Breakfast With Scot

( 4 )


An enlightened modern couple faces sudden parenthood-and the embarrassing truth about their own definitions of ''normal''-in this hilarious novel chronicling a joyride into the unknown. Sam and Ed are living the good life: happy, healthy, devoted to each other and their careers, they have no yearning for the joyful mysteries of parenthood. But when eleven-year-old Scot's mother suddenly dies, the couple is determined to make good on a wine-soaked promise made years before. With the best intentions, Sam and Ed ...
See more details below
This Paperback is Not Available through
Breakfast with Scot: A Novel

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$11.49 price
(Save 17%)$13.95 List Price
This digital version does not exactly match the physical book displayed here.


An enlightened modern couple faces sudden parenthood-and the embarrassing truth about their own definitions of ''normal''-in this hilarious novel chronicling a joyride into the unknown. Sam and Ed are living the good life: happy, healthy, devoted to each other and their careers, they have no yearning for the joyful mysteries of parenthood. But when eleven-year-old Scot's mother suddenly dies, the couple is determined to make good on a wine-soaked promise made years before. With the best intentions, Sam and Ed hang a tire swing in the backyard and call the neighborhood school to arrange enrollment. Scot arrives just in time to start fifth grade-with a pair of lacy white socks in his duffel bag. It doesn't take Sam and Ed long to realize that Scot won't be trying out for the football team. He adores feather boas, wishes the house had better drapes, and keeps Pink Gardenia lotion in his camera bag. Spells of vertigo cause him to drop to the floor in panic, and the kids at school want to beat him up. Breakfast with Scot is a fast-paced, comic novel with resonance for everyone trying to raise children in our relentlessly sophisticated culture. In wry dialogue, frothy characters, and an offbeat plot, Michael Downing's mastery reaches new heights of brilliance.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Greg Bottoms

"Having a child, I soon learned, is like having an open wound. People ask you about it. They give you advice and secret remedies. Friends tell you to ignore it for a while and see if it doesn't heal itself. Everyone assures you that it won't kill you. And then they show you their scars." So writes Michael Downing in his funny and affecting fourth novel, Breakfast With Scot, about a Cambridge, Mass., gay couple who inherit an 11-year-old boy.

Downing has constructed a light-as-air divertimento out of short, quirky episodes that move briskly toward (usually funny) punch lines about gender, sexuality, child-rearing, American families, etc. The plot turns on a drunken promise. Ed, the book's narrator, an editor at an obscure art magazine, and his live-in lover of many years, Sam, a New Age chiropractor, are having dinner with Sam's brother, Billy, and Billy's girlfriend, Julie; at one point the straight couple slur that should anything ever happen to them, Sam and Ed have to care for their son, Scot. Equally drunk, Sam and Ed agree, because, well, it would be rude, even hurtful, to say no.

Time passes. Sam and Ed go about their happily monogamous life in liberal Cambridge. Then Julie, now separated from Billy, dies while she is shooting up (a bubble in the syringe), and it turns out that she has named Sam Scot's legal guardian. (The shiftless Billy and his new girlfriend are by then living in South America.)

That's the setup. The main action, which takes place in the first few months after Scot's arrival, adds up, as you might expect, 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. He shows up with a musical hairbrush and two makeup kits. He loves Pink Gardenia hand lotion and pantyhose and won't leave the house without his Chap Stick. He wears a white patent-leather belt with "pink dancing dogs and jazzy little musical notes" on it, and his interest in school sports is limited to baton twirling and possibly cheerleading.

Everyone in the fifth grade thinks he's gay, of course, but he's too young to know what he is -- only that he isn't like most other boys. (Delicate and otherworldly, he reminds Ed of a cherub in a pre-Renaissance painting.) Sam and Ed finally admit to each other that his flamboyant behavior embarrasses them; Ed confesses that when he looks at Scot, he sees what the school bully sees.

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. And the most interesting and complex of them all is Scot, one of the great child creations of recent literature -- a dainty, prepubescent Holden Caulfield with a thing for neckerchiefs.

Witty, poignant, laugh-out-loud funny, deftly insightful...It's a turn-of-the-millennium look at parenthood, families, relationships and who gets to wear eyeliner.
Baltimore Sun
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.
Greg Bottoms
Scot [is] one of the great child creations of recent literature—a dainty, prepubescent Holden Caulfield with a thing for neckerchiefs.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Two gay men--one a New Age chiropractor, the other an editor at an ultra-hip Italian art magazine--live happily together in Cambridge, not too far from Harvard. Sam (the chiropractor) learns that his brother's ex-girlfriend has suddenly died and named Sam legal guardian of her 11-year-old son, Scot. What follows is a wry look at how Sam and Ed adjust to surrogate parenthood, which they had politely, drunkenly and hypothetically agreed to years before. When Scot arrives at their home, these two generous, good-hearted men discover that they have a prepubescent Quentin Crisp on their hands. Scot's flamboyant, androgynous flair makes for some school yard and neighborhood crises, but the boy's innate sweetness and open-mindedness endear him to several youngsters and most adults. The action centers around the adjustments everyone is forced to make during the first semester of Scot's fifth grade at Parker Elementary School, where Scot learns that he must stop wearing pantyhose, eyeliner and perfume. Narrated by Ed, both the action and the asides are loaded with wit and emotion. By the time Sam's brother, Billy, unexpectedly returns from South America, readers know that Scot, Sam and Ed are a real family, and that the two men, patiently immersed in the joys and pains of parenting, are the boy's heroes. The prose in Downing's (Perfect Agreement) fourth novel is melodious and lucid. This heartwarming tale nobly defines and describes a potent, realistic new configuration of contemporary American family values. (Nov.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Francis M. Shonkwiler
Filled with appealing characters and sharp dialogue, Downings deft fourth novel is realistic and lighthearted— and the precocious Scot an unpredictable hero.
Kirkus Reviews
A middle-aged gay couple's misadventure in parenting is the subject of this wisecrack-laden fourth novel by the author of Mother of God (1990), etc. Life is moving along in an agreeable rut in Cambridge, Mass., for Sam, a busy chiropractor, and his partner Ed, who works for a tony art magazine (Figura) owned by a jet-setting cheapskate. But then unmarried Julie, Sam's brother Billy's former girlfriend, dies, and—thanks to a solemn promise made during a convivial drunken evening out—Sam and Ed inherit, if you will, guardianship of Julie's 11-year-old son Scot. This kid isn't your typical troublesome preadolescent. Scot owns a musical hairbrush and two make-up kits, uses Pink Gardenia hand lotion and won't go anywhere without his Chapstick, plus his interest in school sports is limited to baton twirling and an ambition to become a cheerleader. Downing tries to work up a perfunctory plot from Sam's vow to put "more strut and less swish" into their charge and from the complications that ensue when it's discovered that Scot isn't the only issue Julie and Billy created. But Downing doesn't seem to have decided whether to write a serious comic study of how Sam's and Ed's relationship is both tested and clarified by the changes Scot brings or a TV movie script festooned with one-liners. Some of the latter are pretty good (gay-couple friends own a "feral poodle"; Ed repeatedly asks himself "What do you say to a boy in a neckerchief?"). The best moments here depict Scot's effect on his guardians' extended family of varyingly deranged friends and on his "normal" schoolmates (who hassle him mercilessly and would doubtless prefer to burn him at the stake). The TV movieought to be fun. And with the (really rather endearing) figure of Scot, some lucky young actor will have the flamboyant role of a lifetime.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781458772268
  • Publisher: ReadHowYouWant, LLC
  • Publication date: 5/12/2010
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.54 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2000

    Touching, Funny, and Very Satisfying

    This book is wonderful. I enjoyed every page. Absent are typical gay stereotypes and in their place is a strong male couple who act and function as strong role models for their adoped son. By far the best book I have read in a long time.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2001

    'Family' defined by love

    Being good people, Sam and Ed willingly take on the care and feeding of an 11-year old child. The newly developed family unit goes beyond the limited definitions we often use when we think 'parents and child'. And the child, Scot, causes everyone to see the world differently. A lovely, funny book, filled with characters I'd like to know and call friends.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)