Coming Home

Banis-ComingHomeTitle: Coming Home
Author: Victor J. Banis
Publisher: MLR Press
Buy Link: Amazon.com
Genre: Historical M/M (60’s)
Length: Novella (48 pages)
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

 
THE BLURB

The swinging sixties, the Sunset Strip a smorgasbord of horny Marines, looking for a little action before heading off to Nam. A queen’s delight, and it’s all too easy for a guy to fall in love with these brave, young warriors. But some of those shipping out won’t be coming home, and not all of the wounded wear uniforms.

THE REVIEW

The sixties. A time when the Sunset Strip was a gay pickup zone for hunky Marines on weekend leave who were ready to take whatever was offered, man or woman, but on the Strip it was only man meat. Mike, who narrates the story, is a gay man who lives for the weekend just waiting for the guys to show up. He lets us in as he unabashedly goes trolling for fresh meat and his choice of steak is Marine T-Bone. The Viet Nam war was looming and the sailors and soldiers knew that they could ship out at any time so they lived for the moment. Here’s an excerpt from the beginning of the story which paints a picture that no reviewer could ever hope to capture

The Swinging Sixties. To some, that conjures up images of The Haight in all its flower power glory, before the lilies festered. To others, it was Greenwich Village and that heady period leading up to the events at Stonewall; or the love-ins in Griffith Park.

For me, it was The Strip. Sunset Boulevard. Not the Norma Desmond Boulevard, of flame red Maseratis and grand hotels and pink mansions with heart-shaped swimming pools, but the hurdy-gurdy strip of once-elegant-now-sleazy clubs, discount record stores and gay bars.

And Marines. Scores of them, hundreds of them, flocking there every weekend from Camp Pendleton down the road, strolling about wide-eyed in twosomes, three-four-and-moresomes. And some of them alone. On the prowl. Happily, because these were the ones a gay man like me looked for.

 This was the era of the Vietnam war.

Mike tells us about his first meeting with Doug, an innocent looking Marine still wet behind the ears, who seemed uncertain about what he wanted that first time Mike saw him. It was clear that he had never done this before but that he wanted to, so Mike took him home fully expecting that he would cut and run, but Doug was up for whatever Mike dished out.  Mike couldn’t believe his luck to have found someone like Doug who seemed to be the man of his dreams. The sex was so raunchy, steam was coming out of my ears as I was reading the book. When Doug went back to the base Mike didn’t expect to see him again because that was the way it was, but to his surprise he called the next weekend and Mike was overjoyed. But when he went to pick him up there was a very big surprise.

Victor J. Banis tells a poignant tale about love and war and the horrible effects of war but there is a lot of humour in his prose as well.. This wonderful story was redolent with the smell of pot and the sights and sounds of the sixties and the taste of mint juleps on Kentucky Derby Day which no one really drank. The love story was unexpected but beautifully done, and I was moved by the way he made these men so vulnerable and human yet brave, at a time when life was not worth very much because everyone knew that once you shipped out there was a good chance that you wouldn’t be back.

Every time I read a story by this author I’m struck by his writing skill and brilliant characterizations, and in this book that was barely 50 pages he gives the readers not just a slice of life but the whole pie. You will love Mike’s story and I think the ending will move you as it did me. Definitely recommended.

Author

I live in Canada and I love big dogs, music, movies, reading and sports – especially baseball

12 comments

  • So, Wave, I did as you said and had this book as my evening snack last night. 🙂 What a treat! My thoughts echo what both you and LadyM said; the twist made me sad, the smexxin made me blush (but in a good way — yowza!), the ending made me cry (again, in a good way). I had mixed feelings about the twist, but in the end I decided it was perfect for the story, something I would not normally say about “it.” A powerful, sensual, emotional story in a small package. Excellent job, Victor, and spot-on review, Wave.

    Reply
    • Lynn
      Victor was inspired when he wrote this short story. Beautifully done and as you said, what a treat!

      **

      I think that many fans and others will be picking up this one because the story packs a lot into a very small package. As for the sex — oh my!!! Definitely X-rated. He is so naughty and he said he did it for Laura. What a load of you know what. 😀

      Reply
  • Thanks, Wave. It occured to me, a bit belatedly, that we might be giving readers the wrong impression when we talk about being in tears at the end of the story. Trust me, folks, it’s an emotional ending, it’s not a downer.

    Victor

    Reply
  • Oh, well, gosh, thanks for the review and the comments. I loved these two guys and I willingly confess, I cried at the ending too. Here is an odd twist, though. It will surprise you to know that writing steamy sex can be very difficult for me. It has to come from the characters and the story. I can’t just sit down and say, “Today I’m going to write some hot sex.” But MLR has been very good to me and until this story I really hadn’t given them any steamy sex, so I thought I owed Laura. It took me longer to write this story than it does most of my novels, and then it had to wait until I got to know the guys, and they took over. Just thought you’d find that interesting.

    Victor

    Reply
    • Victor
      I can’t believe that writing steamy sex is not a natural for you. 😀 The sex in that book was some of the hottest I have read in a while – many M/M writers include a lot of sex in their books but they should read Coming Home to see how it should be done.:) I hope Laura was pleased with your effort!!!

      **

      The story was great too. I loved those guys and I was in tears as well. Great job Victor!

      Reply
  • You said it beautifully. This story was so poignant and I could feel for both Doug and Mike. What a wonderful story. As you say, Victor is a master at his craft.

    **

    I had to be very careful not to give away any spoilers. 😀

    Reply
  • I cried my eyes out at the end of this story. Beautifully done.
    ~
    The twist in the middle was unexpected and it made my heart ache for Mike. You were able to taste his loneliness. The feeling reminded me of how I felt about Stanley at the end of Deadly Nightshade. And Doug… You could see his happiness about getting what he wanted all his life and uncertainty when it turned out that it wasn’t EXACTLY what he wanted. Victor pulled it out brilliantly and, as you said, in less than 50 pages. His sense of humor made it even better. It made me want re-read all his books. He really is a master.

    Reply

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