Some are just, so incredible, you want to throw in the towel, because there’s no way in hell you will ever, even with a million years of practice, practice, practice, match the talent they put in a single page. Then there are those whose work is just, so horrible, you wonder how the hell in a million years they ever got a book deal, let alone one from a large publisher?
It’s Christmas day and I’m at my sister’s. Some folks are enjoying their gifts from the morning gift-giving mayhem, and others are busy getting dinner ready (my bit’s all done. Just sayin’). Another group is in the basement playing pool and darts, and the little-ittles have absconded all the broadcast screens, watching every episode of Barney, back-to-back. I have nowhere to go but to the relative quiet of bookshelves in the living room.
I hadn’t picked up a good novel in a while, so I decide to sit a spell and read something from my sister and brother-in-law’s giant library. I run my finger along the rows of book spines until it stops at a novel titled, “The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon” by Tom Spanbauer.
Curled up on the couch in front of the fire with a glass of wine, I start reading. I had to laugh, because the story is set in the Sawtooth region of Idaho in late 19th-century. If you recall, I had a story running for a while with fellow blogger tnkerr set in late 19th-century Idaho Sawtooth region. Naturally, I took pulling this particular book out from the hundreds available as a sign that I should get back to writing Victor & Hugo.
But, I digress.
Tom Spanbauer is the first kind of Damn Author mentioned above. Cleverly crafted, fantastic story! Distinct perspective! Social commentary (albeit, a bit cliché)! I thoroughly enjoyed “The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon.”
Fair warning: The novel is deliberately provocative, and told from the point of view of someone who will never come close to fitting society’s definition of “acceptable” or “common.” I’m not giving anything away by telling you the protagonist is a man born and raised in a whorehouse (“brothel” would be too elegant a term) by emotionally-addled, addiction-ridden whores. His worldview is rooted in this singular experience. So, if you are squeamish about the seedier side of life, this book is not for you. If anything, and by that I mean, if everything “anti-social” or “deviant” upsets you, you will not appreciate this book. I found several passages a bit hard to read. To this end, I feel it necessary to mention, if you have suffered childhood abuse, I cannot recommend this as a good read, unless you have come to terms with your abuse. And, it should come as no surprise, since its publication 25-ish years ago, the novel is on the top of several LGBTQ book lists. Lastly, I’ll say it’s my guess Fifty Shades and possibly any other erotica novel’s got nothing on ‘Moves Moves’ (if you’ve read TMWFiLwtM, you know to what I refer).
Disclaimer stated, the novel’s saving grace is that it is an honestly and forthrightly told story without bile-laden anger or neurosis. The loving, sympathetic care Spanbauer takes with all his characters, even the worst among them, is a fair and genteel assessment of the human condition. The setting of another time and place allows the reader to observe the sometimes harsh world from a comfortable distance. It’s reminiscent of the critical acclaim the original Star Trek television series received for using an unknown future place and time as a “safe” backdrop to address complicated societal and philosophical grievances.
In conclusion, the novel’s quest for the meaning of life and the meaning of “self” theme may be cliché, but who cares. During this time of chaos and confusion, when fear mongering has everyone on edge, Spanbauer’s well-told story takes readers on a wonder-full journey of discovery and hope without being sentimental, and concludes with neither a happy or sad ending.