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Just by Looking at Him: A Novel (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

Audacious in its humor while packing an emotional punch. Elliott's journey of realization and healing includes (but isn't limited to) much self reflection, complex relationships of all kinds, and raises questions regarding what's considered the "ideal" gay male experience. A raw, fervent novel of navigating the dating and business world as a disabled person.

— From Andrew


From the star of Peacock’s Queer as Folk and the Netflix series Special comes a “funny, tender, and beautiful” (Gary Janetti, New York Times bestselling author) novel following a gay TV writer with cerebral palsy as he fights addiction and searches for acceptance in an overwhelmingly ableist world.

Elliott appears to be living the dream as a successful TV writer with a doting boyfriend. But behind his Instagram filter of a life, he’s grappling with an intensifying alcohol addiction, he can’t seem to stop cheating on his boyfriend with various sex workers, and his cerebral palsy is making him feel like gay Shrek.

After falling down a rabbit hole of sex, drinking, and Hollywood backstabbing, Elliott decides to limp his way towards redemption. But facing your demons is easier said than done.

“With his singular voice and unforgettable wit” (Steven Rowley, author of The Guncle), Ryan O’Connell presents a candid, biting, and refreshingly real commentary on gay life, laugh-out-loud exploration of self, and a rare insight into life as a person with disabilities.

About the Author

Ryan O’Connell is the Emmy-nominated creator, writer, and star of Netflix’s Special, which is based on his memoir, I’m Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves. He’s also written for other TV shows like Will & GraceAwkward, and Peacock’s Queer as Folk revival, which he also stars in. He lives, laughs, and loves in Los Angeles with his partner, Jonathan Parks-Ramage. 

Praise For…

“With his singular voice and unforgettable wit, O’Connell movingly explores how our messiest moments can lead to radical self-acceptance. Elliott’s journey may be his own, but what he discovers about the absurdity of the human condition is universal.” —Steven Rowley, author of The Guncle and Lily and The Octopus

“I've loved Ryan O’Connell’s voice in every iteration, but his turn to fiction is my favorite Ryan yet: sharp, bawdy, yet still deeply touching. It's shockingly elegant, and elegantly shocking.” —Lena Dunham, creator of HBO’s Girls and #1 New York Times bestselling author of Not That Kind of Girl

"Ryan O'Connell's new book is at once very funny, tender, and beautiful. I couldn't put it down. Really. By the end I felt like I'd made a new friend." —Gary Janetti, New York Times bestselling author of Do You Mind if I Cancel? and Start Without Me

"O’Connell leaves nothing on the table, and the result reads like a zippy, traffic-dodging trip up the 101 on a blinding afternoon." Publishers Weekly

“…a very funny novel about falling for a fantasy and finding love for one’s own self….Ryan O’Connell explores the lessons that the vulnerable human body has to teach us, and he does so with humor, heart, and heat.” —Melissa Broder, acclaimed author of Milk Fed and The Pisces

"In his breezy, effortless way, O'Connell has written a book of great wisdom and intimacy. A story that is frank, searching, and deliriously sexy. I didn't want it to end. Neither will you." 

—Sam Lansky, author of Broken People


Product Details
ISBN: 9781982178598
ISBN-10: 1982178590
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: June 6th, 2023
Pages: 304
Language: English