Gerry B's Book Reviews

Song on the Sand, a short story by Ruth Sims

A 24-carat nugget of a story, and highly recommended.



Story blurb: Tony Dalby finds himself on the wrong end of his 80s, confined to a nursing home, with his days as a dancer a thing of the past. The appearance of Drew into his life brings a welcome distraction, as well as a bit of mystery as to why Drew constantly visits the wheelchair-bound, comatose Jesse. As secrets are revealed, Dalby finds he may have a renewed purpose for living after all.

Kindle edition, 44KB (19 pages).

About the author: Ruth Sims has lived her entire life in small town Mid-America, surrounded by corn, wheat, and soybean fields. Like Emily Dickinson she has never seen a Moor and has never seen the Sea, but she’s seen plenty of silos, Amish buggies, whitetails, and amber waves of grain. She’s the wife of one and mother of two … or vice versa. She gets a little confused by the rush of living.

Though many years past schooldays, her education is continuous and far-ranging, with interests running the gamut from Shakespeare to awful puns and limericks; from criminal psychology to the science of baking towering chocolate cakes and artisan bread. Her special love of theatre (as reader and observer only) is apparent in The Phoenix. Her passion for classical and romantic music comes to life in Counterpoint: Dylan’s Story, published by Dreamspinner Press, July 2010. The Phoenix, originally published in 2004, was revised and republished by Lethe Press in 2009.

Though best known as a novelist, she is proud to have several short stories published.

Review by Gerry Burnie

As someone who knows, I’ve always said that a sure sign of getting old is when nearly every topic begins with, “I used to.” Ruth Sims has captured this regrettable fact remarkably well in her poignant short story, Song on the Sand [Untreed Reads, 2010]. In fact Tony Dalby and I share quite a few “I used tos.” I was a former dancer who now only walks with the aid of a walker.  I was also an actor and singer (who once played Curly in “Oklahoma”—like Jesse), so I could relate to Tony Dalby at a very personal level. However, unlike Dalby I have never developed a resentment for the loss of these abilities. That’s what makes Song on the Sand so poignant, though. Conflict and resolution, which Ms Sims weaves into the narrative with remarkable believability.

Tony Dalby is a somewhat bitter old man, irascible as well, confined to a wheelchair in an impersonal nursing home. He is in fact what we all fear about getting old; finding ourselves helpless, alone and lonely. Redemption is on the way, however, in the person of a handsome young stranger named Drew. He is a frequent visitor to the nursing home because his “cousin” Jesse is a comatose inmate—the victim of a hit-and-run. Drew befriends Tony and it is then revealed that Jesse (a former amateur actor and singer) is really Drew’s lover, but because same-sex relationships are not recognized as kin, Drew has had to fabricate a kinship in order to gain access to him.

The pathos of this situation begins to inspire Tony to help, and in fact gives him a reason to help himself. He therefore suggests a form of musical therapy by playing music from Broadway musicals, and one of these is Song on the Sand from “La Cage aux Folles,” in which Jesse and he have previously played the same role.

Will it work? Will Jesse respond? Those are questions that I will leave with you, but like me I think you will be as surprised with the answers.

This is a superbly written story about a topic we rarely see in GBLT literature, i.e. the elderly. Nevertheless those usually hot young things do get old, and I am so very pleased to see aging dealt with with such insight and understanding. Do read this story for several reasons. First—as I’ve already mentioned—because of the uniqueness of topic, and also for the masterful way inwhich Ms Sims has crafted it.

A 24-carat nugget of a story, and highly recommended. Five stars.

News: Earlier this week Gerry B’s Book Reviews welcomed its 10,000th vistor. Thank you all. I am humbled.

Read an excerpt from Nor All Thy Tears by Gerry Burnie, scheduled for release in hardcopy and e-book formats, July 2011.

A bittersweet story of love, obsession, treachery, murder, and finally solace under the northern lights of Big Sky, Saskatchewan.

Sheldon Cartwright is a young, exceptionally handsome and gifted politician, with a beautiful wife and two charming children. His career is also in ascendance, and given all this the sky seems seems the only limit to this talented, blue-eyed lad from small-town Ontario, Canada.

However, Cartwright also has a hidden past that one day bursts onto the front page of a tabloid newspaper with the publication of his nude photograph. Moreover, the inside story alleges that he was once a high-end male prostitute with a romantic connection to an an ex-con whose body has been recently found mutilated beyond recognition in a burned-out apartment.

Enter a homophobic cop who is willing to go to any lengths to tie Cartwright into the crime, simply because he is young, handsome and well-educated, and the stage is set for a political crisis of destructive proportions.

May 8, 2011 - Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay Literature, Gay romance, Uncategorized

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