This book is incredibly dark. But it is real and beautifully written. It haunts you during and after.
- Review by Kazza K
Here is a book that pieces together a very disturbed, traumatised mind. That shows you the effects of the physical on the mental. This is going to be the most intense and bizarre review I think I've ever posted. If you have read the book you still may not understand what the hell I'm saying, sorry, but I must debrief.
Michael is an aspiring young artist, who sells himself for money to help him survive, but more importantly to help him survive until he can reach his artistic goal of his own exhibition and beyond. When we first meet Michael he is living with a local gallery owner, Joe, and Joe's partner, Paul. Lord I have trouble writing Paul's name, he is the most horrendously disgusting individual. Throughout this book Michael cleans up, picks up after everyone, it's a means of control over his chaotic, seemingly powerless life. After one night where Paul uses Michael sexually in lieu of rent money, Michael cleans - Alone, I tidied up my cupboard-sized bedroom,resisting thoughts of what had happened that morning and the night before. It wasn't hard; putting things away where I didn't have to think of them again was something I was good at. And re: Jack's place - Again all was so clean it made me want to stay forever
Jack needs some art work for his reinsurance company, to contemporise their collection. Joe feels Michael may (or may not) be what the company is looking for. Jack meets Michael when Michael takes his porfolio in for viewing at the company. Michael then decides, after the original portfolio viewing, to chase Jack to get the commission. He wants the job, needs to prove he can do this, plus he is attracted to Jack.
The book is from Michaels POV, which is excellent because you see him struggle talking to people, coping with what most others consider to be everyday situations, how he views love and his ongoing, and most powerfully, deep seated issues of trust; his increasingly disturbed inner machinations.
This book tackles the subject of ones' environment, abuse, obsession, and the bleak outlook marginalised people, particularly those with mental health issues, suffer in our society. The effects of childhood abuse is horrendous, this book may be fiction, but it is grounded in fact. I am very picky on the psychological aspects of a book, probably OTT. Frighteningly, I can't fault this book.
I loved Michael, poor soul that he was, and I read this book with constant grief in my heart and tears in my eyes as I knew where he was going, as I felt his life come together yet unravel before me. To see Michael is to see attachment disorder or a personality disorder in motion. I could understand why people may not feel kindly towards Michael, but I was drawn to him, to his plight.
I also loved Jack, he was, at heart, a decent man in a relationship that could never go anywhere but down. Jack could never fully understand his lover's perspective. It was mission impossible - emotionally, economically they were poles apart. Michael loved the idea of comfort with Jack, whilst feeling physically ill because of it at the same time. Jack saw a beautiful and vulnerable young man, someone that needed him, that he wanted to rescue but could never, ever help. Jack was vunerable after the breakdown of a relationship recently, and he wasn't into 'the scene.' Along came this aesthetically pleasing, emotional, but edgy young man, who chased Jack with fervour. Unfortunately for all concerned, Michael was beyond broken, he was ruined - broken implies you can fix something, ruined is beyond repair.
This book is very, very dark. There is no happiness here. Given the way it started, the undertone, the direction, the characters, it would have been bullshit if it went in any other direction. So, having said its bleak, it's also amazingly well written, and starkly, beautifully real. Anne Brooke is a superb writer, both from a technical and artistic standpoint. I cannot fault the characterizations here at all or the psychology. The impact of the book comes from the depth of meaning that Ms Brooke was able to convey so powerfully. For example Michael draws in charcoals and pencils, Joe keeps telling him he needs to soften things, change atyle, but Michael can't, he is incapable of seeing anything but blacks, greys, monochromatic tones to life - to see anything else leads to a frightening annihilation of his mind. His life is a series of light and dark moments, even in the light he portrays darkness. When he sees in colour it is indeed a dangerous man that is set loose, as all checks and balances become null and void. All the places are vivid - Hackney, Islington, Surrey are so strongly juxtaposed against one another to show you how Michael feels and behaves when he's in these places - confused, sick, scared, out of control or resigned.
I recommend this book to those that are interested in a well written book about fragile psychology, tenuous control, with real cause. It is an intense (LGBT) book where romance is not the all encompassing theme, rather individuals' complexities are, and how easily tragedy can collide with everyday life. A Dangerous Man is a very powerful and haunting book.