Foreword Reviews

A Delicate Dance

2015 INDIES Winner
Gold, LGBT (Adult Fiction)

Clarion Rating: 5 out of 5

This is an illuminating must-read for those who devour family dramas.

Austin Gary’s novel, A Delicate Dance, delves into the tangled two-step of familial love, being overshadowed by a parent, and, ultimately, forgiveness.

For Thad, living beneath the weight of his overbearing, critical father, noted writer Clarkson Gregory, suffocates him. Thad’s asphyxiation is made heavier by the fact that his family suspects him of being homosexual, and that the adult son is trying to become a writer in his own right. Being extremely close to a childhood friend of the same gender only helps to fuel the parents’ suspicions about their son’s sexuality and provokes them to maintain an attitude of thinly veiled homophobia. To complicate matters further, Thad attempts to come to terms with all these issues by writing Gregory’s biography.

Using a memoir as a narrative structure, Gary jumps from scene to scene and paints a brilliant portrait of the narrator, his sister, and his parents, and the complex relationships in the family. Gregory’s wife, Susan, remains devoted to the literary giant despite his temper, delusions, arrogance, and addictions. To quote one of Gary’s deliciously apt literary similes: “As for mom, her patience with dad’s idiosyncrasies made Job look like a slacker.” Many of the book’s sentences contain large parts separated from the main phrase by dashes. Such stylistic choices, as well as titling the chapters with Latin phrases, underscores the erudition and verbal finesse possessed by Thad and Gregory.

The book also deals with the timely issue of caring for one’s parents, as Thad’s sister, Tina, finds herself caring for the ailing man after Susan passes away while Thad attempts to keep his distance from a dad he considers toxic. Within the biography, Thad tries to defend Gregory against one of his detractors even as he recounts prickly events in his dad’s life. The book’s genius of Thad coming to terms with multiple people in Gregory’s life adroitly underscores the narrative’s poignant theme of reconciliation. As Thad grows up and struggles to differentiate himself from his father, he shows the universal need to establish himself on his own merits.

As Thad dances around the issue of whether to repair his relationship with his father, there are many beautifully done scenes with Thad and his childhood friend Ben, at different ages. The closeness of the boys as they grow into young men hints at a burgeoning romance between them.

This is an illuminating must-read for those who devour family dramas.

Reviewed by Jill Allen

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the author will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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