Dignity Takes a Holiday

HTitle: Dignity Takes a Holiday
Author: Rick R. Reed
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary Comedy/Romance-lite
Length: Novel (215 PDF pages)
Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

A Guest Review by Aunt Lynn

One Sentence Review: In the end I couldn’t see my way to rate this over-the-top “so-called romantic comedy” any higher

THE BLURB

Pete Thickwhistle doesn’t live what one might call a charmed life. At age forty-seven, he’s a flamboyant gay man who believes no one knows he’s gay, still living at home with his harpy of a mother. Worse, he’s still a virgin, longing to find just the right man to make his life complete. Pete’s an upbeat kind of guy, yet he’s never learned that the answer to his motto “What could possibly go wrong?” is always: “Everything.”

Pete’s road to love and happiness is full of potholes, yet he never tires of searching, despite job losses, weight battles, clothing faux pas, and disastrous vacations, parties, and dating debacles. Pete is the ultimate underdog living a television situation comedy, one named Dignity Takes a Holiday.

THE REVIEW

Forty-seven-year-old gay man Pete has big problems. He still lives at home with an interfering mother who treats him horribly, has a wardrobe out of the 70s, and a haircut out of the 50s. He has a weight problem, is a virgin, can’t seem to keep a job, favors glittery makeup to go with his interesting fashion choices, and is the butt of many jokes and schemes. He can’t seem to catch a break and terrible things continually happen to him, yet surprisingly he has extraordinary self-esteem, a hopeful outlook and keeps his eyes open for The One. If he can survive his mother and her attempts to ruin his life, perhaps he can one day find someone who will love him as he deserves.

I’ll say upfront that writing this review was difficult. I have read and enjoyed several stories from the prolific and talented Rick Reed, and was really excited about his latest, Dignity Takes a Holiday, as I LOVE a book with great humor. While I am sure there will be those who will love this zany story — there are several 5 and 4 star reviews out there already — I am not counted among them. I like to think I have a wide range for what I find funny with a taste for sophomoric humor, and even though I did chuckle out loud at some of the things that happen to poor Pete, unfortunately much of this “so-called romantic comedy” overall missed its mark with me. (UPDATE: it was pointed out to me several times that this is a FARCE, something I neglected to in the review as a description of what this book is.  I am correcting that.  It is a farce, with its over-the-top and exaggerated situations, something I knew as I was both reading it and writing the review, and while it doesn’t change my opinion, I neglected to mention it.  Apologies.)  And while I could see some other publisher taking this project on, I admit to being surprised that it was DSP as it seems, to me, to be very different to what they normally publish.

There were a few bright points. One can’t help feel both bad for and in awe of Pete. In the end, I liked him. Constantly asking himself “What could possibly go wrong?” he often finds out the answer, though it often doesn’t dampen his sunny outlook. Though he’s generally kind and his heart is in the right place, he makes terrible choices and decisions. A man with big dreams, he routinely picks wildly inappropriate and unattainable men often with embarrassing results because as he says, “if he didn’t play, he wouldn’t win.” He’s cute in his naïvite and innocence, and I had to smile at how traditional and somewhat conservative he is. Despite all the wackiness he encounters, the reader will most likely root for Pete and his pursuit of happiness and love, and hopes that he can find that one person out there that will accept him for who he is.

Things I did find funny: Pete, even in the worst of situations, checking his bronzer and making sure his flat-top is perfect. His often hilarious choices of what to wear and how he really thinks he’s suave in some outrageous attire. His delusional self-confidence when it comes to how he appears to others and what men he can get. How excited he gets over food.

The rest, however, I had issues with.

Besides the fact that I just didn’t find humor in most of the situations that I am sure Reed intended, the most difficult parts of the book for me were watching Pete’s interaction with his mother, with whom he lives and has a volatile relationship. A good portion of the story has both of them in it and this really ruined the book for me. Some will find it funny, but I found it to be abusive, cruel and most of the time painful to watch. The things they say to each other — and especially the humiliating, belittling, hateful things she says to him — were simply appalling. Even worse are some of the things she routinely does to him physically (such as taking a scouring pad and cleanser to his face to remove the glittery makeup he’s applied), and he raises a hand at her at times as well. The scene in the grocery store just about did it in for me, but I trudged on though the rest. Had I not been reading this for review, I would have stopped there. Like I said, there will be those who will find their interactions funny, but I found them sad and upsetting.

After a while, the potty humor — poop and fart situations — wore on me. If it weren’t for the explicit nature of the book at times, I would have thought the intended audience was thirteen-year-old boys.

There are a few warnings before you go in:

One, there a few scenes that some readers will feel contain bestiality. If that is something that squicks you, then either don’t pick up this book at all, or bypass those sections as you should be able to see them coming. While some of the graphic details are carried out off-page, it’s more than alluded to, and I am really amazed that DSP allowed it to be published.

Two, there is a brief, almost snapshot scene of mother/daughter incest.

Three, there is an incident of date rape via roofies.

OVERALL

With missed-the-mark humor, a horrible mother and an overload of potty jokes, Dignity Takes a Holiday was just about a complete miss for me.  While I am just one reader and others may disagree, I can’t really recommend it.

40 comments

  • I’ve never commented to comments on a review site before, and hesitate to now.

    Though I’ve never read this particular book, I at least feel inclined to jump in and offer a reply to the comments which asked for suggestions of other Rick Reed reads.

    Well, if you want a book that gives you a real glimpse into Mr. Reed, then I can’t brag enough about “Out On the Net”. This book, combined with the little I DO know about Rick Reed, is one of the best avenues to see the real man, the writer. A book about a young man who has just come out of the closet–on his wedding day–and it is a witty, poignant, cry-when-you’re-not-laughing story that will have you cheering for the hero. You will close the book—on the last page—with a smile.

    But, more importantly, it will, like I said, give you a clear vision of just how beautiful a writer Mr. Reed is.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the rec, Carol. Rick is a talented writer, and while DTAH didn’t work for me and several others here, his books get pretty consistent high ratings on this and other sites.

      Reply
  • Sorry to say, that I am one reader that liked this book! Yes, it was over the top, but for me the whole story wasn’t that dramatic. I just hoped the poor guy will have his happy-ending sometime!

    Reply
    • Don’t be sorry Anke! I am glad to hear from someone who did like it. And I agree with you — as I said in my review, I rooted for Pete to get his HEA.

      Reply
  • Thanks for the support, Victor.

    I usually refrain from commenting on reviews other than to say thank you. And I DO thank Aunt Lynn for taking the time and putting so much thought into her review. Lynn, I’m sorry the book disappointed you.

    Humor, as some have mentioned, is highly subjective. And DIGNITY is a book you’ll love or hate. No in-betweens.

    As far as bestiality, animal cruelty, etc. I would like to caution people not to take things out of context (I am a huge animal lover myself in a healthy way…and I would never glorify for their mistreatment for amusement or entertainment) and to leave them with a simple definition:
    farce (färs)n.
    1.
    a. A light dramatic work in which highly improbable plot situations, exaggerated characters, and often slapstick elements are used for humorous effect.
    b. The branch of literature constituting such works.
    c. The broad or spirited humor characteristic of such works.

    Oh, and one more thing, for all the folks who didn’t care for this one: it’s unlike anything else I’ve written and I’m pretty sure I’ll never write anything like it again. Not saying that as an apology, but just a matter of fact. It’s a very different kind of work for me.

    Reply
    • Hi Rick – I’m not going to let my experience with this one put me off reading your work in the future – it just wasn’t the right thing for me this time around 🙂

      I think you’re right about the love/hate thing – this isn’t a book that’s likely to leave anyone thinking “meh”!

      Reply
      • Thanks, Josephine. That’s very comforting. As a writer who does like to “push the envelope” and occasionally “think outside the box” it’s nice to know there are discerning readers who won’t judge me on the basis of one book. Although I love DIGNITY and think it’s some of my best writing, I realize it’s not for everyone…and hope that those for whom it doesn’t work won’t be put off. I’m proud of it, but at the same time, it is so different from my other work, both past and future, that it’s probably not a good indicator of my oeuvre as a whole.

        Reply
    • Good morning Rick. I realize that this is a step in a different direction for you and it just wasn’t for me. Yes, I get that it is farce — how can it not be in its over-the-top way? — and I have loved farces in the past, but this one was just not for me. And you’re right — it’s either going to be love or hate with it, and the reviews reflect that.

      I think you’re a terrific writer and this will not put me off of future books. It’s just one release out of your many, and I think and hope that other readers realize that as well.

      Reply
  • I haven’t read this book, so I can only speak in generalities – but I know that Rick is a fine writer and (this is the important part) a very prolific one, who could never be happy writing variations over and over on the same theme. He often tries on new outfits – in this case, farce, which is something a lot of people just don’t get. The difficulty with that kind of “take no prisoners” humor is that you have to get more and more outrageous for it to work. It makes some people laugh all the louder, and others not at all. I write the occasional farce for my own pleasure (okay, I have a warped sense of humor) but I know that often others don’t find it funny. I know because they tell me so. In Drag Thing, chickens get raped, a guy gets mounted by a horny Great Dane, a gay Homeland agent has a gas problem, one of the bad guys pees in the beers he serves the others–I can imagine that none of this seemed humorous to many readers. I suspect Rick was just having himself some fun here. You’ll undoubtedly love his next one.

    Reply
    • Hi Victor. I have no issue with Rick and his writing overall. Though I don’t generally read horror, and I haven’t read Rick’s many titles in that genre, I have enjoyed several other of his works. This is one book and he took a chance that didn’t pay off with me. There are others that like or even love it. It won’t turn me off of him altogether.

      Reply
  • I bought this book because I thought it would be light and funny. But I haven’t read it yet, now I won’t. Animal cruelty,so not funny. I have to wonder if I can get my money back.

    Reply
    • Hi Patty. It is light and some will/do think it’s funny. Everyone’s tastes are different, and though we have heard from a few readers here for which it was a DNF early on, there are positive reviews out there.

      Reply
  • a definite wrong turn for RR for sure. animal cruelty is a big turnoff for many of us.
    Labeling is…a tough go. Gay romance is already “labeled” as it is all lumped into erotica where het romance is not. Also, labeling “rape” when it is barely mentioned as a past event is very different than placing the label on it for an actual rape scene. In the first case it might hurt the reception for an excellent book. ? I am in full agreement that the back blurbs now can be intentionally misleading. If I am expecting a romance and there is gang rape etc within, I will be pissed. There seems to be a boom in what I will call the “dark and disgusting” lately. Where have all the good writers gone?

    Reply
    • Yes, there will be many who will not like what happens to animals here.

      Rick is a very talented writer and I have enjoyed other books by him, but this one just wasn’t for me. Labeling isn’t the issue here as it is listed as humor on the DSP site, but I was surprised at a few of the scenes that pushed the envelope. Not for me, but it may be for others.

      Reply

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