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The Catch Trap by Marion Zimmer Bradley

The Catch Trap (1979)

by Marion Zimmer Bradley

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4361236,367 (4.29)6

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Might be thought to be a bit dated these days, but nevertheless captures how difficult it was back in the days before Stonewall. There was a time when everyone had to watch their every word and deed (or face extreme forms of society's negative sanctions). ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
The Catch Trap was an incredibly moving story and I really liked it much. Below are a few of my random thoughts. For a far more insightful analysis I suggest you check out Teddy Pig’s review, he’s the reason I spent considerable time ringing 2nd hand book shops around the country trying to get hold of it! Which is what good reviews do, they should illustrate that the novel has touched someone in some way and give you, the reader, some impetus to whip out your much abused credit card.

So, in short, 2 guys meet while working in the circus. Tommy is younger, considerably so at the beginning, and Mario is older, in years anyway (his emotional maturity left something to be desired at times!) They meet, they eventually become lovers and so on. But the story doesn’t just hook you in with longing looks and the faint hint of manlove moments, it’s also an authentic accounts of circus life that makes your remember why, at age 10 and spandex was still an option, you were ready to jump out the window in the night and join a troupe of acrobats.

In other reviews I’ve read there are some issues about the age gap when Mario and Tommy start fooling around. I didn’t find it objectionable, mainly because it was consensual and there was a authentic ring to it. I’m sure you could be all hurumph about it, but to be honest aren’t most teens that age fooling around doing something? I dunno. I think we as adults often see sex as an action loaded with power, connotations, consequences blah blah. I seem to remember that kind of thing not really being at the forefront of my mind at that age, nor were they guiding my actions either. So yeah, I thought it was pretty hot and heavy, with a realistic and accessible note that struck a chord.

Thematically there is a lot going on in this big ass book. It is lengthy and at times long winded. There are lovely bits of teen angst, Mario periodically throws himself on the cross and Tommy has these little pockets of youthful insight that are just delicious. There’s the sweet ache of a teenager leaving home, becoming autonomous and loads of courage too. I thought Tommy’s obvious emotional attachment not only to Mario, but to the Santelli family was nicely done. The theme of feeling disconnected and without community is also explored. The author even managed to have a bit of a go at inter generation family dynamics. You name it, this book’s got it. It works for the most part, despite it being a bit of a tome and that the occasional WTF moment —> see Tommy’s parents.

There were defnitely issues in the book and it’s not always perfect, but liked it anyway. Beautiful, erotic, sad, long, romantic and just really damn cool. If you can get a copy, give it a crack and read TP’s review, just cause its great.

http://sharrow.wordpress.com/2010/05/09/the-catch-trap-by-marion-zimmer-bradley/ ( )
  sharrow | Sep 21, 2013 |
I love this book. It's a wonderful, heart-wrenching story about a pair of circus trapeze artists who fall in love. The problem is they are both men, and it's the forties. Things do not go smoothly. It's a riveting story and a departure for Bradley, who wrote mostly sci-fi. The characters are achingly real.

There's so much here, both about aerialists, their process and art, and about pre-Stonewall gay men, that one forgives the occasionally purple prose, the claustrophobic angst, and only sees the glory and the heartbreak. One becomes caught up in the story that leads, inevitably, to Stonewall (though the book ends well before that) and the gains we've made thus far.

Here's a quote from near the end of the book:

"But I mind," Bart said savagely. "I'd like to see a world where I could have my picture taken, say, with Tommy on my lap if I want to. For every woman who got upset because I wasn't, shall we say, available for her romantic daydreams, there's be some young kid reading the papers and going to movies, and he'd be able to stop hating himself and say, 'Okay Bart Reeder is queer, and he's happy and successful, and he's getting along okay, so maybe I don't have to go out and hang myself after all.' And the suicide rate would go down, and everybody would be happy"

( )
1 vote satyridae | Apr 5, 2013 |
Gay circus acrobats! What's not to like? ( )
  JenneB | Apr 2, 2013 |
I read this as a teenager decades ago. It was the first or one of the very first, books with gay characters and positive ones at that. I holds a special place in my heart. ( )
1 vote LilleesUncle | Jan 19, 2010 |
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added by gsc55 | editHearts on Fire, Stephen (Aug 6, 2013)
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To KERRY, without whom I would probably never have begun this book
To WALTER, without whom I would certainly never have finished it.
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In later life, when Tommy Zane was asked about his earliest memory, he never had any doubt.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345315642, Mass Market Paperback)

A magnificent, colorful novel of the circus world of the 1940s and 1950s, rich in detail, bursting with power and emotion.
Mario Santelli, a member of the famous flying Santelli family, is a great trapeze artist. Tommy Zane is his protege.
As naturally and gracefully as they soar through the air, the two flyers find themselves falling in love. Mario and Tommy share sweet stolen moments of passion, but the real intensity of their relationship comes from their total devotion to one another and to their art.
As public figures in a conservative era, they cannot reveal their love. But they will never renounce it.
A tremendously moving tale, a rich family saga, a wise and compassionate portrait of a special love in a special world.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:15 -0400)

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