Ready To Catch Him Should He Fall
I didn’t really finish this one. I scanned the last half I was so bored. I read a page and then rewarded myself by reading something good.
Boy is nineteen and making his way in the city. O (seriously limited in imaginative names this book) is older (hence the nickname!). They meet, fall in love and live together.
It’s not the plot that’s at fault with this one; it’s the appalling style!
At one point, I felt as if someone had taken me into a dark room where some treasure was supposed to be and held a torch up for me to see with. But every time the slightest hint of the treasure showed, the light was snatched away and onto something else, something that vaguely related to the treasure (how it got there, who handled it, where it came from) but wasn’t actually the damn treasure that I came into the room to see. The sense of frustration when I was reading this book actually made me quite angry. I wanted to write to the publishers and ask them if they employ people called editors any more. I wanted to take a huge red pen to the pages and slash them: irrelevant, irrelevant, expand….
We get every other story but the one we want. You get long tedious descriptions of a dress, of a room, of letters, of any damn thing but Boy and O.
I’m really not sure what it was all about.
Pretentious and utterly boring. I honestly wouldn’t bother with this one.
I liked the title of this book.. It came heavily praised in editorial reviews. I should really know better by now.
An erotic fable they said. One of the best books featuring gay characters from the 1990s. A first novel celebrating love, blending voluptuousness and stark reality. Sounded good. We’re always looking for something different.
The first chapter was interesting enough.
The story looks back on a time when gay men were discreet. We’re in a bar that’s always changing its name, in an anonymous city (in England, I think). The bar is painted black and has a ceiling twinkling with white fairy lights, like stars. The characters, we’re told, form a cast list, including chorus and bit players, in a story of romance.
So far so good.
We’re introduced by the unknown narrator to ‘Boy’. One night he walks into the bar, looking for a man to show him all the things he wants but hasn’t yet done. He’s 19, beautiful and strong. We’re allowed to make Boy fit any fantasy we have of our ideal image, someone so gorgeous just seeing them is one of life’s pleasures. I liked that idea.
Boy quickly becomes a bar regular. Every time he goes home with someone new. Then Boy is introduced to ‘O’, an older man experienced in the ways of the world. Encouraged by Madame (AKA Mother), bar owner, and her gossip-loving patrons, Boy and O begin an affair. Courtship, engagement and wedding follow ritual and convention, except of course it’s between two men.
Boy’s arrival coincides with a knife attack on one of the men from the Bar. This is just the first in a series of hate crimes spread through the story. Another side plot features the strangely sinister relationship between Boy and his Father.
Outlined like this it sounds fine. The problem is in the execution. I couldn’t understand the book. It made me feel stupid, as if there was something I just wasn’t able to grasp that would transform the reading experience from bewildered incomprehension to enlightened understanding. Probably the whole thing is allegory. Or do I mean metaphor? If I could be bothered I’d have thought it through but I couldn’t summon the enthusiasm. I had other books waiting. Contrivances like lack of personal names can be too clever. There are lots of literary references that someone more cultured than I (obviously) am might enjoy. But the overall effect did not engage me much. Then I’m never overly impressed with consciously literary novels.
Maybe I should try again. Perhaps I just wasn’t in the right mood. I doubt I will. Much rather curl up with Dakota Taylor (Arson, Silver Saddles) or Angel and Spike. Not recommended.
Buy From Amazon UK here: Ready to Catch Him Should He Fall
Back to Fiction Index