Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Review: Fall Into the Sun

Fall Into the Sun
Fall Into the Sun by Val Kovalin

Bobby and Alejo first met when they were six years old, after a Sunday mass at the church both their families went to on a regular basis. Both grew up in Albuquerque, both are of Hispanic origin, but that’s about all they have in common. Alejo’s parents owned a Mexican restaurant, they were among the pillars of their Catholic parish. The Sandoval children were raised to traditional middle-class values; Alejo’s older sisters married and had families of their own, and Alejo got into the family business when his father became ill. Bobby had three older brothers, all good-for-nothings like their father who died in prison when Bobby was fourteen; their mother worked two jobs, drank a lot and mostly left her children to their own devices, except for making them go to church on Sundays as long as they’d listen to her.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Review: Bonds of Earth

Bonds of Earth
Bonds of Earth by G.N. Chevalier

This book took my breath away with its feeling of time and place. The glimpses I was granted into the half-world which gay culture was at that time were particularly fascinating to me, although the other settings, from the Bowery to the veteran clinic, were equally well worked out.
From the tone of the narrative, to the characters' mindsets, their way of talking, the very real threat of imprisonment or institutionalization that hung above homosexual relationships back then, every little detail added up to a consistent, harmonious whole. Despite the mountain of research that must have gone into this book, there’s nothing schoolmasterly about the historical details, they’re just smoothly woven into the story flow.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Review: Flamingo

Flamingo by Sarah Black

Flamingo is a story within a story within a story, beautifully, almost lyrically written, quiet and conveying a feeling of intimate tenderness for the characters. (The title refers to the story at Flamingo’s innermost core, which is a legend of two lovers, separated by death, who reunite in a different incarnation.) There is wisdom in this story, and yes, ridicule too, for William knows how fleeting the good things in life can be. But there’s also hope and optimism, brought on by Tommy’s unbroken vitality and joie de vivre which eventually brings both men to enjoy their time together, how long or how short it may turn out to be.

As multi-layered as the story in itself were the messages it transported. In the foreground it said that love doesn’t know any boundaries, it hits where it choses, regardless of age. But it also says that love is a risk, and that it might be worse to never take a risk than doing it and losing. Even more can be read into the story Tommy wrote for William (which, btw, was just as beautiful as the coating).

I found this story poignant, heartwarming and simply lovable. Warmly recommended.

review originally written for reviewsbyjessewave.com

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Review: Secret Light

Secret Light
Secret Light by Z.A. Maxfield

Rafe came to the United States at the age of twelve as a refugee after the Nazis invaded his native Austria. He changed his too-German sounding name, made himself a new home in his new country and eventually managed to make a good life for himself through hard work and a winning personality. (His motto is “nobody says no to Rafe Colman.”) But except for his prowess as a Real Estate agent, everything else about his life is a lie. First and foremost, he’s not the womanizer he acts for the benefit of his co-workers, not in the slightest – he’s gay, and on the surface his life revolves around keeping this secret a secret. He even concocted a clever scheme that secures him the sympathy of the women he keeps hooking up with as part of his cover. But beneath this disguise, Rafe hides even more secrets. Extra precaution has been ingrained into him ever since he was a child, and events he witnessed since only reinforced his preformed notion that he can’t allow anybody to find out about him, never, not on any terms. However, the price Rafe pays for his safety is terrible, soul-freezing loneliness. Caught up in secrecy and fear, Rafe isolated himself from each and every personal contact; he has no friends, only colleagues and neighbors, and the only being he really has a connection with is his dog, Mookie (who, by the way, was a treat and a wonderful character in her own right and, as opposed to other canine matchmakers I’ve come across now and then, actually served another, very crucial and rather dark purpose in the plot.)