Brothers in Arms

Michael Carson, Author Pantheon Books $16.95 (220p) ISBN 978-0-394-57213-0
Although its theme may sound forbiddingly seriousan English adolescent comes to terms with his homosexuality while simultaneously sloughing off the hairshirt of a pious Catholic educationthis is a very funny first novel. Fat and unhappy, besotted with guilt and furtive sexual longings, Michael Benson is growing up in a working-class neighborhood in a city on the northwestern coast of England in the early '60s. A 14-year-old compulsive bedwetter, Benson makes up for a dreary existence with a rich fantasy life: melodramatic and uplifting images culled from the histories of the Catholic martyrs share quarters in his overheated psyche with decidedly impious homoerotic imaginings. In flight from his burgeoning homosexual yearnings, Benson rushes headlong into the Catholic faith, leaving his local school to begin his novitiate at St. Finbar's Seminary. St. Finbar's, with its fire-and-brimstone dogma and homosexual intrigues, proves disastrous for Benson, and he is sent home, where he will learn to accept his homosexuality and reject an uncomfortable faith. Writing with droll wit and sympathy, a wicked eye for detail and an obvious familiarity with the milieu, Carson mixes humor and poignancy in this moving account of a sexual and spiritual coming-of-age. (September)
Reviewed on: 08/05/1988
Release date: 08/01/1988
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 22 pages - 978-0-452-26309-3
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