Breakfast with Scot
Published by: Counterpoint
Release Date: January 2008
Buy the Book: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, iBooks
Adapted as feature film; for news about the movie Breakfast with Scot, see below.
Honor Book, American Library Association
Selected as one of the Ten Best Gay Books of the Year by Amazon.com
Book Sense Pick
Finalist for Ferro-Grumley/Triangle Award
Adapted as the play Breakfast with Scot commissioned by the New Conservatory Theatre (San Francisco, 2004)
The story of Breakfast with Scot
When I began to write this book, I intended to write a novel about nosey neighbors—something about which I actually know something, having been one myself. In my original scheme, the central characters, Sam and Ed, a chiropractor and an editor, were longtime lovers living happily by themselves, with no longings for any additions to their happy and rather handsome home in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
As I wrote the initial chapters, I was listening to two CDs—alternately and constantly: Chopin’s (perfect and perfectly scaled) Nocturnes and Pop Pop, the (simply perfect) Rickie Lee Jones covers of standards that run the gamut from “The Ballad of the Sad Young Men” to “I Won’t Grow Up” from Peter Pan. Out of that inspiring combo, Scot popped up in my imagination—an eleven-year-old boy with a weird, slouchy way of never standing up straight. He was wearing a boa. And then, Scot basically took over the book.
For me, as I hope it does for readers, Breakfast with Scot became a joy ride into the unknown.
“One of the great child creations of recent literature—a dainty, prepubescent Holden Caulfield with a thing for neckerchiefs. . . Downing has constructed a light-as-air divertimento out of short, quirky episodes that move briskly. . . . The main action adds up to a wry look at a new configuration of the American family. But there is a twist -- a near-brilliant one, which pushes the novel's humor and pathos to the limit: Scot is an 11-year-old Truman Capote or Quentin Crisp, limp wrists and all. The book's domestic dramas are deftly done and convincing enough to make you wince or laugh, or else to bring a lump to your throat. The novel is not simply a comedy of upside-down manners but also a testament to the joys and foibles of parenting (however you define it) and to the amazing resilience of "different" children in the face of banal, everyday cruelty. The characters are interesting and complex; 30 pages in, it's easy to forget that they're fictional, that this isn't heartfelt testimony from a parent about a real son.”
“Witty, poignant, laugh-out-loud funny, deftly insightful and full of people you wish you knew, plus a few you’re glad you don’t. Breakfast with Scot is a turn-of-the-millennium look at parenthood, families, relationships and who gets to wear eyeliner.”
“A hilariously sweet take on the woes and joys of parenthood. . . Downing explores what it truly means to be a family, compassionately contrasting familial stereotypes with the realities of family life and showing how it feels to be a boy who doesn’t quite fit into the role society has prepared for him.”
—Booklist starred review
“Bittersweet and sophisticated . . . The highlight of the book is its poignant attention to the exquisite humiliations that daily afflict all three of its main characters.”
“Downing has a jeweler’s knack for rendering beauty in miniature. This brief, sparkling novel is testament to that skill.”
“The prose in Downing’s fourth novel is melodious and lucid. This heartwarming tale nobly defines and describes a potent, realistic new configuration of contemporary American values.”
Breakfast with Scot MOVIE NEWS
"In this funny adaptation of Michael Downing's novel, Tom Cavanagh, best known for the TV show Ed, is terrific—as is young Noah Bernett, who steals the show without hogging it." Village Voice
"Refreshingly snarky and quick." New York Daily News
"Sweet enough to overcome the most cynical critic." Miami Herald
"A sharp little Canadian drama that draws one in rather wryly." Boxoffice Magazine
The controversy surrounding the first gay-themed movie to be endorsed by a major-league sports organization resulted in coast-to-coast coverage. You can read the New York Times feature article about the National Hockey League endorsement of Breakfast with Scot in “Hard-Nosed League Delivers A Clear Message of Acceptance” by Selena Roberts. And in the Los Angeles Times, Rachel Abramowitz devoted her Sunday column to the cultural impact, “NHL breaks ice with role in gay-topic movie." In Canada, the Toronto Globe & Mail tracked the story, accurately characterizing both sides of the heated debate.
Finally the movie was released--I mean, if it was reported in Variety, then it must be true. After a sold-out premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival,the movie of Breakfast with Scot played in theaters across the United States and Canada in the Fall 2008 through Spring 2009. The movie opened to great reviews from the press in both countries, including this review from the Toronto Star and praise from Rex Reed in the New York Observer.
"The low-key relationship of Sam (Tom Cavanagh), a former pro hockey player turned sports broadcaster, and Ed (Ben Shenkman) is turned upside-down-and festooned with feather boas and glitter-when they agree to take care of Ed's unabashedly flamboyant young nephew Scot, played by the absolutely fabulous Noah Bernett. Concerned Scot will suffer teasing at school, Sam attempts to toughen him up in various ways. Subtle explorations of homophobia and social attitudes, wonderful casting, hilarious tight script and good old-fashioned Christmas magic make Lynd's latest a thoroughly enjoyable, new-style family feature." Toronto Globe & Mail