DON’T MIND ME, I’M JUST HAVING A BAD LIFE is an unflinchingly honest memoir, written by a self-loathing, destructive gay man detailing his struggles and abuses as a child into his early middle age.
The early portions of DON’T MIND ME may find readers rooting for Denn as he grows from an extremely lonely boy with an abusive father to naïve gay teenager in the cold suburban landscapes inhabited by his dysfunctional family. But the childhood traumas are simply too deep, not dealt with, and powerful and even the author’s near continual self-deprecating humor can’t overcome the extreme darkness of his journey.
By the middle of the memoir, events in the author’s life that aren’t directly tied to awkward, increasingly dangerous sexual behaviors in the early days of AIDS are mostly glossed over. The result is a creeping numbness to the numerous failed relationships and hookups. It is never about the partner really, but the unfocused need and self-sabotaging behaviors that consume him.
The final third of the book becomes extremely dark as Lewis (the name he chooses as an adult) not only discovers the allure of crystal meth, but that he’s HIV positive. A third revelation–that he prefers rough sex as a submissive–only adds to the sense of impending doom. Maintaining a harrowing honesty, along with the somewhat excessive amount of detail, makes this section often difficult to read.
It really isn’t until almost the final pages of DON’T MIND ME that Lewis pulls back from the brink and finds redemption. It is akin to a shot glass of milk after an unending buffet of hot peppers—a relief, but not quite enough. For this reader, less of the gritty details from the author’s extremely rough ride and a little more of the happy ending would serve the book well.
A brutally honest redemption story about a man’s journey from abused and isolated gay boy to highly destructive meth and rough sex addict, DON’T MIND ME, I’M JUST HAVING A BAD LIFE is fascinating, disturbing, and ultimately delivers just a touch of hope.
~Jeffery Bolkan for IndieReader