Adam Steve- Book Review

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As you may or may not guess, Craig Chester’s new gay novel, Adam Steve, takes its name from that awful Christian saying that “God” created Adam and Even, not Adam and Steve. But don’t let the title fool ya-there’s very little about this novel that is preachy, cute, or trite (except perhaps, the over-the-top ending). Instead, Chester treats us to a nicely written little novel about gay life in post 9/11 New York City.

Chester entertains us with witty little scenes as well as insightful twists in this fun little novel about growing from the 1980’s club scene into the gay afterlife of normalcy, self-acceptance, and happiness.

Hiding behind not-so-ageless both personas, Adam and Rhonda experience more than they bargained for when they celebrate Adam’s 21st birthday at New York’s Danceteria. Rhonda is painfully self-aware of her obesity and uses it to mask her true identity while Adam is also aware of his own identity as a geek Jewish gay boy in 80’s New York. Together they embark upon their first drug-induced party night, which ends with Adam and a dancer named Steve experiencing a totally gross, disastrous, druggy one-night stand attempt in Adam’s Hell’s Kitchen apartment.

Chapter Two takes us forward fifteen years to a hardly recognizable Rhonda and Adam, with Steve nowhere to be found. Rhonda has conquered her food addiction (sort of) and lost most of her tonnage, but finds that as a comedienne reliant upon self-effacing fat jokes, she’s a failure. She’s going to have to find some new material-and she doesn’t even know it yet.

Like many of us, Rhonda still sees herself the way she was before she embarked upon her path of self-improvement. Adam, on the other hand, is a career-stunted Jewish boy who really did want to be lawyer like his parents wanted him to be. But he, too, has failed. One night he accidentally stabs his “child” (his wonderful dog, Burt) and rushes him to a human’s hospital where a handsome shrink takes pity on him and fixes his dog. The shrink is none other than Steve, but the two don’t yet realize they’ve met before.

Filled with nutty escapades (a duck murder, a twink that won’t go away, the accidental stabbing of a beloved dog, a dance-off), Adam Steve is sure to entertain while simultaneously taking us on the journey of two men lookin’ for love. They’ve both settled for being promiscuous fags in a world that seems to work against them, but what they really want is love. Will they find it? Can they overcome that first humiliating night together and get past their own baggage?

Can they find someone to occupy Adam’s fag hag Rhonda and Steve’s couch-potato roommate Michael so that they can be free to become completely enmeshed in one another? Will the two men learn to love themselves while looking for love outside of themselves? We’re not going to tell you-but we are going to recommend that you give Adam Steve a go. It’s a fine novel by an up-and-coming novelist, director, and actor. We’re sure to hear more from Craig Chester in the future-and we look forward to it.

While releasing the novel, Chester has simultaneously turned this fun, intimate look at growing up gay into a feature film that debuted at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. The moving stars Craig Chester himself as Adam and Parker Posey as his loving, though self-tortured cohort, Rhonda. Malcolm Gets plays the ripped ‘Dazzle Dancer,’ Steve, while Steve’s best friend Michael is played by Chris Kattan-and after reading the book, you’ll agree that no one better could have been cast as Michael. I actually imagined someone quite like Kattan when I read the book. Who else would bed a hallucinogenic homeless woman named Stone Garden as an act of kindness while still spending most of his time playing video games and living rent free on his best friend’s couch? We can’t wait to see how creepy Kattan can be as Michael.

Adam Steve combines over the top comedy with heartfelt romance. Anonymous shower sex at the gym (who knew soap was an aphrodisiac?) is more than gratuitous-it actually works as character development. The book’s one stereotypical homophobe is anything but stereotypical-he’s refreshingly redneck and freaky. And the fag hag Rhonda is more than a fag hag, she’s a real friend who’s character is fleshed out almost as well as those of Adam and Steve. More than a summer read, Adam Steve is a wonderful new gay novel by a man who writes as both a writer and a gay man.