Keehnen, Owen. “Love Underground”, Independently Published, 2017.
Love in Chicago
Most of you who know me know that I am not a political person but I have been having a been of trouble with Chicago and that is why I decided to use the name of the city in my title of this wonderful read by Owen Keehnen, a Chicagoan who tried to help me stay calm as the Dyke March as Pride this year destroyed anything good I have ever said about the city. My Judaism means a great deal to me and anyone that shows any sign of anti-Semitism is off of my focus and I will not tolerate it. There I have had my say so onto the book (sorry Owen but you know how this affected me and took away any respect I ever had for Chicago, The Windy City Times and its editor).
Joseph is a handsome retail worker in his forties who means Clint, a young man into physical culture (or body beautiful). Set in 1962 before body culture was such an important aspect of how we live, both guys learn that they are both living at the Lawson YMCA. Now those of you who are around my age will undoubtedly remember not just the song by the Village People but that the YMCA was once a popular place for men to come together. Clint and Joseph are drawn to each other and each shares a mutual attraction for the other but each is uneasy about making the first move (Everyone remember that feeling?).
Nonetheless, they come together and fall in love but unfortunately this is not headed for a happy ending. Let me tell you about what it was like in 1962 because that was the year that I came out. America was in the midst of the Cold War with Russia and was still reverberating from the McCarthyism of the previous decade when gay men were targeted. The legal and social consequences of homosexuality during the Cold War era were terrible but for these two it was even tougher. When Joseph met Clint’s parents, a series of events took place that left both men afraid and so they ran leaving the YMCA and Chicago behind them. They went underground as they traveled throughout the country and falling deeper in love as they avoided an unknown enemy who was determined to catch them and bring them back to Chicago.
I have not read many gay romances that have kept me on the edge of my seat but I should have expected something like that having read most of Owen Keehnen’s literary output. Anymore than that I cannot say without ruining a read. Take my advice, if you have yet to read anything by this author, here is a great place to start and then looks for his other books. You will not be sorry. There is so much here we could talk about but it is always more fun to discover it yourselves.