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A lifetime of beauty and desire, perversity, love and joy
on May 21, 2012
I only just finished reading this book a couple of days ago, and it feels in some ways too soon to write about it.
This is not an easy book. There is something to take virtually every reader out of his or her sexual comfort zone. And yet it is deeply suffused with love and the joy of living in a community that accepts you for who you are, quirks and all.
The story starts in 2007, just before 17-year-old Eric Jeffers moves to the small seaside village of Diamond Harbor and meets the love of his life, 19-year-old Morgan Haskell (who goes by a nickname that cannot be quoted in this review). The book unfolds from Eric's point of view, following the two men into the 2070s through various careers, the loss of family members, the gradual evolution of the seaside community as more (and different) residents move in, and a rich and robust sex life. The sexual play between them follows repetitive, slowly evolving patterns--but that is part of the point. What is so often elided in fiction is here presented as an integral part of the warp and woof of their relationship to each other and to the community, and in the end the accumulation of the quotidian salacious details adds up to something greater than the sum of its lubricious parts.
It is also about community--how it supports us, how we support it, how it changes over time--and about memory--about the bumps and gaps of individual memory as well as of community history. It is also about the ongoing thread of sensual and sensory experience--full of precisely described moments and details of food, weather, light and clothing. It lets you closely observe the lives of a handful of people who never are in the spotlight or at the turning points of history, but who view all of that from a distance.
Spending 800 pages with Eric and Morgan feels like it has been a richly rewarding and touching experience, but one that is in some ways difficult to articulate because it is in some ways experiential, expressed through the lived details of their lives revealed over a lifetime.