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Blind Items by Matthew Rettenmund

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From Blind Items:

?It?s startling to learn this about myself, but I can walk through a crowded Manhattan apartment sale and notice a plastic Farrah Fawcett-Majors head circa 1977 in mint condition under a table near the back, even if the box is partially covered by a trash bag.

When Warren saw my find, he rolled his eyes and sneered out an unenthusiastic ?Faaaabulous?. Warren, despite his rep as a somewhat flamboyant queen, didn?t comprehend camp the way the average gay man (like me) did. Or maybe it was just that Warren could appreciate the camp of a Farrah head but couldn?t get over the idea that someone would pay ten dollars for it, let alone feel that he?d gotten a bargain.?

?I refused to believe I was being stared at by the man TV Guide had voted Most Eligible Bachelor of ?98. I?d never been voted anything at all. I didn?t even vote. I scanned him from head to toe, impressed at how steady I felt with his pelvis practically in my face. He had the air of one of those guys who?d been a star quarterback in high school, having developed Charles Atlas muscles overnight at age thirteen. He was one of the flawless ones, those specimens who either become actors, models, rent boys, or next-door neighbors who exist to drive the rest of us insane.?

BLIND ITEMS by Matthew Rettenmund, a TR review

?Blind item? is a gossip column term for the scurrilous printing of information that contains no names, just pointed details easily recognizable by those in the know, the secrets only half-revealed, the ?truths? reflected through a distorted mirror. Secrets, smoke and mirrors are what make up Matthew Rettenmund?s second romantic novel, Blind Items; shifting scenes and characters who hide themselves from each other and their own hearts. Lust and passion, pain and price, all overlayed with the catty wit and direct prose recognizable to readers of Boy Culture, but here taking us on a more desperate ride.

David Greer edits copy for gay porn rag Pumped, surrounded at work by sanitized photos of beautiful naked men humping one another, and numbed daily by banal masturbatory prose. This wasn?t what he?d planned; he?d meant to write a novel. But what with one thing and another, he finds himself past thirty and utterly, completely lost. What he wants isn?t clear, but he can?t help sniffing in the wind.

One of David?s two best friends is Warren, the under-appreciated Island Rage gossip columnist infamous for slicing and dicing his subjects like a Benihana chef: ?Warren had come out to his mother and father when he was eleven, even experimenting with drag before it was time to learn to shave. I can?t comment on that because I literally can?t picture it. As this piece of information suggests, there was something superhuman about Warren. He was a sort of homosexual prodigy.? The other best friend is the elegant, and straight, Carol; they bond in her ?nostalgia? junk shop the day David discovers a perfectly preserved set of paperdolls from the ?60s television show Julia: As Carol tells him later, ?Anyone that can cry over Diahnne Carroll must be worth knowing.?

The two of them crash a swanky (or is that skanky?) promo party for the hit TV series Lifesavers (think Baywatch with even less clothing), hoping to meet the star, muscle-boy Alan Dillinger, but are stunned when the famous hunk actually walks up and talks to them! Could there be more to Alan than just his looks and fame? But David knows that his dreams of dating a movie star are just that, dreams?at least he knows it until he hears that famous husky voice on his answering machine. What happens next is anyone?s guess, especially as Hollywood rumormongers have hinted for years that Alan wasn?t really straight.

And in the background, or is it the foreground, we encounter John, an unloved and unlovely movie geek growing up in the polyester years, ignored by a resentful, alcoholic grandmother. His friendless life sparks a fascination with silent screen idol Gil Romano, whose handsome face decorates the walls of the tiny trailer park bedroom as John, over his empty teen years, acquires photos and mementos of the dead actor?s career. He funnels fear of his own homosexuality into a confused passion for an actor who shot himself long before John was born.

All these characters have secrets from others and from themselves, things unsaid, shameful hopes, hidden fears or desires that fuel the more insecure circuits between them. Who is who, and what is what? Blind Items a beautiful puzzle by author Matthew Rettenmund; you work it out carefully as he slips you up and down the decades, teasing you with tidbits, mesmerizing you with heart and gut wrenching scenes in these, the secret lives of his characters. You?ll be unable to put this book down, I guarantee it, until you?ve read every last page, put all the puzzle pieces together.

Blind Items is published by St. Martin?s Griffin of Fifth Avenue, NYC and is available from Amazon and other major book distributors.

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