Book review: David Goes Home: Growing Up Gay In The Dust Bowl, by Grant Spradling

Spradling David Goes HomeSpradling, Grant. David Goes Home: Growing Up Gay In The Dust Bowl. Hamaca Press, 2015. Paper. $14.95. ISBN 978-0-9911444-1-9.

From the title one might think that David Goes Home is a memoir. But it is more complex than that. It has elements of being a memoir, it is a mystery, and it has elements of suspense. While warning the reader in the introduction that Claude, Oklahoma, where the book is set is fictitious and should not be confused with the Dust Bowl town he grew up in, nonetheless in the introduction Spalding makes certain we are aware of the ways in which the novel coincides with his real life. Spalding was born and grew up in the Dust Bowl. For the younger readers out there, the Dust Bowl was that period in the 1930’s when Oklahoma, Northern Texas and the rest of the central South were affected by a drought that destroyed crops and made a poor section of the country even poorer.

David Ward is the eponymous hero of the title. He returns to his native Oklahoma town to try to clear up what exactly were the events that cause him his recurring nightmares. Along the way to solving the murder that caused those nightmares Spradling introduces the reader to the microcosmic society that makes up a small town. We also get to see into David’s conflicted soul. David, a closeted Congregational minister living in both a Pre-Stonewall and pre-Internet Boston, comes to terms with both his relationship and his sexuality while solving the aforementioned murder in Oklahoma.

This book is recommended for mystery readers looking for a gay amateur detective. The book has a flavor similar to Murder She Wrote in that the detective, David, is figuring the mystery out as an insider.

Scott Sheidlower
Associate Professor, Library
York College/City University of New York
Jamaica, NY

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