Conquering Venus

Conquering Venus

by Collin Kelley


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781937420536
Publisher: Sibling Rivalry Press, LLC
Publication date: 12/10/2013
Pages: 326
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.73(d)

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Conquering Venus 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
jasonpettus on LibraryThing 5 months ago
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)As I've said here many times before, I believe that for a novel to be a truly great one, it must successfully combine three essential elements -- it must have an exciting and logical plot, populated by realistic and compelling characters, written in a competent and unique style. But of course the irony of this is that these three elements aren't even slightly equal when it comes to importance; that for a novel merely to be readable, all it really requires is a reasonable storyline and a lack of grammatical errors, and only then does one need to worry about adding intriguing and complex characters to the mix. (In fact, as those who have done their homework know, the emphasis on character development came rather late in the history of the novel, mostly the result of the academic community getting more and more involved with the format starting in the early 20th century, and is actually the issue that most informs the debate between so-called "mainstream" fiction versus "genre" literature; the latter is accused of concentrating too much on plot to the detriment of character, while the former is accused of the exact opposite.) And thus is the literary world filled with a plethora of novels by beginning authors that least aren't terrible, in that they've at least conquered the challenges of the three-act story and "proper English;" but neither are they truly compelling, because of the lack of emphasis on truly compelling characters, that complicated and oh-so-elusive detail that has been plaguing writers for centuries.Take for example the new Conquering Venus, the small-press novel debut of multiple Pushcart nominee Collin Kelley, a past nominee as well of the prestigious Lambda gay literary award for his popular poetry. Because the fact is that the story fueling this book is a pretty great one indeed, a smart and original idea that made me excited to read it -- it's the story of two youngish Memphis hipsters who are hired to escort a group of high-schoolers on their senior trip to Paris, one of whom is a gay man only in his early twenties himself and already a widow (because of his previous partner committing suicide), and who slowly starts falling in love with one of the high-schoolers he's in charge of, through a series of intense and sexually charged situations there in that most romantic of all European cities. And in the meanwhile, this man also ends up befriending a sixty-something female shut-in ingenue who lives across the street from the hotel where the group is staying, a childhood Nazi survivor and fellow widow whose politically radical husband was killed during the student riots there of 1968, who just so happens to have the same exact tattoo as the American located at the same exact part of the body (an "everlasting love" symbol at the base of their thumbs, both of which were originally done in conjunction with their now-dead partners), the two of whom have also been having a series of magical-realism dreams about the other in the weeks leading up to the trip, and who become convinced that they are fated to help each other work through their respective loss and pain.And that's the main thing I want to emphasize today, that when it comes to all that, Kelley does quite a nice job, turning in a tidy story that was obviously well thought out and thoroughly researched; not only does it have a tight internal logic but also presents the city in a highly realistic and evocative way, and with lots of real-feeling details about the calamitous days there in the late '60s that this youngish author obviously couldn't have directly experienced himself. And that's why Conquering Venus gets at least a decent score today, and a full write-up instead of a one-paragraph brushoff, because it deserves such a thing, and it d
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved the poetry thar so seamlessly worked into the story.
woocar More than 1 year ago
I just finished the last page of Conquering Venus. It enriched me on every level and gave me such a boost of emotional and intellectual energy. I loved the magic of Collin Kelley's words and imagery. I'm fortunate to have visited Paris several times and it was as though I was there, walking the streets and feeling the personality of the city. He created characters that match perfectly within his ensemble and for the settings and events where he placed them. As an afficianado of mysteries, I loved the intertwining of stories and how he crafted the storylines to send things in divergent directions and then have them skim past each other before they reconnected. Last, and perhaps most importantly, the words were so beautifully woven together. That isn't a surprise, knowing how wonderful Collin Kelley's poetry is -- and I did love the poems that he included in the book. But it's my first experience reading his narrative. Hate to sound like a cliche, but it was pure poetry. It was one of the best written novels I have read in a very long time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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brJT More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book overall !! The characters were believable and interesting. The plot was full of intrigue, romance, and thrills. The backdrop of Paris added a world of history and beauty indescribable.
LisaNanetteAllender More than 1 year ago
A BOOK OPRAH WILL LOVE! WHY? Because this novel contains broken, damaged people who find intimacy--if not quite redemption--in the surreal world of their dreams--and in the strrets,hotels, and sights of Paris, circa 1995. COLLIN KELLEY: AUTHOR AS ALCHEMIST. Many "contemporary novels" are labeled "magical realism" when they are infused with the surreal. Isabel Allende is a master at this. And in "Conquering Venus", Collin Kelley provides us with a novel Ms. Allende herself would enjoy. As if tapping into some primeval drive, Collin Kelley unearths desire of various types--repressed, taboo, and unrecognized, in nearly every word. In "Conquering Venus", Kelley's debut novel, protaganist Martin Paige is a man haunted by a death, and a secret. During a trip from Memphis to London to Paris in which he embarks(ostensibly) to assist his best friend, Diane, Martin disovers that his ability to fall-in-love may be damaged, but not gone. With the deft care of an older, mysterious Frenchwoman, and the intuition his dreams (and hers) provide, Martin is coaxed, pushed, and finally, metaphorically-speaking, held hostage by his own conscience. Many women readers will connect with Martin's losses and his seeming inability to get past old hurts. Many men will connect with Martin as well. And both genders will pine for the ever-elusive Frenchwoman, the voyeur (she watches other people, in their hotel rooms) who passes time, from a prison of her own making. The eventual object of Martin's affection is quite compelling, too: he is one taboo component of this "triangular" love story. And when I say "triangular", it's not what you think. There are three separate "triangles" in this dark, edge-y and oddly spiritual love story; that's because each of them intersect each other's lives in wondrous ways. The characters here are so well-drawn, you may well forget you're reading a novel, and begin to refer to what you read, as a film you saw. The novel will ask you many questions, but Kelley does not not hand us easy answers. He lets the characters speak for themselves, and by the end of the novel, he's performed an alchemy of sorts--and we are left with something familiar, something comforting, a sweet scent, like a French perfume. Ethereal, and lovely.