Bob the Book, David Pratt
Publisher: Chelsea Station Editions
Genre: Gay Fiction
Tags: Speculative Fiction, Romance
Length: 202 Pages
Reviewer: Kazza K
Purchase At: amazon.com
Just what is a ‘gay book’? -A book attracted to books of the same gender! Meet ‘Bob the Book,’ a gay book for sale in a Greenwich Village bookstore, where he falls in love with another book, Moishe. But a freak accident separates the young lovers. As Bob wends his way through used book bins, paper bags, knapsacks, and lecture halls, hoping to be reunited with Moishe, he meets a variety of characters, both book and human, including Angela, a widowed copy of Jane Austen’s ‘Mansfield Park’ and two other separated lovers, Neil and Jerry, near victims of a book burning. Among their owners and readers are Alfred and Duane, whose on-again, off-again relationship unites and separates our book friends. Will Bob find Moishe? Will Jerry and Neil be reunited? Will Alfred and Duane make it work? Read ‘Bob the Book’ to find all the answers.
What happens when you ascribe feelings that humans have to books… in a book? You get Bob the Book is what happens. I don’t think it is possible to write an appropriate review of this book because it’s hard to get the vibe and the visceral reaction from reading across properly to any prospective reader. I hope my review sways you to take a chance and Pick up Bob the Book.
Anyway, I’ll say the following –
Bob the Book follows Bob – aka Private Pleasures Myth and Representation in Male Photo Sets and Pornography from the Pre-Stonewall Era to 1979 – from his life at Gay Diversions Bookstore in Greenwich Village and beyond. It looks at Bob’s burgeoning relationship with Moishe, Beneath The Tallis: The Hidden Lives of Gay and Bisexual Orthodox Jewish Men, through book stores, sales outlets, and different owners – whether for self improvement, to admire the male form or to give dating advice, general self-help, or for scholarly pursuits. Along the way they meet various and sundry books, some they gel with, some they don’t. The main book-characters, aside from Bob, are Moishe, Angela, Neil, Jerry, Luke, a more recent book by the same author as Bob with an improved cover, and Marc. And a few humans are in here – Alfred and Ron, with the possibility of love thrown in for them as well, in a round about way, much like the books. No matter the reason the books/people were in the book, they had such purpose and they mesmerised.
Bob the Book is similar yet different to Looking After Joey. Similar in that it is set mostly in New York and it does cover the ‘gaybourhood’ aspect, but different because this is spec fic used to create human emotions and relationships via books. Inanimate objects they may be, but Bob the Book seems so personal, so real, and so human – and isn’t that something, given the title and the main characters are books?
The books all have another in their lives that they meet and, through time and circumstance, run the gamut of emotions for/with. They experience friendships, solidarity, feeling isolated, needing to justify something about themselves before others may pick on them. They also experience being loved, being discarded, being violated, ridiculed and landing in perilous situations through no fault of their own – something most people have had (some) experience with. My heart ached for all the characters – these books – at some point. I shed a tear, I felt angry for them, I picked myself back up and dusted myself right off alongside them, I fell in love with them and I agreed that the here and now is very important.
I also enjoyed that the book is about the love of the written word and how some of the books in ‘Bob’ are able to talk to their (prospective) owners – books speak to us all the time… “read me, read me…don’t!” I love some, others not so much. People have the same effect…talk to me, I like you…not so much. So the parallels between the feelings about a book, the feelings people have for one another, was clever. It spoke volumes about how we treat others, what we think of them, and ourselves. It’s also very true, you can’t judge a book by its cover or know who you just might love.
Luke nestled himself closer to Jerry. The love startled Marc. He thought he had never seen or felt anything like the energy between these two books. Angela looked on warmly. And the titles of the two books had not escaped Marc: a book on gay Christianity cuddled up with a book on erotica. What were the odds? Yet Marc saw how wonderfully the relationship worked.
I shall just throw a couple of more quotes out that resonated with me.
Bob pressed against him just a little. Moishe pressed back. Bob pressed again and Moishe giggled. Bob tried not to think of the odds against the two of them ever being sold together.
Someone else, or something else, like a book, could shine a blazing light, but with no pain from the glare, and you saw yourself, more imperfect than ever, surrounded by a brilliant halo.
Bob the Book is one of the most endearing, touching and beautifully written books I have ever had the pleasure to read. No wonder it won a Lambda Literary award. The correlation between the books’ lives and those of humans is perfect. So many personalities were explored so easily and yet so profoundly. I think I’ll just use some of Moishe’s words to say how this book made me feel as well:
That was beautiful. That was Bob.