Sunday, March 11, 2012
This n That: Computer Woes + Jeff (the) Mann
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!
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.
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!
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!