Paperback: 351 pages
Publisher: Publication Studio - Jank Editions (2015)
Mid June, 2015, The Fellow Travellers Series published a wonderful and wonderfully queer novel equally as queer in its style and offerings as its title: Two Augusts in a Row in a Row. Now almost a year and a half later, and just in time for the turn of the year holidays, I am happy to review Shelley Marlow’s contribution to underground New York, queer, fantasy, non-conforming, gender-bending, consciousness questioning, romance literature. If you haven’t picked up on it yet, let me spell it out for you: I LOVE THIS BOOK. I love the book, the story, the font, the color, the characters and the wildness of the story’s arc in the very universal quest for identity and connection. This is a good read. A good book. This is a good looking book. Plus it has images. Included within the covers are also many original drawings. Delightful. Great gifting material. Stick a bow on it and hand it to a friend.
The novel spins a yarn classic and yet unexpected. The language is clear, clever, and smart without being pretentious. The settings are endearing and vivid. Both internal settings such as the office where the narrator works and the external street scenes. We cross the pond and land in the boot. Italy. We chase not only the love quest of the main character-- a most charming, eccentric, and intelligent being, but we chase history and the lives and work of daring queer women from long ago. We time travel in a comfortable well researched fictional device that I found genius, research. And as easy to digest as this novel is, it is thought provoking and sensual and gritty. The writing is experimental. Unique as the printing. Yet never less than organic. It’s like meeting a stranger and having a weird conversation that nevertheless feels completely natural. Chapter seven, “Brushing the Cat”, is three pages long, two of which are drawing. This follows Chapter six, “Sex”; and is followed by Chapter eight: “Online Support Group”, in the days of dial-up. Chapter nine, Trees and Cars, spans a whopping forty pages or so. There we meet the main character’s family. The author holds this collage of chapters lengths together by staying true to the story of the first person narrator. “I am half transcriber, half translator, and half language code decipherer. I know. Too many halves.” To make a wholly delightful person with an adventure tale of discovery into their own self and the history of their people. Our selves. Our people. Us. Me.
I am not being vague. I just loved discovering the fabulous language, images, and in your face queer, sex-positive, angst-inclusive search for love and identity that this plot details. I want you to enjoy too. Here’s a taste: Magi runs an advice column called Best Witches. We meet her through a series of short questions and answers from the column she writes. Then there is Swann, whose picture is in sepia and pinned up to what seemed to me a wonderfully cluttered and cavernous office/apartment where the main character works for a delightful ancient man. There is so much human emotion amongst the characters. Right down to the minor ones like the bodega guy. I especially love Faye the cat. The relations between the main character and her cat; and her father; and her eventual love are truly classic. Epic, even. Want to know the name of the main character? Buy the book. Read it. Give it. Tell folks. This is one special novel. I don’t often say that. I have spent lovely moments reading parts out loud to my lovers and friends. I will probably buy a few copies and hand them out. Oh, did you get that there is a lot of humor here? If not write Magi @ Best Witches. Ask Magi if this review says too much, too little, or just enough. I dare you. Buy me a copy too. I just gave mine to a friend!