Review: Odd Adventures with your Other Father by Norman Prentiss
In this layered collection of tales, Celia begins with a question: "What are your parents like?" Instead of a direct answer, she shares some of the stories her living father, Shawn, told her about a post-college road trip with his now-deceased life-partner, Jack. These shared tales are wound through Celia's own search for a deeper connection to her family.
Throughout the stories, Celia's and Shawn's, the reader can feel the duality of her relationship with both fathers; she has enormous pride in their love for each other, and yet she yearns for a "normal" family life.
This duality runs deeper in the narrative as well. Each adventure from her parents' youth—their honeymoon trip, as it were—can be read as an allegory of living in a world that is more hostile than it is accepting, or even simply indifferent, to a homosexual couple.
In one twist, for example, Jack finds himself cast in the role of the straight man who wanders unknowing into a gay bar, and is forced to confront his own ambivalent reactions to the behaviors he observes. In another, the two young men casually insult those around them, and must face the consequences when their hurtful conversation is overheard.
Concentrated rather than short, this is a quick read that packs a mighty wallop. And while I might have enjoyed more tales of the "odd adventures," Prentiss has included precisely as many as he needed to power a complex novel about travelling on the fringes where love and family meet the rest of the world—and surviving them heart-whole.