It Takes Two - Elliot Mackle

Ladymol's Review

This book was recíd to me by someone reading my Brokeback Mountain story. She said I might like it and she was right! This book is wonderful! Not only is it a great, hot love story, but itís a remarkably interesting historical novel. Set in 1949, in post-war south of America, the story is narrated by Dan, an ex-Navy lieutenant who runs a hotel in Florida. His best buddy is Bud, an ex-marine, a detective on the local force. This is an era of racial segregation in the south, a subject that is handled with shocking authenticity. Itís also an era of extreme, conservative morals. Anything outside the norm of heterosexual marriage was treated with extreme prejudice.

Dan knows exactly what he is. He discovered his sexuality on the USS Indianapolis when he met and fell in love with Mike Rizzo, an ensign assigned to his bunk. Bud, however, is determined to be normal, thinks heís straight. Heís seeing Slim, a waitress, so what he does with Dan, what heís obsessed with doing with Dan, is just mixing it up, fooling around, bubby high-jinks.

Thereís an amusing cast of characters, refugees from this ghastly moralistic atmosphere. They get drawn to the hotel and find a refuge there with Dan. They know whatís going on between Dan and the tough ex-marine. Theyíve all got secrets of their own to protect.

The sex is just great in this book, Bud wanting and needing it, resisting, Dan more and more frustrated. Iíve never read so many euphemisms for man on man sex, but Bud knows them all.

Eventually, paralysing fear that they will be discovered leads Bud to break it off with Dan. Dan finds physical comfort in the arms of another man while his heart is breaking.†

Itís a fascinating read aside from this great love story. Racial politics have so radically changed in the States, that itís hard to believe that this story is set within our lifetimes (well, our parents, anyway). Has the gay repression changed equally? Can you imagine anyone being able to go public and say they didnít want to see Crash (the racial-themed movie that won the Oscar) because films with blacks in made them cringe? Yet they can say that about films with gay men in. Can you imagine a white actor being asked how they coped with kissing a black one? Yet Heath and Jake got bombarded with dumb questions about how they coped with the gay scenes in Brokeback. Iíd say we still have a long way to go.

There are wonderful crossovers to other books or films weíve reviewed. Dan finds a copy of Kinseyís report on male sexuality and for the first time finds a name for what he is and discovers that heís one of 10% of the male population. I was shocked when I watched Kinsey to see just how little heterosexual married couples knew about sex, let alone young men with feelings for other men.

If you like stories about tough straight-acting men who happen to love other men then this is the book for you. Excellent read, highly recommended.