You know that beautiful and painful feeling of having all your breath lodged somewhere squarely in your throat through the entire reading of a book? That is the exact experience of consuming and being consumed by Yes, Daddy, Jonathan Parks-Ramage’s debut, which released from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on May 18th.
A story of survival, betrayal, victimhood, and the dynamics of class, power, and beauty may not be the first place your brain goes with that title, but the titular Daddy here stands in for no fewer than three who have made gay playwright-waiter Jonah Keller’s life a living hell over the years, including the grand Daddy of them all. (Yes, I mean God, in case I was being overly subtle.)
It’s not an easy read, but it’s absolutely an absorbing one, and I’m still thinking about it weeks later. If you want to dive in, Lit Hub has an excerpt posted, so check it out, or just jump on ahead and use one of the buy links below! (See tags for CWs.)
Jonah Keller moved to New York City with dreams of becoming a successful playwright, but, for the time being, lives in a rundown sublet in Bushwick, working extra hours at a restaurant only to barely make rent. When he stumbles upon a photo of Richard Shriver—the glamorous Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright and quite possibly the stepping stone to the fame he craves—Jonah orchestrates their meeting. The two begin a hungry, passionate affair.
When summer arrives, Richard invites his young lover for a spell at his sprawling estate in the Hamptons. A tall iron fence surrounds the idyllic compound where Richard and a few of his close artist friends entertain, have lavish dinners, and—Jonah can’t help but notice—employ a waitstaff of young, attractive gay men, many of whom sport ugly bruises. Soon, Jonah is cast out of Richard’s good graces and a sinister underlay begins to emerge. As a series of transgressions lead inexorably to a violent climax, Jonah hurtles toward a decisive revenge that will shape the rest of his life.