Almost Like Being In Love - Steve Kluger
This was an unexpectedly delightful book. Itís rather clever, written entirely in swapping first person points of view, as diaries, emails, letters and articles tell the love story of Travis and Craig. Meeting at school, their love hits them like most adolescent loveóall-consumingóexcept that they are both boys, and that adds a poignancy and longing that would have been easily resolved in a heterosexual relationship.
From the first kiss, we are transported twenty years later when theyíve gone their separate ways, the memories of that first fleeting love dim and distant. Travis has become a popular, iconoclastic history professor. Craig has become a civil-rights lawyer.†
One day, whilst trying to propose to the new love of his life, Travis hears ďtheir songĒ: the song Craig and he fell in love to. Suddenly, he remembers that Craig was to be the one for life, and he sets out on a mission to find him.
The story is delightful. I especially liked the voices of the straight friends and family that make an appearance, telling the boysí story with great wit.† Particularly clever, I thought, was Gordo, Travisís best friend. Gordo is a screenwriter who owes a great script to his agent. He is so bemused by Travisís quest to find Craig, that he sketches this out as an idea and sends it off. Every so often, heís able to add instalments as Travis progresses on his quest. His agent adores the premise and is desperate to know the end of the story, and by this time, of course, so are we! I had to restrain myself from peeking to see how this worked out. I thought I had it sussed a number of times and was wrong-footed.
The book is very American, and many (most) (all) of the baseball references lost me entirely. I also didnít get the show references. However, none of that mattered. I was reading Craigís thoughts or Travisís thoughts, and thatís all that counted.
Do give this book a go. It made me smile and laugh and re-read it the minute Iíd finished it! Highly recommended.
First love is always perfect- but it never lasts.† Thatís what makes it perfect.† We all know that, but do we believe it?† Isnít there a small corner of our hearts thatíll always belong to the special someone with whom we shared a first kiss?† And sometimes donít miracles happen?† If something is meant to be, then sooner or later, it will.† Or so my romantic soul likes to think.†
Iíve read too many books lately where the unexpected happens and Iím plunged from elation to despair.† Romances where there are no happy endings.† Iím told this is a characteristic of gay fiction, rooted in personal unhappiness, and general disapproval.† But it can get a bit much.† Itís why both Lady M and I seized Dakota & Bennie and Rezo & Gage with the greedy hunger of deprivation.† We wanted more.
This is a story of lost love.† Boy meets boy when theyíre both 17 at a New York prep school. They fall for each other, hard.† After one delicious summer exploring love, they go to college on opposite sides of the country, one to USC the other to Harvard, a temporary separation that turns permanent.† 20 years on, one wakes up and realises what heís done.† He puts his whole life on hold and sets out to track down the lover he allowed to get away.† The boyfriend against whom all others have been measured and found wanting.
Opposites attract:† Craig was a typical jock, Travis a nerd fixated on MGM musicals and gutsy Broadway stars.† Together they discovered sex but it was always more than that.† Inseparable best friends, Travis awakened Craig, made him see, made him care;† Craig saved Travis from absolute invisibility, enabled him to shine.†
The story is told with a mixture of narrative, letters, faxes, clippings, notes, etc.† Itís clever and witty and very well done.† We meet the boys in 1978 then flash forward twenty years.† Travis is a professor at USC, American History, with added baseball- this is the obsessive who memorised a sports encyclopaedia for love.†† He lives with straight friend, Gordo, a screenwriter.† Travis has had a succession of boyfriends but heís still looking for love.† Craig is a successful lawyer working in the field of equal rights.† He has a hunky boyfriend, Clayton.† Together 12 years, theyíre thinking about getting married.
I read this magical novel in one long late night sitting.† It made me laugh a lot, and it made me cry.† Everyone around Travis falls in love as though he sprinkles fairy dust.† Thereís a sweet het romance between Gordo and AJ, a fiesty woman Travis meets when he goes on the road to find Craig.† A guy who gives Travis a lift finds his former high school sweetheart.† The big question, unanswered to the end, is whether Travis will find Craig and rekindle passion and companionship.† Itís nail-bitingly tense and very fraught.†
More than it seems, the novel examines relationships and how they work.† How do you know when you meet Mr. (or Mrs.) Right?† Love is complicated.† In all its manifestations.† Travis and Craig have friends who love them.† A side plot involves a child custody case that broadens the story to family love.† But it comes down to Travis and Craig.† Will they/wonít they?† And what about Clayton?† Sometimes you just have to follow your heart.† You will not be disappointed.† Highly recommended.
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