A Really Nice Prom Mess
by Brian Sloan
YA fiction. 266 pp.
Simon & Schuster. 2005.
Well, in summary, your fake date's in the bathroom with a hangover and a crispy hairdo, while my fake date is out wandering the Willard, searching for his heterosexuality or something.
High school senior Cameron Hayes gets coerced into going to the prom with a girl, even though he's rather be with his boyfriend. The evening goes from bad to worse when his fake date gets sloshed, his boyfriend slugs him when he sees Cam kissing his fake date, and Cam flees the prom in disguise with a drug dealer. Then things really spin out of control. Over the course of one harrowing and hysterical night, Cameron's life comes undone, leading to accidental revelations, criminal adventures, and an unlikely romance.
This book has been sitting on my shelf for about a year. I had bought it while I was in San Fran on business, but then I didn't get to it while out of town, and it just didn't pull me in when I got back. Sometime during the last couple weeks, I came across a blog entry that actually made the book sound interesting, so I tried it again.
Initially, I wasn't digging the book. The action was rather blah and I wasn't overly fond of the protagonist's voice either. Fortunately, that all changed when Cameron left the prom with the bisexual Russian pot dealer. Suddenly there was something interesting happening. And suddenly Cameron's voice wasn't quite so irritating and whiny. Now he had something to whine about.
Still, in the end, the book isn't grand literature. It's probably on a par with most Sanchez novels, primarily due to the overly melodramatic nature of the writing. The supporting characters are more interesting than most. The events of the evening seem a bit implausible, but it is a prom night, so I'm willing to cut a little bit of slack there.
Interestingly, I think part of my lack of enthusiasm for this novel is that the author isn't a novelist. (Well, except that I guess he does have a second novel out now.) Last night, Dec and I watched WTC View, which is also written by Sloan. Again, this has been sitting on the shelf for quite some time. But we didn't have anything to watch on the DVR since we have to wait for Gladys to come over before we can watch the next episode of Brothers & Sisters. I pulled out this movie because it stars Michael Urie, whom I find absolutely adorable and whom I'm having significant withdrawals from while waiting for Ugly Betty to kick back in.
WTC View is about Eric, who is trying to rent out a room in his apartment. He puts the ad up on 10 September 2001 and then, well, life changes. So you get this mix of stories as other guys come to check out the apartment. They talk about their experiences with Eric, and you learn about the trauma he's going through. Originally, this was written as a play, which I think I would have enjoyed more. Though I thought the themes of connection and trauma and change were well done.