"Comfort & Joy" is a novel that continues the story of
Dan Crell--(from Grimsley's "Winter Birds")--
a southerner with a hard past who's known poverty
and all that is linked to such an origin. The holiday setting is
prominent as, in both flashbacks and the present, Dan and his
upper crust partner, Ford, are dealing with the demands
of a relationship in conjunction with career, family obligations,
and awkward uncertainty about pursuing intimacy.
Packed with nuance and character, "Comfort & Joy" is
not--contrary to the title, in the best of contradictory manners--
a happy feel-good piece. It's unpredictable, human, complicated,
and real. Things don't go smoothly, people don't act as we would like,
and not all the answers come rushing in at appropriate times.
The conflicts arise from a variety of sources, including
a class divide in the two men and varying degrees of
contentment with their own sexuality. Throw into the mix
the normal difficulties of two men being in love (aptly
outlined here in both inner monologues and fight
sequences,) as well as an HIV diagnosis, and there
is a plenitude of engaging material.
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