Christopher Bram Almost History

ISBN 13: 9781556112317

Almost History

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9781556112317: Almost History
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Jim Goodall joins the foreign service during the 1950s and is sent to the Philippines, where he observes the U.S.'s treacherous dealings with the Marcos regime, dealings that shake his belief in his government and himself.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

Bram's fourth novel (In Memory of Angel Clare, 1989, etc.) dramatizes 35 years in the life of a career diplomat who comes out of the closet; the backdrop consists of political intrigue in the Philippines during the Marcos era. The result is an authoritative, very readable (and mostly mainstream) novel. Jim Goodall joins the Foreign Service in the early 1950's, at the height of the McCarthy era, when suspected homosexuals are hounded from the service as security risks. Goodall is repressed, vaguely attracted to men but unwilling to admit it, until the firing of one diplomat for ``perversion'' causes Goodall and fellow diplomat Dave Wheeler, bisexual, to discuss Goodall's sex life, or lack thereof, resulting in Goodall's first real sexual experience at a party/orgy. The personal narrative is rounded out by Goodall's sister's family, particularly by niece Meg, who loses a boyfriend to ``Uncle Jim''--increasingly active sexually--but stays close to him. Bram rotates between personal instances and political ones- -Goodall is serving as a diplomat in difficult times, and Bram evocatively records Philippine and Vietnamese crises in convincing fashion. Meanwhile, Goodall goes to gay bars, to the baths, and learns to enjoy one-night stands, while Meg engages in affairs and becomes a historian. Their two lives come together when she decides to do research in Manila. They both get involved with the Marcoses, Goodall with Ferdinand (and sexually with Imelda's hairdresser) and Meg with Imelda. A good deal of intrigue isn't resolved until Imelda helps out, in fact, and both Goodall and Meg save a life by relinquishing some potent information that could damage the Marcos regime. An epilogue, however, makes it clear that both principals prosper while the Marcos regime vanishes. Some of this is programmatic, but Bram convincingly re-creates a historical moment from a gay perspective. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

Although Bram places his fourth novel in the Philippines during the Marcos era, he delivers little more than a surface exposure to this potentially explosive setting. Beginning in the 1950s, the narrative follows the 35-year career of Jim Goodall, an idealistic American foreign service officer committed to serving his country and bolstering basic human rights. The story is filtered through his oddly codependent relationship with a tomboyish niece, who serves as muse and mirror to his experience as a "house guest of history." Goodall's own outlook is expressed in the prologue, in which he serves warning that his career was "small potatoes" and that he will "stick to the potato's-eye view." Unfortunately this makes for a rather undramatic narrative: this minor character in history neither accomplishes his goal of self-actualization nor succeeds in exposing government corruption. Concerned that acknowledgement of his homosexuality will hamper his career, Goodall never matures beyond adolescent accommodation of his needs, and he is unable to forge meaningful relationships. His fight to illuminate the atrocities of the Marcos regime has ironic consequences. That Goodall is shallow, awkward, insecure and ultimately unlikable further diminishes the book's appeal. While earnest and sometimes insightful, this novel lacks the wit and charm of Brams's previous offerings (In Memory of Angel Clare) .
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780854491933: Almost History

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  0854491937 ISBN 13:  9780854491933
Publisher: Gay Men's Press, 1994
Softcover

9780452269668: Almost History (Contemporary Fiction, Plume)

Plume, 1993
Softcover

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