Hot Head

Hot Head - Damon Suede 4.656 with one of those little lines over the last 6 so it repeats into infinity - so we'll round up.

Although certainly not new to writing, this is Damon Suede's debut novel, I might even go so far as to say his first assault, a full-tilt charge of crackling energy. More on the debut later.

If I had to describe the author's writing style in three words or less, I'd have to say exuberant deliberation. Not deliberation in the sense of plodding or studied pretension, but in the sense that if you listen, you can feel an almost manic need to get every piece, every scene just so. This is a writer who clearly loves words, who enjoys their taste and texture, and isn't merely schlepping sentences into place to get to the sex.

Even the names are carefully chosen. Griffin Muir. Honestly, what could be more evocative? Scottish highlands and the big, beefy men they breed, Muir woods with its giant redwoods - the images outline the man. Griff is huge, a man grown too large for the confining world he's built for himself, a hero whose heart and genitals match his enormous build, but one who treads through life, often with tentative care, afraid he might break someone. Dante Anastagio, whose first name holds the obvious literary reference and whose last name could be translated as "rebirth" or even, if you like, "resurrected", carries his name for reasons which become clear as the story unfolds. A more problematic character, I really didn't want to like him at first sighting. Arrogant, cocky bastard, I thought. But quickly we see hints of a terrible vulnerability under the bravado - and I guarantee you'll soon fall in love with Dante as well.

The single perspective third person works well here - we remain in deep POV throughout, with Griff assigning thoughts and motivations to the people around him that an inexperienced editor might have labeled head-hopping. It is not, and Griff's perceptions are always telling, saying so much more than he's able to in his laconic conversations.

All in all, it feels as if the editors kept a light hand on the manuscript, letting the voice and rhythm of the piece remain intact. Thank goodness. The few nits I have are not ones that seriously interfered with my enjoyment of the story. But there were a couple. The onomatopoeia was making me a little crazy towards the end. Pow Bam. Click. Did he really just write "gulp"? Yep. I alternated between seeing little cartoon balloons, Adam-West-as-Batman style or hearing stage direction. Either way, there were places where, while it was often funny, it pulled me too far out of the scene to be entirely successful. There are also some spots where the internal agonizing becomes a bit repetitive. I found myself thinking "Yes, Griff, you just said that two paragraphs ago."

For the most past, though, this is an astounding story, a serious drama told with humor and heart, sometimes with nods to Noir fiction phrases, sometimes with overtones of more literary fiction. The 9/11 flashback is poignant and brittle - I dare you not to cry. The plot, and oh, yes, there is plot, moves along well and isn't subsumed by the sex as it is in some M/M contemporaries. While the sex is hot, don't get me wrong, every instance is integral to the story arc.

I predict that in the next few months there will be a lot of comparisons made. "Damon Suede is the next X, Y or Z". I'll make my protestation now - Damon is not the next anything. He is himself, unabashedly unique and un-apologetically himself. In the next few years, young writers will be saying they want to be the next Damon Suede. Mark my words.

Finished this morning with a happy sigh and a goofy smile on my face, but Dante and Griff will stay with me. I'll go back and visit often. This hungry reader wants more and can't wait to see what Damon has for us next.