I wanted to read something good after finishing the brilliant page turner Invisible Boys by Holden Sheppard. Someone on Twitter recommended Into? by North Morgan. So was it as good?
Yes and no.
This is a book with no story. It’s a series of what I describe as diary entries where Konrad, the narrator, tells rather than shows us his life.
Which is actually the point of this tale.
He has an enormous Instagram following yet does not engage in anything resembling a life. He often looks for casual gay sex online with negative results. If he’s in the right place at the right time he ends up at a party without really being there.
Which is the nature of why this book is written in the style it is. He is a casualty of some of his generation who hid away on social media and never developed the skills to interact with people in the real world.
There were some characters that re-enter his life from time to time at a social event or two, that I would have liked to have learnt more about. Such as the guys in a thruple. But Konrad doesn’t look at life any deeper than a social media post, so the reader is robbed of any real insights to this world of horny drug-taking Muscle Marys.
Having said all that, there is an entertaining style to his narrative which keeps you hooked. Or, if you’re like me, until you give up on the novel because you’re waiting for either self-development or something that resembles a story.
Regardless of how negative this review is sounding, this is an important book because I know thirty-somethings with this type of stunted social development. Like Konrad, I have friends his age who’ve learnt lessons in love that I learnt in my late teens or early 20s.
I was lucky to be in my 30s during the 1990s. I went to plenty of rave parties and would hug and kiss strangers wishing them Happy Mardi Gras on the dance floor. We didn’t eye each other with attitude.
I would regularly catch up with friends at brunch or at picnics or private parties because we didn’t have social media clouding the definition between friends and acquaintances.
Doug Guinan wrote the novel California Screaming before the age of the internet about equally shallow gay guys. His approach was comedic. His main character eventually realises how shallow he is after leaving Los Angeles. He matures by the end of the story in a new town.
In Into?, Konrad knows he’s painfully shy and broken as we do, and spends 69 chapters with no self growth.
I give this book, three stars, because I recognise the main character. I’ve met some self-absorbed body-building gay men outside of Australia while travelling. Two that were taking selfies in the Eagle Bar in Tokyo dismissed me when I offered to take their picture with their phone. They didn’t even make eye contact with me when they refused my offer.
So there’s a lot to say about these modern shallow characters. You can make fun of them or give us, the reader, an insight on why they lack depth. I just wish Into? did this. Konrad is smart enough to make these observations, so for me this book fell short of what it could have been.