Review: Intimacy Idiot, by Isaac Oliver

Intimacy Idiot, by Isaac Oliver
2015 | Scribner | 274 pp
In light of this weekend's festivities, I thought it appropriate to talk about Isaac Oliver's debut collection Intimacy Idiot.

In the interest of full disclosure: I've known Isaac for about a decade now (it makes us all sound so old when it's said like that... I've known Isaac for about a third of my life - oh god, that sounds worse; I've known Isaac for years - there, that's better.) We went to college together, we both worked box-offic-y jobs for too many years (and now his watch is ended), and nine years ago we did a Fringe show together called Moral Values: A Grand Farce, or Me No Likey the Homo Touch-Touch written by another talented classmate of ours, Ian McWethy (who, last year, had a different play among the most-produced short plays in high schools).

Moral Values took place in a near-future where not only had the US government legalized gay marriage, but therein had enacted a policy by which all households were assigned a gay man to welcome into their homes for a specified time in the interest of education and tolerance. I was also an avid reader of Isaac's blog before it was transformed into (parts of) this book, and I've attended his readings, eagerly anticipating the newer stories. As such, my opinion here cannot be completely objective.

That said, this is truly a book that has something for everyone. At turns biting, candid and vulnerable, Oliver's stories (which are interspersed with subway anecdotes, vignettes, poetry and - perhaps my favorite - recipes for one) provide a fiercely hilarious glimpse into the life of a brilliantly funny guy doing his best to schlep through New York, Grindr and life in a box office. He has embraced the art of self-deprecation, putting forth his neuroses, his love for cheese, and his eczema in a way that is both endearing and mildly mortifying. And now that we're at a place in time where gay marriage has in fact been legalized, and without bizarre sweeping cure-all tolerance initiatives queued up, please consider Isaac Oliver to be your assigned gay man - welcome his book into your home, and maybe learn a thing or two about love. Or at least, about furries.


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