King Mai
by Edmond Manning, contemporary (2012)
Pickwick Ink Publishing, $17.99, ISBN 978-0-9890979-1-8


King Mai actually takes place before King Perry, but I guess it can stand alone. Heaven knows, it's just as... out there as the other book and, basically, everyone is welcome to congregate and worship at the altar of the insufferably smug protagonist Vin Vanbly as he recruits another gay folk out to his johns, er, the kings for this gay guy's own good.

It's the same formula. Mai Kearns is Thai, adopted by a Midwestern family when he was a kid and now doing his thing as a farmer. He's lonely, though, as it is 1996 when this story takes place, and it's not like he can just hop on to Grindr and make some booty call when he's in the mood. In comes Vin, who basically tells Mai that he's better "surrender" and "submit" or the Kings would never give Mai back his mortgage money. Not that this is blackmail or sexual coercion, as everything that happens, or is done to Mai, is for his own good. He'd be a better person after this. Honest!

All I can say is, if you like the previous book, you will like this one. If you don't, this one won't heat up the popcorns in your pan, as the author isn't doing anything radically different in this book. Vin is still obnoxious, acting like he's smarter than everyone when he's basically just being a pimp who is too obvious to even cut it as a salesman in a ratty used car establishment. The author still has Vin making vapid proclamations - "Risk fear! I'm going to make you say, 'I love the corn'!" - like they are the most profound pearls of wisdom from the old man in the mountain. I especially love that corn farm sex scene that gives a new meaning to the phrase "creamed corn", but I love it because it is so over the top ridiculous that I can't help but to laugh. Don't tell Vin, though - he wants everyone to believe that he is sexually manhandling these people and pimping them out to the Lost Kings to make the world a better place.

The author has a witty style that would normally work very well on me, but I'm afraid this whole story is completely wrong for me. Reading this book reminds me of my younger days when I'd humor the pretentious art school boys because they were cute. They would recite their philosophy or cruddy poetry, or ramble on forever about some film director's "style" and "vision", and I'd keep nodding because I loved the way their lips move as they babbled. It's the same thing here. I keep reading because I find myself intrigued by the lively cadence in the narrative as well as the occasional dry wit. Don't ask me what the whole thing is really about, though, because that's not really why I give a damn.

Rating: 51


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