Monday, November 30, 2009

Henry and Jim by JM Snyder

TITLE: Henry and Jim
PUBLISHER: eXcessica
LENGTH: Short story (roughly 4.5k)
GENRE: Gay romance
COST: $2.99

Henry and Jim have been together for fifty years. As age sets in, though, Henry does everything he can to ensure their remaining years are just as rich…

Considering the age of the characters, it’s obvious from the start of the story that this is going to be a very bittersweet read. We wake up in Henry and Jim’s bed, learning right away that Jim is suffering from some sort of early dementia, where his memory is slow to return and sometimes nonexistent. Henry dreads the day when Jim wakes up and can’t recall Henry’s name, and is determined to enjoy every last moment he can with his partner of the last fifty years. Through his eyes – the story is told in 1st person from Henry’s POV – we learn how they met, with just enough detail to put their long relationship in perspective. It’s done with romantic, slightly idealized detail, but nonetheless, reaches straight to the gut of these two men’s emotions.

To say I loved this story feels like an understatement. It succeeds for so very many reasons, not the least of which is the subject matter. So many shorts forget they still need to encapsulate a tiny fragment of time, to have a beginning and an end without biting off more than they can chew. Henry and Jim at first seems to have a slight meandering feel to it, but it’s too short for that to damage its delicate arc. Instead, the author pulls it all together at the end in what seems like an inevitable conclusion, yet somehow still managed to surprise me by how gut-wrenchingly real it was. I felt more in these four thousand words than I have with most of the much longer works I read this year. It’s haunting and romantic, a love story in all the best senses of the phrase. My one and only regret is that I let it sit on my TBR pile for far too long. I’ve had mixed reactions to Snyder’s work, sometimes really enjoying it, sometimes not, which is why I didn’t jump on this right from the start. After this, I’m likely to trust her far more.


9/10 – Haunting and truly romantic

Hero #1

9/10 – His pain and feelings are devastatingly real

Hero #2

9/10 – Filtered through Henry’s eyes, though still real

Entertainment value

10/10 – This broke my heart with what a terrific love story it was

World building

8/10 – A tad idealized, but vital to the depth of emotion



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