Grady's Reviews > Slaves to the Rhythm: A Love Story

Slaves to the Rhythm by Terry Connell
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it was amazing

"Complete love is powerful, so humbling. I think it's the closest thing to God.'

Terry Connell superb book SLAVES TO THE RHYTHM: A LOVE STORY is one of the most sensitive memoirs to come out this year. Not only does Connell have a first class story to tell, he also has a talent for writing that makes it difficult to believe this is his first publication. The book delves into tough waters - discussing the day to day care of a life partner dying of AIDS, examining the pros and cons of growing up in a large Irish Catholic family whose rules and regulations attempt to mold droids of the eleven children, the agonies of coping with forbidden same sex feelings and the ultimate bumpy road to coming out as a gay man, and the rise and persistent presence of the 'progress' in the plague of AIDS. That he is able to blend these elements together and make a story that is about Love is a major achievement and one that will doubtless help many people who face similar challenges.

Connell's device for sharing two aspects of his book suggests the techniques used by many successful European filmmakers who appreciate the technique of informing the audience of history in flashbacks. His bipartite book is one half diary - a diary he kept during the final year of his partner's demise. It is truthful, shows us better than almost any writer has the vantage of the victim and the caretaker with all the extremes of passion, inordinately honest love, frustration, death wishes, and learning both sides of the dying process - the patient and the one left behind. Connell's lover, Stephan, was a gifted dancer and choreographer whose last work for the theater bore the same title of this book: the final performance is an epitaph to a fine artist who died far too young. Before each section of diary entries Connell presents what appears to be a folded paper listing the progress of the new disease that came to be known as AIDS, from the first entry of June 5, 1981 to the present, with added quotations from such famous people as Larry Kramer, Anthony Perkins, Susan Sontag, Derek Jarman and others. These pages alone are a major contribution to re-examining the history of the worst plague of the past and present centuries.

The intervening chapters (the second part of this two part book) trace Connell's family history from his childhood to the present, a history pungent with commentary on the impact of religious beliefs on individualism, on the secrets of managing a very large family of diverse children, of Connell's delayed discovery of his sexuality buried by fear and lack of information, to his escape from the family and his entry into a world of destructive self gratification and abuse, finding meaning to life as he serves as a Mental Health Specialist and ultimately as a therapist, to his first relationship and the discovery of transient partners, to his final meeting of Stephan with whom he finds the perfect life and love. As the chapters meld it is at the end of Stephan's life, and the book ends with 'the first year' after the loss of what had been the hub of his universe. The writing throughout the book is eloquent, sincere, poetic, and enthralling.

Terry Connell is an author to watch. He overflows with talent just as he comes across as a completely compassionate human being. We will hear more from him.

Grady Harp

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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
March 19, 2011 – Shelved

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