Two books I’ve read that tell powerful stories of love and bonding between members of the
same-sex rank among my favorites. One is a short story which was also made into an award-winning movie, “Brokeback Mountain” while the other is a full length novel titled “Call me by your name”
Till I read these two stories, I was skeptical about the intensity of a love/sexual relationship between two men. (Men because both stories are about men. Could apply to women as well, I believe.) Since reading them, I better understand that human emotions know no limits or boundaries and biological makeup is not the only factor that contributes to the right chemistry.
Now first about Brokeback Mountain which is contained in a short story collection titled Close Range Brokeback Mountain and other stories by American Author Annie Proulx (First edition 2006).
She’s a Pulitzer Prize winning writer who lives in near obscurity but her writings are sharp, straight forward and makes use of the English language in an unconventional manner which makes her writings attractive to a reader.
I do have a problem understanding American English in some instances because they are heavily accented with dialects used in different states which sometimes cannot be easily understood by a reader foreign to such language use. I’ve tried reading two books by American Nobel Prize winning writer William Faulkner’s but they weighed me down heavily. Both remain half read after more than a year but I need to make an effort to complete them one of these days.
The other book “Call me by your name” is written by an Egyptian born American writer
Andre Aciman (First edition 2007) and is one of those books I picked up after reading the back cover and thought it sounded interesting. I was in a second-hand book shop during an overseas visit when I came across it and chose to carry it in my handbag on the return journey. I had nearly a ten-hour flight to Colombo, with a transit in between and travelling alone, I had the time to apply my undivided attention (a rare opportunity) to the book.
The back cover hinted at a love story but after the first few pages into the book, I went back to page one and began re-reading to make sure I had read right because what I was expecting was a love story between a man and woman and what was unfolding was something very unexpected.
But I loved the book anyway. It took me through all the turbulence that goes with human emotions, love, companionship, longing, and pain of knowing you can never be with the one you long for and it made me cry. (Luckily on the second lap of my journey when things were getting pretty emotional and my tears were flowing, the aircraft was near empty and I had three entire aisle seats to myself.) Time just flew as the pages turned and I was back home, emotionally charged.
Back to Brokeback Mountain which I read only after I had watched the movie based on it. Since then I’ve read and re-read it several times and each time the power of Proulx’s writing gets me.
Now I understand that strong intimate bonding between people of the same-sex is as natural as what happens between heterosexual couples, or maybe even stronger. I mean, men and women are always complaining about each other and for the couples in these stories that is one issue they don’t have to worry about).
A little scrutiny through history shows that many of our historical male heroes were closest to their male companions from Alexander the Great of Macedonia (Why he is called great for capturing and plundering foreign lands I have no idea???) had as his lifelong companion Hephaestion by his side until his death, Achilles, our Homeric hero who burnt down Troy had as his closest buddy Patroclus whose death at the hands of the Trojan prompted Achilles to unleash his wrath on the enemy. We’ve had Robinson Crusoe and his Man Friday but here one could argue that Crusoe was on a deserted island and was left with little choice but all these instances illustrate the strong and powerful bonding that has historically also existed between men. (Forgive me about only mentioning men but the books I am writing about have males as the central characters).
For now I‘ll recommend these two stories for your reading pleasure and sign out. Time for some unconventional stuff. Happy reading.