The current controversy about the lack of diversity in the 2016 Oscar nominations makes Paul Alan Fahey’s novella, For a Good Man’s Love, a topical must read. Imagine a world where Matt Damon is openly gay and marries the man he loves. This is the world of Fahey’s novella.
Harry Anders is a Hollywood actor who rises to fame with a Golden Globe Award and an Oscar nomination for his role in a romantic comedy. Harry wouldn’t have a career without the help of his savvy agent and sometime lover, Jake Navarro. Harry becomes a star and eventually meets Alex Walker in the aisle of Von’s supermarket. The two men begin a relationship, fall in love, and get married. Harry has been nursing his failing movie career by playing a part on a television series called This Side of the Angels. Harry’s career continues its nosedive and the series gets canceled, which leads to a separation between him and his husband. It’s at this point that his agent, Jake, concocts a plan to resurrect his career by faking Harry’s death. Of course, complications ensue and the plan turns deadly. Will Harry and his career survive, pending his fake obituary?
For a Good Man’s Love is written in the first person from Harry Anders’ point of view and the characters in the novella are clearly drawn. The novella is a mix of roman a clef with a dash of mystery added to the plot. The pretentious and entitled world of Hollywood is accurately portrayed. Fahey references films and stars of Hollywood’s golden past and smartly integrates Harry into them as part of Hollywood’s present.
Harry is a character with whom the reader can both sympathize and criticize. How could he allow his career to swan dive? How could he be so dumb and naïve? How could he be so blinded by the entourage around him? Fahey’s novella brings these questions to mind and answers them to a certain extent. Fahey creates an engaging story that makes the reader feel trapped in much the same way that Harry is trapped by his Hollywood success. There is a strong feeling throughout the narrative that Harry longs to escape from his entitled life of Hollywood superficiality.
The film industry is not unlike high school in which conformity and popularity rule the day. Granted there have been many strides in the representation of LGBTQIA+ people in mainstream Hollywood movies, most notably Brokeback Mountain, Priscilla Queen of The Desert, and Too Wong Foo. These films, with the exception of Brokeback Mountain, mainly homogenize the LGBTQIA+ experience in order to make it palatable to a mainstream straight audience.
This year’s most obvious best picture Oscar snub, for the film Carol, shows the lack of acceptance for LGBTQIA+ stories by the Academy voters. Many critics have stated that Carol was too gay and too uncomfortable for most Oscar voters. The drumbeat pounds for more women and people of color in the world’s biggest popularity contest. It’s important for the LGBTQIA+ community to make some noise too and add our instruments to the clamor of the movie diversity bandwagon–before the parade passes by. Thanks to the fearlessness of such actors as Neil Patrick Harris, the openly gay Hollywood of Paul Alan Fahey’s novella is a distinct possibility. However, it still remains a fantasy.
Paul Alan Fahey writes for JMS Books. He is the author of the Lovers & Liars gay wartime series. Paul is the editor of the 2013 Rainbow Award-winning anthology The Other Man: 21 Writers Speak Candidly About Sex, Love, Infidelity, & Moving On. His first WWII novella, The View From 16 Podwale Street, published by JMS Books, won a 2012 Rainbow Award. Over the years, his writing has appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies. He lives on the California Central Coast with his husband, Robert Franks, and three wild and wooly shelties.