Commitment Issues is Wynn Wagner’s third book I’ve read. The first I liked a lot while the second didn’t work for me. Although I really want to like CI, it falls too close to the second and not enough of the humor and charm of the first. There is a definite style to Wagner’s writing that will appeal or not appeal to readers so this author may not be for everyone. The story also tends to repeat information often and add in lengthy asides while the main plot wanders all over the place. On the positive side there is a lot of humor and the story is very funny in the few places it doesn’t try so hard. Unfortunately it couldn’t keep my attention and I came close to giving up.
The plot starts with an ex radio announcer in AA. Sean is dutifully going to his meetings and trying to repair his horrible reputation and destroyed career in radio. He finally has a new job that starts to make him some real money and national exposure. This leads to Sean’s agent and sometimes fuck buddy. However that brief casual acquaintance ends when Sean meets Wyatt in AA. Wyatt is new to the program so Sean must stay away from him sexually which leads to a fight.
Let me start with the first part of the story which deals with Sean in AA. Told in first person point of view, the story is entirely told to the reader often with the narrator speaking to you. He likes to point out the humor and irony in obvious ways. Wagner often does this and it’s the author’s writing style, consistent from book to book. This has a feel of inviting the reader to laugh along with Sean’s crazy life and antics but also takes away any subtly the humor could have. Instead the story always goes for the obvious gag. Whether that works will depend upon individual reader preferences and how everyone likes their humor.
Unfortunately the plot in the first half is somewhat banal. It drags along as Sean goes to meetings and works in radio. There are numerous lengthy internal debates as Sean catches the reader up on the various characters, their history, and how they fit into the story. Again everything is told to the reader with almost nothing shown. His relationship with Wyatt is an initial source of conflict as Wyatt wants more but Sean feels it’s taking advantage. Sadly this aspect never worked for me since I didn’t really understand Sean’s reasoning. Perhaps it’s an AA thing – of which there is a lot of history, information, background, and details about the meetings included – but this didn’t make much sense to me.
About halfway through the book changes completely. Sean is involved in a bombing and he and Wyatt are instantly together and in love. They declare their marriage and love to each other, completely ignoring any problems they had previously. The remainder of the book deals with the increasingly improbable and ridiculous assassination attempts on Sean and Wyatt with an odd and completely out of place aside about Wyatt’s father’s death. The book seems to be a series of random scenes thrown together with little to no cohesion and no real purpose to the story either.
The writing style tends to be light and entertaining at it’s best. However this falls apart when the story tries too hard to be funny. Every scene and dialogue turns into a joke and an attempt at irony and humor. Almost every single character is an exaggeration with witty quips and funny one liners from the cops to the doctors to the kids. There isn’t a single character it feels like that doesn’t have the exact same sense of humor and quick back and forth, which takes away any sense of originality and uniqueness between the main characters who also do this. It should be funny and indeed some of it is, but used too liberally it loses the impact and eventually the entertainment factor.
Part of this is that the pace of writing is very slow, despite the near frantic and constant action taking place on the page. The narrator tends to repeat information several times throughout the story and summarize the action. Considering the story isn’t that long, I easily got bored being told the same details over and over. Then there are the random asides such has almost a page long paragraph about how to cook the perfect steak; or the numerous pages of details about how radio stations are run. For the right person, these details can sing and become wonderful interludes. Unfortunately for me they made the story that much more disjointed and boring.
The writing is very distinct and the author has a clear voice. Some readers will like this and some won’t. This is an excerpt from one of the many sex scenes and typifies the writing in many ways. Be sure to see the longer excerpt for a more involved look at the writing to decide for yourself.
And I felt him fill my mouth with cum. His dick bulged at its base as my tongue felt his load traveling to the tip. Once. Twice. And once more. I actually felt him shooting. I felt each eruption moving through his rod. It was almost like a bulb of gism moved inside his dick, almost slow motion. My lips felt a bulge and then my tongue tasted the result. Wow.
Wyatt gave me the most intimate gift he had. It was one man in love with another, and I could tell he was completely in love with me. He made love to my mouth and filled my throat with cum.
The story can be very funny when the natural charm and wit come through, such as the character of Mason who is delightful, but this unfortunately tries way too hard and loses that spark of pleasure and enjoyment when it’s overused. The disjointed plot drove me nuts and the lack of purpose kept the story dragging. One of the characters makes a comment that it’s “like a bad Hollywood movie.” I sadly couldn’t agree more.