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~生まれた町で夢見てきた...~
"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
Van Allen's Ecstasy by Jim Tushinski 
19th-Mar-2006 11:59 pm
Siesta
Heh. Someone needs to write a novel entirely in blog format...

Tushinski, Jim. Van Allen's Ecstasy. New York: Southern Tier Editions, 2004.
Summary: The only "normal" member of an extraordinarily gifted family, Michael Van Allen has lost his memory. As he emerges from the mental hospital trying to recover his own life, he discovers that he was a horribly dissatisfied man nurturing insanity in the form of hallucinations of the composer Scriabin and and delusions of gradeur, driving away his family and his boyfriend Paul.
Comments: Better than I expected but not nearly as good as I had hoped. Michael's dissatisfaction with his apparent lack of talent was much more poignant and convincing than his abrupt descent into schizophrenia in the latter half of the novel. Though Tushinski claims that he was inspired to this novel by records of a gay man who had been institutionalized in the 60's, Michael's sexual orientation (not to mention Scriabin's) seems mostly incidental to the narrative--it's just one more way that he differs from his gifted, successful fantasy that makes them scorn him all the more. And if the implication is that Scriabin was gifted because of or in spite of his homosexual desire or if the author was attempting to make some point by comparing Michael to the Russian, it wasn't done well because I got nothing profound from that. The bulk of the story was written as a diary of uninspired technique. All in all, given that I can't really call it "gay fiction" and the only real reason to read this book, even though the novel isn't edgy enough to be a mystery thriller, is to find out exactly what happened...which, for me, is a superficial gimmick at best.
Notes: trade paperback, 1st edition
Rating: 5.5/10 - I've no clue who this novel's audience should be, but if you think your a member of it, go for it. Otherwise, save your time for other pursuits.
Comments 
20th-Mar-2006 03:27 pm (UTC) - Van Allen's Ecstasy
Interesting. I was at the Pink Triangle Publishing book fair in NYC around the time this novel first came out (in 2004). It seemed like it would be a totally fascinating read (although, for whatever reason, I never did get around to actually buying it).

I subsequently read a couple of interviews with Tushinski, one of which was a four way discussion/interview with three other gay male authors (Trebor Healey, included) and Tushinski seemed very arrogant and full of himself. One of the questions they put to all four men was how they defined a writer of queer fiction and he was the only one who maintained, unequivocally, that straight people should NEVER write fiction about gay characters. I found that odd. I mean, think about it - if all writers restricted their fiction to characters that were exactly like themselves then all novels would be very homogenous. Do I have the right to say that men can NEVER write women characters? Or if I were to write a novel, I could not include blacks or Asians or Jews? What about people living in red states? Can I write about them? How far does one take this limitation? Or is it only restricted to gay writers and gay characters because he feels he has a personal stake there?

20th-Mar-2006 04:36 pm (UTC) - Re: Van Allen's Ecstasy
It seemed like it would be a totally fascinating read (although, for whatever reason, I never did get around to actually buying it).

It wasn't. Save your money. >_<

How far does one take this limitation? Or is it only restricted to gay writers and gay characters because he feels he has a personal stake there?

Ah, that's a sore point for me. I've been told off in public (on this LJ) by a gay man who thinks I've no right to even READ gay fiction (nevermind write it, which I don't do). Pissed me off majorly 'cause he's an anime/manga fan, and he sure as hell isn't Japanese, Asian, or even in the various series' target age demographic.

I see no reason why people can't write anything they want to as long as they're not being willfully deceptive...and whether what they accomplish is worthwhile or not, well, the readers will decide that.
20th-Mar-2006 07:51 pm (UTC)
The cover makes me twitch. He looks like one of those religious fanatics.
20th-Mar-2006 08:23 pm (UTC)
Correct interpretation. The protagonist gets caught up in all this weird psuedo-Hindu, I AM GOD shit. (The schizophrenia taking over, natch.)
1st-Apr-2006 01:25 pm (UTC)
Review archived.
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