**Thank you to NetGalley for my advanced e-reader copy of this book!**
Pub Date: August 20, 2019
One summer in Paris, on the eve of my 18th birthday, I stumbled upon this delectable bookshop across from the breathtakingly imposing structure that was Notre Dame. Shakespeare & Company was a bookshop full of books just waiting for me to discover, with a staff that made me feel like I’d come home. Five years later, I returned to that same shop to take a little Parisian magic back to the states with me. Could I have, unwittingly, clapped eyes on James Gregor?
In the age of social media and the era of identity crisis, Gregor asks his readers in Going Dutch to contemplate their approach to public perception. Richard is the type of character you sincerely want to loathe, but find you can’t because you unwillingly can connect to the motivation that drives his choices. As a graduate student who continues to pursue higher education so that he might eschew real life a little longer, he’ll do anything to be perceived as brilliant and successful. As a gay man in New York, Richard tries disastrously to get a handle on the trendiness of online dating- as if love wasn’t complicated enough, you now had to sift through those solely interested in ‘swiping right’ and those who were serious about committing. More than anything, Richard wants what most humans, on some level, crave. He wants to be needed and he wants to be touched.
Like so many of us, Richard lives a life of duality without pausing long enough to consider the harm he’s inflicting on others. He latches onto Anne, a fellow student, because he recognizes her greatest fear is being lonely. For the reader, it’s almost painful to watch how he simultaneously abuses her trust and utterly confuses her in terms of how he feels about both her and his sexuality. Anne becomes a casualty of Richard’s pathetic selfishness, and so does Blake. Despite Richard’s protestations to the reader, throughout the novel, that he wants consistency and love, when he meets Blake through a dating app, Richard proceeds to keep him at arms length while still stringing him along.
Going Dutch is witty and evocative, exploring the theme of self exploration against the backdrop of greed, lust, and self preservation. Richard’s character claims to desire doing everything possible to avoid “going Dutch”. To instead, be one half of a whole with someone, even if that means compromising his identity or deceiving others. Gregor forces us to ask some uncomfortable questions through a narrative that leaves you emotionally frustrated and mentally drained.
Pre order this now and then relish the subtle layers of wit as you consume a novel that poignantly and uncomfortably defines the age we’re living in.