This big, genre-bending, spiritual coming-of-age novel focuses on Julian Selkirk, a young gay fashion photographer in New York City in the early 1990s, at the height of the AIDS epidemic.
Vivid social realism, enriched by unforgettable characters, eroticism, and wit, make this a satisfying read of the highest sort.
As a card-carrying member of Generation X, I expected to be caught up in waves of nostalgia and an emotionally gripping story.
I was wrong. This story ripped my guts out, made me laugh, made me cry, made me angry (that part is a testament to great writing and compelling characters - I wanted to hug Julian on one page and slap him into next Tuesday on the next), and left me with the strangest sense of hope at the end.
Given how far we've come on LGBTQ rights (though we still have a long way to go), it can be easy to forget the recent past and the struggles that gay men and women faced. This book is a poignant reminder, cleverly weaving those lessons and history into a compelling story and doing so without being preachy - no small feat!
On a personal note, one of my dearest friends from graduate school and one of the first openly gay men I ever met once told me that he was resigned to a life of serial monogamy. That was so heartbreaking and eye-opening. The possibilities that I as a cis straight woman took for granted — marriage/legally and societally sanctioned commitment complete with benefits, public displays of affection that wouldn't result in possible violence, children that couldn't be ripped away from me and my future partner at the whims of judgmental politicians, etc. I think I got a glimpse of what life might have been like for him in Two Natures. I'm pleased and proud that most of my gay friends from that era are now married and/or in committed relationships that have lasted for decades. It's beautiful, it's incredible, and it's definitely worth celebrating and working hard to protect.
I'm so glad this book came my way. It will stick with me for the long haul, I think.