Friday, February 14, 2014

Very Little Behind the Curtain

Usually I love Amy Lane books and can't get enough of them.  I was really excited about reading a book of hers about the theater, especially the behind the scenes people because I was once a costumer at the Alley Theatre in Houston.  Also I live in Sacramento near where the story is set, and I used to teach in a community college just like the one the protagonist attends.  As far as I was concerned, Lane's Behind the Curtain should have been the best book I've read this year.

So you can imagine my surprise and disappointment when it fell way short of my expectations.  Lane's made a career writing about lonely, lost gay boy/men who are struggling to find their way in this mad world of ours.  In almost all of her books, she gets to the heart of the men, and each story is an individual study of how one person's demons either help or hinder him in attaining happiness.  The Johnnies series of porn stars in Sacramento is a case in point.  Each man's story, while filled with angst and past unhappiness, is a story of overcoming adversity and discovering who he is in order to be fulfilled.  There's no mistaking David/Dex for Chase or Tommy or Kane.

But in Behind the Curtain even the mega-talented Jarod is nothing more than an anonymous ballet dancer who's seen the world but never lived in it.  Dawson and Benji, while joined at the hip as friends, never break apart and become living, breathing entities like the Johnnies sex machines do.  In fact, at times Dawson-Benji became so intermixed that I lost track of which one I was reading about.  When I have to remind myself Dawson = gay and Benji = straight just to differentiate the characters, I know the book is in trouble.

So what's going on, I asked myself.  I have to wonder if Ms. Lane has lost the passion for writing that she had a few years ago.  I hope not.  I believe in her and her talent.  But I think that readers and publishers and especially all her fans should just give her a little breathing room to write at her own pace and let her become rejuvenated by her passion for writing.  In this age of instant gratification, we should all give our favorite authors space to create and thereby produce their best work.

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