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Topic: Sep BOM - Arrow's Flight - Pages 216-end

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Subject: Sep BOM - Arrow's Flight - Pages 216-end
Date Posted: 9/1/2008 9:47 AM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,851
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Discuss the third and fourth parts of An Arrow's Flight here. The section titles are The Bow and Islands of Grief.

Date Posted: 9/10/2008 5:33 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2008
Posts: 1,356
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So, I've just finished it. As I reflect on it, I am convinced the best part of this book is the chatty, memoir-type recounting of an early uber-queen who is one of the first to come down with the AIDs virus---the historical context and myth tie in feel soooo artificial--they both feel like the cardboard, one-dimensional, homemade out of cardboard and painted after school backdrop in a high school play. I would MUCH rather have read the reminiscings, without the useless plot of let's be a hustler/let's chase our mythological destiny to Troy.  I know it is an award winner and I've contemplated that--it's been in print 20 years now, so it may have been much more revolutionary a writing/perspective in 1998 when it was first published... but other than that, I'm not getting it.  I am a straight-but-as-friendly-to-the-LGBT-community as they come, and I would just like to have been reading an account of someone's firsthand musings on being part of the late 70's-early 80's club scene, firsthand reflections on the appearance and early feelings about the AIDs virus in the gay community--that, to me, has true social value and interest.  I'm left having enjoyed that level of the book, but thinking to myself, "Why muck up a great memoir with wierd and ineffective plot and setting constructs?"

I am eager to explore its reputation in the LGBT community with some of my closer LBGT friends---I am compelled to understand why it got such great reviews and what they think its value is.

Date Posted: 9/10/2008 8:14 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,851
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Very interesting analysis, Colleen. Thanks much for that! If you learn anything about its reception amongst the masses, please share it. I'm intrigued. I really don't understand how it won anything.

BTW, is 1998 a typo? Did you mean 1988? That would make the AIDS theme particularly relevant.

Date Posted: 9/11/2008 5:45 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2008
Posts: 1,356
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Genie--my copy has a copyright date on the first page of 1998, I took that to be its initial publication date--but you're right, Randy Shilts' And the Bank Played On came out about then didn't it? That was the real first lookback I remember.

Date Posted: 9/11/2008 6:54 PM ET
Member Since: 7/21/2008
Posts: 437
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I just landed in Chicago; I was able to finish the book enroute from Tokyo.  While I was a bit disappointed in what I felt was not a strong enough tie of the story line into the historical backdrop, I still enjoyed the book for the most part and can to some extent understand its popularity.  I think it very uniquely paralled the Fall of Troy with the contempory theme of the birth of AIDS.  And while it's not something I would have chosen for it's HF content, I do feel it carries some strong social messages.  There is the underlying theme of finding oneself, and coming to grips with sexual identity....you can see it in Pyrrhus' transformation from a boy trying to find his identity, hustling and stripping while constantly feeling he is living in the shadow of his father, to finally finding himself, growing into a man, and facing the impact of the being in love and facing the AIDS crisis.  I read a review online that discusses how the ancient Greeks cherished themes such as fate, and whether we can choose our own destiny.  In that light, and with the struggles the characters grow through in coming to grips with their identities, I think the theme is very effective.

 

Date Posted: 9/11/2008 7:42 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,851
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I think it very uniquely paralled the Fall of Troy with the contempory theme of the birth of AIDS.

Well, now, that's interesting. Thanks for the insight, Michelle. I'm thinking if the book had a stronger start, I might have stayed with it. Maybe I'll pick it up again another day.

Date Posted: 9/26/2008 10:52 AM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
Posts: 2,482
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I finshed the book last night and I agree with Colleen that one of the best parts were the musings of Philoctetes about his early days and the bar/social scene.  I too felt that the Troy metaphor by the end was stretched pretty thin.  Oddly enough this book didn't irritate me nearly as much as The Black Ships.  I felt the writing to be at a much more mature level and the storyline with fewer obvious gaps or hurried sections. While I don't plan to keep this one, I'm glad to have read it.

Date Posted: 9/26/2008 2:52 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2008
Posts: 1,356
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Michelle--I loved your comments, thought they were very insightful---and I agree with Cheryl, AF did not irritate me in the way Black Ships did--Black Ships I characterize as sort of one-note, while AF has at least two--and while the HF theme of each was lacking, AF's second theme was certainly not---so I'd agree, it's not really an HF read despite the ancient setting but as a more contemporary examination it had interest and merit.