Book Review: Reunion by Barry Brennessel

Posted: August 28, 2013 by sidlove in 3.5 Star Reviews, Book Reviews, Ilhem's Reviews
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Reviewed by Ilhem O.

ReunionTITLE: Reunion
AUTHOR: Barry Brennessel
PUBLISHER: MLR Press
LENGTH: 222 pages
BLURB: From a small French city to a park outside the neon glitz of Tokyo, and beyond, these interconnected stories follow the adventures of Brian, Ondrej, Yuji, Jason, and others as they navigate the tumultuous path of life and love.

REVIEW:

When I was a student, I used to sit outside of a café with my friends (oooh, bad students!) and play at “grasping humanity”. The rule was to make a cup of coffee last as long as possible, to focus on passersby and feel as consciously as possible the fact that each anonymous face and silhouette was well and truly a being whose uniqueness crossed paths with ours for the blink of an eye, or longer if we chose to intervene. It might sound like a “duh” moment, but it was vertiginous, just like staring at a starry sky or thinking about infinity.

Anyway, I kept from this game a strong liking for movies and books about intercrossed destinies.  “Reunion” is a collection of short stories written at different times, but composing a very coherent ensemble of interwoven lives.

The book opens in France with “Ficelle”, a strange and short introduction that left me more confused than intrigued. In the next story and obviously a few years later, a young man is stubbornly chasing love from Tours in France to “Skin-Kiba Park” in Japan. Only a first name was needed to link this story to the first one, and I started paying attention to each character, even the most mundane, even the seemingly most insignificant passerby.  Back to America, a woman wasted her life away, but a handsome “Marco…Polo” is enough to send her musing about body fluids and connection.

“She watched this man-boy in her living room and wondered whose lips his had touched. The biology and chemistry, the animal urges that would cause this sweet, friendly but serious young man to kneel on all fours, his penis hard, throbbing; his need to both connect with and lord over another body for a mere few minutes of selfish passion, and to what end, other than to feel semen squirt out of him as he grunted like a primate?”

Ow and eww! Is it all that there is to it? Is it what this is all about?  Wether we’re with a rent boy in “Nagasaki”, make a detour by Czechoslovakia with “Unfinished”, get lost near the tube stop “Marble Arch” in UK, witness two former high school friends’ “Reunion”, or we cheer on a bullied boy learning to build a “Curtain Wall”, these stories of encounters, missed opportunities, lonely fantasies, all tell indeed of sexuality, of bodies and needs. They also tell of people seeking embrace, and this is what “Reunion” is about.

Along the course, I’ve met many characters.  I will never know what happens next to some of them, I would have liked to know a little more about others, but all took part to the story that “Brothers and Sisters”, “the Visit” and “Coda” bring  to full circle.

Why not 4 stars, then? I loved the concept of this book, but the stories didn’t all work for me on the same level. Some of them really touched me, others were too narrative – that is, telling too much and not showing enough – to my taste.  In the end, though, they’re all proof of Mr Brennessel’s willingness and ability to tell stories and play at grasping humanity.

Ilhem’s Rating: 535px-3-5_stars-svg

BUY LINK: MLR Press  ::  All Romance eBooks

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Ilhem O. is one of the official reviewers on The Blog of Sid Love.

To read all her reviews, click the link: ILHEM’S REVIEWS
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Comments
  1. Lovely review Ilhem, even if the author wasn’t completely successful for you, you still get across that this is a different and intriguing exercise. Never read anything by him but you’ve made me interested. Thanks for that 🙂

  2. Ilhem says:

    You’re very welcome! You have “the Celestial” somewhere on your TBR, right? Give him a try, he’s really a good story teller. I really like this author and I have a great respect for his work.

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