The Groom Will Keep His Name – Matt Ortile

I think Matt Ortile should meet Nicolas DiDomizio, author of Burn It All Down, or at least read his blog, and this interview I did with him. I’m saying this because I have a feeling he could learn from monsieur DiDomizio, especially in the relationships department, which is something this memoir does focus on, among other things.

Though I, of course, know little about being a Filipino gay adult male, I do know something about dating the wrong people and almost being attracted, at times, to things that wouldn’t work out or don’t seem to work or couldn’t work out. I also know what it’s like to get attached to someone who knows a lot about you, has listened to you open up about yourself—parts of yourself you’ve never shared with anyone before—and does not reject you for all that you are insecure about. It’s hard not to wish for a future with a person like that and it’s hard to let them go. Whatever your age, you can’t help but wonder, ‘‘Is anyone else going to ever care to know as much about me and accept me for who I am, good and bad?’’ I get you, Ortile.

It would be frivolous, and almost insulting, to not discuss the more political and cultural aspects of this book. Matt Ortile writes about struggling with some of his own Filipino customs, growing up among other Filipinos who bullied him for being different, and then coming to America and almost reinventing himself by trying to be the perfect immigrant student and simply not create tension of any kind. He pauses upon his university experience for quite a bit, as it has marked him profoundly and has made him realize some of his shortcomings, especially with regards to speaking out about what matters to him, regardless of whether he makes people uncomfortable or not.

Probably the best aspect of this book is its tone, which screams, ‘‘Here I am, this is who I am, I am imperfect and make mistakes, but I know that I must do better—choose better for myself and others—and while I am not there yet, I am on my way and this memoir is a testament of my promise to grow into the man that I know I can be and wish to be.’’ I think the journey will be long for Matt Ortile, but I don’t doubt that he’ll exact change within himself even further and perhaps beyond himself.

Thank you Hachette Book Group Canada for the copy in exchange for a review.

The Particulars of Peter – Kelly Conaboy

Everyone thinks their own pet is amazing, or at least cute and worth cuddling with for hours. If you don’t, frankly you should spend more time with your pet and learn what makes them so worth keeping and caring for. So in that regard, Kelly Conaboy is not special. She is just another pet owner who loves her dog dearly and thinks very highly of him (way too highly, if you ask my opinion). She goes to the point of putting him on a pedestal. We shouldn’t put humans pedestals, let alone little creatures who are not beyond doing no wrong and disappointing us.

I don’t have a problem with pet memoirs, though I admit I prefer human memoirs, which are a hundred times more relatable and can teach you far beyond ‘‘how to play the right game with your pet’’ or ‘‘how to make your pet feel like the queen or king that they are.’’ Kelly Conaboy herself mentions at the beginning of this dogoir (dog memoir) that she was paid to write this book and so spend time with her pet to learn his quirks and thus have better content. It does not, in fact, feel like it evolved naturally. If Kelly hadn’t been paid to produce this work, would she have done some of the activities she mentions, would she have bought some of the dog produces she discusses? Maybe not.

In the end, this book’s birth story is not the problem, as I could have stopped reading after the prologue if that had caused too much of a problem for my established literally morals. It doesn’t, even if I prefer when people write books more out of a sense that their written words must be put into the world than in an Eat, Pray, Love sponsorship fashion. In the end, what I disliked the most, was Kelly’s disillusioned love for her dog, which to me had little foundation and came off so exaggerated at times that, combined with her usual sarcasm and arrogant tone, was a little doubtful some of the times. Does she actually believe the high praise she showers her dog with? Her ‘‘love’’ took so much space that, in the end, I felt like it was more about her than her dog.

Thank you Hachette Book Group Canada for the copy in exchange for a review.