Mark Merlis is one of the most accomplished American writers of gay themed fiction American Studies, Pyrrhus and Man About Town and novelist Christopher Bram declares JD to be his best novel yet a statement I would echo It s the story of Jonathan Ascher, a 1960s writer who gained fame and acclaim for his groundbreaking gay positive book JD Thirty years later, Jonathan Ascher is dead and all but forgotten Then a minor academic expresses an interest in writing the official biography and seeks permission from Ascher s widow and literary executor Martha This request leads Martha to examine her husband s papers for herself, where she discovers a series of candid diaries, largely detailing Jonathan s sexual exploits with men Martha was aware of her husband s inclinations, though ignorant of the specifics They married Beautifully written and structured book, emotionally satisfying, and Merlis does two VERY difficult things here brilliantly One the book is told via two very different characters Martha, a 75 year old widow looking back over her life with an iconic 60 s radical author and the journals of said author written between 1964 1973 Most authors I have read FAIL utterly in creating two separate styles in such a case, and their writing all tends to sound exactly the same, but not here Merlis nails this task utterly and seemingly effortlessly Secondly, very, very rarely do you get a male author speaking in the voice of a female character and again, it is usually dismally lacking in verisimilitude Here, Martha is not only astonishingly real, but one of the most uniq Ascher, An Acclaimed S Radical Writer And Cultural Hero, Has Been Dead For Thirty Years When A Would Be Biographer Approaches Ascher S Widow Martha, She Delves For The First Time Into Her Husband S Papers And All The Secrets That Come Tumbling Out Of Them She Finds Journals That Begin As A Wisecracking Chronicle Of Life At The Fringes Of The New York Literary Scene, Then Recount Ascher S Sexual Adventures In The Pre Stonewall Gay Underground And The Social Upheavals That Trailer ✓ JD PDF by í Mark Merlis Led To His Famous Book JD As Martha Reads On, She Finds Herself In A Long Distance Conversation With Her Dead Husband, Fighting With Him Again About Their Rocky Marriage And Learning About The Unseen Tragedy In Her Own Apartment That Ended With The Destruction Of Their Son, Mickey Mickey Comes To Life In The Space Between Jonathan And Martha S Conflicting Portraits Of Him, While Martha And The Biographer Tangle Over The Continued Relevance Of Jonathan S Politics And His Unfulfilled Vision Of A Nation Remade Martha Learns About Herself, Finally, Through Her Confrontation With A Man Who Will Not Let Her Go, Even In Death Mark Merlis SJD Is A Brilliant And Harrowing View Of A Half Century Of The American Experiment, Acted Out On A Small Stage By Three People Who Cannot Find A Way Neither Sex Nor Touch Nor Words To Speak Their Love For One Another Best books OfFiction, Open Letters Monthly Finalist, Gay Fiction, Lambda Literary Award Finalist, Ferro Grumley Award For LGBT Fiction, Publishing Triangle Best books For Public Secondary School Libraries From University Presses, American Library Association Many Years After A S New York Writer S Death, His Widow Confronts Their Tumultuous Marriage And Private Identities Through His Journals JD S Most Masterful Element Is Its Treatment Of These Two Characters, Both Of Whom Spent Their Lives Groping For Contentment Like One Trying To Find A Light Switch In A Darkened Room A Great Writer Offers Not Just Tight Prose But Also Insight, A Series Of Probing Questions That Extend From The Fictional World Into The Real One JD Asks Who Its Characters Were, And In Doing So, Forces The Reader To Confront The Intricate And Fascinating Politics Of Identity Shelf Awareness For Readers,starred Review A Truly Impressive Work Of Literary Fiction, JD Documents Author Mark Merlis As An Extraordinary Novelist Able To Deftly Craft A Complex Plot And Populate It With A Roster Of Inherently Fascinating Characters And Memorable Events The Result Is An Entertaining And Engaging read That Will Linger In The Mind Long After The Book Is Finished Very Highly Recommended For Both Community And Academic Library Literary Fiction Collections Midwest Book Review Reviewer S Bookwatch The Fantastic JD U Of Wisconsin , By Acclaimed Gay Writer Mark Merlis American Studies , Is The Writer S First Novel In A Dozen Years It S Told In Two Voices The First Is That Of The Late Gay Writer Jonathan Ascher, And We Hear From Him Through His Journals The Second Belongs To His Widow Martha, Who Learns About Jonathan Than She Ever Imagined While Reading The Journals After Agreeing To Help A Biographer Of Her Late Husband Gregg Shapiro, Bay Area Reporter I was sad to read of the writer s death last year My condolences to his husband and family He s written some very good books, so I was interested when this book was released and glad to finally read it I enjoyed the style of this book written from a widow s perspective and her late husband s perspective through some journal writing he did years ago Several issues are woven into the book, her husband s homosexuality and infedelity with men, their grief over their son lost in the Vietnam War, their relationship with each other She comes to read his journals many years later and comments on the revelations found in them She s no innocent herself and clearly questions her own flaws and lives with her regrets Very well written novel. ò JD » I ve loved Mark Merlis since his first novel, American Studies, and this one tackles some similar themes It s the story of Jonathan Ascher, 60s radical novelist, and his widow Martha Jonathan died in the 70s and Martha is asked by an academic to lift the seal on Jonathan s papers so that he can write a biography Martha decides to read them first, including Jonathan s journals While Martha always knew that Jonathan was gay, and that this was part of why their marriage was so fraught, she learns so muchabout his life through reading the journals, including about his tortured relationship with their son, Mickey, who died in Vietnam The structure is pretty clever, alternating back and forth between Martha in the present, Jonathan in This book is incredible Let s start with the writing Merlis always seems to have exactly the right phrase Two peaches on an azure plate Camp Cost Plenty Wampum I fucked him the way I want to fuck America He is a great and talented writer. But there sThere s the story I m now the age Jonathan died at in the novel, but I am also the age his son Mickey would be, had he lived in real life I am both of them No part of me is Martha, the wife and mother, but I hung on her every word This is a gay novel I m up for the same gay award for my novel that Merlis s is, in fact But JD is also about Vietnam, where like Mickey I was, too, and this novel haunts me for it There have been other gay novels where Vietnam figures THE BOY WHO PICKED UP THE BULLETS , but not like this one I understand character Mickey s thinking about the world per It is this interchange that is at the heart of JD A Novel I don t see that you can separate political and economic freedom from sexual freedom Of course you can All this sexual freedom is just a drug, to make people forget all the ways they aren t free Until the whole system of factories and advertising and pretty cars and naked boys and girls is overthrown we have no idea what a healthy human is, what healthy sex or healthy minds might be Or he may be right maybe we could get to a world of perfect freedom, where Dennis O Grady and Geoffrey walk around proudly sporting their Fellatio Party buttons, and maybe the bosses will still be grinding boys up in their factories and sending the superfluous ones, off to war Largely taking place between the early 50 s and early 70 s, Let me start by saying that Merlis s An Arrow s Flight is a book I ve recommended time and time again to friends His other two previous novels were good, but IMHO, not nearly at the level of Arrow Here, I feel he hits it out of the park a second time Since the time frame is late 20th century rather than a fantasy mythological ancient Greece , and the tone is realist rather than magical realism, many readers may find itaccessible than Arrow. I wonder if part of his inspiration was The Aspern Papers by Henry James For, as in Jame s novella, a young man is approaching an older woman, seeking literary effects, in order to write a biography of a famous writer Here, semi famous And the woman who guards the papers had a long ago romance with the dead author. However, there are twists The author is famous for be
What s to become of a deceased writer s legacy when his estate s executor is his widow And what happens when a gay professor inquires about his papers, particularly some never read diaries penned by her philandering dead closeted gay husband, the once famous author This is only the outset of Merlis fourth and sadly last novel The layers of confessional 1950s and 60s sex tales and betrayals in author Jonathan Ascher s diaries reveal hidden secrets that make Martha, his widow, question whether his life should be examined in a scholarly book What part of her connection to him will be excised What hidden truths, beyond a mere posthumous outing, could be revealed The story, told by dual narrators Martha in the present tense, and remembering her family life, and in her husband Jonathan Ascher s journals from the 50s to early 70 This is a terrific novel, which is why I blurbed it I am a huge fan of Mark Merlis and this might be his best book yet, although I also love An Arrow s Flight JD is sexy, dangerous, and beautifully written.
About The Author
Mark Merlis is an American writer and health policy analyst He became an independent consultant in 2001, writing papers for government agencies and for organizations such as AARP, the American Cancer Society, and the Kaiser Family Foundation.Born in Framingham, Massachusetts and raised in Balti, Maryland, Merlis attended Wesleyan University and Brown University He subsequently took a job wit