Growing up different from others always makes its mark on who we become as adults. For Wes Funk’s main character Jackson Hill, in his novel Dead Rock Stars, growing up gay on a farm in small town Saskatchewan, with two red-necked brothers and a past that haunts him, it’s a mark that has led to isolation, no matter how far he thinks he has come.
Yet as Funk writes, “there comes a time when a person has to make peace with his hostility.”
In his engaging story about Hill and the Dead Rock Stars theme that plays on throughout his life, Funk subtly pushes the reader to look beyond the stereotype to see the man that Hill has become, and to see the very real issues he faces in confronting his past; a confrontation he is helped gently through with the aid of the handsome and charismatic Frank.
While we have all faced such moments at one point or another in our lives – defining moments that lead us to embrace life, or run from it – in Hill’s case it’s a run he’s never even realized he’s been running.
While some readers may shy away from the book simply because the main character is gay, a characterization still not often seen or accepted in reading circles, is a familiar character we have all known and met at one time or another, whether he is in his persona as a businessman in Saskatoon, a kid in school, or as a son and brother sitting at the family kitchen table. All who read of him will gain an insight they might otherwise never have gained.
Less about his sexual preference and more about who he is as a man, the realistic dialogue that takes place between Hill and his farm-bound brothers, his open-minded sisters-in-law, and his lonely mother, anchors him deep in the ordinary and helps the reader identify with him and with the conflicts he faces.
“Everybody’s got their own little somethin’ to offer to the world,” writes Funk. “But every now and again, comes along someone that’s just a little different. Just as good as everyone else. Hell, maybe even better. Just different.”
Such is the case with Funk’s novel, because every now and again a book comes along that’s just a good as everyone else’s, maybe even better – just different.
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