January 8th, 2011

44. Andrew Holleran, "Dancer from the Dance"

A novel of gay life in New York, published 1978. The action spans the previous couple of decades, I suppose, and is book-ended by a series of letters between two onlookers - the nameless narrator in New York, and a friend in the South. These put me off a bit, being both lurid and confusing, but once I'd fought my way through them and got to the novel proper, I was hooked. This is a rather beautiful book, explicit but not coarse, sad but not depressing, serious but not preachy. I'm not sure, though, that I really enjoyed it.

I did feel that things ran out of steam about three quarters of the way through, at which point I really stopped caring about any of the characters. I had stopped liking most of them some while previously. And I got very, very tired of hearing about beautiful Puerto Rican men.

Here, have an extract:


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45. Jin Xing, "Shanghai Tango"

I used to be very into ballet stories, not so much because I was keen on ballet, but because they tended to be about people knowing what they wanted, and getting it. Though this is a true story, it's no exception. Firstly, it's about Jin Xing's ambition to be China's greatest dancer. Secondly, it's about her identity as, and journey to become, a woman. Two interlinked destinations, and a route that takes in the People's Liberation Army, Korea, America, Rome, and Belgium, an array of lovers, and a (mostly) supportive family.

I enjoyed this one a lot; one gets a real sense of the force of Jin Xing's personality, and it's interesting from the dance perspective, too. My only complaint is that some all but insurmountable challenges get passed over in a couple of sentences, and I would really like to know more about some of them.


Extract:

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