A long time ago I resigned myself to the fact that you can make art for the sake of money or art to fulfill the need to create art. In Bad Idea, Damon...moreA long time ago I resigned myself to the fact that you can make art for the sake of money or art to fulfill the need to create art. In Bad Idea, Damon Suede illustrates this conundrum, this dichotomy between art to pay the rent and mysterious, beautiful, sexy art, in the romance between Trip Spector and Silas Goolsby, two men who make a living as artists and who walk the line between selling out and selling their brilliance to the world.
The book itself is a tribute to the act of creation. The two men, who swim the layers of several artistic media, speak the language and breathe the air of art. Every sentence of dialog, every moment of description was written and distilled, pressurized, into verbal diamonds, the pinnacle of the matter, beautiful examples of pop-culture, artistic theory, and the people who have to use these intangible ideas to feed themselves and pay the rent.
I was in awe of this book. I was jealous of Suede’s verbal mastery, of his skillful artistic allegory. Silas was larger than life—an archetypal hero, and, at the same time, very dear, very vulnerable, and very real. Trip was neurotic, cerebral, and brilliant—and capable of making a very cold-blooded decision to choose the mistress of art over the flesh and blood lover who inspired him.
Even the language of love-making was symbolic—raw, sticky, sometimes off-putting images were used when the two men touched, all the better to create human lovers, with “stupid human things” involved when their animal bodies were overcome with emotion. These images were juxtaposed with the plasticity of art without soul and the gorgeous, mysterious, sublime imagery of the art that Trip created with Scratch, and the result was a romance that students can write papers on, a piece of art that makes us root for a happy ending, a basket of literary diamonds that can be culled for the shiniest gems.
Of course, let the reader be wary—distilled diamonds are lovely and give a reader faith that art and romance can copulate and become one in the same, but they are not comfortable under bare feet. In order to read this book be prepared to slip on your thinking shoes and find your path carefully. This book was written for people who believe that romance is a true form of literature, and that pop art can give us glimpses into the ethereal beauty that is the sticky, awkward, sometimes compassionate and sometimes cruel human race. Trip and Silas make mistakes, and hurt each other—that’s human. Our pain for them when these human errors break what’s best in them becomes sublime.
The measure of art is not that it is easy to process, or that it’s accessible to all of the world. This was a beautiful book—but it can’t be read in a day. It needs to be savored, and the word diamonds need to be given their chance to shine. (less)
Duncan's macho swagger was a perfect foil for Aaron's assumption that HE was master of the universe. The action/adventure was pitch perfect, and the e...moreDuncan's macho swagger was a perfect foil for Aaron's assumption that HE was master of the universe. The action/adventure was pitch perfect, and the emotional resonances were touching--I believed in these two men, and I believed that together they were unstoppable. And can I just talk about the sex? NOBODY writes better sex than Mary Calmes--it's neither too detailed nor too cliched, but it just leaves me shaking with the feeling of want. I loved this couple--and even though Sam and Jory are my boos, Duncan and Aaron are DEFINITELY my friends. And I have to say, this was a tough sell for me, initially-- I was NOT impressed by Aaron's character when he was seen with Jory in the AMOT books. But once he's found a real match for himself, in temperament and force of will, he allowed himself to be vulnerable--and much more human. Jory's hummingbird disposition was not what Aaron needed. Duncan's battered tomcat was a much better fit. (less)
This was a lovely little novella, delicately wrought, with lush, succulent prose. It was an English major's (and philosophy major's!) treat, with reso...moreThis was a lovely little novella, delicately wrought, with lush, succulent prose. It was an English major's (and philosophy major's!) treat, with resonant ideas of art and interpretation as interlocked with poetry and scholarship as the titular "horn gate" etched on the ancient tome of the book within a book.
Kubla Kahn has ever been one of my favorite poems, and to see Isaac captured by the idea (and Coleridge's original purpose) that the demon isn't bad and isn't good, he is simply an extension of the purer moments of humanity was really a delight. And in the midst of this higher level literary dance, we're also humbled by the most painful parts of being human--the extra weight, the skin problems, the social awkwardness--and I, for one, was as seduced as Isaac to see these painful reminders of imperfection sanded away by knowledge and enlightenment so that the inner angel could shine through.
I know that much has been made of this as an introduction to a larger series, but the structure was pure, perfect short story. The ambiguity of the ending gave us room to conjecture and imagine, and the many intricate layers of Suede's filigree prose gave us so VERY many things to conjecture and imagine about. I'm going to be musing on this one for a while, and for me, that was always the most potent thing about a short story. If it was well written, well conceptualized, it was like pure, concentrated literary power.
Mary's craft continues to grow. The only person in love with Sivan in this narrative was Walter, and Sivan wasn't always right. Whereas an earlier cha...moreMary's craft continues to grow. The only person in love with Sivan in this narrative was Walter, and Sivan wasn't always right. Whereas an earlier character like Jory might have jumped into family situation with two feet, Sivan had a foot and a half out the door. The relationship was patched up vignette by vignette, and not in one fell crisis, and the feeling of middle age was skillfully done. This was a novella, so there were some moments of growth that were off page, but we could see the growth from on-screen moment to on-screen moment, which is a storyteller's best trick.
I loved this. It was sweet, and short, and it made me happy. (less)
Solidly characterized, wistfully written, this book gives you a playful view to the Edwardian era in which Egyptology and obscure science held a mysti...moreSolidly characterized, wistfully written, this book gives you a playful view to the Edwardian era in which Egyptology and obscure science held a mystical appeal, men were men and woman had all sorts of strange notions about equality. It's a classic resurrection story, in which the thing you're bringing back is way worse than the loss itself, and Percival Whyborne is an engaging, prickly hero. His painful isolation is rudely interrupted by one Griffin Flaherty, haunted ex-Pinkerton agent who has no respect for boundaries, but plenty of respect for Percival. The love scenes are sweet and passionate, and the word precision is a thing of beauty. Gorgeous book. I downloaded Hainted before I was even done with this one, because I knew I'd want to read more. (less)