Toss and Whirl and Pass [NOOK Book]

Overview

From highly acclaimed author Shawn Stewart Ruff comes a fearless new novel set in New York City two weeks into the nightmare of the World Trade Center's destruction. For Ivy-educated, HIV-positive African-American poet Yale Battle, the will to go on since the death of his lover -- a famed Alvin Ailey dancer and choreographer and casualty of AIDS in the early 1990s -- is never more acutely tested than when the city he loves is engulfed in grief. Wandering the memories of Yale's old life, and deep in the terror of ...
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Toss and Whirl and Pass

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Overview

From highly acclaimed author Shawn Stewart Ruff comes a fearless new novel set in New York City two weeks into the nightmare of the World Trade Center's destruction. For Ivy-educated, HIV-positive African-American poet Yale Battle, the will to go on since the death of his lover -- a famed Alvin Ailey dancer and choreographer and casualty of AIDS in the early 1990s -- is never more acutely tested than when the city he loves is engulfed in grief. Wandering the memories of Yale's old life, and deep in the terror of a drug and sex odyssey that lands him in jail, Toss and Whirl and Pass ponders the nature of eternal love and celebrates the city of dreams.
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Editorial Reviews

Kay Bourne
Shawn Stewart Ruff submerges the reader into a day of a grieving man, a man with a wry sense of humor but one whose anguish is like a boil at the bursting point… Told swiftly by Yale at the speed of a crystal meth rush (or so it feels to the reader), the past crowds in on the murky present like a flashlight among the trees illuminating the mourner’s life in a haunting way… Given the caliber and punch, Ruff establishes himself as a contender in literature.
Antonio Calvo
A brilliantly realized nightmare.
Greg Gregory
Weaves seamlessly between past and present [in language] beautiful and raw...
Richard LaBonte
This roller-coaster novel about a grieving man’s out-of-control personal spiral, with vivid flashbacks fleshing out the nightmarish narrative, is packed with enough percussive plot and memorable characters for several books. But Ruff’s dynamic prose pulls everything together with an eloquence that makes for easy reading.
Jim Bartley
The midpoint of the book offers a late-night sex encounter in Central Park that echoes the darkest, dirtiest riffs from New York’s iconic gay writers of the 1970s and ’80s. Yale’s gruff and commanding top man is shaded a much deeper black — a large part of the turn-on for cinnamon-tinted Yale. Only fiction can examine the seething intersection of lust and race with unfettered honesty, and in that regard, Ruff is fearless.
Richard LaBonte
This roller-coaster novel about a grieving man’s out-of-control personal spiral, with vivid flashbacks fleshing out the nightmarish narrative, is packed with enough percussive plot and memorable characters for several books. But Ruff’s dynamic prose pulls everything together with an eloquence that makes for easy reading.
Kay Bourne
Shawn Stewart Ruff submerges the reader into a day of a grieving man, a man with a wry sense of humor but one whose anguish is like a boil at the bursting point… Told swiftly by Yale at the speed of a crystal meth rush (or so it feels to the reader), the past crowds in on the murky present like a flashlight among the trees illuminating the mourner’s life in a haunting way… Given the caliber and punch, Ruff establishes himself as a contender in literature.
Antonio Calvo
A brilliantly realized nightmare.
Greg Gregory
Weaves seamlessly between past and present [in language] beautiful and raw...
Jim Bartley
The midpoint of the book offers a late-night sex encounter in Central Park that echoes the darkest, dirtiest riffs from New York’s iconic gay writers of the 1970s and ’80s. Yale’s gruff and commanding top man is shaded a much deeper black — a large part of the turn-on for cinnamon-tinted Yale. Only fiction can examine the seething intersection of lust and race with unfettered honesty, and in that regard, Ruff is fearless.
Richard LaBonte
This roller-coaster novel about a grieving man’s out-of-control personal spiral, with vivid flashbacks fleshing out the nightmarish narrative, is packed with enough percussive plot and memorable characters for several books. But Ruff’s dynamic prose pulls everything together with an eloquence that makes for easy reading.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780981942056
  • Publisher: Quote Editions, Inc
  • Publication date: 10/13/2010
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 306 KB

Meet the Author

Lambda Literary Award-winner Shawn Stewart Ruff is author of two novels -- Finlater, Toss and Whirl and Pass -- and editor of Go the Way Your Blood Beats: An Anthology of Lesbian and Gay Fiction by African American Writers. A short story collection, selections from which are available now, and a new novel are forthcoming in Spring 2012.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Another Major Success from Shawn Stewart Ruff

    `I've lived in a sort of fugue state for years now - my mornings beginning during most people's supper, my evenings ending at the start of canine morning rush hour, when the sidewalks glisten with the new day's fresh piss. I'm more likely to recognize the dog than I am the person holding the leash.' So begins the latest novel TOSS WHIRL PASS by Shawn Stewart Ruff whose rise to literary importance since the publication of his first novel FINLATER has been swift and sure. Ruff is a national treasure, a gifted writer who is unafraid to tackle difficult topics because his use of the English language is as polished as anyone writing today. He can comfortably move from eloquent poetic prose (and poetry, this time) to raw, sensuous, erotic descriptive tones in a manner that does not draw attention to his talent but instead propels his story along. And what a storyteller he is! Ruff moves so easily from the present to the past by a seamless use of flashbacks that it is sometimes difficult to know where we as readers are in the story. It would seem that TOSS WHIRL PASS is actually one day in the life of our narrator, Yale Battle, an Ivy-educated HIV+ poet/artist whose life and very being are still quivering from that terrifying moment we all refer to as 9/11. No particular time frames are mentioned but it FEELS as though that could have happened approximately two weeks before the opening of Yale's story. But then perhaps it is the author's intention in this paean to those countless men lost to the plague of AIDS to draw a parallel: despite the insidious onset of that disease with all of the physical signs Ruff so astutely describes in the course of this book, the end of life of the victim has the same momentous impact as that explosion of the twin towers. Through a series of carefully choreographed episodes (`choreographed' is an appropriate term here as Ruff names each of his chapters after a dance position, explaining the French terms in English in a way that foretells the content of the words to come), Yale tells us a bit about his childhood including his introduction to same sex activity with his friend Hillary who later claims to have been assaulted, to his move into adulthood and progression to Ivy League schools in pursuit of his life as a frustrated writer, finding a lone friend in college, moving to New York and encountering Angel, his Dominican friend who dies of AIDS, and his ultimately meeting the ideal man of his life - one Courtney Baines Arrington, a ballet dancer with the Alvin Ailey Dance Company and a wannabe choreographer. Throughout the book there are the trials and pleasures of his relationship with the narcissistic Courtney and the discovery that Courtney is HIV+ while they work together to make a dance company for Courtney and encourage the development of Yale's writing gifts. The story begins with Yale seeking meds for their dying cat Zsa Zsa Gabor: when the pharmacy will not supply, Yale relies on his own supplier, the very young Solstice, who also happens to be bedding Yale's stuffy British neighbor's wife, and it is at this point that we realize that Yale has long been a drug addict. Since Courtney's death he has been increasing casual about his life (the descriptions of his physical encounters are of the quality of Henry Miller, Genet, Gide et al) and eventually (later on in the day that

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