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The subtitle of this book is Or, How I Married a Lying, Psychopathic Wannabe-Murderer and Kinda Lived to Tell. Heady stuff, that. On the other hand, how many of you out there have glimpsed some psychopathology up close and personal. Raise your hands. See? It sort of goes with the queer territory, or at least it used to. I haven’t been a gayling for a number of years, but I can’t imagine things have gotten substantially different. It’s the commonalities that matter, however, and Kergan Edwards-Stout covers those bases with wit, intelligence, and just a little bit of sarcasm.
Edwards-Stout calls this a fictional memoir, which is to say that the facts are pretty much there, but he relates them as he remembers them. I get it, and it’s a fair distinction for those who need that. I just want a good story, which he more than delivers. The facts are less important than his veracity, and I believe him. Besides, principals who feel wronged can always write their own books.
Still, a whole life can be daunting. To combat that, Edwards-Stout has wisely opted to present his in smallish convo-over-coffee-sized bits that go down remarkably well and can be either savored slowly or gobbled. He hits the usual biographical points of interest–parents and their peccadilloes, childhood trauma, firsts, and lasts, but he also recounts his forays onto the stage and movie set. His amateur acting experiences are by turns sad and hilarious, but always entertaining.
Of course, a major part of the book is the relationship that inspired the title, some details of which remind me of the protagonist, Gabe, in Edwards-Stout’s 2012 book, Songs for the New Depression. Those scars run deep, and it’s no surprise that a presence so perversasive shows up elsewhere. But he never lets that relationship run away with the book, keeping it far more in balance narratively than I’m sure it was when he was living it. It could be tedious, but Edwards-Stout has a keen sense of when to let it go and move on to something else.
Never Turn Your Back on the Tide is an enjoyable portrait of a life still in flux, well-written and thoughtfully presented–a book for those of you who married the psychopath as well as those who didn’t.
© 2020 Jerry L. Wheeler