“The Beloved Son”–Jay Quinn Can Tell a Story

Quinn, Jay. “The Beloved Son”, Alyson, 2007.

Coping

Amos Lassen

Jay Quinn can really tell a story. He did so beautifully in “The Good Neighbor” and in “Back Where He Started” and he does so again in “The Beloved Son”. Quinn basically writes about those in the gay population who are under-represented—those who are not out in your face but choose to live quiet lives as part of mainstream society. He writes about that generation in which children who have grown up are caring both for parents who are aging and children who are almost adult themselves. He captures those moments of contemporary life that are intimate and in “The Beloved Son”, he shows us the ability of a family to cope with the changes of life that are both delicate and major.

Karl Preston, at age 52, lives the ideal America life with his wife and 24 year old daughter. He has cash and a beautiful home and everything seems to be just fine until his father asks him and his family to come to Florida for a visit. The visit brings about a series of events that are highly emotional and fro which Karl is in no way prepared.

Karl’s parents, Frank and Annike, announce during the visit that they have decided to move into a retirement community and it is their desire to divide their possessions among their children and grandchild. Karl realizes that this situation will bring him face to face with his gay brother, Sven, from who he has been estranged. Sven has been the primary care giver of the parents and as been forced to deal with all of the daily problems, especially with the mother’s dementia which has been getting much worse.

Karl now realizes, also, that the time has come to say goodbye to the mother he has known and loved. He must also lay the foundations for a deeper and more meaningful relationship with the family that he has left. He discovers that what was meant to be nothing more than a visit home has turned into a journey—one that is life-affirming and heart-rending and that he must deal with those that he had moved to the sidelines of his life.

Karl’s brother Sven, a forty-year-old gay male has lived his life bound by the needs of his parents in a situation that has overtaken his life. Now with the chance of being free from those constraints, an entire world is awaiting his re-entry.

We get a clear picture of what happens when responsibility is weightier than love and when obligation has turned to guilt. The walls are torn down and truth emerges unbridled. The book is a tortured look at a modern day family and it is love that brings them together.

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