Boyer, Dale. The Dandelion Cloud. Chicago: OhBoy Books, 2016, c2015. 205 p. paperback. ISBN 978-0-9970134-0-5.
This is a modern bildungsroman (German for a novel about a young person’s formative years). Here we have young Justin, a freshman at Thornton College in the middle of nowhere in the Midwest surrounded by farms, with only about 500 students. He immediately creates a close friendship with Kyle, a handsome hunk, and artistic Craig, both seniors. He falls in love with Kyle as he struggles to come to terms with his sexuality. But both Kyle and Craig, with whom he eventually shares his struggle, are straight but completely supportive. He does manage to have sex, after a first failure, with a rather aggressive older female student, but he feels no thrill. Only at the very end of the novel does he stumble across a new student who is also gay, so now he can have a fulfilling relationship.
This is a novel of literary quality, told in the third person with a high level of skill and compassion. It develops slowly, so if you are impatient for sex, this is not the novel for you. This is about a young man’s slow discovery of who he is, with help from two loving but straight friends. Yes there is sex but it is not dominant and is described with finesse and delicacy, both the straight and the gay sex.
This is Boyer’s debut novel, so he is someone to watch out for for further development. Highly recommended for collections of contemporary gay fiction and for individuals who value literary quality writing. Boyer has a M.A. from the University of Wisconsin Madison and and M.F.A from Vermont College. His education and skill as a writer has served him and we his readers well.
James Doig Anderson
Professor Emeritus of Library and Information Science, Rutgers University