What Happened in Vegas
Get Booked is owned by Wes Williams and managed by his partner, Raul Gutierrez, and I applaud these community heroes for keeping the doors open at one of America’s oldest LGBT bookstores. This brick and mortar bookstore remains an invaluable community resource in a world of virtual books. It was here that I discovered local gay writer R. J. Stastny’s debut novel, Falling Forward, (iUniverse, 2012, www.rjstastny.com).
Stastny has an interesting story to tell in this artless roman à clef whose theme is set out clearly by Stastny’s fictional alter ego, Wes Svoboda. We are, Wes says, “the products of both accidents and miracles. The past—or the ‘non-fiction’ part of my life, as I called it—was done and couldn’t be changed. Now, I wanted to do everything I could to make sure that the yet-unrealized part of my life story, the ‘fiction’ that I fantasized about, could be written.”
When Wes Svoboda’s long-time partner, Kevin, dies of lung cancer (he was a smoker), his “universe suddenly changed the balance of things.” He relocates from Los Angeles to Las Vegas to separate himself, “emotionally and physically from the past,” but discovers his past “falling forward” to meet him in a series of encounters with friends from both his old life in Southern California and from his past travels in Latin America. When Wes flies to the rescue of an Ecuadorian friend, Tico, whose El Barcito in Quito is being extorted for protection money by a Colombian gang of thugs, his past collides with his possible future in an unexpected and chilling turn. Fortunately, Wes survives for a very romantic third act with someone that the reader will have been rooting for all along.
The magical character of Claire, a sort of fairy godmother, points out to Wes that he should “gather all the mistakes and triumphs that you’ve had, acknowledge them, and then put them on a mental book shelf where you can visit them from time to time….” Stastny has done just that with this marvelous “fictional” memoir and we are fortunate that he has chosen to share it all with us.
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"Falling Forward is for anyone who enjoys a well thought out story, and likes to read about characters that are a delight to spend time with.”
”As a creative writer myself, I was both impressed and motivated by Stastny’s writing style and engaging protagonist.”
“Because life never unfolds the way we plan for it to, there is always a need for readiness and the ability to cope with challenges. Stastny’s story runs toward this issue boldly, addressing loss, grief, and the importance of rebuilding life and accepting change.”
Pacific Book Review