Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Quickie Book Review: The Irreversible Decline of Eddie Socket

by John Weir

Eddie Socket, before his inevitable decline, is a hopeless romantic, relating everything that happens in his small world to some Golden-Age-of-Hollywood mold. He believes that one day, he will find a certain someone who fits into that ideal. When it finally does happen, he meets an older man named Merrit Mathers, though Merrit is the lover of Eddie's boss, Saul. They're affair is more like a one night stand, but that serves as enough for Eddie who falls head over heels; Merrit, on the other hand, loses interest in Eddie all too quickly.

That doesn't stop Eddie from trying everything he can to get Merrit to at least talk to him, and while waiting for that moment when he can discover what's going through Merrit's mind, Eddie commiserates with his roommate Polly Plug. Polly, though, has struggles of her own: trying to keep up with the rent while struggling as an actress. She also finds what she at first believes to be love. That romance soon turns cold, just like Eddie's.

During his struggle to find some common ground with Merrit, Eddie gets the news that he's has AIDS. He tries to tell those close to him -- his mother, Polly, even Merrit -- but winds up holding back, instead deciding a trip from New York to California to learn about his mother and his family. During the trip he meets Eulene, a drag queen from Staten Island, who helps him to realize that he can't run away from Merrit, from Polly, from his life and returns to New York.

Eddie's health quickly begins to decline, forcing Polly and Saul to re-examine their own lives and to finally take control.

For me, The Irreversible Decline of Eddie Socket offers a different take on someone with AIDS. Eddie doesn't seem to think of it as a death sentence; rather, for him it seems to be just one more obstacle to his potential (and self-delusional) happiness with Merrit. When his death happens (not a spoiler, judging by the book's title), it's almost poetic and reaching Eddie's romantic views of Hollywood. I actually cried while reading it, not solely because he passed, but because it was also well written and beautiful. His death becomes the spark to get Polly and Saul moving so it becomes almost a positive event.

It's a wonderful read, peopled with funny and very human characters. Take a chance like I did and read this great book.

The Irreversible Decline of Eddie Socket
by John Wier
Alyson Classics Library
trade paperback, 276 pgs.

purchased book


Ur-spo said...

I remember starting to read this once upon a time, but when the AIDS part starts, I could not finsih it - I was dealing with people dying of AIDS/it was too much.
Perhaps now I am braver and can finish it.

Tony said...

putting this on my list this minute! btw, currently enjoying john irving's "in one person".

jamesbchester said...

I just finished reading this and have no idea where to begin my review. So I'm seeing what other people said. The trouble I have is that the book clearly moved many readers, but failed to move me. I'm glad I read it. I think it's a good book. I wish the author had written more, apparently he published his second novel in 2006. But who knows where I'll begin my own review.