Narrows Cover 2.5The Best in LGBTQ Fiction for 2012 on Indie Reviews

Last year it was one of the best for Felice Picano on Lambda Literary’s website, this year it’s on the Indie Reviewer’s website for Best LGBTQ fiction. I’m very proud and thank both readers and editors.


The Narrows, Miles Deep: An amazing review to start 2013

I’m starting off 2013 with an amazing review I received yesterday from Indie Reviews. She sent a follow up saying that the novella and stories will be in her Best of 2012 list as well. Thanks for this very thoughtful and lovely review!

Narrows Cover 2.5The Narrows, Miles Deep by Tom Schabarum consists of the title novella and three unrelated short stories: My Kid in FootlightsThe Road to Alaskaand Follow Me Through.

The novella, The Narrows, Miles Deep, is the beautifully written and heartrending story of Eric Morris and Roy Bancroft, lovers who parted ways some four years ago when Eric joined his family’s business as a trucker and relocated from Utah to Las Vegas and Roy remained in Salt Lake City to be near the mountains and continue working in a small engineering firm. Eric and Roy have arranged a reunion camping trip in The Narrows Zion National Park in the hopes of rekindling their relationship.

Set primarily in Salt Lake City and southern Utah the story takes place during the 1980s and both begins and ends in the present but unfolds in a non-linear retrospective fashion. The story is divided into four parts tracing the lives of Eric and Roy, their respective childhood and adolescence, their relationships with family and friends, their first meeting and the evolution of their relationship through the first person narration of several secondary characters, among others, Eric’s parents, Roy’s father and Eric’s best friends. Characterisation in further heightened through Roy’s extremely intimate third person introspection and through Eric’s somewhat more muted thoughts.

Great insight into both Eric and Roy is gained through the alternating narratives and voices of friends, family and old lovers, and complemented by the introspection of the main characters as Eric and Roy are explored from all sides. As the story unfolds the circumstances of both characters’ lives are revealed and the layers of the events and life experiences that have shaped them are slowly peeled away.

We learn of Eric’s struggle with his commitment to his Mormon faith in the face of his religion’s blatant homophobia and overall hypocrisy and his inability to reconcile this with who and what he is, as well as his fear of coming out to his family, leading him to abandon the Mormon Church altogether and distance himself from his family. In many ways this struggle defines Eric and influences his life choices and decisions, which ultimately impact his relationship with Roy, as he is hesitant and fearful of fully revealing himself to his lover.

“When Eric came off his mission he moved to Salt Lake City and began working and going to school up there. He came home from serving the church different. After two years, he was still gentle and sweet, but was unsure of himself where most of the other local boys came back with plans, married old girlfriends, started families. Eric just wanted to get away. I didn’t understand, but I suppose the thing to do was just let him be. I wish I had gone slower when I was his age. I didn’t want him to miss a thing.”

We also come to know and understand Roy’s deep emotional pain caused by the loss of his twin brother, abandonment by his mother and his father’s failings as a parent brought on by his own pain at the loss of his son and wife. These losses have had a seminal impact on Roy and his ability for emotional intimacy. Roy prefers his solitude and is initially quite tentative in his relationship with Eric. And yet by his own admission, his meeting of Eric stopped his world on its very axis and in Eric he finds solace from the loneliness he’s felt his entire life.

“Eric’s touch came back to him. Like his mother’s: lightly on the forehead. He began to think of her, to equate her smell with the smells of the canyon. He’d lost the specifics of her years ago so that now she came to him unfocused. The weight of her shape lingered in his mind, however, and he could remember her warmth when she bent over him before he went to sleep, or came up behind him to see what he was doing at the table. It was her warmth that wouldn’t leave him. Years went by and no matter what he did it still clung to him until last night, when it was replaced by Eric’s. He felt a kind of freedom now, a lightness. He brought his hands together as if in prayer. He smiled, and then wept.”

As the story takes place during the 1980s the spectre of HIV/AIDS hovers and looms throughout as an ominous intruder that will impact the lives of the entire cast of characters.

Mr. Schabarum’s writing style is literary and poetic, but at the same time quite elemental in nature cutting to the heart of Eric and Roy and their hopes and fears as they navigate both their lives and relationships without melodrama or cliché. I was completely immersed in this story from the very first paragraph and read it in one sitting. Far from muting the emotional magnitude and impact of their story, the unassuming and introspective qualities of Mr. Schabarum’s writing achieve the opposite and provide for an extremely powerful reading experience.

The Narrows, Miles Deep is a multi-layered story with several emerging themes. As much as it is a story about the Eric and Roy’s journey and relationship, it is also a story that interweaves such themes as coming out and coming of age, homophobia, religion, parenting and family relationships, life choices, HIV/AIDS, loss and letting go. Ultimately, the overarching theme of this story is about the fragility of love. I truly loved this story and despite its tragic ending, found much beauty in the sadness of Eric and Roy’s journey. While unrelated, the three accompanying short stories are equally well written and carry with them similar themes as the novella.

I am excited at the discovery of Mr. Schabarum’s writing and look forward to reading his debut novel The Palisades. I highly recommend The Narrows, Miles Deep without any hesitation.

The Narrows, Miles Deep by Tom Schabarum is available at Amazon.

Music: Falling Slowly – Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova (Once, 2007)

The Palisades receives another 5 star review

As a writer, it’s always amazing to receive great reviews from readers far away that you don’t know, but who take the time to comment on a book on Amazon. So wonderful!

“If you want to read a story well told and extremely well written, this is it. Tom Schabarum opens the family dynamics in this story in a way that draws one in. His ability to give one a beautiful vision of the area and still make you focus on the details of the story are extremely well written. This is a book that digs deep into family conflict, love, disappointment, and compassion. A must read.” Charlene Haugen, MN

Download a copy of The Palisades for yourself here!

Lambda Literary Foundation’s Best Books of 2011

The Narrows, Miles Deep was listed by Felice Picano as one of Lambda Literary Foundations Best Books of 2011. My thanks to Mr. Picano for his support of this book that is an allegorical tale of the burgeoning AIDS epidemic in Utah and Las Vegas through the eyes of friends, lovers and family of the two men whose lives are impacted. This book also contains 3 stories: My Kid in Footlights, The Road to Alaska, and Follow Me Through.  See LLF’s blog post below:

Zion and The Narrows, Miles Deep

Last week, I drove through the Southwest with my dad and sister from Indian Wells, CA to Santa Fe, NM. We drove nearly 2,200 miles in seven days, mostly on the back roads that are far less traveled. On our final day, we woke up early and went to Zion National Park, my favorite park in the system for many reasons. I hadn’t visited there in many years, but remember going on hikes in the park years ago up the Narrows and to Angel’s Landing with friends and a former partner of mine.

The Narrows in Zion are truly special, and is the setting for the finale of my novel, The Narrows, Miles Deep. Standing at the entrance, I was overcome remembering the writing of that book, which concerns the relationship of two men told through the voices of their friends, ex-lovers and parents with a through-line narrative as well. It’s an allegorical novel of the oncoming AIDS epidemic and the devastation it caused to the people affected by the disease. It is also about love, family, Mormonism, the outdoors, spirituality and youth.

This picture is of me standing at the entrance to The Narrows, and remembering the experiences I had there, and the experience of writing the novella. Three stories accompany the novella.

I hope you’ll buy a copy on Amazon Kindle here:

Writing from the Well of Emotion – An Interview at Lambda Literary

Matt Yau has an excellent literary blog called “A Guy’s Moleskin Notebook” in which he reviews and writes about all things books – a whole lot of books. It’s astonishing how many books he reads. In the spring he did an interview with me in support of “The Palisades,” which he’d reviewed during the summer. It has finally been published on Lambda Literary’s website. The interview is called “Writing from the Well of Emotion.”

I had the pleasure of meeting Matt at my reading in San Francisco this spring where he introduced me. Take a look at his blog and see if you can match the velocity of his reading, or at the very least, read the excellence of his critiques.