Bow Grip: A Novel by Ivan Coyote was a surprise to read. A thin book, it is easy reading and was recommended by the staff of Borders back in the day.
Joey is a forty-something mechanic going through a divorce. His wife left him for another woman. Joey is decent good guy and the divorce is transforming his life, but he and his soon-to-be-ex get along well. He still loves her and she still talks to his mother all the time.
This book's central character isn't LGTB, he is a guy who has to deal with those issues because his wife is dealing with them. This story is about how people build their own families beyond those based on blood. It is a story of human growth.
Joey's world is turned upside down. But he isn't angry that his wife left him. He's confused and part of him hopes that its a phase. But the realist knows she's gone. And suddenly at 40ish he is trying to make sense of his life. He is completely lost at one point, getting up to go to work because that is part of the routine he knows.
I read this book years ago and now at 40 I think I can understand part of the crisis he experiences. There are more days behind than before Joey. And there are questions about what has come to pass. Joey is a guy that we should all know. Slow to anger, doesn't talk much, but a rock solid guy.
The story moves because Joey sells an old used Volvo to a guy who gives him a cello. For Joey this becomes an opportunity to expand his horizons. They whole thing becomes an adventure in finding who he is. He's dealing with divorce and with a complete lack of direction. And then the cello comes...Through the whole book Joey starts keeping a journal to deal with stress and deal with his life. It offers insights into what he is feeling and what he thinks his stress level is.
For me the single best moment is when his ex asks for Joey to help co-parent the baby her girlfriend is going to have. Joey is elated. It is the creation of a new family, one of choice. Joey has moved on, but his love for his ex is transformed back into the friendship they always had. He could have been bitter, but he chose to move forward with her in his life. And his life is enriched by it.
This is a book about choices in moving forward in life and embracing change. Joey recreated his life with the changes that came to his. He was better for it. It is how we deal with the obstacles that life places before us that is the real measure of a life lived. Joey, isn't anyone special; he's just a guy. But it is how he deals with everything that makes him special. He's loved and he finds out how much he is loved.
For many LGTB people, we lose our families when we come out or there are new stresses that weren't present before we told the truth. We build new families. The definition of a family is evolving, but the central bond for it is love. This book creates a new type of family for its characters. The book highlights how things have changed in society. Literature reflects the society we live in. Things have changed, but we still build families that support us.
I must admit that I would never have read this book if it hadn't had a recommened tag at Border's. But this is the kind of book that should be read; it tells a simple tale of a man dealing with change. It isn't easy for him. I'll admit Border's and the employee recommendations. There was a whole world of books that would not get picked up but for an employee saying, "check this out." This book would never have come up on my tailored rec list from Amazon. There are many nuggets hidden out there. Its a matter of finding them.
Note: I have all day meetings today and I'm very much under the weather. I will chime in when I can.