Keehnen, Owen. “The Sand Bar”, Lethe Press, 2012.
Gay in Bayetteville
It is always good news when Owen Keehnen has a new book out and the man is at home is almost every genre. I have read his profiles of gay porn stars, his biographies of notable people, his gay histories, his horror thriller and now his excursion into gay fiction. I found this book to be a bit different from his other writings but that is not in any way a negative comment—quite the opposite. I love this book and had a great time reading it.
Set in Bayetteville, the Sand Bar is the gay bar of the area and like every gay bar it has its share of characters. Keehnen has created quite a cast of personages here and his description of the bar is wonderful. In fact, I like it so much that I am quoting it verbatim here.
“Welcome to The Sand Bar, the notorious tavern where most gay folks in Bayetteville and the surrounding area get together. Come in through the back door off the alley. The bar is at the end of that long hallway. Pull up a stool and let hunky Cody the bartender get you a beer or mix up one of his famous margaritas. Make yourself comfortable and have a look around. You never know who you are going to meet here. Those punks over by the jukebox are Del and his buddy Slags. Chances are they’re up to no good. The kid standing near them is Fred who’s had a crush on Del since even before Del started hustling. That redheaded guy at the table by the dance floor is Kevin. He’s got a girlfriend waiting for him at home, but lately he and Cody have been making eyes at one another. At the end of the bar Jack-O is swaying on his stool and going on to Heather who’s killing time waiting for her latest lady friend to get off work at the mall. Sitting alongside them looking like a cardinal sin in that skin tight black dress is Bruschetta. She’s nice enough, but don t cross her. The pock-marked guy down at the other end of the bar sucking on a longneck is Leo. He owns this place and lives upstairs. He opened The Sand Bar after being convinced the town needed a gay bar by his best friend Sister who’s the one in the flannel shirt with one boot on the bar rail waiting his turn at pool. Make yourself comfortable and stay a while. What’s being offered is a glimpse inside the intertwined loves, dreams, downfalls and dramas of these folks as well as several others. Along the way there’ll be plenty of sex, some laughs and even some tears. Though it may not be pretty or always nice, The Sand Bar isn’t a place you’re likely to soon forget and the people who’ve come to call it home are even more memorable”.
If you do not forget the “Sand Bar”, neither will you forget this book or the characters in it. Keenhen gives us the characters as a group of people who meet at the bar and some are friends and others, well, not so much. They live and drink in a working-class Southern town near the banks of the Frear River (which metaphorically represents what our bar patrons have yet to discover about themselves and each other). The people here seem to be going places like the river—from designated spot to designated stop. Destinies for these people seem too pre-destined (or at least, that’s what our characters feel).
Keehnen has a wonderful sense of humor and he captures his characters and the atmosphere perfectly and this is not easy for a person from the North to be able to write truthfully about the South. The dialogue is witty and the barbs are sharp. Some of which you will probably want to remember and use the next time you are at a place like the Sand Bar.
Now there is also some very hot sex and let’s face it, Keehnen has interviewed some of the hottest gay sex stars in the universe and I can’t help but wonder if he picked up anything that he included here. I am usually not wild about erotica but when combined with a good story and lots of laughs as we have here, I am forced to concede that this is one of the more fun books that I have read in a very long time. There is something to be learned here as well but I am not sharing that with you (just in case I am wrong). I want you to read and enjoy this really fun book and in the process let me know if you have learned what I think you should.
- Posted in: GLBT fiction