Just yesterday I read Being Small by Chaz Brenchley, AKAdesperance . It's the kind of book you want to read twice, at least, once for plot and once to see it all in the light of the plot twist/paradigm shift. It's a short book, so it will be easy to do that, but I'd do it even if the book were 800 pages long. It's that good. A classic: deft, subtle, moving.
The language is entirely suitable to the narrator, a 16-year-old boy, but is also clean prose rising to lyricism at key moments. ("Clean prose" is not faint praise; writing it takes skill and courage.)
The book is flawlessly constructed without feeling constructed at all. The convolutions of the plot arise naturally from the characters involved: Michael, the narrator; Small, his dead twin brother; their mother Alice who constantly seeks change, moving from one neighborhood of Oxford to another every six months. In the final neighborhood, Michael encounters a group of mostly or entirely gay friends who are nursing a dying professor named Quin. Michael walks their dog and plays chess with Quin and gradually becomes a trusted friend and caregiver.
One thing I love about this book is that yes, it has plenty of gay characters, but the issues at the heart of the story are not questions about being gay. Everybody who spends time at Quin's house is comfortable with their sexuality.
Please read it, because I seriously want to discuss it with someone. I'm proposing a panel on this book for FOGcon, but I'd rather not wait until March.
Every year I look for a new literary find -- an author whose work speaks to me. This year it's Chaz Brenchley. I'm delighted because he has a long backlist, so I can look forward to many more hours in his clearly imagined, beautifully invoked world.
This entry was originally posted at http://wordweaverlynn.dreamwidth.org/641758.html. Please comment here if you want, or there using OpenID. Or send me a message via carrier pigeon or fortune cookie. I'm dying to hear from you.