Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Catch Trap

The Catch Trap The Catch Trap by Marion Zimmer Bradley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I'm interested in what other writers of GLBT think of Marion Zimmer Bradley. I feel almost as if a piece of her got blown into my heart a decade ago. Like a dandelion gone to seed.

The Mists of Avalon was the first Arthurian legend based book that answered the need I had to see strong female characters in my favorite myth. Poor old Lord Tennyson had pretty much destroyed the women of the Round Table for me. Mindless idiots and evil witches. The Mists of Avalon was a sort of redemption.

Bradley was incredibly prolific and I haven't read all of her books. I'm thinking I may get myself down to a local used bookstore and find a few that I've missed.

This one reads, at times, like fan fiction. There are thousands of tiny story arcs shooting off into space while we follow the main three: Family, Flying trapeze history, and illegal love.

The last is handled with such insight and sympathy I am stunned every time I read it. She describes the loneliness, self-hatred and fear. The anger at having to hide this one true and beautiful thing in ones life, as if one is ashamed. And she does it simply and subtly, not hammering it home or making too much of it.

I think it ads to the book to know that one of her husbands was a gay man with whom she had a child. They were eventually divorced, but he and she remained friends. Bradley's deep compassion and love for human beings permeates all of her books. Her women and men are strong, sympathetic, and filled with mutual respect for each other.

The book is over 600 pages long. I've read it twice now. Towards the end, I find myself slowing and reading every page, savoring the world and the characters. This time I waited a week to read the last twenty pages, just to make it last.

I wish I could have met her. Her voice, nonetheless, is one of those that lives in my head.

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  1. This one is on my "keep an eye out for" list when I'm in the local used bookstores...

  2. The book or the author? The book was really hard to find, as I recall. I have favorites in hardcover, but I've never been able to find this one in anything but paperback. I re-read a lot and wear out my paperbacks. I'm always having to replace them.

    Have you never read this? I'll keep an eye out for you, two. Its a must have, imho. AND it has a HEA ending that is just right.

  3. Aw, thanks! I was thinking the book - I've read assorted MZB.

    I do live near a really amazing scifi bookstore: Uncle Hugo's. Altho maybe is the way to go - there's a hardcover - scroll down, away from the crazy prices.

  4. I read this once, about a million years ago, and it was in paperback. It was a fat little mass market with (I think) the two heroes dressed in circus tights and holding hands, and they might have been standing up on a trapeze platform.

    I felt the same as you did about her sympathy and insight on gay relationships. (I didn't know that information about her husband!)

    I still remember this one scene where we're in the younger guy's POV and he's sitting in a diner with his lover, the older guy, who is very much in the closet. They've been arguing about their relationship and there's this huge distant feeling between them. The younger guy has some kind of bruise on his face (maybe from training at the circus -- I can't remember) and he has this tired, resigned thought that if anyone around them recognizes them as a couple the bystander will probably assume that the other guy hit him. (As in a gay relationship at that time period would have been seen as so depraved that of course domestic violence would have to be involved as well.) It was such a sad scene!

  5. Yes, Val, that's one of the many in there where our protagonist speaks for the anger and sorrow he feels that their feelings can't be public. She also shows us scenes in which another heterosexual couple are open in their affections. She doesn't make a big deal of it, but there it is as a contrast and commentary on the unfairness of it. And the loneliness of these men, when the relationship is in trouble and they have no one to talk to.

  6. She was ahead of her time. :)