Thursday, August 30, 2018

Gay Authors/Books that Inspire Me: The Empty Family by Colm Tóibín


Colm Tóibín, a gay author and the Leonard Milberg Lecturer in Irish Studies at Princeton University, is one of my favorite storytellers. His prose is superlative and his imagination captivates me. One of his best works, in my opinion, is his collection of short stories called The Empty Family

These exquisitely written stories, set in present-day Ireland, 1970s Spain and nineteenth-century England, are about people linked by love, loneliness and desire. Tóibín is a master at portraying mute emotions and intense intimacies that remain unacknowledged and unspoken. His characters are often difficult and combative, compelled to disguise their vulnerability and longings until he unmasks them.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Gay Authors/Books that Inspire Me: A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood


A Single Man is the story of George, a gay, middle-aged expatriate Englishman now teaching at a California university. Consumed with grief of the recent death of the young man he has lived with and loved, George resolutely persists in the routine of his daily life, which includes becoming very close with one of his students. Behind his British reserve, tides of grief, rage, and loneliness surge—but all this emotion reveals a man in love with being alive despite all the everyday injustices. 

This is an undeniably overwhelming, unnerving, brilliant book. I found it a moving portrayal of a gay man in maturity and also a meditation on life as an outsider. Isherwood writes about love, loss, acceptance, and grief in a way that is as profound as it is engrossing. It eloquently speaks a message of accepting the uniqueness of each individual and living each day as if it is your last. Each time I read it I discover something new and wonderous. 

Friday, August 17, 2018

Gay Authors/Books that Inspire Me: Maurice by E.M. Forster


Forster completed Mauricein 1914, but it was not published until 1971. It tells the story of Maurice Hall, an undergraduate at Cambridge before World War I who discovers that he is homosexual. The manuscript was found in Forester’s rooms at Cambridge after his death in 1970. “Publishable,” a note on the manuscript in his own handwriting said, “but worth it?” Acclaim for the novel on its publication firmly answered Forster’s question, but perhaps it was fortunate that it didn’t come out until general attitudes toward homosexuals became more enlightened.

Forster was one of the greatest writers of our time, a true craftsman of the modern novel. And Mauriceis one of his most powerful works. It’s an extraordinary work to have been written when it was, honest, compassionate, and sympathetic, with rich and beautiful prose that was common in all of Forster’s novels. Mauriceis rich in its subtle intelligence, beautifully controlled in its development, deeply moving. It is a masterpiece of an exceptional artist working at the peak of his creative powers. 

It is a book I’ve read several times, and will no doubt continue to read again and again.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Book Review: Surviving Immortality by Alan Chin




Reviewer: Edward C. Patterson
Publisher: DSP Publications (June 2018)
Pages: 432

★★★★★
Powerfully fast-moving with now-relevancy

I know I can rely on a good read whenever I open a book by Alan Chin; and Surviving Immortality is no exception, except it is exceptional. With a believable spark, Mr. Chin presents us with a world devouring itself when promise has given it its greatest loss for hope. All the inchoate faults of humanity, ready today to strike our civilization to the core, leeches out when confronted by a mind shattering development and a simple, lethal condition. Surviving Immortality is masterfully rendered into a work long lingering after the last pages.
The characters are complex, each with their own demon, but honest to their convictions; so much so, there are no heroes, and those who appear villainous can be redeemed by their good intentions. The main thread of the story his told through Matt Reece’s point of view, although all the characters get their turn; but it is Matt’s intense purity, a purity despoiled by circumstances, which unfolds like a night flower in moonlight. Alan Chin crafts an action adventure and psychological political philosophical tale, if there could be such a genre, keeping the pages turning until those pages disappear and time is lost. The elements in the work, and those effecting Matt Reece, are all about us today just waiting for the spark to ignite them. Mr. Chin strikes that spark.
I am a fan of Alan Chin’s other works, but this one combines all the signature touches of them all — ranch life, storms at sea, tropical islands, police procedural, Buddhism, sexuality and a lust for travel. He even includes doffs to his latest wanderlust — Machu Picchu. The world he presents is hisworld as much as ourworld. The arguments are current ones, and I’ll not spoil your read by mentioning them, but whatever opinions you have on those topics, Surviving Immortalitywill not fail to engage you, even if you wind up talking to your night light at midnight in bed. 
Needless to say (but I will say it), I highly recommend this book if you enjoy a powerful fast-moving work with now-relevancy from a major author who contributes to our contemporary literary legacy.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Book Review: Less by Andrew Sean Green


Reviewer: Alan Chin
Publisher: Back Bay Books / Little, Brown and Company (May 2018)
Pages: 261
★★★★★

A Magical Adventure

Arthur Less is a little-known novelist about to turn fifty. He receives a wedding invitation from his ex-boyfriend of nine years, a younger man who he is still in love with. He decides it would be too painful to attend the wedding, yet if he doesn’t it will be an admission of defeat to his ex and to all their friends. What to do? Accept a handful of half-baked literary events scattered around the globe so he’ll be out of town when the wedding occurs. What could go wrong?

The answer, Arthur Less finds as he journeys to Mexico, Italy, Germany, Morocco, India, and Japan, is everything!

A romance, a satire on Americans abroad, a musing on success, aging, and the human heart. Lessshows a man blundering through a low point in his life, and along the way he continually raises the curtain on our shared human comedy.

Being both an aging writer and a world traveler, I became engrossed in this Pulitzer Prize winning novel on page one, and had to slow my reading because I wanted to savor the experience for as long as possible. I can’t remember the last time I’ve enjoyed a book this much. Greer seamlessly blends humor with sharp poignancy. The writing is elegantly laced with wit, as much as the story is fortified with wonderfully interesting characters.  

Less goes on my shelve containing all the beloved books I read over and over.