50 Reasons to Say Goodbye – Review roundup

50reasonsPaul Burston -Time Out (London) – Sept 28th 2004

Mark is a single gay man who’s desperately looking for love. Unfortunately, he hasn’t yet mastered the gay art of cruising for sex while concealing your true feelings. Faced with a potential lover, he lets his desperation show through and his imagination run away with him. He falls in love with Dirk, who just wants to be friends, and with Hugo, who hangs around for a while before deciding that this isn’t the relationship for him. He has devastating crushes on Frenchmen and Italians. In Sydney, he meets a man who naturally assumes that Mark will join him and his boyfriend for sex in a sauna. When Mark declines his offer his response is one of total disbelief: ‘Crazy planet! Like, you refusing me!’Mark’s story is told through 50 tales of sexual misadventure, guiding the reader on a whistle-stop tour of the modern gay world of bars, clubs and Internet dating. This might sound contrived, but Nick Alexander invests Mark’s story with such warmth,and writes so knowingly about the pleasures and pitfalls of love, the formal conceit is soon forgotten. This is a wonderful read -honest, moving, witty and really rather wise.

Tim Teeman -The Times – July 17th 2004

Nick Alexander -author of 50 Reasons to Say Goodbye, a witty, polished collection of vignettes set around his experience of gay dating-reports that many of the excruciating incidents (terrible blind dates etc) are true. But he has given up trawling the internet looking for Mr Right.

“It’s an addiction,” he says. Indeed, after years of tragic mistakes, he has met somebody very nice. Order this snappy little number. £8.99 BIGfib Books.

Joe Storey-Scott -Gay Times -October 2004.

Basically, a series of short vignettes (I only counted 45, but don’t feel short changed)detailing the various connections, misconnections, wrong numbers, bad transatlantic lines and the occasional, “sorry, this number is no longer in service” typical of the world of modern dating. Truthful, moving, witty, downright human – and utterly optimistic, despite the knocks and knock-backs; the title could just as easily have been 50 Reasons to Say Hello. Ignore the disappointingly perfunctory cover design and just read the thing. You’ll wonder why no major publisher picked this book up (perhaps it’s just a matter of time). Disarmingly, honestly personal, in a way that makes the book speak to everyone (and had me feeling like the author had been dipping in my secret diary).

Richard Labonte – Bookmarks – 2nd September 2004

For a book brimming with vignettes about lust leading absolutely nowhere and sex gone sadly awry, “50 Reasons to Say Goodbye” is great fun to read.Hapless Mark, bouncing around England and the rest of Europe, risks blind dates,fritters away his nights in dark bars and stylish clubs, trolls the Internet until dawn,and bikes and hikes with men whose athleticism makes him feel inadequate. He is ever hopeful -as he flees one man -that the next will be the perfect partner, the dream lover, the ideal man. Time and again, perfection is an illusion, dreams melt into nightmares, and ideals are dashed -experiences recounted in self-contained chapters with lachrymose titles like “The Universe Lets Us Down” and “Drunk and Lonely.”Alexander’s self-published fiction is too intelligent to be written off as “gay chick-lit” -but it sure does share that genre’s sassy way of hyperbolizing autobiography to tell an entertaining story. This obstinately optimistic first novel expresses both passion and pathos with first-hand freshness and a delightful balance of whimsy and wisdom.

David Tickner -reFRESH Magazine -October Issue 2004 “An engaging, entertaining and intelligently written book, which will reset the boundaries for gay literature.”

Nadia Gilani – GingerBeer Magazine -10 September, 2004

“50 Reasons To Say Goodbye” is an immediately easy, speedy read with short,digestible chaptersthat are not too fast, not laborious, easy to bookmark and pick up again later. Author Nick Alexander recounts a series of swift, slick, liaisons that are satisfyingly speedy without being skimpy and superficial. Protagonist Mark starts out at the beginning of the book unsure of his own gay-ness, before rapidly moving into a homosexual life, chain-fucking his way through a series of lovers, mostly with French names. The mood is told tenderly, without being naïve, in the honest andopen voice of a gay man with insight into how the Mark, the gay protagonist, and -it’s assumed other gay men generally check each other out. Nick Alexander gives us plenty of dry, wry, camp humour on his character’s life, with candid captions on the seductive intricacies, throbbing successes and morning-after disasters of discovering what you’ve brought home when you were too drunk to know better.Each chapter opens in the centre of the scene and the novel has a reflectivetone with a sense of time that has passed. Still, as a reader you actually feel present, you feelwitness to the scene – sitting in the same smoky pub, dancing at the exact dodgy club and lying in the equivalent promiscuous bed. This is exciting.The stories are deep, without the intensity of anovel’s usual dense plot. This is not to say ’50 Reasons To Say Goodbye’ is flimsy. Characters driftin and float out, some stay on for future situations. The effect works and Alexander is an attentiveand skilled writer who chooses his detail carefully. The writer is adept at recreating life’s snatched conversation and intimate and poignant interactions with that meaty intercourse (of the intellectualvariety) that we have in real life and never get to the bottom of. Nick Alexander does the gay-manwriting- about-the-gay-man’s-experience evocatively well, in his tales of the endeavours and awkwardness of life on the pull.But most effectively, the novel’s character is essentially universaland you do not have to be a gay man to get it. You will not read ’50 Reasons to Say Goodbye’ without finding in it a tiny piece of yourself.”

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