Lisa Arbitrary - AttentionIsArbitrary M/M Blog's Reviews > Portside

Portside by Elyan Smith
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Jan 15, 2013

it was amazing
bookshelves: adult, trans-gender, transgender
Recommended to Lisa Arbitrary - AttentionIsArbitrary M/M Blog by: aleksandr voinov
Read from July 09 to 10, 2012 — I own a copy , read count: 2


I don't know how I feel about this book and yet it earns an undeniable 5 stars.

I'm left unsure, but not about the writing, or the characters, or the story. I'm not exactly unsettled either. Maybe the best way to describe what I'm left with is that I am so blown away by the writing that it's difficult to sort through my thoughts.


Elyan Smith has written one of the tightest and most vivid books I've come across. The imagery created is almost a little, too real. This is life. This is reality. In a way that feels very raw, the author exposes the reader to a place too common, that we easily and often ignore. Not only did the author accomplish placing me in this depressed town, where I could literally feel the environment, he also placed me right next to Iwan. Rather than only seeing the world from Iwan's eyes, I was also able to see the world looking at Iwan. Or, maybe that was just me looking to see Iwan.


Iwan has accepted his life for what it is. He doesn't hope, he doesn't dream but he still, wants. Some of my confusion for writing this review comes down to Iwan's character. Not because he isn't very well written but because I'm not sure if I feel contented or not about Iwan. And yet, I wouldn't change a thing about him.

Lyn is hard, rough and probably the best friend Iwan could have. She is an excellent supporting character.

Tommy's character could have been written so differently, but I have to say how much I appreciate the author choosing to take this path with him. I think 100 other author's would have chosen to take a different approach with Tommy but again, he was perfectly created.

Jonah has me disconcerted. I don't know what he knows, what he understands or what he feels. I think that is by design though and it is not a derogatory statement on his character. In fact, he is what gives me hope in this story.

"What do you want? Jonah called..."
..."Nothing." The wind dragged the word from Iwan's mouth."

This book is filled with innuendo and allusion and through that, and a second read-through I found myself understanding things I don't understand. Thank you Mr. Smith for a brilliant book. I will be seeking out more of your work, to be sure.


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Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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Ilhem So? Tell me! tell me!

Lisa Arbitrary - AttentionIsArbitrary M/M Blog Okay, now it's up. I want to say I loved it. I loved the writing and the story, ugh, you'll see.

Ilhem This book leaves us with the need to hope...

Lisa Arbitrary - AttentionIsArbitrary M/M Blog I don't know Ilhem. I almost feel like, why hope? If this is all you've got, all you're going to have, why not just, be?

Even hoping for acceptance might be too much.

Ilhem Yes, but all you've got is not necessarily all you're going to have.
You said it yourself, Iwan wants. He leaves his town to get what he wants. For once, he doesn't wander. Maybe it is not the greatest goal in life but he actually does something for himself. For me, it's a step.
You know, I work with/for kids like Iwan every day. They don't deal with transsexuality but they have baggage! Some of them were particularly hopeless and they left like that and I thought that all was lost.
Some of them came back to see me or my colleague, sometimes years later. I remember one who brought his young wife and said :"see! I'm married, I'm building a family" and another who said to my colleague :"I came to tell you I understood, Im' not there yet but I understood" and plenty others. And yes, there are others that just are but those kids who came back, that's something!
All you've got is not necesseraly all you'll ever have but you have to do something for yourself and you generally start with small things.

Lisa Arbitrary - AttentionIsArbitrary M/M Blog Oh, what a beautiful and generous person you are. Most of us just hope to touch one life, it sounds like you have helped many. Just lovely.

Tell me then, how do you perceive Jonah?

Certainly, I have been around long enough to see communities rebuild and fortunes change but in this story I wasn't left with the feeling that that was coming soon. You are correct, however, in that if one is willing to look outside their "world" then anything can happen. The strength it took for Iwan to "learn" is very encouraging.

message 7: by Ilhem (last edited Jul 10, 2012 01:59PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ilhem I mostly kick their ass, pull my hair, bore them to death with my lectures... And they help themselves! (to escape from me?)

I don't know about Jonah. I didn't like him at the beginning but he watched Iwan and maybe he really sees him and he goes to him and I wonder about the meaning of his "no matter what" at the end.

Lisa Arbitrary - AttentionIsArbitrary M/M Blog Ilhem wrote: "I wonder about the meaning of his "no matter what" at the end.

Oh, let's take that verbatim, shall we? That does give me hope then.

Ilhem :)

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