Ambrosia For Men
edited: Saturday, February 09, 2008
By Arthur Wooten
Not "rated" by the Author.
Posted: Saturday, February 09, 2008
Become a Fan
Review of Fruit Cocktail - Bay Area Reporter, San Francisco
Bay Area Reporter
Copyright © 2006 Bay Area Reporter, a division of Benro Enterprises, Inc.
Ambrosia for men
by Jim Piechota
Fruit Cocktail by Arthur Wooten; Alyson Books, $14.95
Curtis Jenkins, that wacky, HIV-positive, middle-aged, unlucky-in-love, natural-born homo from Arthur Wooten's debut On Picking Fruit, returns with more Manhattan high jinx in a sequel that surpasses the first book in laughs, substance and plot.
Right from the opening pages of Fruit Cocktail, Curtis is in a major panic; he's a cowering pile of 45-year-old insecurity busily questioning his talent as a writer. Is the hoopla surrounding his latest nonfiction offering, 101 Ways to Collide into Your Gay Soul Mate, largely undeserved? How can he help other men find their soulmates when he still considers himself Miss Lonely Hearts? Over the course of a nationwide book tour, Curtis' wild, unhappily single life plays out during the nonstop interviews, signings, and book parties he must attend, the toast of the town at each event. Flirtations garner him the attentions of many cute boys, but where is his one true love? Along for the ride is Curtis' bossy 65-year-old mother, who is "more effective than any marketing strategy," and who not only outs herself as bisexual, but still finds it appropriate to wear backless cocktail dresses. Also in tow are his oversexed best buddy Quinn and his editor Darcie, who overbooks the increasingly ragged author into engagement after engagement. Highlights include a trip to gay square-dancing, searching for his perineum at nude yoga, a trip to Provincetown during Cross-Dressing Weekend, and his mother's lesbian wedding in San Francisco. Only Wooten could turn a precautionary colonoscopy into sidesplitting comedy. Even the funeral of Magda Tunick, a focal character from Wooten's debut, provides an opportunity for husband-hunting as Curtis finds half-Mexican, half-Welsh priest Father Greg a worthy candidate. He also meets Magda's Latvian sister Petra, a psychic visionary with a "bundle of orange energy" who spins Curtis into a dramatic frenzy at every turn, then reads his Tarot cards.
At times, Curtis' snarky, sarcastic attitude sabotages the author's efforts to garner sympathy for his main character's single-man plight. Bitchy queens are single for a reason. But ultimately, Curtis remains a fully-formed, funny, and affecting contemporary gay man in search of his soulmate.
Wooten has a three-book deal with Alyson, so Curtis Jenkins just might rear his finely-coiffed head up for one final curtain call. Or not. Either way, Wooten is a modern master of self-promotion and a model for anyone looking to write, market, and profit from their own gay novel. With such self-propelled ambition, can the Hollywood adaptations of the Fruit series be far behind?
Wooten reads from and signs Fruit Cocktail at A Different Light Bookstore, 489 Castro St., SF, on Wed., Feb. 13 at 8 p.m.