Assisted Loving by Bob Morris New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2008 Hardcover, $24.95 Pay no attention to the dustjacket; it does no justice to the story inside. Assisted Loving is a wry look at a real life love-hate relationship between a loud, overly gregarious, eccentric father and an insecure, self-effacing, overly insecure, loveless gay son.
In this memoir, the author, Bob Morris, a style columnist for The New York Times , finds himself, quite reluctantly, taking on the role of love coach and "pimp" for his recently widowed father, Joe. Hoping to unburden himself of a needy father, Bob soon is trolling the personal ads, screening prospective dates, and offering etiquette tips, chaperoning services, and even post-date assessments.
The irony is that Bob himself is a failure in the love department; overcritical of all the men he meets, he is resigned to a life of lonely New Year Eves and furtive e-mail reading. And for Bob, the irony deepens as his still-young-at-heart father goes on a whirlwind of dates, stretching from New York to Palm Beach, each date more successful than the other one. But for Bob, finding love is no easy game in a city of fast life and fleeting ties. More so since Bob is hardly the catch of the day--a middle-aged gay man with a grating attitude and a paunch to boot. But Bob prevails at the end, thanks to his father's unrelenting encouragement. And in finding love, Bob discovers that he shares more than just a genetic makeup with Joe. He re-discovers a father who loves his gay son, unequivocally.
The writing style is highly accessible; the prose is littered with funny one-liners and witty quips, some with obvious references to the Jewish culture that the family partakes in. This is no Tuesday with Morrie type of book, but at least it does remind one of the joys of the father-son bond and that love is never elusive, regardless of one's age.