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A Guy's Moleskine Notebook

Thoughts and reflections on works of fiction and literature. Pondering of life through pictures and words. Babbling about gay rights. Travelogues and anecdotes.

  • [1] Annie Proulx: Brokeback Mountain
  • [2] Arthur Golden: Memoirs of a Geisha
  • [3] Yu Hua: To Live
  • [4] Alan Hollinghurst: The Line of Beauty
  • [5] Colm Toibin: The Master
  • [6] Carlos Ruiz Zafon: The Shadow of the Wind
  • [7] William James: The Varieties of Religious Experience
  • [8] Charles Higham: The Civilization of Angkor
  • [9] Graham Greene: A Burnt-Out Case
  • [10] Dai Sijie: Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch
  • [11] Alan Hollinghurst: The Swimming-Pool Library
  • [12] Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita
  • [13] Colm Toibin: The Blackwater Lightship
  • [14] Alan Hollinghurst: The Folding Star
  • [15] Ross King: Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling
  • [16] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov
  • [17] Jonathan Franzen: The Corrections
  • [18] Colm Toibin: The Story of the Night
  • [19] John Banville: Shroud
  • [20] Leo Tolstoy: Resurrection
  • [21] Peter Hessler: River Town, Two Years on the Yangtze
  • [22] Ian McEwan: The Atonement
  • [24] Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love in the Time of Cholera
  • [25] Ignacio Padilla: Shadow without a Name
  • [26] Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose
  • [27] Richard Russo: Straight Man
  • [28] Fyodor Dostoevsky: Notes from Underground
  • [29] Alan Hollinghurst: The Spell
  • [30] Hermann Broch: The Death of Virgil
  • [31] James Baldwin: Giovanni's Room
  • [32] Ken Kesey: One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • [33] Xingjian Gao: One Man's Bible
  • [34] C. Jay Cox: Latter Days
  • [35] Harper Lee: To Kill A Mockingbird
  • [36] William Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew
  • [37] Daniel A. Helminiak: What The Bible Really Says about Homosexuality
  • [38] James Baldwin: Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone
  • [39] Kenji Yoshino: Covering - The Hidden Assault of Civil Rights
  • [40] Italo Calvino: If, On a Winter's Night A Traveler
  • [41] Arthur Phillips: The Egyptologist
  • [42] George Orwell: 1984
  • [43] Michael Warner: The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and Ethics of Queer Life
  • [44] Andrew Sullivan: Virtually Normal
  • [45] Henry James: The Wings of the Dove
  • [46] Jose Saramago: Blindness
  • [47] Umberto Eco: The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
  • [48] Dan Brown: Da Vinci Code
  • [49] Kazuo Ishiguro: Never Let Me Go
  • [50] Ken Follett: The Pillars of Earth
  • [51] Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace
  • [52] Michael Thomas Ford: Alec Baldwin Doesn't Like Me
  • [53] Jonathan Franzen: How To Be Alone
  • [54] Jonathan Lethem: The Fortress of Solitude
  • [55] Matthew Pearl: The Dante Club
  • [56] Zadie Smith: White Teeth
  • [57] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Double
  • [58] Jose Saramago: The Double
  • [59] Andrew Holleran: Dancer from the Dance
  • [60] Heinrich von Kleist: The Marquise of O & Other Stories
  • [61] Andrew Holleran: In September, the Light Changes
  • [62] Tom Perrotta: Little Children
  • March 22, 2006

     

    [34] Latter Days - C. Jay Cox

    Latter Days at the first glance seems a little out of the ordinary and is almost unconvincing: a WeHo pretty boy with muscles like fully-baked puffy muffins living in a kitschy apartment falls in love with his Mormon missionary neighbor who is in the closet. Christian Markelli is the typical player of the loose-moral, carefree, long-term-relationship shunning bunch who enjoys quick pleasure. Working at a high-end restaurant which makes prey hunting handy, Christian literally has hooked up with every straight male customer and commemorates each steamy encounter with an entry in his PDA.

    So when four young Mormon missionaries set us housekeeping in the apartment across the way, Christian and his friends place bets on how long it will take him to capitulate Elder Aaron Davis, the apple-cheeked, broad-shouldered evangelist who jolts his heart with love at first sight. Christian is stunned; he cannot make out of what it is that is so attractive about this young missionary. For Aaron the encounter evokes his repressed, closeted sensuality rooted in him. Aaron has nursed himself in the safety of the past, and in absolute obeisance to the ways of life the church has so diligently inculcated in him. He does not dare to reciprocate his affection to Christian for fear of harsh persecution from his colleagues.

    Above the comic inserts and episodes surrounding the budding romance between the two hangs the significant ideas of self-discovery, revelation, love, for both Aaron and Christian. Aaron has negotiated with himself, and with God, the consequence of the sin of homosexuality but at the same time nudges closer to the tender thought of Christian, who has heartedly declared his love for him. Aaron's discomfit escalates at the thought of his encounters with Christian and throws him into a constant state of enhanced sensuality. Self-discovery of who he is, instead of what he has done, puts him on the mettle to come out to his family and act in defiance of the church's expectations. The strenuous journey to enlightenment affords pain, humiliation and guilt.

    For Christian, he has never experienced such an indefinable madness for Aaron has stoically challenged and rebuked his shallow lifestyle. It prompts him to think about true intimacy, about getting to know the person to whom he wakes up in the morning. Christian's revelation is a glum one: that he has been fearful and inept to commitment and true intimacy. At the same time he feels utterly remorseful for getting Aaron into serious trouble with the church.

    Latter Days, though a sweeping romantic story it advertises to be, teaches us a lesson or two in relationship. It might have gone a little far with the miracle and the angel's singing but it's what fiction does after all. Neither Aaron nor Christian has ever felt the way he feels about anyone in his entire life - the snuggly feeling that "it's got to mean something." Yet they are both somewhat fearful to conform to this heart's calling. What if he is really the one he's been waiting for his whole life and he lets him go? In a world where everyone dances with one eye on the door, like we are all waiting for that next something better to walk in, LATTER DAYS calls us to be genuine with ourselves and promises the reward will be right around the corner.

    5 Comments:

    Blogger Greg said...

    Hmm...I've seen the movie so now I must read the book to see how well it follows....

    3/22/2006 1:12 PM  
    Blogger Matt said...

    Greg-
    I never saw the film. How do you like it?

    3/24/2006 2:15 PM  
    Blogger Greg said...

    It turned out to be a good movie, better than I thought. Of course, it was a bit thick with the stereotyping of Latter Day Saints, but still a good film.

    3/25/2006 10:13 AM  
    Blogger Jef said...

    I agree that it was much better than I anticipated. In fact, I've become somewhat surprised to find out what a closet romantic I am.

    One of my favorite parts in the movie is when they are in the laundry room and Aaron tells Christian that he's whites and Christian is colors--I love the subtext and symbolism in that piece of dialogue.

    3/26/2006 6:50 PM  
    Blogger Matt said...

    Laundry scene from the novel is my favorite too. It was so touching and sentimental.

    3/31/2006 1:01 PM  

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