Book review: Black Dust, by Lynn Charles

Charles Black DustCharles, Lynn. Black Dust. New York: Interlude Press, c2016. 293 p. paperback. $17.99. ISBD 978-1-941530-63-4.

This is a gay soap opera, told with skill and compassion by a woman who understands the gay psyche and desires. But it is a soap opera that goes on for almost too long. Toby and Emmett were madly in love in high school until they were involved in a terrible automobile accident. Toby was driving and their best friend Scotty was killed. Toby was up for prosecution, but later his case was dropped. Emmett was in bad shape and had to undergo lots of rehabilitation and physical therapy. Toby couldn’t take all this trauma and fled to New York City (where both he and Emmett had planned to flee to from Indiana). Toby became a prominent show business musician and director. Fifteen years later they finally reconnect and begin a long process of getting together again on a human and sexual level. Finally, at the end, Toby gives in and returns to Indiana, where Emmett has built a notable reputation as a choral coach and conductor. So after all the turmoil and strife they come back together in their home town.

The story is told in the third person, with alternating attention to Toby and Emmett. Finally, Toby is able to visit out haunts and the home of Scotty, who died in the accident. He finally finishes a grand musical work that he was been working on in fits and starts through all of this drama.

The author is a fine writer who treats everyone with finesse and tenderness. I wouldn’t call this great literature, but it’s a fine portrayal of a gay relationship in crisis. It is appropriate for collections of contemporary gay literature and for individuals who enjoy gay soap operas.

James Doig Anderson
Professor Emeritus of Library and Information Science, Rutgers University

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