Yesterday I was thrilled to find that Victor Banis, an author I respect and admire, included Island Song on his all-time top 7 favorite gay romances. I was listed beside Mary Renault, Annie Proulx, Ruth Sims, E.H. Kahn, Somerset Maugham, and, of course, Victor himself.
Here's what he had to say about Island Song:
This is such a beautiful book. Yes, the author has a few mis-steps in this, his debut novel. Yes, it goes on a few pages longer than it should. Doesn’t matter. If you’ve got any trace of romance in you, you have to swoon over this tale of love and loss and redemption. It is a love story, but so far outside the boundaries of what that label suggests as to render that designation pointless. And, yes, some of the love is shared by men, but some of it too is the love between friends, and family, and love of nature and the mystical, even the love of a dog for his human partner.
The prose is magical and can turn from light to dark in a single heartbeat: “Scanning the clear water, he sees only the massive shadowy shapes of whales circling the boat…He spots Songoree above him, swimming beside a seven ton monster, performing an acrobatic dance that captivates him. With outstretched limbs and his long hair billowing outward from his head, Songoree moves through shafts of purple light filtering down from above. Awed, Garrett slowly ascends while enjoying the performance. Songoree is truly a creature of the sea. He seems as delicate as a seahorse and as graceful as a manta ray…Garrett’s lungs begin to burn, and he is still fifteen feet from the surface. Now he feels it…In a flash, the universe transforms. It comes straight up from the dark water below at horrifying speed. An immense shadow slides just below him…”
Alan has set his story in Hawaii, but in essence he is writing of the island within the heart of each of us, and it is there, like our wounded protagonists in his moving story, where one finds healing and peace. This is its song, and it’s a lovely one indeed.
That's high praise indeed, and I'm very grateful to Victor.