Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Two Views of Love in the 60s

Well, I am a child of the 1960s, born in 1961, and I remember how very different the country was at that time.  The start of the Sexual Revolution, and I can still see all the vans and hitchhikers heading north to Woodstock as my family was on the way to Tampa to visit my Aunt on the bay.   All the times we made reel to reel tapes for my brother, who was in the Marines and stationed in Viet Nam.  And the slow move, here in the South, to Civil Rights (yes, even then).

So when I found two very different books about love in the 60s, I was intrigued.  And wonderfully surprised.

"My Big Brother" by Ike Rose

Ed is turning 18, just registered for the draft, and having his first legal beer with his dad and another potential new stepmother.  It's 1968, he's legal, a bodybuilder, and gay.  And looking forward more than anything to seeing his older stepbrother Johnny (well, they aren't really anymore, since Ed's father divorced Johnny's mother several years before).  Johnny protected him from bullies after their parents married, and he always had a little case of hero worship for him.  He was devastated when their parents divorced, and Johnny's mom relocated them to California.

Johnny is a hero - wounded in Viet Nam saving four congressmen and several of his buddies, he is leaving the service and making good on his promise to be there for Ed's 18th birthday.  He  hasn't seen the younger man in four years, and doesn't know he has been bodybuilding.

That's not the only thing they don't know about each other.

When the two men see each other after all these years, that little crush explodes in a big way.

Can these two guys have more in common than they think?  And can it be something real?

This fun, sexy and erotic story revisits a time when things were changing, and gay rights was just around the corner.  Ike Rose takes a somewhat taboo subject and makes it adult without being smutty, sexy without being dirty.  And most of all, very very sweet and loving.  Some crushes can develop into something more, and some loves can grow. 

"One More Soldier" by Marie Sexton

Will is a 28 year old mechanic, living in an apartment complex, and enjoying the occasional rushed coupling.  It's 1963 and gay isn't acceptable.  It's a hot summer, and he takes time to cool off at the complex pool.

Bran and his mother move into the complex, making a new start.  Bran meets Will at the pool, and makes an immediate new friend.  Even though he is just 11, Will is willing to take some time and make this young boy feel special.  Wanted.

As the years pass, the two become better friends.  Will helps Bran learn to swim, do his homework, makes him feel better about himself.

Then Bran drops out of school and moves away.  Only to come back as a confident and sexy 18 year old.

Can Will see Bran as anything other than the young kid he was when they first met?  And will something special and lasting happen, with the specter of Bran being drafted looming?

This story is so very special.  So lovingly told.  So hopeful.  So heartbreaking.

I cannot recommend this moving and inspiring story more highly.  And to tell any more about it would be to ruin it.

Buy it.  NOW.

In fact, give both of these stories a read.  They are vastly different treatments of the times, love and relationships, but both are worth taking a chance on.


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