Title: The Q
Author: Rick R. Reed
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: February 1, 2021
Genre(s): Literary Fiction
Page Count: 194
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
First of all, this is not a romance .... it's better. In the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, there is a nondescript little gay bar called The Q, actually the Quench Room, but most think the Q stands for queer. It's a gathering spot for drinking, dancing, shooting the breeze, reconnecting with friends, and for some it's a lifeline. If you're from a small town (as the author is, and me as well), you've probably had a bar like this in your life.
Reed weaves a rich tapestry, sharing vignettes of lives entwined with the bar. There's the old married couple at the end of the bar, whose marriage is nothing like it appears to be, and another married couple facing a crucial crossroads. There's the man who sees his face in the mirror and wonders who he really was. "Was there any substance there? Or had he been all gloss and veneer, with nothing substantial behind the pretty?" The bartender, Mary Louise, mourns the loss of so many beautiful men in her life taken by AIDS.
I recently read an excellent article entitled "A Feeling for Fiction" by Keith Oakley on how fiction elicits such empathic responses from us. He says "A story is a partnership. The author writes it, and the reader or audience member brings it alive." Reed does this, in The Q, in the best way possible - holding up a mirror before us, allowing us to glimpse our own stories of love and loss, of hope and fear, through the lifes and loves of eight folks from the Q. 5 stars.
I received an ARC from the publisher, via NineStar Press, in exchange for an honest review.