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Mostly Cross Posts from my blog, Readings From the Dark Side

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Grown Men

Grown Men - Damon Suede Suede has set himself an impressive challenge here: a two person story, with no side characters or even a single back-story character, in which one cannot speak at all. It's a very risky move and it repeatedly pushes the story in unexpected directions. The pacing, focus, plot development, relationship are all off--in the good sense of 'not the usual.' If you're a fan of "undemanding" reading as I am, it forces you to let go of your usual reliance on generic cues and conventions and just follow this story where it goes. There are quite of few more obvious plot lines Suede could have followed here, but he didn't.

The minor downside, for me at least, was that the love story was more sweet than hot. Although when the sex did come, at the very end, it quite literally went where nothing I've read has gone before. The descriptions left me more fascinated than aroused. Hint: there is a huge (snicker) deal made about Ox's impressive manhood--comparisons to trees and poles are for once not merely poetic exaggerations. The mechanics of sex receive and deserve a lot of attention here.

Instead of the man-love and sex aspects, I ended up more intrigued by the sci-fi. I loved all of the details on their terraforming life--the eels, the bio-engineered Bee-moths (clever play on behemoth), the food, their relationship to Hard Cell. The corporate logo "Hard Cell means business" runs through the text like a musical motif. The vision of a corporate-dominated future is compelling. Just the references to "Advertainment" and "spokestars" were so rich and clever. Suede's a terrifically talented writer, with a gift for punchy, memorable turns of phrase. Favorite example: "Not only had his bosses openly called him a misfit, they'd sent this fucking XYY troglodyte with a meter on him in height and enough testosterone for four colonists to kick his ass with size twenty-two boots." Seriously--what a fantastic sentence.

But for all my enjoyment of 'Hard Cell means business' and eel-farming, I did miss the romance. It doesn't feel totally fair, but the truth is that I'll tolerate/overlook a lot of problems in a text if I like the dynamic between the main couple--and, to be totally candid, if I find the sex hot. As I said before, this was definitely sweet and unusual, but I wouldn't call it intense or passionate--more affectionate.

Bottom line: I really liked it, but not for the usual reasons.