Ripe: Letters – Alan Semrow
Funny, sexy, evocative, and brutally honest, Ripe is Alan Semrow’s ode to relationships with men. In this epistolary book, Semrow writes to the men who have impacted his outlook, reminded him of basic life lessons, surprised him in more ways than one, and left him reeling for days. Writing to one-night-flings, men he has never met, and men he’ll never stop running into, Semrow touches on some of the most constant human themes—love, lust, desire, and the yearning for connection. All the while, the book details a man’s journey navigating and blooming by way of the modern gay scene. Readers will find familiarity and hard truths in Semrow’s statements about the intricacy and explosiveness of the intimate moments we share.
This is a hard book to review. It is a book about connections but I wasn’t entirely connecting. Not to say this is a badly written book. Alan Semrow’s beautiful poetic voice shines through and yes, the letters were truly evocative. It is simply that I have a completely opposite personality. I am amazed at how easily his connections were made and how many people he can fall in love with. I can count in one hand the people I get along with much less be attracted to. His is not a lifestyle I envy or want to have but his openness and bravery in living the life he chose is something that resonates with me.
There are no introductions before each letter. You go from one and jump right into the next. And when you read a letter, you don’t think about the other letters. Each letter holds your attention in the same way a person of interest holds somebody’s attention
Admittedly, the letters kind of blur together and I remember events here and there but I couldn’t tell who. However, in all these affairs, true to form, the one that stood out for me was Dear Blondie, written to the guy he never met face to face and who made him laugh. It had the right combination of closeness and distance that appealed to the hikikomori in me.
Even though I might not be the right person for this book, I recommend Ripe: Letters. It captures the vibrant lifestyle and carefree promiscuity of the young, gay men. Alan wrote his letters with rawness and honesty that would draw many readers in. Many people would find this memoir enjoyable, entertaining and relatable. It is also thought-provoking book that inspired me to look at my life and think about letters I might want to write, if only in my head.
Thank you to the author, Alan Semrow, for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.
3 Stars – not exactly setting my world on fire but I liked it