The first book is The Charioteer by Mary Renault. I mentioned I was bad at reviewing, well, I'm even worse at summarizing, so this is straight off the back of the book/amazon.com:
After enduring an injury at Dunkirk during World War II, Laurie Odell is sent to a rural veterans' hospital in England to convalesce. There he befriends the young, bright Andrew, a conscientious objector serving as an orderly. As they find solace and companionship together in the idyllic surroundings of the hospital, their friendship blooms into a discreet, chaste romance. Then one day, Ralph Lanyon, a mentor from Laurie's schoolboy days, suddenly reappears in Laurie's life, and draws him into a tight-knit social circle of world-weary gay men. Laurie is forced to choose between the sweet ideals of innocence and the distinct pleasures of experience.
This book started off really good. I liked Laurie a lot, and I really liked Andrew. I even liked Ralph, though when he came (back) into it is when the book seemed to drag on a bit. I also seemed to like him less as the book went on. I always hate to just label a character like this, but he was really very Mary Sue-like. I kept hoping there would be more with Andrew, but as the book went on there was less and less. However, my biggest problem was the writing. For some reason parts of it seemed very vague, or cryptic almost, and I found that I had to go back and read whole passages just to figure out what just happened, or what something was supposed to mean. And there were times when I still couldn't figure it out. Too many conversations between Laurie and Ralph seemed to have hidden meaning behind what they were actually saying, and I guess in this case I just didn't get it. It was an okay book, but not really something I'd recommend to anyone. It's just too bad that the last half wasn't as good as the first. Has anyone else read this, or anything else by this author? I'm still curious to try something else by her, but I'm wondering if all her stories have the same vague thing going on.
The second book is Dream Boy by Jim Grimsley.
Jim Grimsley's stunning and heartbreaking novel recounts the story of a painful first love between two adolescent boys who bravely sustain each other in a world of domestic disintegration. At once haunting and sublime, Dream Boy is an amazing tale of boundless hope - and ultimate tragedy.
I can't express how wonderful this book was. At a mere 195 pages it's quite a short read, but the author manages to make you feel all kinds of emotions throughout, and he creates such a memorable story. This was one of those books that I spent the following couple of days still thinking about. I even felt compelled to re-read parts of it, because I liked the characters so much. Grimsley's writing is beautiful, and because I liked this book so much I've already run out of things to say about it (without giving spoilers, anyway). And I realize that the summary and my babble are pretty vague, but it's so short I wouldn't want to give too much away. ;)
Same question; has anyone read anything else by this author? I'd really love to hear your opinions, because if his other books are as good as this one then they are definitely worth checking out.