All Gays Go to Heaven is the third book from the now dubbed “New Gay Author of 2010” from Queerbook.com, Reece Manley. Dr. Manley’s first two books included a slew of professional initials after his name, but this one simply credits him Reece Wyman Manley. It shows the author’s shift from teaching to simply telling in this his first wide appeal work.
All Gays Go to Heaven follows Reece’s life from the point of making a decision to have surgical weight loss interventions which go horribly awry to his life as it is today. In the retelling of his story, he follows the ancient story of the hero’s journey with all the elements included in his true to life journey. What makes the book stand out is that Reece holds nothing back. All of the ugliness of a life – incest, beatings, abuse, addiction – to all the beauty life can hold – love, friendship, spirituality and an authentic life.
The nemesis of Reece’s life comes in the form of an injury during his bariatric surgery, slimming him from 414 pounds to 170 pounds. However, the injury disables him with a neuropathy which delivers chronic pain to his feet. The pain takes the form of a giant black bird in one graphic passage from the memoir, which delightfully feeds on his exposed feet. It’s an image hard to shake as one progresses through the pages.
Soon, there are plenty of smiles served up by his companions and the exploration of a gay life apparently quite lively in the city of Lubbock, Texas. His friend, Jeff, delivers the best lines of dialog in his simple task of answering his phone. “Jeff’s House of Coffins, our prices are to die for!” The pithy becomes the lovable. In addition, a mentor appears in Reece’s life full of an advising wisdom on all the matters of his life. The balance between the characters is tense at times, and a bit choppy, but the overall effect is intriguingly readable.
All Gays Go to Heaven’s title comes from a conversation Reece has during his inpatient treatment for the trauma of his near death experience. He simply reveals his new Truth that there is a loving, omnipotent Source which we all eventually reach after we pass on. The story ends with his hopeful grip on both his life path, his sanity and the containment of the pain which still haunts from the corners.
All Gays Go to Heaven is a hefty 189,000 words, but a rich, easy writing style makes the journey not only enjoyable, but inspiring as well.
Craig Williams, PhD