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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
I didn't really sleep last night. T_T 
4th-Jan-2006 11:02 am
Yep, that's right. I was up all night again engrossed in the pages of an enrapturingly-good book. I guess I'm having pretty good luck this week, or something, with my picks.

Anyway, I'm not sure what's going to be up next on the list, but, as I said earlier, I'm catching up one new (at least for me!) works by authors I've already read this week.

(Hey, my "twins" icon! Perfect for a book about twins! XD )

Lowenthal, Michael. The Same Embrace. New York: Dutton, 1998.
Summary: The twin brothers Jacob and Jonathan have become estranged as they got older; Jonathan has converted to Orthodox Judaism and is making a life for himself in Israel, while Jacob is an activist, out gay man looking for love. Rebounding from the death of his friend Marty from AIDS, Jacob travels to Israel in order to "rescue" his twin from the brainwashing but instead gets caught sleeping around in the yeshiva. In the wake of their grandmother's debilitating stroke, Jacob meets the aunt he never knew and learns that he had a gay uncle who was left behind to the horrors of the Holocaust. He also, it seems, reaches a sort of truce with his brother.
Comments: A gorgeous novel that deftly unites issues of spirituality, sexuality, and family with unassuming simplicity. For example, Jacob's need to remember historical tragedy becomes associated with his need to justify his own existence, to have his own "history," as it were, as a gay man. Though in some ways similar to the later Avoidance in the ways it negotiates the lines dividing tradition from trangression, I suspect Lowenthal's debut novel is more explicitly personal. Also, the "transgression" here is far more easy to forgive and, to some, might not seem like a trespass at all, given society's increasing openness toward homosexuality. Though there is a bit in the beginning of the novel that flirts with conflation of love between (twin) brothers and homoerotic desire, we're not talking pedophilia here. (Yaoi fans should love it. >_< ) Incidentally, Jacob's boyfriend Danny is underage (seventeen), but it's a far cry from summer camp fantasies, and the two men are deeply in love. Heck, Danny puts up with a lot when it comes to Jacob's insecurities and various hang-ups. About the only gripe I have here is that the ending could have been a lot stronger. Sure, the novel recapitulates the image of the embrace, and the brothers embrace at the end, but for whatever reason the ending just sort of petered out. Ah well. The greater tragedy is that Lowenthal is not a more prolific novelist; I want to read more, but more just ain't out there. T_T
Notes: hardcover, 1st edition, out-of-print
Rating: 8/10 - Though this novel is out-of-print, the reading is worth every second's worth of energy you expend locating a copy for yourself. Trust me.
30th-Jan-2006 09:10 pm (UTC)
Review archived.
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