Reviewed by Dan
TITLE: Tackling the Issue
AUTHOR: Ken Mooney
LENGTH: 99 Pages
RELEASE DATE: October 6, 2015
“Garrett O’Mahony would like to be your friend on Facebook.”
This is new. This is something I never expected to happen.
Garrett has ignored me for the best part of a decade, ever since we lived together, ever since he snuck out of my life, too afraid to admit who he was and how he felt.
Now, Garrett O’Mahony is one of the best rugby players Ireland has seen in years. Back then, he was my roommate; back then, he was just another Irish-man desperately trying to convince himself that he wasn’t gay.
I’ve changed since then. Ireland has changed since then. I don’t know if Garrett has changed too. But I guess there’s only one way to find out?
Tackling The Issue is a fictional novella looking at some very real issues, and inspired by the Irish marriage equality referendum of 2015. Part gay erotica, part romance, the story looks at the regret, anger fear and internalised homophobia that still lingers in the LGBTQ community…even when everyone outside the community thinks that a referendum has fixed everything.
Those of you who follow my posts know that I’m not usually one to read those six pack abs…perfect twenty somethings…books where everything is sweetness and light and everyone always has a HEA.
Well, once again I’m proving my point. I was intrigued when I read the blurb for Tackling the Issue. I’ve had a fondness for rugby since I attempted to play it as the token Yank on an RAF post rugby team in Cornwall years ago. I love stories with broken and confused characters, and I love stories which make some sort of statement. This one had all three.
I’m going to start by telling you that this book won’t be for everyone. If you are the type that loves the sort of book I was scrunching my nose up about at the top of this review, it wouldn’t be for you. It is slightly dark and very realistic to anyone who has lived the story. As a gay man, I’ve known men like Garrett, who were too afraid to come out, particularly when I was in the military, but also in other industries and jobs through the years. I’ve known a lot of ‘Garretts’. We gay men all have. A lot of us have also been in Darren’s position when men stopped in the middle and said they couldn’t do this…and then ran scared.
The core of this book, in my mind, is its portrayal of the internalized homophobia that many gay or bisexual men feel. Those of us over a certain age were never told that gay was “ok”. We were raised and pressured towards getting married, having 2.5 children, and the hell with what we really wanted. As Darren mentions late in the book when he is talking about his battle to come out and live as a gay man in Dublin, it hasn’t been easy.
I really liked the characters of Garrett and Darren, and liked the way the story was written in the first person (Darren), with flashbacks to a traumatic event that occurred eight years previously.
I highly recommend this book…but to a specific market. It was written by a gay man, about gay men; about the homophobia in Ireland; about the internalized homophobia in many members of the gay community; and about the change in the laws in Ireland where gay marriage is now legal. I think it will be an interesting read to anyone who wants to read a story that deals with real life issues. I enjoyed it. My only slight negative comment is that I wish it had been longer. I would have loved a little more detail and character development, but that is only because I was wrapped up in their world and wanted to stay there a little longer!
Great job Mr. Mooney!