Alan Hardy's Reviews > The Clouds Still Hang

The Clouds Still Hang by Patrick C. Notchtree
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This is an honest and perceptive “account of one person’s struggle with the demons within”, a sort of therapeutic cleansing of the soul. The early part of the tale explores the relationship between Simon and his slightly older friend Daniel in infant-school days, and their growing homosexual rapport. That love, and its sexual culmination and ecstasy, will far outlive its relatively short duration and will be present as a memory, regret or influence throughout Simon’s life. Although that life is explored in great detail (rites of passage, transition to adulthood, work, marriage, etc.) it is the sexual element, both heterosexual and homosexual, which receives the most concentration, even to the extent of quite painstaking descriptions of love-making and orgasm. The traumas Simon suffers, whether through the loss of his first love Daniel, a homosexual gang rape or the rather more humdrum travails of sexual experience and failure, are analysed thoroughly, even in narrative terms when therapists and psychiatrists enter the scene much later in Simon’s life and do their best to jargonize away his (at times quite dangerous) hang-ups and peccadilloes. Simon suffers greatly from depression and low self-esteem, and yet, by the end of the book, the stance is more decidedly positive: Simon achieves a measure of contentment through an acceptance of the duality of his nature, that he can love deeply his wife of many years at the same time as being unashamed of homosexual loves both in his past and present. There are no easy answers offered, but the struggle itself (which the book is an expression of) seems to be held up as achievement and accomplishment enough. Can any of us really hope for more from life?
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
February 9, 2013 – Shelved

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message 1: by Patrick (new) - added it

Patrick Notchtree Alan, thank you for that. You seem somehow to have encapsulated the essence of the book. The 'sexual element' is of course key to much of what happens, and the 'painstaking descriptions of love-making and orgasm' are mainly confined to Simon's younger days. Doesn't this reflect the fact that for young men this tends to be an abiding obsession? As one ages, this is less so and so in the book such detail is less common, and the emphasis moves to the thoughts and feelings behind this. I think too that you are right in that the book ends on a more upbeat note as Simon is at last freed from the shackles of repression.
Thank you again.

Alan Hardy My pleasure, Patrick. It was a great read.

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