Category Archives: Book Reviews

Asleep at the Wheel

According to a few Goodreads reviews I scanned, Gregory Martin’s Stories for Boys: a Memoir was the 2013 Seattle Reads the Same Book. How did I miss that? I’m only at my local Seattle Public Library branch every single damn day. That’s not an exaggeration. Picking up books at the library a mile away, trundling them home (uphill), then returning them later, mostly unread because I check out so many, is what I call my “free gym workout.” I had 50 books checked out at one point last month, which is a bit more than I read in a year.

I must have had blinders on to miss this book. I stumbled across it by chance at the recent AWP conference, the largest literary conference ever held in Seattle, at the Hawthorne Books table.

stories_for_boysAnd thank goodness I did.

This book is an important reminder, especially for those of us who imagine and write the romantic side of m/m relationships, of how far our society has come in such a short span of time, and of the very human price paid in our culture by those who struggle with being “other.” Coming out and living openly as a gay man was not an option for the author’s father, by time or geography, and he seems like a deer in the headlights when he suddenly finds himself “out” in a rapidly changing world that he can’t seem to fall into step with.

He seems stunned, and lonely, and lost, and wonderful, and wonderfully human. What a brave man to allow his son to write his story. His son does him the credit of writing about him in an inquisitive, insightful, profound and intelligent way, turning, as the best memoirs do, his lens as much on himself and his own sense of judgement as on his father’s decades-long duplicity.

The author, a father to two boys, as his own father was, says, “There was a difference between the story my children needed to hear and the story I needed to tell them. Those were two different stories.” I am glad the author told this story.

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Imre

Imre
Imre 1992 version

The title of this novella has been eluding me for weeks, just at the tip of my tongue, at the back of my throat, at the end of a nerve synapse, on my fingertips. I knew the title was the character’s name (not what I recalled as the first person narrator’s, but the name of the object of his obsession and desire), and I thought it started with an “N.” I’d read it sometime in the nineties but at some point had gotten rid of my slender paperback copy, as I’ve passed along so many books. I’m not even sure where I picked up my copy, but had to be at the old rainbow bookstore on Capitol Hill on Pine Street. Something about the cover appealed to me all those years ago, and I remember finding the writing lyrical but wanting to know more: I couldn’t tell if the story was fiction or memoir, whether a brand new novel written as historical fiction or a reissue of a classic. Continue reading Imre