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.
In spite of the sexual content of the RHK series, Part 1 isn’t overtly sexual. It’s the story of a small boy growing up in a warm family in the forties and early fifties. It chronicles the rise of the baby boomers. It discusses their parental relationships and the social norms that inform and shape the attitudes of a cohort that is taught never to grow old. Only the last chapter, Spermarch, deals directly with the subject of sexual awakening. A prelude to Part 2, it sees our hero nearly overwhelmed by adolescence as he unknowingly prepares for a time in which men and women can experience sex without fear. It is a moment of untrammeled freedom, of a sort that might never be seen again.
The Red-Headed Kid concerns not just the Sexual Revolution. It is 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 relevance of all sexual-proclivities, 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. 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.”
"For the Red-Headed Kid, the Diddle-Dee-Dum Players’ 1947 presentation of Pinocchio at P.S. 1 in Upland, California, is as exciting as anything he ever sees in New York City. How incredible it is when everything is new and discovery is a constant. How incredible to be eight."
If an entire flight of birds, heading south for the winter, suddenly came to roost in the back room of that little shed, it couldn’t make as much noise as Duck Rudy makes when he first hears Red’s voice. He quacks and honks and cheeps and chirps and squawks and rocks his orange crate back and forth, and his eloquence rings across more years than the Kid can count. “Here I am. Here I am. Come get me. Come get me. Please, please, take me home.”
—Ducky Takes the Train
“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.”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 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.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 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.