Weber, Marten. “Shayno”, CreateSpace, 2010.
A New Powerful Voice
Mark my words—Marten Weber is a writer to watch. I just finished reading “Shayno” and sit here mouth agape at the powerful writing it contains. The subject matter is also a bit different and when you put a good story together with a good writer, you quite naturally get a GOOD book. However, good is a bit too mild of a word to describe “Shayno”.
We meet a gay man at mid-life and living in the Silicon Valley. He is jaded, disillusioned, unhappy and suffers from ennui. His job bores him, he has few friends and he has given up on love. But don’t you know, just as he is ready to give everything up Shayne enters his life. Shayne is all any man could hope for—handsome, built. Intelligent, witty, polite. However, Shayne is straight. A friendship grows between the two men as they share common interests—health and fitness, philosophy, reading but with that friendship is sexual tension. Shayne has a strange control over his friend and actually makes him watch as he has sex with women and this is just the beginning.
I cannot praise Weber’s writing highly enough and he is indeed a fresh voice. He uses new techniques that take some getting used to and he is heavy handed with dashes (like me). Sometimes we just don’t know if something has actually been uttered or just heard in the speaker’s mind. The reader is immediately pulled into the story and Weber not only gives us the narrative of what is going on, he peppers it with a bit of social commentary. We read about an obsession and how blindly it happened and we sit with an uneasy feeling as the two men share intelligent conversations which are often sexually stimulating.
We follow the lives of the two men—Shayne and the unnamed gay Englishman living in the United States. There is a third character, Kevin, an Australian who has come to America after his father beat him brutally when he announced he was gay. Kevin is looking for the man he met in Australia. The relationship between Shayne and the Englishman takes a turn and appears to be going into a dangerous area.
Weber writes about abuse and submission, violence and humiliation. What is interesting is that there are times these are asked for and not pushed off on a character. Weber has done quite a job with his characters because we actually feel for them and our feelings change. It is really a good feeling to get away from werewolves, vampires and shape shifters for a change and enjoy a book that is actually intelligent throughout. We watch as a relationship develops and it is painful but we also get to see the motivations of the characters.
It was a clever touch not to name the narrator since most of the novel takes place in his mind and he shares only what he wants to share. Both Kevin and the Englishman are looking for something and Shayne is the common interest or so it seems. We learn that Kevin was not exactly in command of his coming out adventure in Australia and he is looking for the man who turned him on to gay sex. What we don’t know for sure is if he is seeking love or vengeance. He is lost and totally innocent. His family has turned him out and Kevin believes that the only person who cares for him is Shayne, even though he raped him. Our Englishman is fed up with the life he has led and even though he knows that Shayne is not the right man for him, he does not stop the relationship once it begins. He is so jaded that he can expect no more from life. Kevin and the Englishman don’t meet until the end of the story bur we are aware of how much their lives are enmeshed. We want them to find each other and hope that they do and are curious to know what will happen when they do.
I love that I had questions like this as I read. They were catalysts to make me keep on going although the prose was enough to do that. If this is what we can expect from Marten Weber, then we have a powerful new literary voice and I have a very strong feeling that we shall be hearing a great deal more both from and about him.