This is an endearing, humorous, honest account of a marriage between the writer and his husband. Author David Valdes Greenwood is an exceptional storyteller who relates his tale of a loving relationship from the first blossoms of love to the usual trials and tribulations we all face in long-term relationships.
If you are expecting ‘La Cage Aux Folles’ or some similar over-the-top stereotypical gay fare, you will be sorely disappointed. Valdes Greenwood is a regular bloke, as is his spouse; they just happen to be two men in love. Indeed, the story is an honest, often painful account of a long-term relationship that faces all the usual dramas, such as meeting the parents and getting to know the idiosyncrasies of your partner while trying not to kill them.
It is easy to say, in fact, that the sexuality of the couple makes little difference as everyone can relate to the tales told by Valdes Greenwood. Yet it would be overlooking the fact that he and his husband faced greater challenges as their relationship developed than their heterosexual counterparts.
Examples are scattered throughout the book, but who of us as part of a heterosexual couple have ever witnessed adults pulling their children close to them to protect them from the threat of us holding hands with our spouse while strolling along toward an ice cream van? How often would it be considered very brave for you to state you have a ‘husband’ - and when was the last time your own family considered you a terrible sinner for simply loving someone?
Yet for all the prejudices that these men have suffered, the incidences are not pushed in your face, just told in a matter-of-fact manner. Valdes Greenwood expects no pity party; he just tells his story, and the fact that his story contains some heartbreaking moments which have nothing to do with the actual relationship but rather other people’s views just makes the story more compelling.
Compelling also is the author’s complete honesty. He deals with the subject of attraction to others and openly deals with the blip in the relationship that almost tears the couple apart. If you see parallels in your own relationship, Valdes Greenwood offers suggestions of what to look for and what to do differently. Many of us would not be so honest, opting instead to play the blame game. It is rewarding to see someone tell it as it is, warts and all, even chastising himself along the way.
I am not used to reading memoirs, being as they are generally a collection of tales told in succession about a life lived. I prefer my stories to be fictional or a biography written by an external source.
This memoir, too, would appear to be very basic: there are no great scandals or alcohol-induced fits o f craziness, no divas or artistes struggling with fame. Yet this fluid collection of tales about simple life and love between two people blew me away.
I laughed out loud at parts and nodded vigorously at others, suddenly realizing there are other couples who have the same dynamic as my husband and I, and who disagree over the same mundane things. It was an incredibly enjoyable and thought-provoking ride.
If you want to read a magical, funny tale of real people facing life together and searching for happiness, you must read this book. In fact this book is much more than that: it is forthright, real, and I believe almost everyone can relate to some of the stories, whether it’s the horror of trying to buy a first home on a budget or bringing home a child for the first time.
I highly recommend this book to all. Go on! Laugh at the incredible writing ability Valdes Greenwood has and enjoy the ride.
David Valdes Greenwood is a journalist, playwright and regular contributor to the Boston Globe Magazine. He lives and teaches in Massachusetts at Tufts University.