“You have a long road to walk. Your wealth can only shelter you so much.”
Where in the world are Nick and Carter? It’s been three years since we last saw them in Nice in 1957, and Carter is about to turn 40. But, true to their spirit (and possibly influenced by the spirit of Uncle Paul Williams, who continues to visit Nick in his dreams), our boys have followed their hearts into places they would never have imagined. Nick and Carter have heeded the admonition to do something with their lives other than run hotels. It has taken them into a moment in modern history that few people younger than I am even remember; but which is painfully relevant today. This book starts on the roof of a medical clinic in Leopoldville, capital of the Belgian Congo, a few days before it becomes an independent nation.
I distinctly remember being traumatized when I was a little boy by disturbing pictures in LIFE magazine, showing images of dead white colonists and aid workers in former European colonies. The violence of the newly-liberated Congolese was all over American news in 1960. Even a small child couldn’t avoid it entirely. Of course, my parents never talked about what was happening, and you can be sure that our elementary schools taught us nothing about the cascading de-colonization of Africa or the ensuing violence—particularly in the former Belgian colony. Nor, of course, had we ever been taught about the especially virulent and deadly racism that ruled Belgium’s richest African outpost for over a century. Perhaps it was too close to the profound history of racism in the US, a part of our own history that, as a nation, we whitewashed and kept from our children.
Needless to say, the opening half of “The Shameless Sodomite” packed a big punch for me. Frank Butterfield has once again chosen a story arc that expresses Nick and Carter’s restless quest for personal fulfilment and peace, but also homes in on a particularly salient truth about the society in which they live. By the end of “The Constant Caprese,” Nick and Carter are beginning to see that they have a special role to play in the world. Their brief encounter with the milieu of the Duke of Boston begins to ping something in the reader’s minds. For all their extended network of gay, lesbian (and even trans) friends and employees around the world, our boys don’t really see themselves as part something bigger, an upwelling of activism that will begin to change the world. It looks like their journey is going to take another curve on the banks of the Congo River. They have a destiny to fufill.
The second half of this book felt weirdly like a season finale—as if this might be the last book of the series. All the good and the bad that has attached itself to them in the course of the series seems to come home after the boys leave Africa. It is upsetting and emotionally charged by turns, and even Nick comments that there seems to be a lot more crying than usual.
However, at the very end, when the surprises stop hitting us, and Nick and Carter are at long last back where they are happiest, Frank Butterfield promises us more. Approximately every thirty days.
Only such a promise helped me dry my tears. I am NOT ready to say goodbye.
- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform (17 May 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1719055580
- ISBN-13: 978-1719055581
- Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.1 x 20.3 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 440 g
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