Review of Brandon Kidd’s "Randy Talbot’s Closet"

Randy Talbot’s Closet
Randy Talbot, aka Brandon Kidd
(Beau to Beau Publishing, 2015)
Reviewed by Marion Reidel

If you read to experience the lives of others, to step in to different worlds or cheer on a likeable protagonist, then this book is for you. Randy Talbot’s Closet is an entertaining fictional memoir. This novel is a candidly conversational first-person account of Randy’s intimate relationships. The tale begins when he’s a rebellious student at a Northern Ontario high school and continues through university and beyond, in Ontario’s capital city. The double-entendre title hints at the unique format of writing a chapter for each sexual partner and using wardrobe metaphors to summarize that individual’s impact on his life.

The reader takes the role of confidant as Randy inventories his relationships saying, “In the closet of my love life, Allan Boorsman is the expensive suit that I couldn’t really afford, but I desperately needed to wear to a fancy party, so I figured I’d wear it just once and return it the next day.” The pace is quick, the prose is smooth and the dialogue is funny.

There is some adult content, but it’s not included for shock value. Randy clearly and humorously explains the details of gay intimacy as if anticipating that his reader may be uninitiated. Okay, he does encounter one rather kinky partner who has suspension apparatus and personal appendage extensions, but Randy’s reaction echo’s that of most readers and he chalks it up to experience.

The book was produced by Beau to Beau Publishing as part of their GBLT Romance genre, but it has content to offer any reader. Randy’s account is an entertaining glimpse into the gay community. He shares confidential details with the honesty of a close friend. The characters, particularly his self-chosen sister Carol-Ann and his roommate Evan, are fully developed and engaging. In addition to the self-analysis of his relationships, Randy also ponders the definition of family as he compares his supportive single mother to the situations of others who were unable to be honest about their true nature. He analyzes how family structure and economic status impact one’s personal growth and opportunities. “It’s easy to be confident and daring and in everyone’s face when you’ve got a safety net of money beneath you.”

andy’s primary goal is to become a successful writer of fiction. He reports that in high school he believes, “Good stories can take you away to better places for awhile – safer places, happier places – places where the risk is always just a game.” He becomes disillusioned with post-secondary education when he realizes that, “I had always thought that being creative with language was as much a birthright as being born with opposable thumbs, but most of my professors disagreed.”

Randy’s love life has many ups and downs as he waivers between searching for a meaningful, permanent relationship and succumbing to casual sexual encounters. He playfully exposes his naiveté when he recounts situations such as the time he attended a costume ball for a PRIDE event as a sexy cowboy not realizing it was a formal masquerade.

His narrative voice is so sincere and confessional, that the reader will occasionally feel like offering advice along with the other characters. If you’re a believer in true love, no matter what gender configuration, and you love a happy ending, then this book will meet expectations.

The novel’s setting alternates between Thunder Bay and Toronto. Author, Brandon Kidd, has lived in both communities, and thus offers specific references without superficial stereotypes. Kidd currently lives on Guelph, Ontario.