This must be one of the earliest gay novels I have ever come across. It was first published in 1933. Imagine that. Way before the second World War. That’s just mind-blowing to me.
Richard Meeker is a pseudonym. There is an unexpected ‘reward’ at the end of the novel with regards to the mystery author and info about the main characters. Well considering the novel itself is precious and priceless, an extra reward, then. Totally unexpected and remarkable. And sweetly satisfying.
I find much to relate to the early years of the protagonist Kurt Gray. In fact much further than that. There are also many differences between our lives, but the fact that I can see so much of me in him and have gone through some of the things he had, felt much of his pain and fear and loneliness, speaks a lot about how universal his story is. This is the story of a guy’s coming-of-age in the U.S.A., and way back in the 1920s, and yet I felt a strong connection. And if I can feel this way, I’m sure there are thousands or millions of guys out there over the decades who have read this book, who have felt the same way.
One of the many factors I love about Better Angel is that it’s such an easy read. Some of the things he went through was tough, but there was never a sense of melodrama, even for me who could relate well. The story is just spontaneously and ‘frankly’ written, and even the ending was, well… I liked it. The ending wasn’t entirely satisfactory to me, but I acknowledge it’s realistic. It’s just how life is, how life treats us.
I feel very privileged to have read this book.