Om författaren

Craig Willse is assistant professor of cultural studies at George Mason University. He is coeditor of Beyond Biopolitics: Essays on the Governance of Life and Death.

Verk av Craig Willse


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The Publisher Says: An introverted English professor falls for an enigmatic sophomore and is lured into a web of chaos and deceit.

Mark Lausson, a professor stuck in the middle of Ohio, is smart enough to get a job at an elite liberal arts college but not smart enough to know better when he meets charismatic sophomore Tyler Cunningham. In Tyler, Mark sees another way of being in the world—he finds Tyler’s self-possession both compelling and unsettling. Caught in the rush of sex and secrets, Mark ignores the increasing evidence that Tyler can’t be trusted. But by the time Mark comes to his senses, the irreparable damage is done. Providence shows how feeling trapped in our own lives can lead us to make choices we otherwise would not and the ways in which sexual desire can distort our senses of self and other, right and wrong.


My Review
: A slow, suspenseful read that takes on gay intergenerational relationships. It does it in a very squicky way, as the power dynamic between teachers and students is (even when inverted as here) very, very fraught. There is a lot of pornography in the gay-male pornosphere that centers on incest...a thing that causes me no little discomfort for obvious reasons...and then, one step lower on the transgression ladder, a fair bit of teacher/student porn.

I'm not going to label this read as a one-handed reading story, but a few judicious pacing changes and a bit more descriptive instead of allusive language et voilà!

Mark gets tangled up in his history...not fully explored or explained...and Tyler uses his youthful beauty to make that history come alive; the results are predictable. The story isn't groundbreaking, the pacing isn't thrilling, so it sounds like my hatchet's about to come out, doesn't it? Nope. No hatchet job, this.

I'd label this a psychological suspense novel not a mystery or a thriller. The crime doesn't need solving; the pace is not thrilling. There is a lot of suspense, however, in the psychology of the developing relationship between Mark and Tyler; what is this kid after, and why did he target Mark, for starters. Had Author Willse and/or his editors developed Tyler and his motivations more, I'd be five-star hollerin' about this book. Tyler is the weakest part of the narrative: A kind of ambulatory "why, how come". Tyler's calculating nature is seen solely in its results and that leaves me thinking only about the nasty results of his manipulations for those he doesn't notice or even care about. Mark's perfectly nice, if boring, life gets upended and ruined from the outside. His boyfriend, whose name utterly escapes me, gets his world crashed by the narrative equivalent of a rock from space...for what? I'm not advocating for an excuse for Tyler's actions. Just a reason.

That said, this is a first novel and so gets most of a pass on some structural issues. I recommend the read to fellow old gay men who have much younger men in their lives; to those seeking a weekend's immersion into the consequences of a disastrous affair; and psychological suspense readers needing a fresh angle on their preferred genre.
… (mer)
richardderus | Apr 29, 2024 |

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