CMbYN left me with mixed feelings. Although I ended up becoming engrossed in the protagonists' journey, and found Elio's character particularly poignant at the end (yes, I did tear up), I later got angry. Why? Because, unlike Brokeback Mountain, there was really no excuse for these men not to get together.
The story takes place from roughly 1985 to 2005. Both protags move in liberal artistic and academic circles, in Europe as well as on the U.S. eastern seaboard. The narrator's parents are seemingly accepting-- and the father, even envious--of his affair with Oliver. If each man viewed the other as his "heart of hearts," what kept them apart?
Not the time or the place(s), and surely not social or peer pressure. Not the men's sexual dynamic or a gross imbalance of feeling. Not parental disapproval. What, then?
I know from personal experience that the need to be with one's "soulmate" is not eroded by time, distance, or circumstance. I know this. So, ultimately, I felt manipulated by the author. I felt he'd thrown up completely illusory barriers to keep the men separated. Was this a case of angst for the sake of angst? Don't know.
Anyway, on to The Back Passage by James Lear (2006, Cleis Press).
So far, I love it! I love the narrator's insouciant voice and attitude and his self-indulgent carnality. He makes no excuses for himself. I love how the author plays fast and loose, in an affectionate, tongue-in-cheek way, with British "drawing room" character types and family intrigue and all the other norms of cozy mysteries. Although I'd expected this book to be raunchy, it's far tamer than most current m/m erotic romance -- mine included. But the narrator's sheer, unapologetic horniness, combined with the author's solid prose and delightful irreverence, have put back the happy in me that CMbYN sucked away.
I just need to get through this period of compulsive reading so I can return to writing! (I'll tell you about my new project within the week, as well as a development related to me and Samhain.)