“Grit” by Jardonn Smith and William Maltese— Loving through the Depression

Smith, Jardonn and William Maltese. “Grit”, MLR Press, 2011.

Loving Through the Depression

Amos Lassen

I must say that “Grit” is the first book that I have read that gives us a look at the Great depression  through the eyes of gay men. I just never thought about the two together but leave it to Maltese and Smith to develop a new theme that is historical and filled with sex. Now if you have read Maltese and/or Smith, you know that these guys write colorful, detailed and very erotic sex scenes. More than that, they both know how to write a good story. Put them together and you have something very special.

Our characters are four men—Bobby, Dan, Wilton and Gaither. Bobby and Dan are a young couple who are learning about love and how much they love each other while Wilton and Gaither are an older couple. Wilton is now living a good life after having suffered in the past and what he really wants is to be in love with another man. He has a hard time meeting others and has made several mistakes. He becomes mixed up with Gaither who is searching for Dan who is missing and Wilson and Gaither become romantically involved. This older couple appears as a direct opposite to the younger and seemingly frivolous Bobby and Dan.

Is this a romantic novel? That is hard to say yet there is romance here. I tend  to look at it as a reflection of the times, the Depression, and the need that men have for each other at a time when not much else looked too good. Yet according to Maltese and Smith, these men had a good time while many others suffered and this shows the power of physical attraction. The story is well-written and the characters are well developed. This is quite a story that takes you to places you do not often get to go.

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