5 Star Review for Let’s Shut Out the World by Kevin Bentley #MM #Autobiography

CoverTitle: Let’s Shut Out the World
Author Name & Publisher: Kevin Bentley (Chelsea Station Editions)
Publication Date & Length: July 13, 2016 – 196 pgs


Bitingly funny and at times harrowingly sad, Let’s Shut Out the World traces the man-hungry and misanthropic journey of an intensely bibliophilistic young man following his natural bent from a desolate Texas landscape of tumbleweeds, Jesus freaks, and compliant straight boys to the gay capital of San Francisco in pursuit of sex, drugs, a lover, and more. Whether describing having his hair styled by a gang of eighth-grade bullies; staging a Satan festival in the main hall of Greenvale High complete with black robes, black candles, and raw chickens; succumbing to a sneezing fit inside the healing Sanctuary at Chimayo; or indulging in inappropriate sex with a caregiver, Bentley writes with a pen dipped in blood, indignation, and grim whimsy. Let’s Shut Out the World is both prequel and sequel to the author’s rough-and-ready romantic escapades detailed in his diaries, the Lambda Literary Award finalist for memoir, Wild Animals I Have Known.”

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This book is wonderful from the first sentence. Okay, maybe not the first sentence, which is, “My mother got leukemia the year before I turned forty,” but at least from the first page. It’s incredibly funny and the narrator is extremely likable as he deals with growing up the gay kid in El Paso, Texas.
His life experiences are harrowing. They would be hard to read, except he tells them with such charm and grace that I was swept right in. Kevin Bentley has a gift for writing. Thank goodness he hasn’t been squelched by the forces in his life, from child abuse to the AIDS crisis.
I will even say that this is an important memoir. As a community, as humanity, we can reflect on what we’ve gained and lost through the lens of too-contemporary history. He’s literate without being pretentious, forgiving without being blind.
Mainly, I just seriously enjoyed reading it.
Five Stars
~ Christy


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