Shannon Yarbrough

(ToSow Publishing / 0-615-21361-8 / 978-0-615-21361-3 / June 2008 / 232 pages / $14.00 / $12.60 Amazon)

The storyline is told in the first person by a thirty-two-year-old gay man who has been employed for a number of years at a locally owned, Starbuckian coffee emporium. As with many of us, his life has come to revolve around his job and the people who work at the Latte Da. The owner is a single woman named Sally who has developed over time into Blaine’s best friend. The only other regular employee is a young, punkish, art school student with spiked hair and fairy tale characters tattooed over much of his body. Blaine has developed a neurotic tendency called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. He is obsessed with the number 32, and all multiples and derivatives of that number. According to his own observation, this neurotic behavior appeared after he had decided to cease his exercising of an earlier habit, endless one night stands with young gay men he met in the gay disco scene. The plot surrounds Blaine’s maturing realizations concerning his behavior patterns and where he would like to take his lifestyle patterns in the future.

Stealing Wishes is a quick read through a pair of relationships that begin with Sally meeting a new boyfriend and then the two of them setting up Blaine with a blind date with a professor at a local university. There are many little psychodramas that spice up the seemingly droll plot, leading to a number of surprising conclusions. There are a few passages that a hetero male may want to read through as quickly as possible, before any clear mental images have time to gel, but Stealing Wishes offers an overall tone closer to Disney than Cinemax. If not for the clearly homosexual context, I could easily visualize Stealing Wishes as a Lifetime movie, full of discussion about the complexity of relationships. Shannon Yarbrough is to be commended for his smooth, believable dialog and the delicate psychological approach to characters who seem, at least on the surface, to be fatally flawed. Mr. Yarbrough is a very promising young author who understands the psychology of people and their convoluted relationships very well.

With a little more attention to the technical details of publishing, Shannon Yarbrough could have a real future as a writer. I have never seen a book that began the page numbering with the cover, but as a POD book critic, I have encountered enough careless, unnecessary, grammatical boo-boos in the books I have reviewed to drive a librarian deeply into madness. Stealing Wishes has its share of this nonsense, but fortunately, this is the only negative thing I have to say about Mr. Yarbrough’s second book.

The author has genuinely captured the essence of many of those living in the gay community of a large city. Young adults of all sexual persuasions live through much of the same angst as Shannon’s gay and straight characters. He has presented them all blended together, just as in real life. Stealing Wishes may not strike with the powerful punch of the sort of nonfiction tome that a reader might say changed his or her life, but the flow of the characters’ conversations displays the depth of thought that went into this relatively short book of fiction. The heartfelt poignancy drips from its pages of light comedy.

See Also: The B&N Review
The Blogger News Net Review
The Other Side of What (Shannon's first book)

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