This contemporary fiction/romance has received some attention. I enjoyed that Simsion uses the first person point of view from the male's perspective...moreThis contemporary fiction/romance has received some attention. I enjoyed that Simsion uses the first person point of view from the male's perspective in this romantic fiction piece. It makes for a great change and it's kind of refreshing. And the fact that Don's point of view is skewed because he suffers from Asperger's Syndrome makes this novel an even more interesting read.
Simsion uses humor, tenderness, warmth, and the main character's personal frustration to develop the romance. The reader sees Rosie from Don's perspective and, in my opinion, this distances her from the reader to a certain degree. However, Simsion does a fairly good job of letting the reader "see" Rosie. I understood Rosie's need and insecurities, but frankly when it came to Rosie falling in love with our man I found there to be a disconnect... and hmm... maybe that was on purpose. I mean, if Don could not figure out what being in love felt like, how could he recognize it in her?
Is an adult with Asperger's stereotyped in this romance? I wouldn't know, but, I do know that Simsion's novel is an enjoyable read all the way from beginning to end. Don, if not necessarily Rosie, makes it so.(less)
Tim Z. Hernandez bases his novel Mañana Means Heaven on the story of Be a Franco, the young Chicana woman Jack Karouac meets while on his way to Los A...moreTim Z. Hernandez bases his novel Mañana Means Heaven on the story of Be a Franco, the young Chicana woman Jack Karouac meets while on his way to Los Angeles from San Francisco, during his travels across the United States, and who later appears in his famed novel On the Road as Terry, or "the Mexican girl."
"Mañana," she said. "Everything'll be all right tomorrow, don't you think, Sal-honey, man?"
"Sure, baby, mañana." It was always mañana. For the next week, that was all I heard --- mañana, a lovely word and one that probably means heaven. -- On the Road by Jack Kerouac
The title of the novel is taken directly from one of the passages of Karouac's novel, but this is Bea's story, not Jack's. That is made perfectly clear from the beginning. Hernandez takes Karouac's short chapter, and following the same timeline, cleverly weaves in Bea's background and breaths life into the woman by exposing the extreme emotional and familial circumstances that pushed her into opening up to a man like Jack, a gavacho "college boy," during that particular time in her life. A time that lasted but a blink in time, but one that changed both of their lives irrevocably.
Meeting Jack gives Bea hope while she is trapped in what seems like a hopeless and desperate situation that Hernandez utilizes to build tension throughout his novel. Franco's short time with Jack changes her. It gives her the determination and resiliency that may have been there all along, but that she learns to use to become a woman who expects better for and from herself. For Jack, much later that moment in time becomes the stepping stone that helps to propel his career as a writer when the Paris Review publishes his short story "Terry, the Mexican Girl," and well, the rest is history.
If Franco and her family are well researched by Hernandez, then so are the historical details. Hernandez takes the reader to a post WWII Los Angeles that comes alive with all of its paranoia and multicultural prejudices. But nothing comes alive more than the San Joaquin Valley and the plight of the pickers -- the smell and paranoia in the tent camps, the fear of immigration raids, the hatred for the implacable owners and the need for work, the child workers, the stultifying poverty, and through Bea, the desperation.
Hernandez utilizes mañana, tomorrow, as the main theme of his novel. The word mañana represents many different things to the different people who inhabit the novel. To Bea and her brother Alex it represents the possibility of a future and the realization of a dream. To the pickers in Selma it represents the basics, work, food, a warm place to stay. If not today, tomorrow things will work out. To Jack it is always a way to gain time, to learn more, to see more. To little Albert, it comes to represent lack of money, a lack of hope. However, Hernandez also uses partings, abandonment, leaving and returning as a secondary and more subtle theme throughout the novel.
As an award winning poet and writer familiar with Franco's cultural background, Hernandez was already well equipped to write a story about Karouac's muse. However, Hernandez's research into her life and his insights into the person Franco was, into the woman she became, takes her story beyond that of a myth. (less)
Claire goes to the YMCA to attend a support group after having been diagnosed with breast cancer, instead she ends up at a group for erotica writers -...moreClaire goes to the YMCA to attend a support group after having been diagnosed with breast cancer, instead she ends up at a group for erotica writers -- this is a fabulous beginning! She meets Justin, a younger man who tells her he's there attending the AA group, not because he's an alcoholic, but to pick up women. Claire is a 40 year-old, divorced woman who dedicated her whole life to raising her son Max who just left for college. She never made time for sex or herself, and now that she's ready to begin, feels that her body has betrayed her. Justin convinces Claire that before she goes through surgery, she needs to make a wish list of sexual fantasies and go through with it, ergo the "Now or Never List" is born. Now, let's get this straight, Justin doesn't plan on being part of Claire's sexual explorations, he is to be her wingman. He plans and helps with fantasies, and in the process they become friends.
Now or Never is short, but what a fantastic short it is! I've previously enjoyed Logan Belle's works, but this is different, it's more a combination of contemporary fiction with erotica than straight up erotica. There is depth in Claire's story, a 40 year woman who has been a "mother" for so long she has forgotten what it is to be a woman. She comes off as a woman with real fears, doubts and lacking in confidence -- all of this resonated with me, like part of a normal stage that women go through at some point in their lives. Justin is the mystery here. The male who you want to throttle one moment, but really makes you think the next. I cannot wait to see what happens next.(less)
In His Secret Life is a fantastic romance with forbidden love, sexual tension, intense yearning, and angst. It's one of those all-encompassing, sweepi...moreIn His Secret Life is a fantastic romance with forbidden love, sexual tension, intense yearning, and angst. It's one of those all-encompassing, sweeping, lasting romantic love stories between two men who are also selfish enough to cheat and lie to be together. They pay a high price, but in the end find their way back to love. The execution in this romance is fantastic, as Bossa follows through with all the characters, the choices, consequences, life and love. My favorite LGBT romance of the year to date... I highly recommend it.
I picked up The Tilted World because the setting and time period caught my attention. The whole story takes place during the "Great Mississippi Flood...moreI picked up The Tilted World because the setting and time period caught my attention. The whole story takes place during the "Great Mississippi Flood of 1927" in the fictional town of Hobnob, by Greenville, Mississippi. It's really a love story (a romance with a happy ending) that takes place between a bootlegger and the government man who came to town to make an arrest. There's murder, betrayal, saboteurs, an orphaned baby, and a flood that would change the course of history.
What I loved and remember the most are the historical fiction details in this book. There were also times when I enjoyed the suspense and different characters, plus the joint writing by Franklin and Fennelly is quite good. However, there was a lack of plausibility to the story as a whole that kept it from becoming more than a solid read. On the other hand, the romance, for some reason, worked for me. It is one of those warm love stories that seems to fit with time and place. I recommend it if you're looking for something different that will keep you reading. I read it in one sitting.(less)
This is one of the most gruesomely violent books I've ever read. The writing is fantastic -- sparse, tight, yet so freaking descriptive. It's like he...moreThis is one of the most gruesomely violent books I've ever read. The writing is fantastic -- sparse, tight, yet so freaking descriptive. It's like he punches you with words one minute and just lulls you with beauty the next. The worse part of it, and the most effective, is when the beauty of his words calmly and nonchalantly describe the horror and violence that humans achieve without even trying. Mr. McCarthy's perspective of the human condition and the lack of humanity in his portrayal of the historical American West is rather daunting.(less)
There are places that exude an atmosphere of casual sensuality that can be felt, smelled, and tasted. The residents of such places absorb the atmosphe...moreThere are places that exude an atmosphere of casual sensuality that can be felt, smelled, and tasted. The residents of such places absorb the atmosphere like sponges until they become part of the place and the place becomes part of them. The City of New Orleans is such a place. In his collection of loosely related short stories, Desire: Tales of New Orleans, William Sterling Walker captures the essence of this city until, with its strong presence and influence, New Orleans takes center stage and breaths life into each and every character. Walker's beautiful integration of music -- classical, jazz, 80's pop -- and art adds to the overall sense of time and place, capturing moments, depth of feeling, and often creating the illusion of a written snapshot suspended in time.
Walker's descriptions of New Orleans are also intrinsically connected to themes found in his collection, -- with "connection" the most prevalent theme throughout -- to the character's conflicts, and to their personal desires. The heat and oppressive humidity may be connected to voracious or subtle physical needs. The stagnation of a place where the past is present may be found in conflicts faced by quite a few of the men, and the gravitational pull that the city exerts on its denizens as if it were a living entity is mirrored in the friendships and relationships between the characters.
The word desire, as in the title of the book, usually brings to mind sexual want or hunger. Humans, however, desire much more from each other than the physical and Walker incorporates both in his stories. He breathes life into his stories through his characters, the friendships they share, their loves, losses, needs and desires. Moments, events, conversations, assignations, paralyzing fear, pain and regret, all become connected through friendships and hookups in a pre-Katrina gay community that learned early about tragic loss while experiencing the plague years.
I first read Walker's short story "Farewell to Wise's" in the Best Gay Stories 2013 anthology and what really struck me about it at the time, what made me love it, was the fact that the place and characters became real to me. I found that same quality in the rest of his stories. Walker develops intimate interactions and dialog between his characters, slowly revealing layers and, in the process, giving them a depth that becomes an essential part of his portrayals. This development leads readers to become fully invested in both the characters and the conflicts they face.
I know I will reread this book for a couple of reasons. Throughout the time it took me to read it, and after, I fell asleep in New Orleans thinking about the characters and woke up the next day in New Orleans still communing with them. But, most importantly, Desire: Tales of New Orleans is a book that strongly reminded me of the "why" behind my love for short stories. Highly recommended.(less)
If this book was a movie, it would fall under the "tear jerker" category. Relentlessly sad with three dimensional characters that pulled me in and und...moreIf this book was a movie, it would fall under the "tear jerker" category. Relentlessly sad with three dimensional characters that pulled me in and under until the end. So yes, this is a great read, but I could not help but be relieved when it finally ended. Augustus and Hazel Grace. Memorable characters. (less)