Gerry B's Book Reviews

Full Circle by Michael Thomas Ford

A thoroughly engaging story…

bee5

 

 

Click on cover to order

Click on cover to order

Story blurb: History professor Ned Brummel is living happily with his partner of twelve years in small-town Maine when he receives a phone call from his estranged friend–Jack–telling him that another friend–Andy–is very ill and possibly near death. It is news that shatters the peace of his world for many reasons. And as Ned boards a plane to Chicago on his way to his friend’s bedside, he embarks on a another journey into memory, examining the major events and small moments that have shaped his world and his relationships with two very different, very important men.

About the author: Michael Thomas Ford is the author of more than fifty books, for both young readers and adults, in genres ranging from humor to horror, literary fiction to nonfiction. As a writer for young adults he is the author of the popular “Circle of Three” series (writing as Isobel Bird); nonfiction books about spirituality (Paths of Faith), the AIDS crisis (Voices of AIDS), and the gay community (The World Out There and Speaking Out); and the novels Suicide Notes and Z (forthcoming in 2010).

His work for adult readers includes the best-selling novels Last Summer, Looking for It, Full Circle, Changing Tides, and What We Remember, and Jane Bites Back. His work has been nominated for 12 Lambda Literary Awards, twice winning for Best Humor Book, twice for Best Romance Novel, and most recently for Gay Men’s Mystery. He was also nominated for a Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Award (for his novel The Dollhouse That Time Forgot) and a Gaylactic Spectrum Award (for his short story “Night of the Werepuss”).

logo - gbbr

Review by Gerry Burnie

I hadn’t read any previous novels by Michael Thomas Ford until I came across Full Circle [Kensington, August 1, 2007]. His credentials are certainly impressive, but what appealed to me is the era – the liberation movement of the sixties, to the AIDS epidemic of the 80s and 90s. My era exactly, so it was like a walk down memory lane.

It is told from the perspective of two men, involving a third, and through their eyes we experience the assassination of JFK; protests surrounding the Vietnam War, the Stonewall Riots, and the identification of the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Probably one of the most eventful chapters in gay-American life in the 20th century.

The writing is professional through-and-through, as one would expect from a 50-time published author, but what impressed me most was his seemingly effortless ability to balance the viewpoints (memories) of the three main characters – like a Troika – while remaining focussed on the events surrounding them.

It is truly a textbook example of in-control writing.

For those of you who were born in a later time, you are bound to find Ned and Jack’s reminiscences engaging, as are their personalities, and if you are students of history (as we all are, whether we like it or not) this is a history lesson I think you will enjoy. Five bees.

♠♠♠

Viewers to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 77,458

♠♠♠

Interested in Canadian history?

Want to learn more? Then visit my new page:  In Praise of Canadian History.  It is a collection of people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post: Northern Dancer … The little horse that could.

Right now I’m listening to Swisssh Radio. Click on the banner ad to join me.

swisssh radio - easy listening log

Swisssh online radio is where it’s at for promoting your products, big or small: World-wide coverage; 24/7; top professional service; and reasonable rates. Click on the logo to learn more.

Click on the logo to learn about my books to datre

Thank you for your interest, and my apologies for not responding to your request individually. I’m getting there, but the numbers have been overwhelming. Please extend your patience just a bit longer. Thanks again!

Thanks for dropping by! I’ll have another novel ready for next week, same URL, so drop back then.

 

April 6, 2015 Posted by | a love story, AIDS, Gay American History, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction | Leave a comment

Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story, by Paul Monette

A fascinating story of one man’s half-a-life, articulately written, and unapologetically candid.

bee4

 

 

Click on the cover to purchase. Also available in Kindle format.

Click on the cover to purchase. Also available in Kindle format.

Book description: Paul Monette grew up all-American, Catholic, overachieving . . . and closeted. As a child of the 1950s, a time when a kid suspected of being a “homo” would routinely be beaten up, Monette kept his secret throughout his adolescence. He wrestled with his sexuality for the first thirty years of his life, priding himself on his ability to “pass” for straight. The story of his journey to adulthood and to self-acceptance with grace and honesty, this intimate portrait of a young man’s struggle with his own desires is witty, humorous, and deeply felt.

About the author: In novels, poetry, and a memoir, Paul Monette wrote about gay men striving to fashion personal identities and, later, coping with the loss of a lover to AIDS.

Monette was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts, in 1945. He was educated at prestigious schools in New England: Phillips Andover Academy and Yale University, where he received his B.A. in 1967. He began his prolific writing career soon after graduating from Yale. For eight years, he wrote poetry exclusively.

After coming out in his late twenties, he met Roger Horwitz, who was to be his lover for over twenty years. Also during his late twenties, he grew disillusioned with poetry and shifted his interest to the novel, not to return to poetry until the 1980s.

In 1977, Monette and Horwitz moved to Los Angeles. Once in Hollywood, Monette wrote a number of screenplays that, though never produced, provided him the means to be a writer. Monette published four novels between 1978 and 1982. These novels were enormously successful and established his career as a writer of popular fiction. He also wrote several novelizations of films.

Monette’s life changed dramatically when Roger Horwitz was diagnosed with AIDS in the early 1980s. After Horwitz’s death in 1986, Monette wrote extensively about the years of their battles with AIDS (Borrowed Time, 1988) and how he himself coped with losing a lover to AIDS (Love Alone, 1988). These works are two of the most powerful accounts written about AIDS thus far.

Their publication catapulted Monette into the national arena as a spokesperson for AIDS. Along with fellow writer Larry Kramer, he emerged as one of the most familiar and outspoken AIDS activists of our time. Since very few out gay men have had the opportunity to address national issues in mainstream venues at any previous time in U.S. history, Monette’s high-visibility profile was one of his most significant achievements. He went on to write two important novels about AIDS, Afterlife (1990) and Halfway Home (1991). He himself died of AIDS-related complications in 1995.

♠♠♠

Review by Gerry Burnie

I was in the mood for a gay non-fiction story this week, and so I went looking. One would think that with all that is currently happening, there would be a dearth of non-fiction stories, but no. However, I did come across Paul Monette’s perennial Becoming a Man: Half a Life [Open Road Media, March 25, 2014]. It is a re-release of an earlier 1992 version, but since it is set in the 1950s and 60s—and biographical—it is still a relevant read.

Almost all gay men can relate to Monette’s story, as witness the number of reviews (the majority by men) that start out: “I could identify with so much of Monette’s feelings…” or “Coming of age in the fifties, Paul Monette lived a life that, in a sense, paralleled my own as I too am a child of the fifties.”

To these reminiscences I can add my own, for I too came out in the 1950s. Moreover, I too lucked out by having an older, well-established and highly-regarded man take me under his wing, to teach me that if you aim for the chimney pots you will reach the window sills, but if you aim for the stars you will reach the chimney pots.

I must say, however, that my life was not quite so unapologetically dramatic as Monette’s. Yes, like Monette, I instinctively realized that I had an attraction to men before I knew what sex was about, and yes, I quickly learned it was wrong; but only because the Church and my mother said so.

I also learned to keep it to myself at high school, and I was sometimes teased on account of ‘being different,’ but it never got worse than that. In fact, I was more likely to quietly sought out than bullied.

Nonetheless, I do parallel him again as soon as I got out into the working world, where keeping your mouth shut about your sexuality was part of keeping your job. Likewise, ‘playin la game’ (i.e. dating, and living the straight life) was expected—not so much for yourself as others.

Monette is brutally candid when it comes to this aspect, as well as other aspects of his life. Nothing, including an incident of pedophilia, is held back; however, not once did I get the impression he was looking for forgiveness or sensationalism. It was just as it had happened with nothing held back.

One aspect that I could have been happy with a little less of was his self-analysis; particularly of his younger years. Perhaps this is because I try to never analyze myself at any stage, and in this regard I think he should have stuck more to the facts. After all, many of the things he dwelt on carried their own explanation.

This is a fascinating story of one man’s life (half life), articulately written, and unapologetically candid. Recommended, four bees.

♠♠♠

Viewers of Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 71,066

♠♠♠

Interested in Canadian history?

Want to know more? Then visit my new page:  In Praise of Canadian History.  It is a collection of people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post:  Pioneer Schools and EducationTaught to the tune of the hickory stick!

 

logo - gerry burnie books - couple

       

♠♠♠

Notice to all those who have requested a book review

Thank you for your interest, and my apologies for not responding to your request individually. I’m getting there, but the numbers have been overwhelming. Please extend your patience just a bit longer.

Thanks again!

 

Thanks for dropping by! I’ll have another novel ready for next week, same URL, so drop back soon.

 

 

 

 

 

July 14, 2014 Posted by | AIDS, biography, Gay non-fiction, Memoir, Non-fiction, Paul Monette | Leave a comment

   

%d bloggers like this: