By William Poe
Simon & Schuster, 348 Pages, $14.95
Simon Powell has only recently escaped the cult-like Unification Church, where he spent ten years of his life in denial of one of his life’s essential truths: he is gay. He returned home only to be able to witness the death of the father whose acceptance he had always fruitlessly sought in the past and, unsure of what life holds for him now, decides to follow the young hustler he left the church for out to Hollywood. It isn’t long before Simon’s life revolves around cocaine and partying, but he manages to get clean when opportunity knocks, and before he knows it, he has built a reputation as a international film distributor. But the temptations are too great, and before long Simon has fallen back into a life of drugs and meaningless sex with hustlers, and he carelessly squanders away the money his business has earned him. Life keeps going downhill, but what will it take for Simon to rise above his problems?
William Poe’s new novel Simon Says is a case study in a life seriously off-course. The protagonist, Simon, has a lot of potential—he’s clearly business-savvy, and can accomplish a lot when he puts his mind to it. Perhaps because of my own life experiences, it’s hard to have any sympathy for the decisions he makes, and reading the downward spiral of drugs and meaningless sex that his life becomes is downright painful. Poe has done a marvelous job in penning the gritty details of Simon’s hard-partying lifestyle, and readers will find it hard to turn away from the mess that his life rapidly becomes. The book is well-written and remarkably smooth to read, despite its dark storyline; Simon Says is a snapshot of a dark period in a young gay man’s life, and will leave readers hungry to know whether or not Simon succeeds in picking himself back up again.
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