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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
A Scarecrow's Bible by Martin Hyatt 
16th-Jan-2007 01:37 am
Hyatt, Martin. A Scarecrow's Bible. San Francisco: Suspect Thoughts Press, 2006.
          Summary: Tormented by memories of the Vietnam War and addicted to psychotropic drugs, Gary doesn't have the willpower to tell his wife that he's gay and stop the downward spiral of their marriage. So she leaves him for a cop, and Gary, feeling suddenly liberated, finds a younger male lover named Zachary. Unfortunately, his new romance becomes the talk of the town, embarrassing his wife and her aspiring husband. He shoots Zachary right before Gary's eyes. But at least Gary still has other people he loves--his daughter Lula, who has found love of her own, and his ex-wife, who, though now emotionally fragile, still cares for him as well--and has accepted his identity as a homosexual man.
          Comments: Oh, you've no idea how ready I was to hate this Deep South version of "Brokeback Mountain." Though the writing style, in this novel's case a gimmicky if effective second person, couldn't have been more different, the basic plotline was, at least right up until the very end, depressingly similar. Closeted gay guy separates from his wife and ends up in a serious relationship with an openly gay man. Society censures their behavior, and the openly gay man is killed, leaving the closeted guy to grieve. I was THIS CLOSE *pinches fingers together* to be once again righteously outraged by the false dichotomy of a safe life in the closet versus violent death by hate crime out of it...and then Hyatt tosses a wrench into a story that would otherwise have driven his debut novel straight into a ditch by revealing a (belated) third option for Gary: If he had been more honest with his wife, he would not have driven her away straight into the arms of the man that goes on to kill his new boyfriend. Cruelty begets cruelty; he, Gina, and their daughter Lula are bound by history and affection, and he was foolish to ignore it while being tormented by other types of history. In short, the relationship between them does not have to be a traditional one, but it must be HEALTHY. Gary learns this, albeit too late to save Zachary (who, unfortunately, is as much of a symbol as he is a realistically-developed character).
          Notes: hardcover, exclusive BCE; PBO edition also available
          Rating: 7/10 - Unsparing but humane, tragic love with the hope of redemption...you know the routine. Quite enjoyable.
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