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SkinnyDippingIntoBooks

Skinny Dipping Into Books

I like the rain. I want to have a spring bookworming rain party full out with wellies—but not those Hunter Boots; absolutely not—, with yummy airy things like puffed pastries, meringues, mini fluffy cheese cakes, mousse dessert, macaroon, biscuits, crepe, and Earl Grey tea, definitely Earl Grey tea.  and Tillandsia. We'd have lots of "air plants". Lots! And We'd read, but not anything structured. We'd bring books, trade books, read out-loud, pass books around between sentences and paragraphs. We'd leave with books we hadn't discovered.

 

I like books like I like my Jazz; euphoric, dangerous, occasionally a bit manic, sorrowful, bleak, raging, mood-incongruent, mournful, unforgivingly ragged, symbolic in a quiet way, warm apple pie for the soul. Give me a Plath style. Yōko Ogawa, M. Roach,


Criteria: Not rated on likability of characters. Not objective. I like Moxie Soda; chances are you don't.


time spent in that before bed reading slot:

5-until blurry eye 4-Later than I intended, but I still kept to my extended, extended reading time 3-I really should have been to bed an hour ago  2-customary 30 minutes. 1-book. side table. eyes closed.


How are common themes handled?

5-With an aesthetic that repurposes everyday themes into something fresh. Think of Hole Celebrity Skin covered by Cat Power  4-there is a comfortable air of familiarly.
3-Deja Vu 2. No deviation from its mates  1. Devastatingly trite, redundant, and stale.

Where would you keep it post-reading?

5-Next to my bed.  4-it's the center piece of my favorite bookshelf 3. On my other favorite bookshelf, but it's a bit dusty over their 2-Great cheap bookends 1-It never made it out of the box marked 'moving'.


Emotional response-

5- Where is my teddy bear? Emotional-hangover 4- If I wasn't so emotionally stunted I'd cry.
3. Did James Cameron co-wrote this? Artfully contrived. 
2- calculative emotional manipulation. This was literally written by James Cameron.1- I…feel…..nothing.

Mechanics (plot structure, voice, presentation, word choice, sentence structure, characters, writing style, pacing, and consistency):

5-Chanel 4-Prada 3-J-Crew 2-Gap 1-Old Navy

Currently reading

The Complete Stories
Flannery O'Connor
I am No One You Know
Joyce Carol Oates
Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls
Alissa Nutting, Alissa Nutting

Double the amazement of the first!

Something Like Winter - Jay Bell

I could make you happy, you know If you weren't already.....
[HE'S] not really my type But I think you two are forever
And I hate to say it, but you're perfect together
So fuck you and your untouchable face
Fuck you for existing in the first place
And who am I That I should be vying for your touch  Ani Difranco


Fresh of the cart of the emotional bashing of Something Like Summer,  I took on this book.

It’s really difficult to express the reasons I adore this book. I adore it for its honesty. I adore it for accepting the fact that life is jagged glass, even if you are happy and content with life. I admire it for openly saying that even though life is better, there are still struggles, and the struggles of our past are never fully removed, but the scars grow fainter and fainter as the years past. I adore this book because it illustrates that people do crazy things for love, and sometimes those crazy things have good intentions hidden away.

Here we find Tim at the forefront of the love affair between Ben and Tim. The storyline is concise and follows the exact sequence of Something Like Summer with some departures. You’d think at times that this would be problematic; that it would be a stagnant mess. Jay (author) is clever enough to pull this off with the same mastery of Something like Summer.

Tim brings us back across the sandpaper of his youth, and his relationship with Ben. He delves slightly into the relationship between himself and his parents. We gain a better understanding of his background, and how his upbringing may  have contributed to his difficulty in expressing his emotions, but more importantly we understand, at least more clearly his intentions and motivations for his behavior; protection.

Ultimately Tim understood the meaning making behind his relationship with Ben, as well as the consequences. Competing with his own innate urge to reject his feelings towards men, restrained to rhythms of a heterosexual past, and trying to protect Ben from all this, Tim sheltered their relationship, and as a consequence drowned out the magic. He knew that he wasn’t ready to change his life to fit his budding sexuality and his relationship with a fellow he truly, deeply, and painfully cared for, while also protecting his own image. However, through Tim’s perspective, Ben was so blinded by his own successes with navigating his sexuality that he rejected the subjective experience of coming out, and as a result ignored Tim’s right to progress at his own speed. Ben’s ‘FUCK THEM’ attitude slammed against Tim’s rational views. As a result things splintered, and 1/4th into Something Like Summer/Winter, they parted. This is all familiar territory for the reader of this book, what differs is angle at which it is viewed.

College is a combination of suck and awesomeness. Tim is no exception as he tries endlessly to gain perspective. He eagerly explores his sexuality like any other closeted fellow; via hookups (1). We can’t blame him, but his actions do chip away at his façade and the man he wants to become. Presumably he is trying to achieve the same level of wellness that Ben had as a teenager, but is perhaps rushing it a bit. He finds a fellow and extracts moments from his past with Ben into this new college fling. One could view this whole drama scene as destructive or beneficial; it’s up to you folks. During these early college years we find out what that scar is on his shoulder, and we also acquire insight into the emotional damage it causes.

We meet Eric. Eric shows Tim a whole new world. This is a world that immerses time with a deeper understanding of love, relationships, compassion, homophobia, sexuality, companionship, and compromise, etc. In many ways Eric has the patience to guide Tim into new terrain, and compared to Ben’s hastiness, Eric’s proceeds with a slow, delicate touch that is really successful.  Eric shows Tim the circular motions of positive, constructive love (2). Plywood, nails, cement….. foundation for future relationships established.

Between finals and contemplating the future, a cascade of mistakes big and small follows. Insight is cradled in between these experiences, and sometimes its newness is deceiving; a hidden rusty nail. When and how to wield it takes practice. Ben’s ignorance, and Tim’s unstable obsession—each the result of inexperience with life lessons—contributes to that dangerous event.  “You wanted an excuse to come running to me. You wanted your relationship with Jace to fall apart just as much as I did.”…

 

Tim you FREAKING IDIOT.

 

and you know the rest from Something Like Summer . But, Tim loans us his perspective, and if you are like me you reject the terms. This dance of success and failure became gruelingly redundant at this point—see Jay, normalcy balances nicely against emotional upset. If you are like me you lost faith in Tim, even as he painfully tried to convince us of his good intentions.

The novel expands upon Tim’s relationship with his twink, and adds valid meaning to the experience. Suddenly we retain some hope that Tim will resolve his sadness, his past, and his own self-inflicted cruelty. The foundation laid by Eric and Ben is tested for weaknesses.

Finally, we arrive at that IT MOMENT. Love is Love…. But not really, and conceptualizing it in such simple terms really rejects the notion that love is a fluctuating viscous thing that shifts and turns as we grow older, and that is exactly what happens with Ben and Tim. We need those in the past experiences, friends, lovers and what not, to tell us how far we can bend, and to help us understand the curves and divots of love, and to further help us understand when to let our finger tips touch for the last time as we walk in separate directions. Anguish, perfect warm love, shame, sex (good and bad), intimacy, revenge, hesitation, and all the rest help us build up our walls, shutter our doors and windows, and wait patiently for the time when we should open them onto the world. We as readers just needed to wait, just as Tim and Ben did, for this moment. Standing in front of Tim’s new painting, Ben and Tim weigh a past of all these things and more, against the glow of hope. Jay gives us a little hint of Ben and Tim’s future in Something like Summer. Love is never completely cloaked in safety, but maybe Tim and Ben get as close as possible to a life of happiness, again, maybe those scars are still too rough and new to let things solidify into anything but backs turned and the sound of feet in opposite directions. All I can say, and warn, is that this is not your typical fuzzy love story. Jay warns you of this in the first few pages too.


We commonly label books like this as ‘from a different perspective’.  Interestingly, the author avoids the cookie cutter approach to achieving a broader understanding of the circumstances by using a nonconventional, but simple approach.  Firstly, he immersed us into the lives of these two guys, providing us with an emotional tactile experience. We became these characters, and as a result grew to understand them from an outsider’s orientation.  The invested reader of Something Like Summer presumably understood the motivations and intent of both Ben and Tim’s behaviors without relying directly on the POV. It’s OUR interpretation of the events not Ben’s or Tim’s. For me the shared sequence of events between novels, the fact Tim and Ben openly explored their own, as well as each other’s emotions, altered this approach to writing.


The writing in Something like Winter wasn’t as powerful, and lacked the emotional punch of Something like Summer. My original perception was that this may resulted from the similar story-lines and sequencing, as well as a scant amount of time focused outside themes shared between the two books. Originally cause for a star, I sat on this, and decided that no, this wasn’t the case, and to a certain degree the novel had more emotional content than Something like Summer.  Told through the eyes of Tim, someone defined as emotionally reserved (putting it nicely), it makes sense that this book registered lower on the emotions scale. Ben was quite deft at exploring and expressing himself, while Tim hid his emotions away, fearing the repercussions. The subtlety in the different approaches, and the fact it took me a day to register this, is testament to the power and strength of this book and its author.


1. Please take note, the sex scenes in this book are a bit more, shall we say graphic? however, they are tasteful. just an fyi.   

2. I already trusted your intentions, and loved you, but now I love you spoonfuls and spoonfuls.



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