The self-publishing bubble has not only created some new names as surprising best-sellers, it has also loaded genre lists on Amazon and B&N with aThe self-publishing bubble has not only created some new names as surprising best-sellers, it has also loaded genre lists on Amazon and B&N with a whole lot of crap. I've been burnt so frequently since buying my Kindle that I won't buy anything anymore if I haven't previewed it. So, yesterday, I was doing a whole lot of previewing when I came across this story, and I was pleasantly surprised. Only my glancing up at the clock at 1:00am last night prevented me from reading it in one sitting.
If you read reviews about this book, you'll roll your eyes and think, "Okay, typical gay male fantasy - gay guy falls in love with straight guy - things happen, and they live happily ever after (or at least have a really hot roll in the hay)." Author Ben Monopoli knows that's what you're going to think, so you spend the first several minutes getting to know the protagonist - Vince, a geek out of college a few years, managing a comic store with two other geeks, one with whom there seems to a romance in the making. At the pace Vince starts his day and lives his life, you get the feeling that any romance he might be contemplating will probably pass him by before he acts on it. And, then someone comes dragging up a snow-filled street, someone he thought he had buried in his past, and in his heart - forcing Vince to confront a desire that was holding him back from getting on with his life.
Vince, of course, being half-gay, is a person well in touch with his emotions - slightly. He feels things deeply, interprets everything emotionally - but, if you knew him in real life, he would never let you know it. There's a stoic wall around him, and he's been hurt enough not to trust anyone near his heart - even the guy that always seemed like he might be "the one."
For fans of gay or m/m romance, this is not a "fantasy boyfriend rides up on white horse and saves the day" book. It is real. It is gritty. The emotional maturity of the characters seem slightly more evolved than the average twenty-something (for some reason, they always popped in my head as youngish thirty-somethings), but it is impossible to dwell on that - the mental torment Vince puts himself through with the men he wants, the men who want him, and the man he can't have ... it will leave you feeling emotionally spent, and never wanting to be reading too much of it without tissues nearby. It's like Brokeback Mountain without cowboys or the Nicholas Sparks ending.
This book succeeds where so many among the new emerging self-pubbed authors fail. This was not written by some hack who vomits out 12-15 books (should I say "booklets?") a year without the benefit of a second draft, or an editor. Ben spent time with these characters, with this story, and I for one will sit in eager anticipation for the next book that leaves his mind, his heart, and his fingertips.
This book was a JOY to read, and I happily recommend it!
"I have learned ... that memories aren't things that have to pile up and overwhelm you. They're just colors ... that shade all the new things you feel." (Ben Monopoli, The Cranberry Hush)...more
Was difficult to get into this story - not that it's not incredibly well-written, but because the author, Galt Niederboffer, insists on her readers geWas difficult to get into this story - not that it's not incredibly well-written, but because the author, Galt Niederboffer, insists on her readers getting to know every unflattering facet of each member of this dysfunctional wedding party - from the college friends who've all dated, kissed, or mated with each other in a culturally gender-appropriate fashion to the family that is so WASP that you anticipate seeing a piece of the Mayflower's masthead preserved and mounted on a plaque in the summer home of the bride's family that serves as the story's backdrop. And, for all of the stories ever written about spoiled, shallow, elite New Englanders who didn't deserve their desk at Harvard or Yale (and didn't do much to graduate, either) ... you find yourself asking Galt, "Why should we know so much about ... nothing?"
About halfway through, we find ourselves in pity over the protagonist, Laura, the archetypical "bridesmaid" from whom the bride/former-roommate lifted the male member of this emotional ménage à trois so many years before. Lila needs a trophy husband to complete her fantasy life, and Tom is more than happy to oblige. Although there's no question he's still in love with our wilting Laura, he never exerts enough testosterone to do anything but "drown" in Lila's wet dream, and although Laura seems to get enough courage once or twice to lay things out on the table, she really seems to enjoy her role in this threesome more, as a semi-requited cuckquean....more
The novel itself, The Talented Mr. Ripley, may not go down in history as one of the greats of American literature, but the story is as iconic as any GThe novel itself, The Talented Mr. Ripley, may not go down in history as one of the greats of American literature, but the story is as iconic as any Greek tragedy. Masquerading as psycho-thriller, Talented is almost a sermon on the Anglo-Saxon class structure, and how when the illusions of that class system are stripped away (birthright, old riche' networks, etc.), morality can be difficult to discern. Is the villain the philandering playboy who ignores his family and lives for the moment, or is it the quiet friend who having no resources to attain the lifestyle and social standing of said playboy (who treats the quiet one like new toy) makes a violent mistake and then assumes the life he envied? Highsmith drips the story with allusions to money (Greenleaf, Green Cage) and the corruption it brings (Dickey's dad paying someone to retrieve his son, and "paying" for justice later), and the story mostly takes place in post-war Italy where Tom Ripley is swallowed into a network of rich kids living fabulously on the allowances paid them by their rich industrialist parents ... presumably off the backs of the working class. If you catch these nuances, and the contempt with which Highsmith writes these entitled characters (many of whom she most likely encountered since the lived in post-war Europe around the same time), and with how sympathetically she crafts Tom Ripley - it becomes one visually grey soup.
I first saw the film, and I know it's been panned by a lot of serious Highsmith fans, but I wouldn't have known about the book otherwise, and say what you will about young Matt Damon's portrayal, the director's vision accurately captured this dual sympathy and disgust from Highsmith - it is a compelling motion picture, though slightly more stylized than the book. They are both among my favorites - and I recommend them to all. ...more