A combination of people being on holiday and others being at the showing of Angels In America meant that last night’s book club was a small, select group with only three of us there to discuss Good As You by Paul Flynn. There might only of been three of us but we took advantage of the time to discuss this book which we all enjoyed to varying degrees.
We questioned whether the title, or at least the subtitle “From prejudice to pride: 30 years of gay Britain”, was misleading. We were expecting more of a chronological, academic history. There was some discussion about what kind of book it was; part autobiography, part celebrity interviews and part pop culture ethnography study it felt quite disjointed at times as a book. Each chapter had a different theme and feel. For example in one chapter you were reading about the history of Kylie in relationship to her gay audience, including interviews with her stylist and Kylie herself, and then you were reading truly upsetting accounts of the early days of the HIV and AIDS crisis in the UK including personal accounts of Terry Higgins, one of the first gay men to die of AIDS in the UK and the man who the Terrance Higgins Trust is named after. The author is a journalist and it was said that each chapter felt like an extended newspaper column. Even the uniformity of the chapter sizes was noted as a very journalistic thing to do.
As I said at the beginning, we all enjoyed to varying degrees. Sonya felt the best part of the book was the chapter on HIV and AIDS, not only because it the content was so powerful, but also because it was about ‘real’ people while the rest of the book was based around celebrity culture. Paul thought the book brought about a sense of nostalgia for a time he didn’t know, as he is younger than the author. He thought it was a good springboard to the various pop culture references mentioned, from freddie mercury videos to the show Queer as Folk. I felt a lot of the book could have been written for me personally as a Gay man in his forties, with similar interests to the author, including a lifelong love of Kylie Minogue.
We gave the book an average score of 7 out of 10.