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Ready to Catch Him Should He Fall (1990)

von Neil Bartlett

MitgliederRezensionenBeliebtheitDurchschnittliche BewertungDiskussionen
299569,327 (3.41)5
Neil Bartlett's groundbreaking debut novel, now available as a Serpent's Tail classic, with a new introduction by the author; 'Stands head-and-shoulders above any British or American gay novel to have appeared in several years' Gay Times
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Looking at some of the less than flattering reviews, it's clear that some readers are searching for realism in a work that is not only idealistic, but tells a fairy tale of mythical proportions.

It seems futile to scour the pages for "truth" in a work that quotes Herman Melville's reflection on the verity of writing, "I never used to believe what I read, but only thought it very strange, and a good deal too strange to be altogether true; though I never thought the man who wrote the book meant to tell lies". It also seems exhausting to cling to a world built around the periphery of one's own "truth". Sadly, the fact that some readers engage in these activities means that they end up overlooking the meaty substance buried within Bartlett's prose.

Through its restless need to provoke, seduce, baffle and embolden, Bartlett's strong writing gives hope to the oppressed. This includes both the gay men within the story, who fear the symbolism of the knife poised to slash their faces open in the night, and those moving about the "real" world, filled with similar acts of loathing and violence.

In this respect, the novel possesses a remarkably positive tone, taking on the resonance of a near-deafening battle cry. This is incredibly rare for books that fall in the "gay literature" category. To be able to transcend the margins of the victim narrative, Bartlett employs numerous tropes. These serve to achieve a few things at once: thicken the structure of the central fairy tale, appeal to a collective consciousness and communicate with those, who are familiar with the inner-workings of the discussed scene. In doing so, these symbols manage not to stray far from the "real" gay world, which is often reduced to a realm of walking clichés by those, who aim to undercut its unique struggles and attributes.

Bartlett's work operates as a myth, and this key quality might make it a somewhat challenging read for those, who are used to the logic that rules novelisations, for example. This is also the crucial difference between fiction and literature. Those used to the subversive tools of the latter appreciate writing for its artistic value, and can spot the devices used to carve lyrical landscapes. It's along these planes that readers' perceptions are challenged.

The novel toys with our understanding of what is real and what must remain indefinite. It takes pleasure in storing its morals beneath images, hiding thick emotions between grappling hands and tear-stained cheeks. For all its surreal plot points and political endeavours, the story is incredibly tender and relatable, as evidenced by the characters' struggle to articulate the depths of their love.

Overall, "Ready to Catch Him Should He Fall" is a stupendous, thought-provoking novel that celebrates not only the elasticity of the mind, but the beauty of transitory feelings. ( )
  Berry1 | Nov 7, 2021 |
Very strange. ( )
  dale01 | Dec 20, 2020 |
Un libro strano, con una scrittura a tratti di difficile comprensione. Da un lato una storia d’amore intensa e violenta. Dall’altro la descrizione del periodo storico in cui andare in un locale gay era pericoloso. Nel testo sono tanti i cliché usati. Forse un segno del tempo. Ma per certi versi diventano quasi eccessivi e rendono il testo a tratti grottesco. Proverò a rileggerlo in futuro. ( )
  scaredda | Sep 16, 2018 |
One evening, a young man wandering around the city, in search of something but just what he doesn't yet know, happens upon a nightclub known as The Bar. The all-male clientele all agree that he is the most handsome man they've seen in a while, and because he's young, they simply call him Boy. The weeks pass with Boy becoming a regular patron, going home with a different man each night until Mother, the owner of the bar, guides him, teaches hm what he needs to know about finding his own identity in the sea of men. Mother also quietly guides him toward another bar patron, Older Man, otherwise known only as "O". As their relationship blossoms into courtship and marriage, mysterious letters from a man known to Boy as "Father" begin to slowly work their way between the the two.

I'm of two minds about this novel. I did not like Boy or O for the first two thirds of the book. Boy slept with anything that moved and was indifferent to the patrons of The Bar. That stopped once he met O, but even their relationship at the start was not easy to understand for me. It read as if O were abusive and Boy fell into a pattern of acceptance, as if that was how the gay world worked. The patrons of The Bar seemed to agree with him and did not bat an eye when Boy walked in with new bruises. As for the telling of the tale, I constantly questioned the narrator, who was supposedly a bar patron but knew more information and specific details about O and Boy's relationship than a mere patron should.

The last third of the book, though, brought a change to Boy. He became stronger, took charge and made O stand back to view him in a new light. This version of Boy -- more mature, more adult -- was the change that I needed and hoped for. I just had to wade through quite a bit of strangeness to get there. ( )
  ocgreg34 | Nov 5, 2013 |
I've read this book once before, a few years ago, but when I picked it up in the library about two months ago I couldn't remember anything about it. Ready to Catch Him Should He Fall tells the story of the elaborate courtship of O (for Older Man) and Boy, orchestrated by Madame/Mother who tends the Bar they both go to. The story is narrated by one of the others who go to the Bar and follow the progress of the romance from the sidelines. ( )
  mari_reads | Sep 10, 2006 |
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Neil Bartlett's groundbreaking debut novel, now available as a Serpent's Tail classic, with a new introduction by the author; 'Stands head-and-shoulders above any British or American gay novel to have appeared in several years' Gay Times

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Durchschnitt: (3.41)
1 1
2 4
2.5 1
3 11
3.5 2
4 2
4.5 1
5 7

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