Because Blogger's "Adult warning" often goes into a perpetual loop (isn't working properly), I will be making all new posts at my WordPress blog. You can follow it even if you do not have a WordPress Account. There're also my Twitter and my Tumblr blog, my Facebook and my Google+ page and my group.
(Update: Blogger hasn't fixed its problem with the "adult warning". Will go back to posting at my WordPress blog)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Map of the Harbor Islands

This is a marvellous book. Just wonderful. It's the story of two best friends Petey (who has a stutter and is different) and Danny who discovers that everywhere he goes, Petey's been there first. Petey is gay, Danny straight. Yet...

You know how sometimes a book or a film will enter your mind and the images and characters will never again leave it? Mary Renault's Laurie and Ralph from The Charioteer, King Arthur from Morte d'Arthur (the barge with oar and sail /Moved from the brink, like some full-breasted swan/That, fluting a wild carol ere her death,/Ruffles her pure cold plume, and takes the flood). And countless more, fictional guides to the job of being human, as real to me as anybody I see on the streets; more real, perhaps.

The story isn't about love as 'lurve', but about friendship. It's about how men navigate the more insalubrious reaches of male sexuality and learn to be tender, to love; or rather not to learn--that's inbuilt -- to allow their love to be shown, to set aside some of the more pernicious cultural values our society attaches to maleness so that their inner humanity can be expressed. And because it's about a journey, a metaphorical and internal journey to be sure, but a long and painful journey nonetheless, the change in Danny's character and (to a lesser extent Petey's) comes to grip you tightly and at the end there's nary a dry eye in the house.

I did a longer review here, and I can't emphasize enough to any of you who read this blog that this is a must-read. Beg, borrow or steal a copy. But read it!

1 comment:

Adam Phillips said...

You said this in your longer review:

"I struggled to read his first book, This Thing Called Courage : South Boston Stories, because it was so bleak. Young men growing up in a place where it was almost impossible to be what they were, and having no one to show them the path that young men like them could tread to grow into wisdom and fulfillment. Boys don’t grow up by themselves. They need men to guide them – without that they never properly mature. And gay or bi boys need gay or bi men, because the social interactions are necessarily more complex, harder, more likely to fail. Because most of us never had such guides, we had to construct our own code of values, our own social links, our own hoekie. In Hayes’ stories, and in real life, we often fail, sometimes catastrophically, and the process always leaves us damaged and incomplete. Things are no different in this wonderful novel. Yet still, it is full of hope."

Interesting. Joe has discussed with me his progression of thought and conviction through the books. I'll share those thoughts with you some time.

Thanks for posting this. It's a sweet book, a marvelous one. But you already knew I thought that. ;-)