Friday, November 10, 2017

OPTION B, a really useful self-help book...I can't believe I said that...



OPTION B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy
SHERYL SANDBERG and ADAM GRANT

Alfred A. Knopf
$25.95 hardcover, available now

Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: After the sudden death of her husband, Sheryl Sandberg felt certain that she and her children would never feel pure joy again. “I was in ‘the void,’” she writes, “a vast emptiness that fills your heart and lungs and restricts your ability to think or even breathe.” Her friend Adam Grant, a psychologist at Wharton, told her there are concrete steps people can take to recover and rebound from life-shattering experiences. We are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. It is a muscle that everyone can build.

Option B combines Sheryl’s personal insights with Adam’s eye-opening research on finding strength in the face of adversity. Beginning with the gut-wrenching moment when she finds her husband, Dave Goldberg, collapsed on a gym floor, Sheryl opens up her heart—and her journal—to describe the acute grief and isolation she felt in the wake of his death. But Option B goes beyond Sheryl’s loss to explore how a broad range of people have overcome hardships including illness, job loss, sexual assault, natural disasters, and the violence of war. Their stories reveal the capacity of the human spirit to persevere . . . and to rediscover joy.

Resilience comes from deep within us and from support outside us. Even after the most devastating events, it is possible to grow by finding deeper meaning and gaining greater appreciation in our lives. Option B illuminates how to help others in crisis, develop compassion for ourselves, raise strong children, and create resilient families, communities, and workplaces. Many of these lessons can be applied to everyday struggles, allowing us to brave whatever lies ahead. Two weeks after losing her husband, Sheryl was preparing for a father-child activity. “I want Dave,” she cried. Her friend replied, “Option A is not available,” and then promised to help her make the most of Option B.

We all live some form of Option B. This book will help us all make the most of it.

My Review: Sheryl Sandberg lost her husband before he was fifty. I lost mine when he was not quite 34. I connect with her pain on every imaginable level.

I also understand why she wrote this survivors' manual. She had to do something positive with her agony or it would sink her, and she was now a single mom. She couldn't afford the luxury of sinking because it would take her children down as well. That is a great reason to do the horrible, painful, disconcerting work of growing around your grief.

Make no mistake: It's awful work, hard and thankless and lonely. Your successes feel fleeting, your failures eternal, and with the best will in the world outsiders (parents, children, siblings, friends) will say, do, preach things at you that will make you furiously angry and hurt inexpressibly.

All normal.

And if you're wondering, we will all lose spouses in our lives, not necessarily to death. Grief is grief. Your loss is not unique, and your loss is not anyone else's so no one else gets to tell you how to go through it. But those who have walked the walk before you have some ideas on what you can do to make this hideous amputation work *for* you.

Yes, that's possible. I promise you that it is. And this book, with its combination of the deeply personal and the professionally informative strands of information, is a great, a wonderful, a tremendously valuable resource for someone experiencing the involuntary transformation that is grieving.

But the best thing about Option B is the fact that it excludes no one from the helping, healing conversation about grief and grieving. No matter the genesis of your trauma, grieving is a process with known parameters. All sources of trauma produce grief in their wake, and that fact...while on its face horrible and grim...is actually, in the end, incredibly hopeful. Your grief is unique to you, but grief is universal and grieving is ever-more-completely understood; this is one of the key realizations in the book. It is also the key realization that many people, lost in the fog of grief, need most to hear as it can offer them Ariadne's clew to get away from the devouring Minotaur of misery in their lightless, timeless labyrinth.

Now, the stuff I wasn't crazy about. Sandberg is astoundingly successful. Her world doesn't have survival challenges. She makes more than enough money to do whatever the hell she wants to do even if she stops going to work today and never goes back again. The other 99.99% of us do not have that luxury. If your purpose in reading this book is to figure out how the hell you're going to keep the lights on, cans of beans in the pantry, and a box of rice to go with, this isn't a helpful tome. In fact it will probably make you livid, so pass it up. But if survival isn't the problem for you, there are ideas in here to use...especially some of the out-of-the-box ones. You're likely to have a low bullshit tolerance when grieving, and Sandberg advises going with the flow here. I tend to agree with her.

BUT. Do not think, as Sandberg apparently does, that your grief will insulate you from the consequences of your newfound unwillingness to suck it up. She can tell her boss to do shit right and get away with it because she's a powerful, successful woman with oodles of money. Your manager isn't going to give you the same rope hers does, make no mistake. Adapt this concept to your circumstances. Maybe, if your desire to speak truth to power becomes overwhelming, crank up that job search and get outta Dodge before the sheriff makes you. Remember that Sandberg's journey is her own. Use the ideas though not necessarily the techniques.

Sandberg's discovery that she could find and feel happiness again is the important take-away here. You might not find a good man to have fun with. You might, in fact, not *want* to find a good man to have fun with. Here's the thing Sandberg's saying: Be available to happiness, not sewn to the shroud of wretched miserable loneliness that comes with grieving. However it looks to you. Take roads you haven't been down. Do different things, do them differently. This book isn't a prescription, it's a supplement shelf, and it can lead you back into lighter, brighter, happier life.

Let it.

Friday, November 3, 2017

CRAVINGS, proof that fame doesn't guarantee happiness



CRAVINGS: How I Conquered Food
JUDY COLLINS

Nan A. Talese Books
$26 hardcover, available now

Rating: 3.5* of five

The Publisher Says: Since childhood Judy Collins has had a tumultuous, fraught relationship with food. Her issues with overeating nearly claimed her career and her life. For decades she thought she simply lacked self-discipline. She tried nearly every diet plan that exists, often turning to alcohol to dull the pain of yet another failed attempt to control her seemingly insatiable cravings.

Today, Judy knows she suffers from an addiction to sugar and grains, flour and wheat. She adheres to a strict diet of unprocessed foods consumed in carefully measured portions. This solution has allowed her to maintain a healthy weight for years, to enjoy the glow of good health, and to attain peace of mind.

Alternating between chapters on her life and those of the many diet gurus she has encountered along the way (Atkins, Jean Nidetch of Weight Watchers, Andrew Weil, to name a few), Cravings is the culmination of Judy's genuine desire to share what she's learned--so that no one else has navigate her heart-rending path to recovery.

THE PUBLISHER SENT A REVIEW COPY AT MY REQUEST. THANK YOU.

My Review: A lifetime spent in and out of the limelight, a lifetime of performing for audiences who cheer and boo and ignore, but performing all the same, always always putting her best out there...an enviable life, no?

Not always. Judy Collins made her voice her fame, and when it became harder for her to perform it became another self-lacerating weapon in her battle with her body. Her diets and plans and struggles with her addictive personality are carefully presented here as *personal* struggles. Collins isn't preaching, she's giving witness to the struggle she knows many others go through. That technique is very much more effective than would be another guru prescribing actions and dictating methods for achieving the goal of being in control of one's own body.

I'm also very appreciative of the quite interesting stories behind the gurus whose dictates Collins frequently failed to follow. I found these to be some of the most useful parts of the book, as the motivations of Saviors are almost always excellent means for demythologizing and even debunking the gurus' sacred words. I hasten to add that Collins isn't out to make people feel bad or wrong about their struggles or their need for advice. She just has clear eyes when it comes to the whys of the whats of dieting.

The reason I'm not more generous with my star rating really comes down to one issue: The conquest of Collins's food addiction is so complete and so thoroughgoing that I am left with deep doubts. I don't think she's lying to me or even to herself; I think she's got an iron will forged through a generation-long struggle to control her body. What I question is the declaration of victory over something that's a fundamental part of her identity. She says she's a food addict but she's beaten it. That doesn't scan for me. I'm also not 100% Team Judy on the means by which she's conquered her food addiction, as it's *impossibly* restrictive and simply impossible for a person without her considerable financial and social resources to emulate.

This is, to me at least, the principal failing of all eating-disorder diet nutrition etc etc books. Fine great and wonderful if you're upper middle class and up, have money, servants, time at your disposal. Useless and, worse, counterproductive if you're a 60-hour-a-week wage worker whose paycheck is never quite enough, has kids, a spouse, and no one to do diddly squat for them.

That said, if you're not a desperate soul seeking a way out of the addiction trap, this is a sprightly and involving and educational read. I liked the experience of reading it quite a bit.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

BANDERSNATCH, a group portrait of the Inklings



BANDERSNATCH: CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings
DIANA PAVLAC GLYER, illustrated by JAMES A. OWENS

Black Squirrel Books
$18.95 trade paper, available now

Rating: 3.5* of five

The Publisher Says: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Inklings met each week to read and discuss each other's work-in-progress, offering both encouragement and blistering critique. How did these conversations shape the books they were writing? How does creative collaboration enhance individual talent? And what can we learn from their example?

Featuring original illustrations by James A. Owen, Bandersnatch offers an inside look at the Inklings of Oxford, and a seat at their table at the Eagle and Child pub. It shows how encouragement and criticism made all the difference in The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, and dozens of other books written by the members of their circle. You'll learn what made these writers tick, and more: inspired by their example, you'll discover how collaboration can help your own creative process and lead to genius breakthroughs in whatever work you do.

THE PUBLISHER PROVIDED A REVIEW COPY AT MY REQUEST. THANK YOU.

My Review: Author Glyer is a past mistress of explication, as witness her previous Inkings study The Company They Keep. That book was more about who, when, and where among the English old boys' club we know as the Inklings: JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, Roger Lancelyn Green, Owen Barfield, Hugo Dyson, et alii. This book delves into the how and the why of the Inklings' writing community. If literary criticism isn't your jam, this book will bore you silly. If you've never read any literary criticism, I'd encourage you to start here. Author Glyer is a dab hand at writing and a scholar to be reckoned with, two things that don't frequently coincide.

So the sugar coating is the story of the Inklings, two of whom became internationally famous for the works they made in this writers' group for the ages. The meat of the tale is, though, how this incredible group *failed* its members. Tolkien, for example, was subjected to humiliating and deeply personal insults by Hugo Dyson who detested his elves and orcs and such-like goins-on; Lewis did as well; but Lewis was quiet while Dyson was not and, in the cumulative effect of one noisy nastymonger on a group, Tolkien was driven to silence.

In a group of writers wanting to make their art better, that is Death. Shameful that it should have been allowed. And let's not fail to see the irony of the insulter being utterly and completely forgotten by History while the insulted literally changed the world.

Author Glyer offers a few prescriptions for the potential breeding grounds of today's Tolkiens in consideration of her analysis of the Inklings' failures. They are trenchant and they are excellent. If I have a grump with the book, it's the revolting Jesusy tone of a lot of it. It's inevitable, I suppose, given the endemic, emetic christianity of the group's members. I found I could read the book, not usually the case with Jesusy stuff, because it was so much more than a tract.

One facet of the book that stands out, and that merits an entire review of its own, is the beautiful illustrations by James A. Owen. The cover illustration should give you the tone Owen takes throughout the book. These are beautiful artworks and could be reason enough right there to buy the book, simply to make your eyes happy and your heart glad.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

LORD MOUSE, gay male fantasy-quest protagonist


LORD MOUSE
MASON THOMAS
(Lords of Davenia #1)
Dreamspinner Press
$6.99 Kindle/ebook, available now

Rating: 3.5* of five

The Publisher Says: Scoundrel by nature and master thief by trade, Mouse is the best there is. Sure, his methods may not make him many friends, but he works best alone anyway. And he has never failed a job.

But that could change.

When a stranger with a hefty bag of gold seduces him to take on a task, Mouse knows he’ll regret it. The job? Free Lord Garron, the son of a powerful duke arrested on trumped up charges in a rival duchy. Mouse doesn’t do rescue missions. He’s no altruistic hero, and something about the job reeks. But he cannot turn his back on that much coin—enough to buy a king’s pardon for the murder charge hanging over his head.

Getting Garron out of his tower prison is the easy part. Now, they must escape an army of guardsmen, a walled keep and a city on lockdown, and a ruthless mage using her power to track them. Making matters worse, Mouse is distracted by Garron’s charm and unyielding integrity. Falling for a client can lead to mistakes. Falling for a nobleman can lead to disaster. But Mouse is unprepared for the dangers behind the plot to make Lord Garron disappear.

My Review: I started keeping track of how many malapropisms I found in the book. I noted them on the Kindle. From when I started counting there are eight (8) notes. That's appalling. That's inexcusable. That's bad editing. It was like getting pinched or having someone pull on my beard. So annoying.

I was also a wee bit verschmeckeled by the modern-then-archaic-then-modern vocabulary:
“Worry it none,” he replied offhandedly. “I took no offense. This is what I do.” And later we can discuss ways for you to thank me, he added silently.
followed closely by
Garron threw him a look. “You sure know how to win people over.” “I can be charming,” Mouse retorted. “When need be.” And he wasn’t going to waste his time kowtowing to some entitled snob that he was going to ditch somewhere at the first opportunity. Garron pressed his lips together in a sardonic snarl. “Warn me when it’s about to happen so I know to keep an eye open for it.”
::whiplash::

But in the end I can say I enjoyed the read because I agree so heartily with the attitudes of the men in love. I am sure as sure can be that I fell for Garron as hard as Mouse did when I read this:
“I’ve seen men,” Garron continued, “who claim themselves to be good and honorable do wicked things with ink and parchment. A most cowardly act, because they never have to face the ones they’ve wronged or feel the consequences of their deed. I have seen those who rail on about their own compassion willfully ignore those in need or treat those beneath them with contempt. “We all justify our dark behavior in some way, mask it behind some twisted form of truth that gives us license to do what we will. In my experience, people can rationalize the most reprehensible acts and sleep soundly through the night as if no blame rests upon their shoulders. Take Delgan. He has certainly justified my imprisonment and death sentence as something for the betterment of his city and his people.”
*happy sigh* A super-built aristocratic muscle bottom with progressive political convictions. Yes lawd.

Monday, September 25, 2017

THE TURTLE BOY, horror on several levels


THE TURTLE BOY
KEALAN PATRICK BURKE
(Timmy Quinn #1)
Kindle edition
Free! Free is Good. Try things you don't normally read if they're free.

Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: School is out and summer has begun. For eleven year old Timmy Quinn and his best friend Pete Marshall, the dreary town of Delaware, Ohio, becomes a place of magic, hidden treasure and discovery.

But on the day they encounter a strange young boy sitting on the bank of Myers Pond, a pond playground rumor says may hide turtles the size of Buicks, everything changes.

For it soon becomes apparent that dark secrets abound in the little community, secrets which come cupped in the hands of the dead, and in a heartbeat, Timmy and Pete's summer of wonder becomes a season of terror, betrayal and murder.

***DISCLAIMER***I know the author via social media. He didn't ask me to read or review the book.

My Review: Horror isn't my usual stomping grounds. I don't read much of it because I'm so seldom horrified, so often amused to the point of laughing out loud. For real laughing out loud. Not this time.

My longtime Goodreads friend Dan reviewed this book some time back and that convinced me to Kindle it up. I liked it fine. I even got goosebumps twice.

What horrified me in the intended fashion was the relationship between Pete and his father. The supernatural goins-on I could see why the adults dismissed as imaginitive kidness. I did myself. But no one who's ever raised, been around, or even been a subteen could ignore the horror of what happens to Pete. His father Wayne was a monster from the second we meet Pete. The scariest kind of monster: the unfightable one. There's nothing an adult can do, really, when a situation like Pete's comes to light. Report to the overstretched child protective services? Would that help or hurt? No right answer. No good answer. That right there defines horror in real life.

There are supernatural elements in this tale as well. These were not my favorite moments, as anyone who knows me might guess. But the way Author Burke handles them won my skeptical heart over in the end. The reason he adduces to the apparition we see makes sense to me. I can suspend my immediate eyeroll reflex for the idea of psychic sensitivity as opposed to Manifestations Of EVIL *cue horror movie laugh* which, well, c'mon they're just silly aren't they? I mean really.

But then there's Author Burke's way with words. This novella, in roundabout 80pp, transported me to a place I've never been (and am in no rush to go to). I like atmosphere in my reading, and here's a sample of Burke's:
In the field beyond, high grass flowed beneath the gentle caress of the slightest of breezes. The land was framed by dying walnut trees, rotten arms severed by lightning long gone, poking up into the sky as if vying for the attention of a deity who could save them.
And just like that I'm there.

But even more important to me is the sense that the childhood of one Timmy Quinn is now over. It took one touch of the supernatural to change the boy into a manchild. It is irrevocable, this change, and it happens to all of us; usually it's not this moment of connection to the numinous realms, but the moment itself is universal:
The Turtle Boy's words returned to him again and again, nagging at him and begging to be decoded: You don't know who did it. When you do, remember what you saw and let it change you. Maybe he deserves to die.
Yes lawd! I been there, I witness, I testify. It's one of the first before-and-after moments that almost everyone remembers. We have them fairly frequently in the course of childhood, but they're just part of the scenery. This one is, for most people I've ever known, memorable enough to stick in the front of one's mind. Timmy Quinn's is especially memorable, I think we can agree, and it bids fair to stick in the front of *my* mind!

The reason to read the book is, though, that one enjoys the experience of the writer writing his best stuff for you. I liked the ideas, the insights, the writer's imagination coming to the fore and leaving me with a few surprises:
He sat so close to the water they could almost hear gravity groaning from the strain of keeping him from falling in.
It's free, forevermore. Download the darn thing and make it part of your mental furniture for that reason alone! But there are many more pleasures to be had for them as wants 'em.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

A TASTE OF HONEY, second novella set in Olorumi's realer-than-reality world


A TASTE OF HONEY
KAI ASHANTE WILSON
(The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps #2)
Tor.com
$3.99 ebook, $14.99 trade paper, available now

Rating: 5* of five

The Publisher Says: Long after the Towers left the world but before the dragons came to Daluça, the emperor brought his delegation of gods and diplomats to Olorum. As the royalty negotiates over trade routes and public services, the divinity seeks arcane assistance among the local gods.

Aqib bgm Sadiqi, fourth-cousin to the royal family and son of the Master of Beasts, has more mortal and pressing concerns. His heart has been captured for the first time by a handsome Daluçan soldier named Lucrio. In defiance of Saintly Canon, gossiping servants, and the furious disapproval of his father and brother, Aqib finds himself swept up in a whirlwind romance. But neither Aqib nor Lucrio know whether their love can survive all the hardships the world has to throw at them.

My Review: Sheer bliss. Storytelling of the highest order. Unfolding like an origami crane, showing the reader its creases and its tucks after he has absorbed its graceful shape, it becomes a completely different story as the end arrives.

Wow.

I just loved it. I can't say enough about how very different the experience of reading the tale is from the experience of having read it. I am utterly enamored of Author Wilson's magic-tech. The beauty of it is that it allows for the fantasy trappings of powers beyond the ordinary but it explains them rather more logically than I'm accustomed to. And the beautiful way Author Wilson folds in the eggwhites of real-time physics in the shape of the multiverse to the mousse of this story is a deep pleasure to me. I've always felt in some essential part of myself that we really are multidimensional beings and travel in linear time...a concept absent from physics, by the way...solely as a means of learning essential lessons on our way Out. Of what, I'm reasonably sure, is the endless recursive reincarnation that seems logical to me in an existence that is defined by energy formed into patterns and perceived as solid when it's actually anything but. Into what is a much more intriguing question. I'm looking forward to finding out.

Another case where my notes were extensive in the Kindle. Twelve of them in fewer pages than THE SORCERER OF THE WILDEEPS, which earned no fewer than 17 notes its own good self. I think it's fair to say that Kai Ashante Wilson has a new fanboy in me. Who would not fall in love with a writer who says this:
Most would only ever guess at who and what was most precious to them—up until the day of loss: then they’d know—and most would also have to guess at why and how, or what might have been.
Perfection.

And then there's the glorious moment when a man knows himself for the first time:
Ah, this was why his wayward gaze alit so often on whom it shouldn’t, going back to peek howevermuch snatched away: those taut bellies and hard thighs of men heroically scrawled in scars. So yes, then: clearly two men could kiss! And what else might they do? Lie down together kissing, if they both wished it, and furthermore . . . unclothed? A desperate thrill of desire throbbed in Aqib’s loins, nearly a climax.
I assume something similar happens to young straight men, couldn't prove it by me; but that *snap* of complete clarity, the sensation of the hand settling into the glove, is expressed beautifully and accurately in that passage.

My recommendation is that you read both books in the Olorumi-verse. The best $7.98 a Kindle/ereader person will spend this fall; slightly more for paperbackers, but the pleasures are commensurate with the expenditure.

Friday, September 22, 2017

THE SORCERER OF THE WILDEEPS, a post-apocalyptic African fantasy setting


THE SORCERER OF THE WILDEEPS
KAI ASHANTE WILSON
(The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps #1)
Tor.com
$3.99 eBook, $12.99 trade paper, available now

Rating: 5* of five

The Publisher Says: Since leaving his homeland, the earthbound demigod Demane has been labeled a sorcerer. With his ancestors' artifacts in hand, the Sorcerer follows the Captain, a beautiful man with song for a voice and hair that drinks the sunlight.

The two of them are the descendants of the gods who abandoned the Earth for Heaven, and they will need all the gifts those divine ancestors left to them to keep their caravan brothers alive.

The one safe road between the northern oasis and southern kingdom is stalked by a necromantic terror. Demane may have to master his wild powers and trade humanity for godhood if he is to keep his brothers and his beloved captain alive.

My Review: It's tough to know what to say about novellas. I can't abide book reports disguised as reviews anyway, but some indication of the plot's effects on the reader are de rigueur. I don't want to spoil the pleasures of watching Demane's world unfold before a besotted reader's eyes, yet I need to tell you some things. Which things, how many, that's the rough part for review writer me.

Here goes.

I'm utterly ensorcelled by Demane and his post-apocalyptic Africa, peopled as it is by demigods, by descendents of FTL-traveling "gods," by the many-generations-removed descendants of these gods and the mere humans left behind by them. I am fascinated by the way Demane manipulates the spacetime continuum as he discovers the scope and the limitations of his powers as a demigod. I think Author Wilson deserves a Hugo and a Nebula and a Mythopoetic award for his delicate, acute balancing act in creating a magic system that's Clarke's Law writ small: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic:
“Exigencies of FTL,” Demane answered. Distracted by a glimpse from the corners of his eyes, he lapsed into liturgical dialect. “Superluminal travel is noncorporeal: a body must become light.” A tall, thin man passed by: some stranger, not the captain. “The gods could only carry away Homo celestialis with them, you see, because the angels had already learned to make their bodies light. But most sapiens—even those of us with fully expressed theogenetica—haven’t yet attained the psionic phylogeny necessary to sublimnify the organism.”

I'm also delighted that Demane loves Isa, the Captain, and is loved in return. I'm sadly convinced that the homophobia the men face in their future world is accurately portrayed. I don't get it. I don't like it. But I've come to believe that, for reasons buried somewhere in a human culture-generating gene, straight men are always going to be fearful of gay men. I've always agreed with the assertion that the reason is they fear other men treating them the way they treat women. It makes me sigh impatiently while sneering contemptuously. Get over yourself. If some deluded guy offers you sex, say no and move on with your life. It's an activity, is sex; gay is an identity, and a recently coined one like heterosexuality. Used to be it was just a private matter. I'd prefer to go back to that system myownself.

But here we are, an untold number of generations in the future, and the divide still exists. C'est la vie. And since that accords with my lack of faith in human nature's ability to change for the better, I respond to it as a heliotropic plant does to the sun.

When Demane listens, early on, to the Captain's voice, Wilson describes it poetically:
Captain lacked the power of speech, was capable only of song. He could stand dumb, gesturing, or else make incomparable music. Even in a monosyllable, it was possible to hear him struggling to tarnish his pure tones, hoarsen their rich clarity; trying to turn his vox seraphica into a thing befitting the vulgar, violent world of a caravan guardsman. But calliphony was as inseparable from the captain’s voice as blood from a living heart, and he could do nothing, try as he might, to make any utterance of his less than the loveliest you’d heard, or would ever hear, so long as you lived.
That's both gorgeous and evocative. I love the sound of the words in my mouth as I read this passage aloud. It makes me wish I could hear the vox seraphica with my mortal ears. I also find myself eumoirous at Wilson's unabashed use of ten-dollar words. It's all too rare to find such vocabulary deployed in service of evoking emotions, not merely creating distance between reader and writer as a means of making the fantasy world more remote from reality. Kudos for that act of bravery on top of making your main character gay, Author Wilson.

And what gay love is made of!
His hand still lightly cupped the captain’s mouth. When he slid it away Captain turned vague, astonished eyes on him. They were the last shade of brown before black, color of coffee, and just now neither grim nor sad but wonderstruck. He was all soft-side-up for a change. And unplucked there on his mouth were kisses like lowhanging fruit, ripe and deeply pink.
If that doesn't feel completely real to you, without reference to your or the partner's gender, your lover has my sympathy. For me that passage encapsulates the sensation and the perception of being in love with someone. The touch, the emotion, the perception of physical reality melded with emotional resonance, that's exactly how I respond to the man I fall in love with. It's glorious to experience, of course, but to read it is an experience as glorious still: Others travel this road. I'm not the trailblazer or rear guard, I'm traveling in company. There's peace in that sensation, and there's a sense of hopefulness. Navigation can bring me into contact with other men who feel this way hip hip hooray! And that's a gift from Author Wilson to an old fart...imagine what this sensation will do for a closeted young sufferer of homophobia's vicious rage.

All in all, I highlighted 17 passages in this novella. Seventeen. That's more than most entire long novels get from me! I highlighted them because they were exquisite, because I needed them to be part of the group mind that is Goodreads (where Kindle notes and highlights are posted). I want anyone who so much as scratches the surface of this book to feel the enfolding warmth and gentle, cool stroke of the hair from your forehead, the delight of being understood and valued as you smile your way through passages of deeply and beautifully crafted prose.
Though a mind twists and turns, most complicated of all things, the body is a simple creature, and prefers love and comfort, to be where it feels safe.
I hope you, like me, will feel safe while in the Wildeeps with Demane.