Sunday, March 11, 2012

This n That: Computer Woes + Jeff (the) Mann

Okay my friends it's official: my computer is dead and ready for a funeral. There's no saving it this time. I've been without my trustee friend now for almost two weeks and am going through severe withdrawal symptoms.

I do have an old laptop at home that's so old and slow it is more frustrating than worth the time to try using it for anything. And for posting here, I've borrowed my daughter's laptop a couple of times, but that doesn't really work out on a regular basis. So, yes... time for a new computer. [sigh]  Barring unforeseen complications, I will have a brand new iMac in my hot little hands by Wednesday of this week. Thankfully, hopefully!

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My reading has suffered too, people! I've been flitting like a bee going from flower to flower, back and forth between books. I haven't been able to concentrate for long on one book lately, and that's not due to the books I assure you, it is ALL me! The best I've done so far this month is finish two complete novels, and the rest have been novellas (a couple of them re-reads). The good news is that the two novels I finished were excellent. The first one was The Temporary Wife by Mary Balogh, which I loved and already reviewed.

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The other novel I finished was Purgatory: A Novel of the Civil War by Jeff Mann. Yes, I read that book yesterday (the Kindle edition. I'm still waiting for the print edition to arrive so I can pet the gorgeous cover, but couldn't wait to read it), and it was worth it. 

The novellas that I read during the week were also mostly by Jeff Mann. I re-read some the short stories from his Lambda Award winning collection A History of Barbed Wire, and also read his novella "Camp Allegheny" from the anthology History's Passions edited by Richard Labonte which I've had ever since it released back in November 2011. Reading both the novella and re-reading some of the short stories served as a refresher in Mann's style before reading his latest release, Purgatory.

Purgatory: A Novel of the Civil War (Bear Bones Books, 2012) turned out to be terrific blend of historical fiction and BDSM erotic romance. Jeff Mann has studied American Civil War history  -- I think he eats it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner along with some of that excellent Southern cooking he loves -- and in Purgatory the reader can smell and taste war, as well as the hatred, desperation, hunger, and even the ambivalence that the soldiers in this story experience in camp or on the run as they march toward Purgatory Mountain.

I love that aspect of Mann's writing, just as I absolutely appreciate the fact that he is the one author that can really make me understand why his characters need to be part of the gay BDSM bear sub-culture. He is part of this community, and his own passion and understanding for it come forth clearly and powerfully through the pages of this novel, as well as through all his previous works. I love the unabashed passion he conveys for both the gay bear sub-culture and for his Southern roots.

But coming back to Purgatory, Mann blends aspects of BDSM seamlessly in this novel. I wondered how he would approach it in a realistic way because of the historical setting, and was not disappointed. Instead of forcing the issue, Mann beautifully uses the historical setting as a platform to develop this aspect of the story. He does a terrific job of separating and showing the reader the differences between torture and the passionate, erotic, and loving aspects of BDSM. I was particularly taken with his rendering of the captive's character. Understanding his motivations as the submissive in this story is key, and Mann makes certain this is unquestionably clear to the reader. Kudos all around.

Besides the highly recommended Purgatory, and the other stories I mention above, if you're interested in reading and understanding a bit more about Jeff Mann and his writings, I strongly recommend that you also read Binding the God: Ursine Essays from the Mountain South.

ETA: I highlighted the cover for this book earlier because I love it so, and I wanted to add that the cover fits the story and characters perfectly! 
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Well my friends that is it for me on this Sunday. I am hoping to have that computer and some reviews that are long overdue for all of you this week! I'm also hoping to finish a few books that I began reading and have not finished: Songs for the New Depression by Kergan Edwards-Stout, Walking the Clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction edited by Grace L. Dillon, The Surrender of Miss Fairbourne by Madeline Hunter, A Promise of Spring by Mary Balogh, Strawberries and Other Erotic Fruits by Jerry L. Wheeler, Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold, and Doubletake by Rob Thurman.

Wish me luck with my reading mojo! I need to get it back!

13 comments:

  1. Hils,

    Sorry to hear about your computer woes. I can relate though, mine died and I gave it proper funeral a while ago. But it's exciting at the same time - a new MAC! That's cause for a major happy dance! I've been eyeing the Air Book for a while and saving my pennies. We are such slaves to the technology aren't we? LOL I hope you get back on the computer track relatively smoothly this week.

    Re: Jeff (the) Mann (love that!) I have yet to read this author but have heard many, many good things about him. I purchased his Fog: A Novel of Desire and Reprisal last month - I'll have to move it up on the reading list. Purgatory sounds very interesting though. American civil war and BDSM - quite the mix. I don't read a lot of BDSM, but this one sounds intriguing enough to try. Thanks for the review.

    Indie

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  2. I'm so happy when I see Jeff Mann get his due. You're completely right - the man has such a deft touch in his eroticism of the BDSM - it's outstanding.

    My copy of PURGATORY hasn't shown up yet. I'm jealous.

    'Nathan

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  3. That cover is beautiful! Have you started Silver Sparrow yet? I'm thinking I'll read it this week... we'll see what happens. I bought Fair Game by P. Briggs, so that may take precedence ;)

    Too bad about the computer, but a new one is always something to look forward to.

    Hope everyone is well.

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  4. Indi, I am doing a happy dance! I can't wait to get my hands on that new MAC. :)

    And yes... I went there with (the)Mann. I hope he doesn't mind too much. *g* RE: the history and BDSM mix and the fact that you don't read much of it. Well, Mann blends the history, there's no info dump in this story, and you know that I don't read much BDSM either for reasons we've already discussed. However, Mann is an exception. I meant what I said in my post, he writes about this subject with an authority and honesty that I truly enjoy. His prose also happens to be gorgeous. I hope you do give his work a try.

    I haven't read Fog yet, but I will!

    'Nathan, hello! Jeff Mann absolutely deserves to be highlighted and more. We agree as to his talents!

    As far as the book goes, I was impatient and couldn't wait for my print copy to arrive so I ended up purchasing the Kindle edition too. LOL, it was worth it for me. You'll enjoy this one. :D

    Mariana, I love, love this cover! Isn't gorgeous? I can't wait to see it.

    I began reading Silver Sparrow and am about 25% into it, but stalled since well... I read The Temporary Wife and Purgatory. *g* But, I'm going to go for it this week.

    And yes, that new MAC is getting a happy home. I can't stand using this old thang... lol, I'm spoiled. :)

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  5. OMG do I ever hear you on the reading blues. I've been reading but it's really hit or miss what I stick with. I think I'll feel like a contemporary and I'll read historical. It's frustrating not knowing what I want to read!

    And that sucks about the computer but it's always fun setting up a new one! I like shiny new things. LOL

    Purgatory sounds really good. And that cover is really nice.

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  6. Ames! I DO have the reading blues! I'm hoping that reading Purgatory pulled me out of it. Sigh...

    That was a great read -- not for the squeamish, though. *g* The cover is definitely a favorite of mine (can you tell? LOL).

    For you I recommend A History of Barbed Wire (I never reviewed that one, but maybe I will?), and the first short story I read by Mann in Labonte's anthology Best Gay Erotica 2010 "Smoke and Semen," that's the story that got me hooked on Jeff Mann (that review is here under Richard Labonte, but I address Mann's story).

    I can't wait for my shiny, new computer. But it has been a pain not having one available. I lost reviews that I'll have to rewrite and other things that I don't even want to think about. UGH!

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  7. Ames, PS: I meant to say "For you, I ALSO recommend..." *g*

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  8. So, so, so Hils! Any news on the Mac? Are you getting it on Wednesday? I hope you get it soon! I hear you on computer woes! Hopefully, a new computer will solve it all :)

    Sorry to hear about the reading blues :( At least, you managed to read 2 good books! My knowledge of the Civil War is pretty much limited to North and South by John Jakes :)

    Ohhh, Hils! Try to read Doubletake. Perhaps Goodfellow will get you out of the blues LOL.

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  9. My dear nath, I got my Mac TONIGHT! Now I have to play with it. :) Its a beauty.

    Ahh North and South, I still have not seen the much lauded series. I should. At this point I think I'm the only one who hasn't seen it yet. :)

    DOUBLETAKE! I began reading it and it looks good. I will pick it up again. From what I read it seems as if Robyn might just cheer me up along with the Pan -ic. Lol

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  10. LOL. Oh yeah!! Robin and the Panic will definitively cheer you up LOL. just too bad it wasn't the whole book. But don't worry, there's still Cal :) The book make me LOL several time and the story is quite good ;) Might get you out of your slump :)

    and yay on the computer!!

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  11. Nath, it's great to know that the humor is still there, even if Robin's thread is not the main one. I'm saving the book for the weekend so I can really concentrate on it. Can't wait!

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  12. Hey Hils,
    I've been flitting between books like a bee, too! Must be all that pollen in the air. ;p I have a stack of library books due next week and I just keep grabbing and reading a few chapters from books on my shelves.. I think I need to just read where my heart takes me and not worry about deadlines or due dates. Although I am DETERMINED to read this month's book club book so I'll get to that asap.

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  13. Hey Christine!
    It's SO frustrating for me... that jumping back and forth. I have so many books started, there's a collection of print books on my coffee table and my Kindle has 20% books all over the place. I don't like that!

    I might just have to make a list and take them one at a time and cross them off as I go along. Like a work project? LOL. But yeah... going with the heart (or my mood) is what it comes down to in the end. :D

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