Title: (2011 Advent Calendar)
Author: R. Cooper
Cover Artist: Catt Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: Buy Link A Wealth of Unsaid Words
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance / Holiday
Length: 112 pages
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 rating stars
A Guest Review by Raine
Summary Review: Often fascinating- yet sometimes frustrating- this heightened love between long suffering characters is cleverly juxtaposed against the interruptions of a very family Christmas.
Blurb: Alex has always known his bipolar disorder made him too flawed for his boyhood hero, Everett. So when his feelings for Everett became overwhelming, he forced a separation that saddened them both but gave Alex the clarity he needed. Now a year has passed, and he and Everett are together again when Everett’s noisy, imperfect family reunites for Christmas, pulling Alex into their chaotic warmth the way they always have. Can Everett convince Alex that, in spite of his fears, starting a relationship would make for the perfect holiday?
I read this with Rufus Wainwright’s early- full of unfulfilled frustration- music as an obligatory soundtrack. Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk actually added a lot to this book for me….. Alex with his seductive wounded literary genius is a delightfully emotionally heightened character. Though I thought an offhand reference to Byron unnecessary, his splintered personality is beautifully imagined, with some lovely idiosyncratic touches of individuality and humour.
Everett, you know not to interrupt a brooder when he’s brooding. It’s like waking a sleepwalker.
His bipolar condition or as he prefers his manic depressive nature is sensitively drawn, both when he was suicidally out of control and now in the present where it merely manifests itself in the impulse buys of brightly coloured doughnuts and a wooden duck. The sincerity of his actions and his real affection for Everett just about prevents his drama becoming self indulgent.
Everett comes to life as more than the object of Alex’s fascination, he is also much more than the family warmth he could be seen to represent. I thought the details of him in the past in particular as a young sexually vulnerable man added a huge amount to the life of the character in the present. Both personalities were complex and well developed.
The backdrop against which the main characters struggle to connect is that of a hectic family based Christmas holiday. The interruptions by the practicalities of social obligations and insensitive guests worked well overall as a method of for-stalling the emotional conclusions.
My main problems with this book came from the writer’s linguistic style; while this does create some lovely moments, the long sentences with their hints and allusions occasionally delayed my emotional connection. Up to a point this reinforced the underlying frustration Alex and Everett are feeling, but more often than I liked I wanted to shout at them to,”….. for God’s sake just say what you mean.” Yes I know, very appropriate to the title- hence some of my ambivalence. Disconcertingly I occasionally felt allied to Everett’s father’s more brusque mind set; I really did love his threat of action to cool things down in the garden!
I also had a slight problem with the quotation of Alex’s poetry, I somehow had a compulsion to do a mental literary check of it’s quality- this is probably a personal twitch and to be kindly ignored but it took me out of the story. I felt that it was very disingenuous to be so surprised about the subject of the poetry. Ambiguously while I’ve been a little critical of these moments I did also enjoy them………
Somethings about this story did try my patience, while this actually reinforced the themes it also left me a little irritated. However, not surprisingly given my personal preferences, overall I loved the intensity of Everett and Alex’s unfulfilled obsessions. The images of their early years together were quite lovely and reinforced just why they were meant to be together. This was a work that combined a seriously fascinating relationship with the rituals of Christmas for good and often successful reasons.