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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
The first of September, and summer is nearly over. T_T 
1st-Sep-2005 08:40 am
Maybe that explains my desperation regarding the many books I "need" to get read before my return to "academia." (Yeah, might as well call it that!)

Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger
Written almost entirely in the form of letters, interviews, article excerpts, and report cards, this delightful novel tells the story of a boy living in Brooklyn during WWII and the poignant relationship that develops between himself and the baseball player Charlie Banks. Subplots, including Joey's Japanese-American friend's internment, seems a bit forced and deliberate, but the overarching relationship that evolves between Joey, Charlie, and his girlfriend/wife Hazel is unabashed and beautifully-rendered. Reading the to guys trade insults in letter form reminded me rather amusedly of the book by Deborah Tannen that I just finished as well. Unlike, luger's other novel, Almost Like Being in Love, which I have not read yet but know to have openly gay themes, this book is almost entirely mainstream in its intent and execution. There are no obviously gay characters; Joey has his first romance with a girl he eventually grows up to marry during the course of the letter-writing, for example. However, the basic storyline, love and companionship with an older man helps a boy to grow up and then dies when his purpose is fulfilled, is one that I've seen in several prominent gay novels, including most recently works by Mark Merlis and Paul Russell. Regardless, though, this is an EXCELLENT novel that can be read on so many different levels in spite of its straightforward prose; plus, you'll be laughing all the way through and crying at the end. Nary a dissonant note sounded--the best kind of writing!

Sanctuary: A Tale of Life in the Woods by Paul Monette
A short, illustrated, and overpriced little fable written by a well-known gay writer (currently deceased), this book was a passably good Animal Farm for gay people, but not, in final analysis, a classic. In the story, there is a forest protected from all outside malicious incursion by a witch (who can be either male or female), but the witch expends all her energy trying to maintain the magic shield and eventually expends herself entirely in the effort, but not before some new animals are able to gain entry. The witch's familiar, an owl, power-hungry, decides to take over and divide the animals into "First Ones" and refugees. He eventually uses the female lovers Renalda, a fox, and Lapine, a rabbit, as scapegoats to his new social order. Suffice to say that it all ends happily, and the witch finds a companion for herself as well. In any case, the notion of a forest "sanctuary" is a recurring one in gay literature; everyone from E. M. Forster in Maurice and various short stories, to Kenneth Grahame in The Wind in the Willows, to R. J. March in various short erotic stories ^^;, uses it. In that, this little tome wasn't all that original, and the owl's bid for social control was painfully obvious and transparent in its reference to modern society. A ham-handed attempt, yes, but a semi-sincere one, at least--I'll give Monette that benefit of the doubt.
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