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The Catch Trap

4.17  ·  Rating Details ·  1,484 Ratings  ·  147 Reviews
Tommy Zane hates lions, a major obstacle in a family of lion tamers. But Tommy's dreams--and talent--fly higher, up in the rigging with the trapeze. When rising star Mario Santelli offers him flying lessons, it looks like the start of wonderful new life, and to Tommy's surprise, his relationship with Mario deepens even as his skill soars in the rigging. But life in the 194 ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 691 pages
Published 1986 by Sphere (first published January 1st 1979)
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John Goode
Dec 26, 2014 John Goode rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book every year.

It is like a vacation for me, I take time, set it aside and go visit Tommy and Matt for a few weeks. Every year it is different, every year it is the same. Every year I cry, every year I fall in love. There is so much magic in this book it s impossible to explain with just words, which is ironic since the magic was made with words but I digress.

A tale of two trapeze artists told in the backdrop of Post World War II, this book spans years and years of Tommy and Matt an
Sala Bim
Sep 14, 2013 Sala Bim rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I just can't believe how disappointed I am with this book. I searched for it for so long and when I finally found it and read it I just...I can't adequately explain how I feel. I won't lament too much though & I will try not to include spoilers. I acknowledge beforehand that this is only my meager opinion.
Marion ZB was obviously a talented writer, and I have enjoyed some of her other works, but as a gay, male reader, I found this piece so poorly done, so brutal, even offensive at times, t
Sep 21, 2010 Calen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is hands down, the best book I've ever read with gay men as the main characters. It's honestly a masterpiece of gay literature. This is the story of love and romance between Mario and Tommy, two circus flyers, and everything that happens around them. It's so original, so creative, and so expertly written. The details and descriptions put into this are excellent and reading it was almost surreal. I was in love with it from the first chapter and didn't want it to end. I wish there were more b ...more
May 25, 2010 Erastes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gay-historical
As a fan of circus stories, and someone who has been so since a little kid, this was something I was really looking forward to. I had very few preconceptions, as I didn’t know what era it was set in or whether it had a romance ending, or anything. I love films such as Trapeze (I saw the homoerotic subtext in there, even before I discovered gay romance) and The Greatest Show on Earth so as I say I was happy to jump in to The Catch Trap.

And overall I wasn’t disappointed. Tommy Zane is the young so
Sep 22, 2015 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is by far one of the best stories I've ever read ! You get so much more than just a simple love story that all of us have read 1000 times in one way or another. Tommy and Matt are not in any way perfect. They live in a world where being gay is unacceptable and where you can be put into jail if you are not careful and yet both men find each other in a world full of wonder and imagination that is called the circus. We get to know the entire Santelli family and I felt like I was dragged i ...more
Jan 18, 2017 Martin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I actually read this several years ago and haven't done a proper review for it at the time.

Looking back to it now, I still remember how much this story impressed me.
Tommy joining the Santelli circus to assist Mario Santelli on the trapeze with both guys developing feelings for each other over the years in a time before gay relationships were even 'a thing' almost broke me apart.

This book is very dark at times, but mainly it is an epos about an Italian family and two very complicated people worki
Jun 10, 2011 Zahra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are so many reason why I shouldn't love this book, but the simple truth is I couldn't put it down.
It's not an easy read. Tommy, the character whose POV is mostly used, is, at fifteen, young and naive, and so very much in love with Mario, his trapeze mentor who is about eight years older than him.
Mario is a hard person to love, though. He's self-destructive and full of self-loathing, despite being an immensely talented flyer and a natural teacher.

I love the time setting (forties and fiftie
João Roque
Jan 27, 2015 João Roque rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, gays, narrativa
Tanta, mas tanta coisa a dizer sobre esta obra prima de Marion Zimmer Bradley e eu pouco vou dizer.
Apenas que "Salto Mortal" é um dos mais admiráveis livros que já li, me emocionou e empolgou totalmente.
É um "grande" livro, e em todos os sentidos, pois se antes de iniciar a sua leitura, o seu tamanho me intimidava um pouco, no final o único incómodo das suas mais de 800 páginas foi o volume do livro não o permitir ler da melhor forma em certos lugares, nomeadamente na cama.
Quando conseguir arrum
Jul 28, 2014 Moureco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: queer
Um livro magnífico, é o que me ocorre comentar. O trabalho de pesquisa da autora deve ter sido imenso, tal o domínio da arte do trapézio que se percebe na escrita. Os voadores Mário e Tommy apaixonam-se, discutem, lutam, desaparecem das vidas um do outro (não sem consequências), mas o amor que nutrem um pelo outro sobrevive a tudo e ao tempo em que estão separados. Além desta história nuclear, lemos a saga familiar de uma família de trapezistas, os amores e desamores dos seus elementos, os seus ...more
May 16, 2007 Rory rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have reread this book many many times... It takes place during the 20's and 30's in the life of a circus performer and the family that he joins to become a famous trapezee artist. This is an amazing look at circus history over several decades as well as about love both romantic and familial. It was one of the best books ever.
Jun 05, 2009 Jeff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this as a teenager decades ago. It was the first or one of the very first, books with gay characters and positive ones at that. I holds a special place in my heart.
A.M. Riley
Jun 26, 2010 A.M. Riley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm interested in what other writers of GLBT think of Marion Zimmer Bradley. I feel almost as if a piece of her got blown into my heart a decade ago. Like a dandelion gone to seed.

The Mists of Avalon was the first Arthurian legend based book that answered the need I had to see strong female characters in my favorite myth. Poor old Lord Tennyson had pretty much destroyed the women of the Round Table for me. Mindless idiots and evil witches. The Mists of Avalon was a sort of redemption.

Bradley was
Feb 07, 2016 Stephen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any gay man interested in pre-stonewall gay life
Recommended to Stephen by: blind luck
Tommy Zane is leading a life that many kids dream of in this depression era America. His Dad is a big cat trainer and he and his dad and mom are making a comfortable living as circus folk. Though Tommy must water the occasional elephant, help in the rigging of the big tents and even fill-in for one of the girls in a flying ring act, every day's an adventure. But recently Tommy is enthralled by the royalty of the circus, the Flying Santellis, the circus's world famous Flying Trapeze attraction. A ...more
Oct 06, 2009 Samantha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama-angst
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Madison Parker
Absolutely captivating. This book had me completely immersed in this fascinating world of circus performers. I've actually woken up the past two mornings realizing that I had just been dreaming about these characters; that's how completely absorbed I have become in this story. These two men and the story of their love and dedication to each other and to their art has deeply moved me. There were at least three different points in the story where I was in tears because of the emotional intensity. ...more
Jose Santos
May 15, 2015 Jose Santos rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: treasures
The best book I ever read.
Mel Bossa
Jan 09, 2017 Mel Bossa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This story, no matter how flawed it was at times, will stay with me forever. I adore Tommy and his loving patience and devotion carried his tortured lover Mario through their tulmutuous affair with each other and the circus. How could I forget the Flying Santellis? This was a beautiful, detailed and finely crafted novel. yes, in some places it dragged and at times the self deprecating was heavy, but the lovers grow and learn and in the end the magic of the story comes together in the last few ch ...more
The Catch Trap was an incredibly moving story and I really liked it much. Below are a few of my random thoughts. For a far more insightful analysis I suggest you check out Teddy Pig’s review, he’s the reason I spent considerable time ringing 2nd hand book shops around the country trying to get hold of it! Which is what good reviews do, they should illustrate that the novel has touched someone in some way and give you, the reader, some impetus to whip out your much abused credit card.

So, in short
Apr 14, 2016 Cam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, glbt
The Catch Trap, AKA The Book That Ate My Life.

This is not a short book. Going by word count, it's about as long as The Deathly Hallows. But I devoured this book in only two days, and when I wasn't reading it, my hands itched for it. The word I would use is "ensnaring". The only time I glanced at the page numbers was out of fear for the story ending too soon, rather than tediously counting how many pages I had left to suffer through. There was never a moment that I wasn't thoroughly invested in t
Aug 17, 2012 Erulisse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was recommended to read this as an early entry into LGBT literature. Knowing that I have enjoyed other books by this author, I was looking forward to it. I never dreamed how much I would enjoy this. It's not erotica, most of the sexual escapades are not explicit at all. But the relationship that she develops between the two main characters is human, fallible, and rings true. They are each other's lifelines, and when they fully realize that along with their place in each other's lives as well a ...more
Dec 19, 2009 Melody rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book. It's a wonderful, heart-wrenching story about a pair of circus trapeze artists who fall in love. The problem is they are both men, and it's the forties. Things do not go smoothly. It's a riveting story and a departure for Bradley, who wrote mostly sci-fi. The characters are achingly real.

There's so much here, both about aerialists, their process and art, and about pre-Stonewall gay men, that one forgives the occasionally purple prose, the claustrophobic angst, and only sees the
Apr 13, 2015 Margarida rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A ficção decorre nos anos quarenta e cinquenta do século passado, numa América intolerante e preconceituosa, sendo um excelente e dramático romance sobre o amor entre dois homens, a que se junta uma pesquisa rigorosa sobre a arte do trapézio e o universo do circo daquelas décadas.
A narrativa é fluida e a autora conseguiu captar as emoções, medos e pressões do casal de trapezistas, sendo um deles originário de uma família italiana católica.
I think I'm going to have a hard time expressing how I felt about this book. Parts were magical and drug me right in. The author did a great job show casing the time period they lived in and the life in a traveling circus. I had an issue with more than one thing in this book though and in the end it was how blasted long it was that most impacted my rating. It just felt like it went on and on (and on.)

The story focuses on Tommy, a teen who's parents are lion tamers in a traveling circus. Tommy h
Mar 23, 2013 Radu rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I didn't know what to expect from this book when I started reading it, I just picked it from a "best gay literature" list. The first chapters weren't that interesting and I was even considering putting it down. But it caught my interest when Tommy went to live with the Santellis and just got better and better until I was waiting my whole day for the moment I'll get to immerse myself again in the wonderful story of love between Tommy and Mario.
I am always careful about reading gay literature abou
Jami Ouellette
Jul 12, 2011 Jami Ouellette rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book when it first came out in paperback, because I loved MZB and just knew that this would be as wonderful as her fantasy stuff, even without knowing what the story was about. I read it through in huge gulps, needing to know how the story would resolve itself, finished it and re-read it, and it was just as good the second time. In the years following, I read it over and over, each time finding something in there that convinced me again what a strong story it was. Unfortunately I len ...more
Dec 22, 2011 Praxis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book has been on my mind ever since I first read it. At first, I was kind of worried it was going to be too confusing since acrobatics aren't something I'm very familiar with, but the book explains enough about it to make everything easy to understand without taking away from the flow of the story. The characters all have their own personalities and you grow as close to them as you would a family; worrying and laughing with them. I found the book easy to get into and once I was in there, I ...more
Maggie Anton
Sep 28, 2015 Maggie Anton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful storytelling. Bradley not only brings the traveling circus world to vivid life, but all the characters as well. The gay sex scenes, while not graphic, capture the lust, love, and shame beautifully. I would have given this novel 5 stars but I disliked all the fighting; maybe the 1940-50's circus life was that rough & tumble, and maybe brothers did fight each other a lot in Italian families, but it was too much for me. While I love a happy ending and was both glad and relieved that " ...more
Apr 10, 2011 Lynda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was somewhat surprised when I first read this book. It was the story of two men who fell in love when one was a young teenager. It follows them through life through struggles to acceptance. Set in the forties and fifties, we also get a good look at circus life. The main characters are aerialists who become the best in the world, but never get away from the stresses caused by their sexuality.

Smith Barney
Classic oldie but goodie authored by a phenomenally gifted voice of one of my favorite legendary Arthurian/Camelot writers. This is a beautifully-labored homosexual love saga in a sweeping circus life setting strife with traditional family dysfunctional conflict, with several undercurrent dynamics throughout the story.

Minor sidenote; no f'ing sex, which sucks a deflated dick.
Nov 04, 2014 Benjamin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gay-fiction
Circus raised red headed and freckled Tommy Zane is fourteen years old when he begins to achieve his dream ambition, the year is 1944. The son of a circus lion tamer, he has little interest in continuing in his father’s footsteps but is intent on being a flyer on the high trapeze. When twenty two year old Mario Santelli, youngest member of the Flying Santellis invites him to try out on the trapeze it is the beginnings of everything Tommy will ever live for.
The dark and handsome Mario is a hard t
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Marion Eleanor Zimmer Bradley was an American author of fantasy novels such as The Mists of Avalon and the Darkover series, often with a feminist outlook.

Bradley's first published novel-length work was Falcons of Narabedla, first published in the May 1957 issue of Other Worlds. When she was a child, Bradley stated that she enjoyed reading adventure fantasy authors such as Henry Kuttner, Edmond Ham
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“If he knew, if he was told in so many words, he would have to do the conventional thing, he would have to express the conventional shock and horror. But knowing without analyzing, knowing in a place that went deeper than words, he could see it, know it, accept it.” 4 likes
“But I mind," Bart said savagely. "I'd like to see a world where I could have my picture taken, say, with Tommy on my lap if I want to. For every woman who got upset because I wasn't, shall we say, available for her romantic daydreams, there's be some young kid reading the papers and going to movies, and he'd be able to stop hating himself and say, 'Okay Bart Reeder is queer, and he's happy and successful, and he's getting along okay, so maybe I don't have to go out and hang myself after all.' And the suicide rate would go down, and everybody would be happy” 0 likes
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