StoneWall Society LOGO 2006 StoneWall Society GLBT Literary Artists
Author Rick R. Reed

Rick R. Reed Wing
Rick R. Reed's "Orientation" cover and link to Rick's website. "Orientation"
Rick R. Reed
Amber Quill Press
ISBN: 978-1-60272-937-7 
151 pages
Review by: Len

     The cover of "Orientation" states this is: "A Novel About Reincarnation and Love". However, there is a whole lot more included in this compact easy read. The loss of a loved one to AIDS in the earlier days of the disease's grip. A very clear description of the abuse of crystal meth. The effects of the drug on the addicted provide a disturbing look into the dark world of the addict. Yet this is not really the focus of the work. "Orientation" is more compelling than depressing. I would categorize "Orientation" somewhere between love story, social commentary, mystery, and a horror of man's inhumanity to man and self. 

     Author Rick R. Reed is known as Stephen King of gay horror. From what I understand an apt description, as "Orientation" is my first read of this enticing wordsmith. The King comparison fits in Reed's ability to keep the pages turning, the reader's interest on high, and best in the creation of believable horror. . 

     Rick's  capacity to create characters we know and relate to are amazing. The central personalities in the book are Robert; who is living a life of remembrance and delusion. Keith, Robert's deceased lover from twenty-four years earlier. Ethan, Robert's crystal meth addicted younger lover of today. And last but certainly not least, Jess a young lesbian Robert saves from a Christmas suicide. Rick R. Reed brings the characters and story together with the skill of a master. While maintaining mystery and a compelling need to understand what is happening between Robert and Jess. Constantly lurking in the background is Ethan, the abusing and not so amusing boy toy. Who carries with him an uneasy sense of literal dread. 

      Scenes into Ethan's meth addicted mind and world are past frightening. It is here that I see the strongest likeness to King. For these views into the sex, the need, and desperation of Ethan are realistically portrayed with real human horror. However, Ethan is a backdrop story to the growing and often peculiar relationship that builds between Robert and Jess, who both experience odd sensations and memories. Which all point toward Robert's first and long past love Keith. Through the realization of reincarnation Reed also makes an amazing suggestion, at least to this reader. That one's sexuality is linked to the soul not genetic, or a circumstance of upbringing. 

     The characters in "Orientation" stay with you. But for me the question Reed proposes that sexuality is soul related has the strongest impact. How else could you explain and or understand the events and recognition which bring reincarnation into the story? As one in a long term relationship, I can agree that the love goes beyond the sex. Rick R. Reed's ability to bring that "beyond the sex" understanding of love is a true mind bender. Not just a book for gay men, "Orientation" addresses both gender's questions about sexuality. While the book may be considered a mystery or horror, I feel it has much greater depth and asks long lingering questions. All signs of a classic. 

Find more books by Rick R. Reed, and or get your copy of "Orientation" at his website.

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