Thursday, February 25, 2010

Afterelton.com (the website for LOGO TV) posted a nice review of my third novel, Beantown Cubans. What really jumped out at me in the review, by Brent Hartinger, was where he wrote "Truthfully, the book read to me like sort of a Latino version of E. Lynn Harris’ books (although not quite as juicy). " As a reader of the late E. Lynn Harris, the longtime author of black fiction who passed away last summer, the comparison is a huge compliment.

Hartinger's review is posted below.

Beantown Cubans by Johnny Diaz (Kensington Books, $15) isn’t what I thought it was. For some reason, I was expecting a frothy, brainless romance between superficial gym bunnies. But this book has more substance to it than that.

In alternating perspectives, it tells the stories of Carlos and Tommy, two Cuban Americans who have moved from Miami to Boston, and how they seek to set up new lives there, attempting to deal with the disappointments of love, friendship, and family.

Truthfully, the book read to me like sort of a Latino version of E. Lynn Harris’ books (although not quite as juicy).

It’s not just that they’re both writing about gay racial minorities. Like Harris’ books, Beantown Cubans is mostly episodic, not tightly plotted (though a touching sub-plot about how one of the guys dreams he has a nightly conversation with his dead mother tries to tie one of the stories together).

And like Harris's books, the characters are quietly infectious. By the end, you like them.

But like Harris, the writing itself is merely adequate, and a little soap opera-y. There are no grand themes here, nothing beyond the day-to-day lives of the characters themselves.

This is merely a nice, sweet little read about an under-dramatized minority – and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that