Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Review: 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.
No attempt was made to explain the period or anything that went on in the greater whole of the world at that time. It was all just there, exactly like it would’ve been for Michael and Seward, and my level of knowledge, as the reader, didn’t exceed theirs. Michael, the narrator, just took me along for the ride, and I saw his world through his eyes and shared his thoughts on the things he encountered.
And I shared Michael’s memories. Flashbacks of what he experienced in the war popped up now and then, sometimes brought on by something he saw in the present time, but sometimes seemingly out of the blue, just as you’d expect with a badly traumatized survivor – which, again, added to the fascinating authenticity of Michael’s character. Some flashback sequences were there simply to wise the reader up about facts from Michael’s past, but some of those flashbacks were just that, memories fit to create nightmares.
This is the kind of book I can lose myself in, a book that’s all about the story and not in the least about the effect. Nothing in here seems forced, let alone put in just for playing to the gallery. Even the sex happens because it has to, almost like a force of nature, but never for its own sake. (in fact, when I came upon the first explicit scene, I almost wished it had been fade to black – I was so immersed in the intense emotions at that time that I’d have rather been left alone to dream my part instead of having to actually participate in the down and dirty. (Am I making sense here at all? ;-) ) It was intense, engrossing, poignant and amazingly well written, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. As far as I’m concerned, this book is a rare pearl and a precious find. Don’t miss it.
Review originally written for reviewsbyjessewave.com
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