I'm too old and it's too much time I'm around. Or maybe it's only that I read too much. Z.A. Maxfiled wrote a parody about a man who wrote a parody... I think I'm able to recognize to whom Z.A. Maxfield identifies herself in the novel, enough to say it's not the writer (too simple), and I recognized who was the writer she is paying homage to.
The story is actually a comedy of errors: Jae is a literary critic working for an LGBT Magazine, The Adversary (quite clear reference to The Advocate...); Jae is an half Caucasian half Asian man, and his full name is Jae-sun, but he goes for Jae, and this sometime leads people to think that he is a female. Often writers who are pissed off from one of his reviews accuse him to be a woman, and so to being unable to understand a real good piece of Gay Literature. You would think that Jae would be the first to defend himself claiming that he is a man, and instead he has always let it go, finding useful to have the change to play the double role, male or female when it is necessary. Like in this case: Jae is real angry since a woman, Kelly Kendall, dared to write a parody of one of Jae's favourite coming of age novel, Doorways. Doorways was like The Catcher in the Rye or some other breaking coming of age novel for Jae, and seeing a trashy novel like Windows taking and ridiculing it, it's too much. Above all since the author who did it is a woman! (payback is hard to digest…) How does she dare? She can't understand how important that book was for young Jae.
Problem is that Kelly can truly understand, since he is not a "she", he is Kelly Mackay, alias Kelly Kendall, alias Kieran Anders, the author of both Doorways than Windows. He wrote Windows to fulfil a bet with Will, his houseboy / dogs boy, a 20 years old former hustler who he welcomed in his home as secretary and buddy friend with benefits. Where Kelly was probably the angst teenager in Doorways, Will is probably the slut teenager in Windows... they are two different perspective on the same story, and Kelly is also probably overgrown on the teenager he was. At this point I also recognized another gentle homage Z.A. Maxfield probably did, to the movie Finding Forrester; not only Kelly Kendall has the same Irish/Scottish origin of the character in the movie, William Forrester, but he has also the same problem to being trapped by his first novel: people adore Doorways so much, that Kelly is scared to writing something else. To do so, he changed completely the genre and went under another pseudo. Plus Kelly suffers of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and he avoids like a plague everything that is not ordinary or stranger.
Jae is bent on "outing" Kelly Kendall as not only a woman (his publisher maintains the mystery around him) but also a plagiarist. He starts to pestering Kelly with emails from a supposedly female fan, StrawberryFields, mails to which Kelly replies with gentleness but avoiding giving details. Only that, email after email, both Jae than Kelly start to realize that they have much in common, and that they like to talk with the other online... is it possible that a so good online relationship turns in something real? Yes, it’s, since Jae is used to have things to easily, and dating Kelly it’s not easy at all. Someone could say that Kelly is a nut case, but I think that he is only a very special man, and he needs someone to take care of him. Don’t get me wrong, Kelly is not retarded or similar, he is only a man with a lot of odd customs, but it’s what makes him a special man, and he has not to change; he only has to find a man who can deal with him. And learning to deal with Kelly maybe will teach to Jae to see things less in Black and White, to see the shades, to be more flexible, and learning that, to be a better man. Not always being a crusader is a good thing, sometime crusade did a very poor job to humanity.
When I said that being a crusader is not necessarily a good thing, I’m not only referring to Jae’s fight to “out” everyone who hides his homosexuality (which negative side we read in the fate of an actor at the beginning of the book); take Kelly’s OCD… someone like Jae, so strong and used to see only the right and the wrong, probably would try to cure himself, to force nature to submit to human’s will… and doing so you would destroy the real Kelly. The real Kelly it’s not the “healthy” man, the real Kelly is the obsessed one, the troubling one, he is special since he is not normal, level him to the rest of the world, means to kill him.
I like also as the author dealt with Kelly and Will's relationship; true, they are having a sexual relationship, but not from Kelly's side or Will's one there is a real emotional commitment. Both of them know that what is between them it's not real love, problem is that Kelly doesn't know if real love exist, at least not until Jae. I like that, even if at the beginning the author let us in the more intimate details between Kelly and Will, when Jae is becoming something more than an email address for Kelly, that relationship slowly but steadily turns in a real friendship, without benefits. It's made in a way that I don't feel bad for Will, on the contrary, I believe that he needs more Kelly as a friend rather than as a lover. Not only Kelly finds his love, but it happens at the same time when Will's past is revealed (a past of child molestation), and in a strange play of destiny, it's actually a better thing for him that Kelly, who can be a fatherly figure for Will due to the age difference, becomes totally sexually detached. http://samhainpublishing.com/romance/epistols-at-dawn
Amazon: ePistols at Dawn
Amazon Kindle: ePistols at Dawn
Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolleCover Art by Anne Cain