Monday, March 13, 2017
A Little Bit Of Cormac McCarthy, And A Touch Of "Brokeback Mountain!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
Now, don't get me wrong, girls, I loved Sebastian Barry's novel; so much so, I practically consumed it in a single sitting, but when I could see the novel was going in a clear direction that can only be called "Brokeback Mountain," which has become a code word for this type of Western, I was apprehensive. I braced myself for tragedy.
What was interesting is, Sebastian Barry gives us an environment that almost accepts, maybe politely ignores, the prohibitions 'Brokeback' outlines. In that now seminal work, aside from Jack's death, what was upsetting for me was its foreshadowing--when Enos' father takes him to the scene of a home where two male cowboys had set up house, were living peacefully, bothering no one, but, because they were doing this, and as men, they were murdered for it. On my initial exposure here, I had no idea Jack would die, but I knew then this meant something, and that "Brokeback Mountain" was not going to end well.
So I thought, when the relationship between John Cole and Thomas McNulty was confirmed. I mean, this story takes place in the nineteenth century--a good hundred years before 'Brokeback', yet the world of these two is as far apart from them as that of Enos and Jack. The gay couple in Barry's novel not only have a loving, uncomplicated relationship, no one seems to have a problem here. They are even accepted by miners, who socialize and dance with them, dressed up as women!!!!!!!!! They are reacted to as women, when in costume, even though everyone knows they are men! More, as time goes on, McNulty comes to embrace his more feminine side; he would like to dress as a woman all the time. But not be above stepping in to do a man's work.
This is a first person narrative, by McNulty, and Barry's writing gives this character a lyrical and eloquent voice. There are some graphically disturbing scenes, recalling Cormac McCarthy, but the lyricism, and the emotional places it dares to go, makes this work as groundbreaking, as 'Brokeback' was, at the time.
All I will say is it ends happily and hopefully. Maybe prison and war make peculiar bed mates of one another. But that is too simplistic for what is being conveyed here. In musical parlance, it is all about doing what comes naturally--what is natural for nature, and natural for the nature within each of us.
I urge those out there to read it. Not only is it a gorgeous literary work, but the most insightful gay novel I can think of in these current times.
Congratulations, Mr. Barry!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!