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"Fellow Travelers" by Thomas Mallon


ariadne1880
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So, I ordered several of the books that had been recommended here. This was the first to arrive so it got read first (I'm halfway through The Frontrunner so more on that when I am finished).

 

As I said before, I have been a big fan of Thomas Mallon's writing for many years. I loved "Henry and Clara" and "Dewey Defeats Truman" but "Two Moons" and "Bandbox" I had mixed feelings about.

 

I very much liked "Fellow Travelers" despite major reservations about one of the two main characters. I adored Tim Laughlin. Just the sort of guy I think I'd like to meet. His story moved me and I felt much sympathy and empathy for him as well. A beautiful character.

 

As for Hawkins Fuller. Boy, I didn't like him. I'm not sure what Mallon had in mind for us here. I suppose he wanted us to see him as a conflicted character of his times who couldn't "break out" so to speak. But every time I felt some sympathy for him in that position he did something so unspeakably horrid that I felt myself despising him. The way he treats Tim is bad enough but some of the cruel things he does behind Tim's back are just beyond the pale to me.

 

I enjoyed the story-telling very much and I love Mallon's writing style (so much more sophisticated and interesting than Warren's!). Thanks for the recommendation. It's a great read and has much to say on a whole host of issues.

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So, I ordered several of the books that had been recommended here. This was the first to arrive so it got read first (I'm halfway through The Frontrunner so more on that when I am finished).

 

As I said before, I have been a big fan of Thomas Mallon's writing for many years. I loved "Henry and Clara" and "Dewey Defeats Truman" but "Two Moons" and "Bandbox" I had mixed feelings about.

 

I very much liked "Fellow Travelers" despite major reservations about one of the two main characters. I adored Tim Laughlin. Just the sort of guy I think I'd like to meet. His story moved me and I felt much sympathy and empathy for him as well. A beautiful character.

 

As for Hawkins Fuller. Boy, I didn't like him. I'm not sure what Mallon had in mind for us here. I suppose he wanted us to see him as a conflicted character of his times who couldn't "break out" so to speak. But every time I felt some sympathy for him in that position he did something so unspeakably horrid that I felt myself despising him. The way he treats Tim is bad enough but some of the cruel things he does behind Tim's back are just beyond the pale to me.

 

I enjoyed the story-telling very much and I love Mallon's writing style (so much more sophisticated and interesting than Warren's!). Thanks for the recommendation. It's a great read and has much to say on a whole host of issues.

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I think you answer your own question: Hawkins is unable to accept his gay sexuality. Whenever he grows close to Tim, he tries to back off, to create distance, by doing something cruel. He's projecting his own disgust with himself. The man marries, after all. All this leads to the sad denouement. I shy from the word "tragic," but it may apply.

 

Even in these enlightened times, gay men -- or anyone -- are certainly capable of inflicting hurt on another, again as a form of projection.

 

One reviewer suggested the name "Hawkins" suggests "Hawk," or one who preys.

 

The book is beautifully written, with a keen sense of the politics of the period, which entwine with sexual politics. I think it would make a terrific film.

 

I'm happy you enjoyed reading "Fellow Travelers," as I suggested it.

 

And I enjoyed reading your responses.

 

 

"I'd say that's a bit of an extreme reaction, now wouldn't you?" -- N.F. Bates

 

 

Lankypeters

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True, true. But, in the end, I find Hawkins truly despicable for what he does to Tim -- not emotionally, but all the other stuff. Nothing, to me, justifies that. I felt bad for Tim but for Hawkins I mostly felt contempt. Then, in the end, when he just assumes that Tim died of AIDS (when it is Hawkins who is the reckless promiscuous one) he lost me for good.

 

But Mallon is a beautiful stylist and great writer. My initial impressions of Warren are ... not a very good writer at all, a simplistic stylist, fills her book with way too many polemics, but with a nice love story at the heart of her book. More when I finish it.

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I think you are probably right. Although I admit to knowing absolutely nothing about Mallon so it's hard to tell. From his short bio it doesn't appear he is married although I would never assume that means he's gay. So I don't know what his viewpoint might be.

 

I actually tried hard not to despise Hawkins since I was trying to keep an open mind about the character. I tried to empathize with him at several points -- and did -- and then he would go off and do something really despicable and no amount of my own rationalization could make me justify his behavior.

 

This is definitely a book I will keep in my library and re-visit every so often.

 

I have to admit I hope to meet a Tim Laughlin some day.

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>I think you are probably right. Although I admit to knowing

>absolutely nothing about Mallon so it's hard to tell. From his

>short bio it doesn't appear he is married although I would

>never assume that means he's gay. So I don't know what his

>viewpoint might be.

 

MALLON IS GAY AND OUT. I'VE READ BIOS IN WHICH HE ACKNOWLEDGES HIS PARTNER.

>

>I actually tried hard not to despise Hawkins since I was

>trying to keep an open mind about the character. I tried to

>empathize with him at several points -- and did -- and then he

>would go off and do something really despicable and no amount

>of my own rationalization could make me justify his behavior.

 

JUST THE WAY ONE WOULD RESPOND TO THIS SORT OF BEHAVIOR IN REAL LIFE.

>

 

>

>I have to admit I hope to meet a Tim Laughlin some day.

 

ACTUALLY, ONCE I DID. SWEET, TRUSTING AND ONE OF THE HOTTEST FUCKS I EVER HAD 0 (LIKE SOMEONE PULLING YOUR HAIR AND SCREAMING 'FUCK ME, FUCK ME"? ). ALAS, I LET HIM SLIP THROUGH MY, UH, HANDS. I HOPE TO MEET THE NEXT MR. LAUGHLIN SOON.

 

 

"I'd say that's a bit of an extreme reaction, now wouldn't you?" -- N.F. Bates

 

 

Lankypeters

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I have kinda met a Tim Laughlin myself when I think about it ... innocent, truly unaware of his own attractiveness. Unfortunately, he had "issues" and try though I might to deal with them it was like being on a rollercoaster and I had to, reluctantly, say farewell. It pretty much broke my heart but the constant back and forth became too much. For both of us especially when you realize that the person has way too much to deal with and might never change or grow.

 

What's that cliche about loving something so much that you have to let it go?

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