The Trapeze Artist

The Trapeze Artist

by Will Davis
     
 

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A man will endlessly torture his muscles until they shriek and complain. But he will not give in. He will take a hammer to his ceiling until the neighbors begin to watch from the window and the journalists knock at the door. He will continue to train and hack away at the house until it is finished and the trapeze is in place.
Although his parents thought he was

Overview

A man will endlessly torture his muscles until they shriek and complain. But he will not give in. He will take a hammer to his ceiling until the neighbors begin to watch from the window and the journalists knock at the door. He will continue to train and hack away at the house until it is finished and the trapeze is in place.
Although his parents thought he was nice and kindhearted and teachers saw him as a good boy, secretly he hated his drab, ordered world and longed for more. Then, when he was fourteen, Edward arrived at his school. Edward exuded the coolness of a latter-day Oscar Wilde. Edward listened to Patti Smith, watched Fassbinder films, knew the writings of Gore Vidal, and, one evening, would kiss him in the moonlight. Forty years old and fleeing from a life he can no longer handle, he stumbles upon the circus. Not knowing why, only that he must, he gets in his car and follows after it, refusing to listen to the doubts that plague him, determined to build a new home and family.
The Trapeze Artist draws together the past, present, and future of one life to create a work of startling dexterity and vision-a haunting and heartbreaking account of a child, a boy, a man, desperate to free himself from the suffocating weight of his desires, his family, and his grief. It speaks of what it is to grow up gay in a straight world, to be unable to communicate with those you love, of the sweat, passions, and tempers of circus life, and, above all, of the joyous longing to break free, and to swing higher and higher...

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The unnamed protagonist in Davis’s semiautobiographical third novel (after Dream Machine), unhappy with his dreary existence living with his mother and working as a caretaker for elderly invalids in provincial England, literally runs off with the circus, where he finds a home on the road and love with the star attraction, a Romanian aerialist named Vlad. When the third-rate traveling show breaks up, our lovesick hero goes home to find his mother incapacitated by strokes, and in order to build his own indoor trapeze, he takes a sledgehammer to the family house. Whatever nutty charm this premise suggests is sundered by Davis’s leaden prose. It is unfortunately ironic that a novel that takes as its subject frustration with the drabness of ordinary life should itself be so cluttered with clichés and stock characters. An overly complex narrative structure, interweaving three separate time frames in the protagonist’s life, cannot save this novel from crashing to earth. Agent: Peter Buckman, the Ampersand Agency (U.K.). (Dec.)
Library Journal
A closeted gay man in England sits in the audience of a small circus. He is compelled to follow it, leaving behind his disapproving mother, menial job, and narrow life. He falls in love with Vlad, a less-than-faithful aerial artist, but also with circus life, despite the hazing he receives from the established members. The unnamed protagonist, however, can take all kinds of humiliations, as they are minor compared with the punishment he's been dealing himself since adolescence, when he lost Edward, his charismatic, confident, bohemian teen love. Sandwiched between the narratives of past and present is a third narrative in future tense—describing how the protagonist creates a trapeze rig out of his mother's suburban house and a trapeze artist from his imperfect, aging body. Full of technical detail about how circus equipment works, this novel is also a portrait of how convention and parental expectation can tragically warp a person's potential. VERDICT For those who've always wondered about running away with the circus, this bleak tale by the award-winning author of My Side of the Story and Dream Machine may make you think twice.—Devon Thomas, DevIndexing, Chelsea, MI

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781620400029
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
12/11/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
File size:
869 KB

Meet the Author

Will Davis is the author of two novels, My Side of the Story, which won the Betty Trask Prize 2007, and Dream Machine. He has trained as an aerialist and specializes in corde lisse (rope), tissu (silks) and static trapeze. He lives in London.

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