Tell the wolves I’m home – Carol Rifka Brunt

   
Tell the wolves I’m home is a haunting tale of deep love and loss – in all forms. 14 year old June Elbus loses her favorite uncle and godfather, Finn, to Aids in 1986. This was a time when very little was known about this disease, and the stigma around it then was even more potent than it is today. The book starts in Finn’s dying days. He is an established New York artist and is painting his nieces, both as a parting gift, and as an excuse to spend every Sunday with them before he dies. 

When he does pass away, June begins to learn that there is a whole secret life her uncle had, that she never even knew about. Betrayed and confused, the man her family accuses of giving Finn Aids, his live-in boyfriend Toby, reaches out to June. In a deeply satisfying read, the two try and work through their mutual love and loss of such an amazing man.

This book is magnificent for a debut novel. It is crammed through with exquisite quotes and insights into the beauty and pain of life. Rich themes tie this book together, particularly that of the relationship between siblings. Anyone who grew up with a sister will find this a particularly relatable story.

It is moving in the utmost, and although I haven’t read a vast amount of queer literature, I found this story wonderfully moving and thoroughly satisfying. I paired it with the superb Anura Legato.
  

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The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger

d2ff933dfa98f7392893fc2760de1d11 I have finally done it. I’ve finally gotten around to reading this classic American novel of anarchy and teenage rebellion. I do wish that I had read it when I was 17, I feel like it would have shaped me much more than it has as a 20-something. The story of rebellious teen Holden Caulfield has become a clarion call for many, including American war veterans and would-be assassins. When he was arrested for the murder of John Lennon, Mark David Chapman handed police a copy of the book that he had bought that very day, and in it was written: To Holden Caulfield from Holden Caulfield: This is my statement. I didn’t find it the easiest book in the world to read, but as a technical literary work, I can appreciate the beauty and crafting that went into this book, particularly the fact that Salinger managed to crawl into the mind of a disillusioned 16 year old boy trying to come to terms with his brothers death from leukemia. Salinger richly deals with the themes of living in a broken world with no purpose, and I had a deep existential reading of the novel (existentialism was very prominent at the time it was written, just after World War Two). Although not much happens really, the book is a rich internal monologue from Holden’s perspective “about this madman stuff that happened to me around last Christmas.” It’s short, and if classic literature is your thing, it is definitely worth a read, to be followed swiftly by Joanna Rakoff (I did it the wrong way around). I paired this book with an easy drinking Kanonkop Kadette Cape Blend, with notes of raspberries and mocha.

Maus-Art Spiegelman

 

I can’t say I’ve ever read an entire comic book in my life, let alone a Pulitzer Prize winning one, yet I flew through this harrowing true story of survival.

Maus is the story of Vladek Spiegelman and his survival of the Second World War and Auschwitz, as told by his son, years later in New York. The author, Art, is currently the contributing editor and artist for the New Yorker, and he uses his talents for drawing to retell the trauma his father went through, while trying to exercise his own demons relating to his relationship with his parents, and particularly his mothers suicide.   

This dark story is constructed with postmodern flair, with the artist assuming the mask of a mouse, and often referring back to himself, his illusion and the process of drawing the cartoon. Yet he gently guides the reader through war torn Poland through the eyes of his aging father.

The story is poignant and powerful, not for the faint of heart but without a doubt worth the challenge of reading it. I paired this with the glorious Plaisir De Merle 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon.