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Download Surprising Myself epub

by Christopher Bram

Working at a Boy Scout camp as a counselor, Joel Scherzenlieb meets Corey Cobbett, a gay counselor, and becomes aware of his own sexual feelings
Download Surprising Myself epub
ISBN: 0805006699
ISBN13: 978-0805006698
Category: Gay and Lesbian
Subcategory: Literature & Fiction
Author: Christopher Bram
Language: English
Publisher: Holt Paperbacks; 1st Owl book ed edition (June 15, 1988)
Pages: 424 pages
ePUB size: 1930 kb
FB2 size: 1202 kb
Rating: 4.3
Votes: 414
Other Formats: lit txt mbr azw

Published in 1987 and placed in the 1970s, this book is as fresh, insightful, ironically humorous and at times painful as if it were new fiction. Those familiar with Bram's other work probably know this superb book. If not, they should acquire it. Worth not only reading, but the occasional re-read . . . .
Sadly this was not up to the standard of the first book of Bram's that read. It's OK but I wouldn't read it a second time.
I'm not sure what to make of this novel. On the one had it is an interesting read on coming out and coming to terms with your sexuality in the 1970s/1980s, but I didn't really get a sense of time at all. It could have been set in today's world and it wouldn't have lost anything.

The book is told from Joel's point of view and the first person point of view is not one of my favourites to read. I'm always wondering what the other characters felt and thought, and we only get Joel's opinions as to what they might be feeling.

It is an interesting read and I enjoyed Joel's growth from scared youth wondering if he was really gay, to his acceptance of himself and others later on. What I didn't like was the time jumps in some certains, such as "Three years later I went back to Switzerland." I wanted to know what happened in the three years in between. The relationship between Joel and Corey felt a bit glossed over, we're told they are in love etc., but only because Joel as the narrator told us so. They are in a relationship, but it's not a romance, as we as readers don't get to see them on their journey as they fall in love, we come back to them in New York when they are already an established couple.

The writing is good, very solid and flows really well, some of it is quite poetic in places but a lot of the characters besdies Joel and Corey fell a bit flat for me, almost as if they were cariactures of themselves. Since we are only relying on Joel's narration, it might be the way he viewed them, so a lot of them don't get much depth.

I was expecting more of a romance between Joel and Corey and we didn't quite get it. I'm not sure I would class it as a romance, more of a gay drama, and a lot of the book focuses on Joel's sister and her boyfriend and, then husband, Bob Kearney. I wanted more about Joel and Corey, I wasn't all that interested in what happened with the rest of Joel's family.

I think my expectations of a romance were what made it that little bit disappointing for me, as it is a good book, but just not the one I was expecting, so a solid four from me.

Review copy from Netgalley
This novel turned out to be a challenge in my rereading binge of Bram's novels. He's great at creating narrators and protagonists who aren't entirely likeable, a bold decision.

Joel's teen days at camp, and his budding awareness as gay, make up the first part of the novel. His relationship with Corey is truncated by a time gap. Most of the novel deals with his sister's troubled relationship with her husband, the return of their absent father into their lives, and his mother and grandmother's lives on a Virginia farm.

It's clear that the comparison between a straight marriage and a gay relationship are an important aspect of this family drama. The concept of love and loyalty are debated. But the later scenes of "hide the baby" are a bit overplayed. Still, it's an interesting variation from the usual 'happy ending' stories of the era.
This is a worthy book to read. It awakens us to the weaknesses of human beings. There were a number of meaningful lines in this book. I'd highly recommend it. I had the opportunity to meet Christopher Bram at a recent booksigning in the Village for his new book, CIRCUS ANIMALS. He was a delight and a true gentleman. This was Christopher Brams' first book (Surprising Myself)...and I found THE NOTORIOUS DR AUGUST a more well written novel...however...
There were significant lines that will forever remain in my mind after enjoying this book... Better a letter than a silent, convenient forgetting.
Nobody's life is ruined until they're dead.
It's like Oscar Wilde says. We regret only those things we didn't do.
You must be out of your tree. THERE ARE MORE LINES...but I can't give it all away. Smiles!
We clearly all need to wake up periodically. I realized that I often wildly look around (in my own life) and 'at times' we MUST grab for something to prove that one really does control ones life. Surprise reading this real treat!