Behind the Curtain

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Right now, my favorite author is Amy Lane. I’m finishing up the Promises Series, and will review them as soon as I finish the last one. It is not out in audiobook, so I actually have to find time to read it, instead of listening to it on my way to and from work. I love to read, but I rarely have time to stop and do so (at least not something fun). I’ve also started on the Johnnies Series. I just finished the first one and can’t wait to read the next. However, in between the Promises and Johnnies books, I read a sweet little Amy Lane book called Behind the Curtain. The last time I’d written about Amy Lane, I’d mentioned that the ending to Locker Room drove me crazy because it kind of left you hanging, and someone sent me a note that Behind the Curtain contained some closure. I fully admit, this was the main reason it made it to my next listen list. I’d had it in my wish list for a while, but it had been on the back burner as I planned to read other things. I need that closure though. So I read it. Here is the blurb for the book:

Dawson Barnes recognizes his world is very small and very charmed. Running his community college theater like a petty god, he and his best friend, Benji know they’ll succeed as stage techs after graduation. His father adores him, Benji would die for him, and Dawson never doubted the safety net of his family, even when life hit him below the belt.

But nothing prepared him for falling on Jared Emory’s head.

Aloof dance superstar Jared is a sweet, vulnerable man and Dawson’s life suits him like a fitted ballet slipper. They forge a long-distance romance from their love of the theater and the magic of Denny’s. At first it’s perfect: Dawson gets periodic visits and nookie from a gorgeous man who “gets” him—and Jared gets respite from the ultra-competitive world of dancing that almost consumed him.

That is until Jared shows up sick and desperate and Dawson finally sees the distance between them concealed painful things Jared kept inside. If he doesn’t grow up—and fast—his “superstar” might not survive his own weaknesses. That would be a shame, because the real, fragile Jared that Dawson sees behind the curtain is the person he can see spending his life with.

Amy Lane is known for her angst ridden books, and I have to admit, this one is low on the angst. I don’t believe I cried even once. This is not a bad thing. It was just a beautiful story. Furthermore, as the advisor for my schools drama club (I knew nothing about theater before being given the task), I found the technical aspects of being behind the curtain and the emotional aspects of being in front of the curtains very intriguing. I couldn’t identify with either aspect because I’ve never acted, and my little hundred year old stage doesn’t even have electricity (we use makeshift lights and extension cords, covering the lack of lights with onstage lamps and hiding the utility lights that we end up using). We are low tech in the extreme. But I think my little club does a fantastic job with what they have, and I do the best I can. I’ve even written a play for them next semester. But I’ve gotten off topic….

The book was heartwarming in many ways, and it had a little angst in there, just not much. Take a virgin gay boy who is cute but awkward and goofy and put him together with an absolutely beautiful superstar ballet dancer, plus their friends, and you have a wonderful cast of characters. Some characters you might not like at first until you get to know them, but by the end, you’ll love them all and root for each one.

There was one other reason why I fell in love with this book. I have a dear friend, who lives quite a ways away from me, who just graduated college in May and has been trying to find a job. He has a boyfriend and finding a job may take him away from his boyfriend if he has to move for the job. As much as it hurts, he and his boyfriend realize that for each of their careers, they may be separated for a little while. It breaks my heart because they wonder if their relationship is strong enough to survive a long-distance relationship. I firmly believe their love for each other is strong enough to pull them through. Honestly, they were made for each other, and I don’t want anything to pull them apart. I told my friend that he had to read this book. I don’t want to give it away, but it does show that while there are ups and downs in long-distance relationships, love and faith can keep them together. I hope when he does read this book, he will see that it can work.

You may think, “It’s just a book, Joe. It’s not real life.” However, as my friend, who also loves to read Amy Lane, pointed out to me recently, Amy Lane is a master of understanding the human psyche and emotions. Her understanding of human nature reminds me a lot of Shakespeare’s understanding of human nature. When I teach Shakespeare, I mention that one of the things that make him great is his mastery of the range of human emotions, the understanding of the human mind, and the nature of humanity. However, I sometimes find Shakespeare’s characters to be unreal, but I find Amy Lane’s characters to be very real in many way. Her characters are flawed, not as in a bad writer flawed kind of way, but in the way humans are flawed.

Amy Lane is a master when it comes to writing and character development. I just absolutely love her. I would love nothing more then to be able to just sit and talk with her for hours. Maybe she could even teach me to knit. Knitting is often a therapeutic exercise for some of her characters, and reading about knitting just makes me want to learn how. I see how much it helps her characters be calm and sometimes, I wish I could have that tranquility.

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

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