July 17, 2021
Dear Mr. Rowley,
Now that sounded weird. Since we are so close in age I toyed with just calling you Steven, but because we do not know each other personally, I’m keeping it “profesh” and using your last name with a big old MR. right in front of it. For the past three years, I have exclusively written my letters of bookish love to Hemingway…you know, that famous American writer who is beyond controversial in his professional and personal life, and who is also DEAD! Today, however, I am not only trying my hand at writing to someone new, but also to someone who is actually alive for that matter (AKA…YOU). But please do not panic. I assure you that I am not changing my Blog name to Dear Mr. Rowley. I know, I know, I know it would be so fantabulous to have me as a pen pal gushing (yes I just said gushing) about our favorite books, authors, and other shenanigans on the regular, but I promise to curb my enthusiasm.
Let me start by saying that I have read and loved all three of your books immensely. In Lily and the Octopus, you basically shattered my heart into a million pieces, then without fail, assembled it back together again with your magical writing and approximately 3.5 boxes of tissues (we can talk later about how fantastic my puffy and tear-stained eyes looked upon completion of this book and what future remedies you recommend for these casualties that come from your brilliant writing). I digress. In your sophomore novel, The Editor, you completely roused me with how you mindfully placed THE Jackie Kennedy Onassis in the midst of James Smale’s story to offer truth and wisdom to his writing and personal life in the most ingenious manner. But what I really want to chat with you about today though is your latest creation, The Guncle. The second you mentioned Cassie’s solo in this work of art, I knew I had a friend in you.
When I first read the premise of The Guncle, I was ready for a light and funny tale of Gay Uncle Patrick (GUP) prancing around in his Kaftans and cocktails taking in his niece and nephew for the summer in his Palm Springs home after their mom died and their dad went to rehab. I mean, a single and gay forty-something-year-old/ex-sitcom star taking care of two small kids has to be funny, right? Obviously, you know the answer to this, but I am announcing to you out loud that it was truly hysterical. I mean, as a mom to three kids, I have been to hell and back with that Blue Lizard sunscreen you cleverly mentioned. This thick pasty white lotion can repel the sun’s harmful rays and any other toxins lurking in the air, but it also has the unique ability to push parents to the edge of their sanity while leaving children with white stained faces to frolic about in the pool. Funny, funny, funny. And while I loved Patrick’s chucklesome side with his Guncle rules to live by and daily interactions with the wee ones, I loved him most for his oversized heart and profound emotions he slowly revealed.
You see Mr. Rowley, you did something pretty damn special in The Guncle. You brought out the unexpected beauty that is sometimes embedded in the walls of grief. You wholeheartedly wrote a story that captured the unimaginable feeling of hope after a tragic loss. You showed how experiencing grief through the lens of a child can be the ultimate lesson in healing for an adult’s aching heart. You tackled grief, loss, addiction, family and so much more by infusing laughter and love throughout the pages of your book, making life’s challenges a little less scary to read about. You wrote a book that captures the human spirit in more ways than I could ever count. For that, I am eternally grateful.
So here’s the scoop Mr. Rowley. It is pretty obvious that I admire your writing. You have dazzled me on three different occasions by keeping me up way past my bedtime reading your splendid tales. You have moved me to a rainstorm of tears and to a belly full of laughter all in the matter of a few pages. But most importantly, you have provided me with stories that continue to keep my love of reading alive and thriving.
One last thing before I go. Because we grew up more or less during the same time period, I will always be in tune with your subtle jokes and pop culture references. Your sarcasm and wittiness are totally my jam. For the record, when you said “Dance 10 Looks 3”, I immediately shouted, “And I’m still on unemployment”.
On that note, I will gracefully end my letter to you. I wish you health and happiness and many more books to come. Feel free to write to me any time! Your words are always welcome here!
Your Biggest Fan,
P.S. If you ever want to watch A Chorus Line (the movie version) with me, I will happily make you an incredible mimosa (minus the orange juice plus the Veuve) with an organic orange slice placed on a nearby cocktail napkin for your drinking pleasure. We can critique the dancers while giggling how Michael Douglas was such a “baby” back then and WHERE DID THE TIME GO!