Review: How to Be a Normal Person by T.J. Klune

The book cover of How to Be a Normal Person by T.J. Klune

This is yet another review of a Dreamspinner story with asexual content.

What is this story about?

Gus lives in the fictional town of Abby, Oregon, and runs a video rental store. He reads inspirational quotes every day from a calendar given to him by We Three Queens, who might be lesbian sisters or a polyamorous triad. One day, he meets Casey, an asexual hipster. Casey is staying with his aunt Lottie, who owns the cafe in a building that Gus owns. He things Casey is totally cool, but he won’t admit it, and Casey says that Gus is abnormal. Therefore, Gus decides to learn how to be normal.

Yes, he wants to be ‘normal’ so he can impress an asexual hipster. It’s intentionally ironic.

What sexual and/or violent content is there in this story, if any?

There are no sex scenes and no violence. There is discussion of sexual topics and sexual jokes (and jokes about violence, for that matter). There is also discussion of the death of Gus’ father.

Where y’at?

Awrite. And I’m not in New Orleans.

Sara, where are you now?

I’m on a train bound for Chicago. The train just pulled out of Dwight, Illinois. I know, it’s the wrong time of year to go to Chicago, especially for a coastal Californian like me. However, this train is so overheated that the idea of stepping into a chilly street is starting to seem tempting.

It would be much more appropriate to write this review at Klamath Falls train station, where I sat for hours with marijuana-smokers (marijuana is legal in Oregon, and no, I did not smoke any myself). However, Klamath Falls station does not have wifi, whereas this train bound for Chicago does have wifi, thus making it possible to publish blog posts.

Tell me more about this story.

It has a way of meandering, a bit like my digression about where I am. It has its own kind of humor. I only laughed out loud a few times, but generally found the humor mildly amusing. One section which did get me to laugh out loud was this (possibly because I have seen three Terence Malick films):

“Now, tell me about your screenplay.”
“No,” Gus said. “You wouldn’t get it. It was… I don’t even know. It was deep and ahead of its time. It was some Terrence Malick shit.”
“Whoa,” Casey said. “I don’t know who that is.”
“This… this guy. He makes movies that make no sense, but they’re so deep that it doesn’t even matter if they make no sense.”
“Just tell me the name of it,” Casey said, reaching over and touching Gus’s arm. “Just the name. I bet it was an awesome name.”
Gus looked down at Casey’s fingers on his arm, thoughts a little fuzzy, and thought maybe of having another cookie. “It was called….”
“Yeah,” Casey breathed.
“It was called….”
Gus opened his mouth to lie and make up some awesome-sounding movie title. Instead, he accidentally spoke the truth. “Monkey Island Adventures.”
“Whoa!” Casey exclaimed. Then, brow furrowing, he said, “I don’t get it.”
“It was about this monkey,” Gus admitted. “Who had adventures. On an island.”
“Yeah,” Casey said. “That’s some Terrence Malick shit right there.”

Aside from the pervasive odd humor, the story is what it says on the tin: it’s about somebody who is trying to be normal, when what they actually need to learn is that it’s okay to not be normal.


On the asexuality content scale (1 = least, 10 = most), I would rate this story as a 3.

Casey is an asexual hipster (in nearly every instance that his asexuality is brought up, he is described as an ‘asexual hipster’ rather than just as ‘asexual’). Casey discloses this information to Gus when it seems that their relationship is going to get closer, and Gus does not care. He never minds it at all in the entire story.

Gus’ own sexual orientation is indeterminate – when another character tries to pin down his sexual orientation, Gus continues to refuse to identify with any sexual orientation. On the other hand, it is stated that he ‘came out’ to his father, and that all of the people he has ever had sex with were male. Also, his father assumed that the One True Love of his life would be male (presumably because Gus ‘came out’ to him). Gus also tells Casey that it’s fine if they never have sex.

It is also revealed eventually that Casey had a boyfriend before. I don’t want to say too much about it, since it would be spoilerful, but I will say they broke up because of (lack of) sex issues.

Generally, I like the way this novel presents asexuality. It offers a brief explanation without over explanation, it acknowledges some of the issues asexual people may have while also showing that asexuality does not have to be a big deal. And it has an example of an asexual/non-asexual pairing where the asexual does NOT end up having sex to show how much they love their partner.

Was this written by an asexual?

Yes, T.J. Klune is asexual.

Hey Sara, do you like this story?

Yes I do.

One may buy this novel from the Dreamspinner Press store or various retailers of books.

3 thoughts on “Review: How to Be a Normal Person by T.J. Klune

  1. Pingback: Reviewing Asexual Fiction from Dreamspinner Press | The Notes Which Do Not Fit

  2. Pingback: The Most Different Kinds of Ace Characters I Can Think of | The Notes Which Do Not Fit

  3. Pingback: Book Review: How to Be a Normal Person | Tales of the Marvelous

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