Story Rating: 4 stars
Audio Rating: 3.5 stars
Narrator: John Solo
Length: 1 hour, 29 minutes
Here is a brief review of Transparency including my thoughts on the audio performance. You can check out Sammy’s review for an alternate review of the short story in print form.
Taylor is an attractive man, a twink, yes, but fit and somewhat muscular, if a little on the short side. Not a virgin by any stretch of the imagination, Taylor has not had luck in the relationship department and figures that he never will. Taylor finds men opposite to him hot and yearns for a bear to call his own. Charlie is out, proud, and unabashedly a bear. Big, muscular with a fondness for shorter, thin, smooth men, he is ridiculed by his friends for his preferences.
Taylor frequents Pleasures Entertainment and Bookstore and likes to give anonymous blow jobs in the back room so, when he arrives at the bookstore and sees the hot, bald bear eyeing him, he falls instantly in lust. Taylor heads to the glory hole and takes care of the anonymous man before running from the store in a panic. Charlie was disappointed that the cute twink ran before Charlie could reciprocate, but vowed to keep an eye out for the hot young man.
A few days later, Taylor and Charlie meet again and after the blow job, Charlie corners Taylor and invites him for coffee. It is obvious that Charlie is interested in having more with Taylor but Taylor has a secret, one that has has transformed his life in good and bad ways. Taylor is transgendered and fears that if he tells Charlie, all will be lost.
In a word, unexpected. What a pleasant surprise to read a book that addresses a transgendered character and the challenges they face on a daily basis. I loved Taylor, just loved him and wanted to be his friend and let him know that there are good people out there. Charlie was a super guy as well, although his acceptance of Taylor’s situation was something that I really had to ponder in terms of realism.
For such a nice guy, Charlie’s friends were kind of assholes and really did not do it for me. One jerky friend, okay. Two, maybe. But all? Nope, not impressed. Since Taylor had no one else in his life, having been ostracized for his choice to transition from woman to man, only his nasty neighbour could be seen as a supporting character, but honestly, even that is a stretch.
In terms of the audio, it took me a while to get used to John Solo’s narration as his voice is not as fluid as that of other books I have listened too. I also found that other than Taylor’s vocalization, the secondary characters, although easy to differentiate, sounded odd, almost cartoon-like, almost as if Solo was trying too hard when speaking for the various characters.
I would recommend Transparency if you want a snapshot in the life of someone in transition, as the trials and tribulations that befall Taylor strike me as realistic and I like both Taylor and Charlie enough to give it another listen.