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Comfort and Joy

Comfort and Joy

by Jim Grimsley

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Ford McKinney leads a charmed life: he's a young doctor possessing good looks, good breeding, and money. He comes from an old Savannah family where his parents, attentive to his future, focus their energies on finding their son--their golden boy--a girl to marry. But how charmed is this life when Ford's own heart suspects that he is not meant to spend his life with a woman? His suspicions are confirmed when he meets Dan Crell.

Dan is a quiet man with a great voice. Behind the tempered facade of the shy hospital administrator is a singer who can transform a room with his soaring voice, leaving his listeners in awe and reverence. Ford catches one such Christmas concert and his life is never quite the same; he is touched in a place he keeps hidden, forbidden. When Ford and Dan begin to explore the limits of their relationship, Dan's own secrets are exposed--and his mysterious and painful childhood returns to haunt him.

In Comfort and Joy Jim Grimsley finds a marriage between the stark and stunning pain of his prize-winning Winter Birds and the passion of critically acclaimed Dream Boy. In this, his fourth novel, he considers pressing questions. How does a man reconcile the child he was raised to be with the man that he truly is? What happens when an adult has to choose between his parents and a lover?

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781565127180
Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication date: 10/16/2003
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 304
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Jim Grimsley is the author of four previous novels, among them Winter Birds, a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award; Dream Boy, winner of the GLBTF Book Award for literature; My Drowning, a Lila-Wallace-Reader's Digest Writer's Award winner; and Comfort and Joy. He lives in Atlanta and teaches at Emory University.

Read an Excerpt

The psychotherapist, a friendly woman with wire-screwy hair that wafted in a cloud around her face, offered her hand at their first session, introduced herself as Shaun Gould, and asked, "Why are you here?"

"My dog died and now I'm so lonely it's driving me crazy."

His directness brought her forward in the chair, and she said, "I'm very sorry you lost your dog. That must have hurt you."


"Did you know you were lonely before the dog died?"

"No. But I know now."

"What do you know about it?" Shaun asked, and the question bore just exactly the right ring of interest, nothing feigned or enacted.

As she listened to his answer, he studied her comforting body, its thick waist and generous curves lounging in the black leather chair. He told her about breaking up with his current girlfriend, and he told about breaking up with the previous girlfriends. Each time he described one of the girlfriends, he got a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach, and finally he said, "But that's not what I want to talk about."

"I didn't think it was," Shaun said.

"I want to tell you about Allen," Ford said. "And then I want to tell you about McKenzie."

He expected to tell the story with detachment, but failed. He stopped talking and waited, shivering. Shaun listened with occasional changes of expression, small nods, and careful encouragements for him to continue. He told about [the dog] and McKenzie, and those months in Chapel Hill when he had been with them both. He trembled, but Shaun sat calmly, hands folded in her lap. When he said, "But he never came back to get the dog, and so I kept him," and then fell silent, Shaun sat motionless. Finally nodding once.

"Why did you tell me that?" she asked.

"To tell you something about me."

"What are you telling me?"

"That I must have cared about him a lot."

"That you must have?"

He thought carefully. "That I did. I cared about him. More than I cared about anybody else that I can think of."

Ford visited Shaun once a week for a period of several months. While he declined to discuss these sessions with his parents, they were relieved to note he had regained his weight and color. He slept well, after the first few weeks. Returning to the empty house no longer paralyzed him. Abandoning the image of himself floating above himself, he caressed the physical objects around him, the exquisite antiques that had belonged to his Great-grandmother Bondurant, the Waterford vase full of silk daisies, the stainless frame of the Matisse print over the Victorian sofa.

At the hospital, he proved himself to be a better prospect as a pediatrician than many would have guessed, moving with authority from nursing unit to clinic exam room, charismatic, with a knack for getting along with nurses and ancillary staff. Even after thirty-six- and forty-eight-hour shifts, Ford remained even-tempered and clear-headed, proving his value repeatedly.

"Why do you want to be a doctor?" Shaun asked, in

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