Simon Says

William Poe, Author
William Poe. Simon Says, $14.95 paper (348p) ISBN 978-0-615-55957-5
Reviewed on: 04/22/2013
Release date: 05/01/2012
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Maryland author Poe's deep, moody semi-autobiographical novel follows the plight of Simon Powell, a man who has spent his youth rejecting his homosexuality. This self-denial began at 17, when, after an "acid-induced revelation,” he joined the Unification Church, run by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, and began a "spiritual journey” that he hoped would assist him in cloaking and repressing gay urges from himself and his conservative-leaning family. Ten years later, Powell returns home to Sibley, Ark., and becomes increasingly in charge of his ailing father Lenny's health care. After Lenny dies, Powell feels adrift and flees to Los Angeles, reuniting with old friends, including a pill-popping drunk, embarking on a violent, self-destructive drug- and alcohol-fueled existence that dominates a good portion of the novel's second half. What follows is a revolving procession of grimy hustlers and episodes of shallow sex, and a final and disastrous crack binge heralds cathartic hopefulness. Stark and gritty, Poe's story about the search for self-discovery is a sobering testament to the author's own personal journey through Rev. Moon's Unification Church, which makes the story resonate that much more powerfully. However, more detail on his main character's time with the cult and less on its self-abusive aftermath would have given this promising novel the heart and soul it truly deserves.
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