Monday, 24 June 2013

Refrigeration Blues, Richard Natale

-Review by Kazza K
Refrigeration BluesFirst of all, this book comes under the New Adult Category (NA) for seventeen years up, but from my perspective that is only because it is about a young male who, initially, for a while, wants to commit suicide because the guy he loves has died on the touch football field. 
The MC, Matthew, starts out by talking about the feelings he had for his older brother Ben's best friend, Nathaniel, from a young age. But the majority of this book is looking back from, and up to, the present, all from Matthew's POV. He is somewhere in his twenties, although age is not discussed. And when Nathaniel dies he would be in his thirties, although, once again, it is not definitively stated. 
This book is not gloomy and it hits pretty well on what siblings can be like, Here Matthew is, uh, introduced to Nathaniel when he was nine by his older brother, Ben -

"Oh, yeah, and that's the kid." Ben never referred to me by name. It was always the kid, the brat, and when he was really angry, fuckface. 
It is a tad irreverent about and around a serious subject matter, without seeming blasé or uncaring. The fact that Matthew is planning on taking himself out of this world via a refrigerator is unusual in and of itself. He hasn't thought it through too well as the fridge, a Digby, won't fit his whole body in it, so plans are thwarted -

Here's where my nifty little scheme began to go awry. I couldn't quite get the doors shut. No matter how I contorted myself, there was always a wayward limb or a buttock cheek. I had miscalculated Digby's depth and height......

There are things to like about this book - the almost tongue in cheek, yet also melodramatic plans - Romeo and Juliet were going to look basic after Matthew was through. Yet, there was also a clear feeling that someone, Matthew in this case, was going through a difficult time. Probably not really having his heart in his imminent demise but heartbroken enough to want to do something about the pain  - finding someone he had desired for a long time, has spent some time without, and then, after truly finding him, loving him....losing him permanently. And the reasons why this plan of his may no longer be the right plan for him at all.
Some Issues -

This book is not terribly contemporary. It is set back in the 70's - 80's and as such, some of the references, including a few words from a Paul Simon song, references to Christopher Isherwood's A Single Man, and Sid and Nancy, won't hit the mark with the majority of a NA audience. I'm okay with it, but I'm not a spring chicken. I ran the references past some of my YA/NA connections and they looked at me and blinked.
There is no sex, although it's alluded to. This is a disappointment given it is gay NA story and there was opportunity when, as adults, they reacquaint themselves with one another. ** See below. In this book I believe it took them about four dates to do anything and we are talking about one guy who is in his twenties and another who was at least thirty -.

By the time we became intimate, we were ready - If they were sixteen and seventeen, then maybe I would buy that.

The ending is a to be continued, just be aware. I would have preferred this to have been longer and all dealt with and wrapped up in a longer book.

Overall -

This is an interesting short ebook that touches on a difficult subject without making it maudlin and without being disrespectful, so that is well done. It infuses some realism, some humour and some nice writing. I had some issues with it from a NA book's perspective and that is reflected in my overall rating. I would like to see where this goes, though, and what will happen to Matthew now he's had a new way of looking at things.

3.5 stars

** I added this after the review because I don't wish to sound like I am singling this book or publisher out, as I most definitely am not. I'm talking in general - It seems NA writers/publishers in the LGBT world are almost frightened to go down the path of actual sexual relationships, which is much different to their heterosexual counterparts. I find this most frustrating and incredibly unrealistic. If you are writing a book that is about a relationship, I don't get it. I'm not suggesting wholesale sex scenes everywhere. Just realism. If you are going to aim books at LGBT youth, particularly seventeen year old males up, then make it real - because they will call BS on it otherwise, more than that they won't buy it. It's not just parent's that make decisions. My children have always been consulted on what it is they want(ed) to read.


  1. I am still trying to wrap my head around the New Adult category. However, I feel that if a book/short is aimed at 17 year old boys that it should be realistic in regards to the sexual situations and relationships.

    Great review.

    1. They tend to aim NA at 17 to 25 year olds (or above.) But stand in the confusion we have seen :)