Just by Looking at Him

S. & S. Audio. Jun. 2022. 6:34 hrs. ISBN 9781797139715. $17.99. F
O’Connell’s (I’m Special) debut novel has been turned into a firecracker of an audiobook, thanks to O’Connell’s lively, energetic, and sardonic reading. He is a superb reader. Whether he’s laughing, yelling, or sighing, his adroit vocal acrobatics have been well honed by his acting roles on Special and the updated reboot of Queer as Folk. Elliott, a gay TV writer with cerebral palsy, seems to be having a quarter-life crisis. He hates his job writing for a mindless sitcom, and says that he and his overly accommodating boyfriend, Gus, are “baseline happy together.” He’s beginning to realize “You could love someone and want to lose them at the same time.” His drinking has accelerated and he’s begun hiring sex workers (including one named River, whose online profile handle is “A River runs through you.”). Elliott is furious at people prejudging him by the physical evidence of his cerebral palsy (what he calls his “booby trap−filled body”), but he prejudges overly attractive men. Although there’s a lot of sex (a lot of sex), this comedic novel is not frivolous—it tackles alcoholism, self-love, chronic diseases, and complicated relationships.
VERDICT O’Connell’s high-spirited reading makes this one of the most entertaining audiobooks of the year.
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