In The Beloved Son, one family must cope with life's ever-changing moments as two sons are faced with the issue of their aging parents. Karl Preston lives an ideal American life with his wife and daughter in an affluent North Carolina suburb. At his father's request, Karl travels to Florida for a weekend visit that starts a roller coaster of family drama and heartache. Not only does Karl have to deal with his gay brother Sven, who is the primary caretaker of their parents, he must also confront his mother's growing dementia. Richly told, lyrically written, this is a poignant portrait of the modern-day family and how responsibility trumps resentment.
Jay Quinn's Lambda-nominated novels transcend traditional gay fiction, exploring universal issues of marriage, aging parents, addiction, and attraction, all while presenting unique characters and pause-register drama.
I'm a fan of this author's work and was disappointed by this book, both as a text and even more so the audio version.
The narrator speaks so slowly that it is hard to stay awake without your mind wandering. So perhaps the book is a little better than it seems. A poor narration can ruin even a great book. Other aspects of the narration are not too bad, except for pronouncing foreign words commonly used in English, even Marrakesh, and some English words as well. The attempts at foreign accents are appalling, so it is fortunate that there are not many.
The story itself is not nearly so effective as the author's other works. It's a vignette of family life, of ageing and middle age. Middle aged brothers are dealing with the illness and end of life of their elderly parents. It could have been very touching. However, with the exception of the gay brother, most of the characters are either too lightly sketched or unappealing, leaving the reader too unsympathetic and unaffected.
The main protagonist, Carl, is given ludicrous dialogue which makes him sound more like a guest on Oprah than the rational engineer who doesn't do 'feelings' well. His father is nasty and abusive towards his other son Sven, who is a martyr. His mother is complicated but it is unclear why she stayed with her husband, and whether she should be seen as guilty. The other characters, Sven's partner and Carl's wife and daughter, are peripheral and we are not really given enough detail to relate to them. All in all, it seems like this could be an early draft, which covers the main plot points well enough, but isn't yet fully realized.