Metes and Bounds - Jay Quinn
This is a truly beautiful book. From its cover (which I defy you not to want to own) to its characters and setting, this novel is just about perfect. It's the story of a young man coming out, but it's so much more than that. Set amongst the rolling Atlantic rollers of North Carolina, this novel is about deciding what kind of person you want to be. In a brilliant analogy, Matt, the narrator, says that truly dedicated surfers don't wear their surfing gear off the beach- only shallow posers do that. True surfers keep their passion and dedication to the waves in their hearts, under the ordinary clothes they wear- like other people. Just so with being gay. Matt wants to find a way to live his life as man, but one who, coincidentally, wants to sleep with other men. Matt comes out, but that's just the start of this great book. He goes to live with a slightly older relation, Tiger, who is living at the beach with his long-term partner, Mark. But the whole point of this book is where does Matt go from there?
Does he want the terrifying, illicit affair with the ferocious, in denial, father-of-three Tillet? Does he want to wait around for Chris, who decides (while deep in Matt's arse) that he's really straight? Or does he want something else? something that will give him the same sense of self-worth and freedom as his daily battles with the surf do.
This is a remarkable novel that leaves you feeling as if you've plunged into those cold waters with Matt. Endless skies make you feel afraid and insignificant; tiny domestic details and descriptions of love warm your heart.
This book is an example of how to write graphic gay sex scenes: they enhance the book and are used to rapier-like effect in describing Matt's emotional and physical journey to find himself as a good man.
I cannot recommend this book too highly.
Metes and Bounds are land surveying terms, to do with boundaries. This is the story of an 18 year old boy exploring the complex boundaries between sex and love, uncertainty and commitment. The present is revealed slowly through clever use of flashback incidents. It is full of late adolescent longing, bathed in the golden light of a summer spent surfing and working as a surveyor at the beach on North Carolina's Atlantic coast during the mid 80s. Young Matt is sent by his parents to the mysterious Tiger, several years older, to learn about himself, who he is and the man he will become. He has the support of a mother and father who understand what he needs and know they cannot give it to him. Tiger lives with Mark and they take Matt in because they know what he is going through.
Beautifully written and skilfully crafted, the novel shows a fine understanding of youth's insecurities, both generally and specifically for a gay teenager on the cusp of manhood. The dialogue is natural and all the characters are well drawn, vibrant with life. The sense of place in this book is very strong, giving depth and colour and lifting it into a higher literary dimension. You can taste the salt of the sea, feel the sand between your toes and see the surf crashing into shore. It's a coming of age story that will move you to tears as Matt grows in maturity a well as size and bulk The book has a darker aspect when Matt explores a violent and masochistic relationship but this is handled sensitively and never seems gratuitous. Matt finds his way through and discovers a love of his own in the place where it has always been.
I highly recommend you read this book.
Publisher: Harrington Park; ISBN: 1560231858
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