In 1940, when the Red-Headed Kid is born, sex is a subject that never comes up. Men who openly want sex are perverts. Women who like sex are whores, and homosexuals are social pariahs. But, beneath the surface, things aren't what they seem. Kinsey is asking questions that have never before been asked, and, as the Fifties commence, the subject begins to come out of the closet. No one is supposed to do it yet, but at least the world is beginning to openly admit that it exists. Then, the sixties storm in. Margaret Sanger legitimizes birth control, which frees women of the threat of unwanted pregnancy, and all hell breaks loose. Over the course of seventy years, the Kid experiences every minute of the Sexual Revolution. From the 1940s, when sex is never mentioned, to “no sex at all” in the 1950s, to “sex around the clock” in the sixties and seventies, to “no sex” again when AIDS suddenly appears, and then on to “endlessly dangerous sex” far too soon after that.
In spite of the book's sexual content, The Red-Headed Kid concerns not just the Sexual Revolution. It is the story of the Kid's life from birth in the forties 'til old-age in the twenty-first century. The Kid turns out to be homosexual, but his saga traces the relevancies of all sexualities, both genders, during the later half of the previous century. From life as a Navy officer to conditions in New York City during the seventies, from friendships to the love of a pet, the Kid's experiences speak across centuries, sexualities and genders. It is at times tender and poignant, at others sharp, humorous and witty.
“The symphony orchestra is its own masterpiece. It’s subtle, facile, and exquisitely responsive … an engine specifically designed to stimulate man’s most abstract sense. It is made of simple materials … strings and pipes and straws and slabs of metal … plucked, blown, stroked, and pounded with sticks … assembled through trial and error, over hundreds of years, into one of the most profound machines to emerge from the age of mechanical invention.”
“He doesn’t remember the sounds made by the tires. He hears them. He never forgets hearing them. But, he can’t remember them. He’s facing away from the street when that terrible screech makes him turn just in time to see his helpless little friend vanish in a flutter of tiny legs beneath the wheels of an old Chevrolet. His scream shatters the very air.”
“It’s midsummer, 1998, about 3:00am on a hot, moist night. Fire Island is quiet, except for the giggles rising wraith-like out of the weeds. There is no moon. The only light comes from the windows and doors of the cottages built alongside the boardwalks.”
“Almost simultaneously, the entire house … marches resolutely with Brad and Janet through the thunder, lightning and rain … into the brilliantly filmed fantasy of the Frank-N-Stein Place. I will always remember that moment. It changes our lives. As that pulsing orchestration lifts us, and we plunge head-long into the velvet darkness, not only are we marching into freedom, we are marching into history.”
—Madness Takes Its Toll
“In the eight years or so during which AIDS has killed nearly everyone it touches, orgasm has ceased to be the point. Like a bunch of boys, Red and his playmates have redirected the energy they once used for fucking into elaborate games; dressing up, strutting, and detailed erotic scenarios in which the sex goes on forever and pornography sets the standard.”
(5-Stars) What an amazingly good author coming over the horizon!
By Nan Willow on January 18, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The raw intelligence of this incredible child will come into your heart. Got to read it and read it again. True prose. And he can actually spell. Doesn't get any better. Mr. Ewing has had an amazing life. When finished, find the books he wrote in the '70s. Watch for Jan's sequel and all other great works coming to you through Amazon.
(5-Stars) Red-Headed, but not Red-Faced
By Win Gould on February 16, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Jan has written with honesty, with clarity, and with humanity of the early years of the Red-Headed Kid. I, being of the author's age, particularly enjoyed our life parallels and divergences. I look forward to Part Two, seeing how his mind works, where he goes with his sexuality, his music, and beyond.