cover image LOOKING FOR IT


Michael Thomas Ford, . . Kensington, $23 (311pp) ISBN 978-0-7582-0407-3

In Cold Falls, N.Y., smalltown rules are changing as Ford's seven gay protagonists make lives for themselves far from big-city gay havens. This entertaining if overstuffed sophomore effort follows Russell and John, who decide to take a break from their sterile, suffocating seven-year relationship; Mike, a handsome bartender at the Engine Room, a cozy gay bar; Episcopal priest Thomas Dunn, who harbors a burgeoning crisis of faith; Stephen, a tax accountant who lives next door to his parents with only chat room fantasies for entertainment; and lonely, mid-60s Simon, whose longtime lover died a year ago. Affectionate Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner gatherings are an excuse for discussions about family ties, religion, gay marriage and the allure of country life. Meanwhile, the friends are pairing off: love blossoms between Mike and Father Thomas, and Russell and John try to fix Stephen up with their friend Greg. Wary Stephen, however, runs off to an adult cinema and gets violently pummeled by a self-loathing closeted mechanic named Pete, who later nearly kills Greg after a bad Internet hookup. Ford (Last Summer ) handles his broad, diverse cast with aplomb, and his knowing sense of humor and emphasis on the positive make this novel as warm and inviting as a group hug. Agent, Mitchell Waters. (Aug. 10)