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BOOK REVIEW: THE DECADE OF BLIND DATES
BY RICHARD ALTHER

We hope you enjoy this book review by Nancy Eaton.

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Peter Bauman is a gay, divorced painter. Now, at the age of 45, he is looking for someone to be his soul mate.

This novel takes place a decade before the Internet so there is no online dating, as we know it today. Peter decided to try and find someone through personal ads. His daughter encouraged him to “go for it”.

Some of the men Peter met were absolutely hilarious. There is Henry who crocheted covers for toilet paper. Peter just could not believe this creative outlet. Then there was Dr. Leo who told Peter over the phone that his vita was fifty-six pages. Peter realized later on that should have been enough to warn him right there. Next came Walter, a physician. The first thing Peter noticed about Walter is a great deal of dandruff on his shoulders. He was also barefoot and his nails needed clipping. Walter showered and Peter thought he smelled pretty good. The two had a couple of sexual encounters but Peter had very mixed feelings about this man and knew it would not work. One day, Peter’s son, Derek, walked in on he and Norman when they were dancing the Texas two-step stark naked. Another date was with Winston who happened to have a bag of sex toys. This is just a sample of some of the blind dates that Peter met along his journey to find that special someone.

Barry is Peter’s friend and someone he could confide in all the time. Of course, Barry got all the details of Peter’s blind dates. He would also give Peter some advice along the way. Barry was in an abusive relationship with a man named Len.

One day, while doing a painting of his ex-wife Becky, she mentioned that she could not understand why Peter and Barry were not together. In fact, Becky was the one who realized that Peter really would be happier with a man. Peter’s daughter also encouraged him to follow his desires. Becky was now remarried. Peter thanked Becky because he felt she contributed to his being able to go back to painting full time.

For a short time Peter does have an affair with his friend, Arlene. While doing a painting of her, she seduces him. Barry is not happy about this and Peter tells him its because he is jealous. His daughter was also not happy about this because she encouraged Peter to be gay. Peter ended the relationship with Arlene because his son advised him “just to be happy” and his daughter stated, “I know you – you’re gay”.

Peter has been through some rough times. Luke, who was his first love, died from AIDS. Peter was determined to finish a commemorative painting of Luke.

Peter is diagnosed with prostate cancer. He has the surgery but suffers from some of the complications that normally go with this type of operation. He gets involved with a few other men while still searching for his soul mate. One day, Peter starts a painting of a close friend but decided to do a self-portrait instead. Why did he do this? Did he see something in the portrait he did not want to acknowledge?

Peter does find his soul mate. You will have to read the book to find out whom it turns out to be. You just might be surprised!

Richard Alther has shown that he is very creative to be able to come up with the zany characters in this novel. He does an excellent job with their descriptions and as a result the reader is able to picture the person in their mind. Richard also shows the readers that he has a wonderful sense of humor. You will find yourself laughing out loud over some of the things that happen in this novel. One word of warning for the readers – some of the sexual encounters are very explicit; however, they are also very funny. I feel the explicit details must be there to create the stage for the reader because that is what makes the whole scene hilarious. I can usually tell right from the beginning whether or not a book is going to be a good read or not. There was no doubt in my mind, that after reading the first couple of pages, this would be a good read and the reason is because Richard Alther has a clever writing style that makes this novel very entertaining.

Even though this novel touches on many laughable moments there are also some serious issues included such as AIDS and prostate cancer. The author does a good job of bringing these issues to the attention of the public and it is done in a compassionate, sensitive manner.

I would love to see Decade of Blind Dates made into a movie! I’m sure we could all come with the names of some actors and actresses we would like to see play the parts of characters in this book.

If you are looking for an entertaining read that will make you laugh, be sure to add The Decade of Blind Dates to your reading list. Richard Alther is a talented writer and I look forward to more books by him in the future.

REVIEWED BY NANCY EATON

DO NOT REPRINT WITHOUT PERMISSION OF THE REVIEWER, NANCY EATON


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