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he said, she said

a quirky love story

he said, she said
alex johnston

She of the Mountains, by Vivek Shraya; Published by Arsenal Pulp press, Available in Paperback (2014)

She of the Mountains is a quirky love story that begins with the narrator as a young East Indian-Canadian man who has been bludgeoned by casual but implacable homophobia throughout his formative years. “You’re gay,” he is told over and over again. But his struggle to accept, and even find positive meaning in this label is turned upside down when he falls in love with “She” – a young woman he meets in university. If something as impressionistic as Vivek’s prose can be said to have an act structure, then the second and third acts describe the view point character’s struggle to reconcile his sense of his own sexuality with his genuine love for She over the years of university and young adulthood.

He struggles not only with his inner sense of his own queerness, but with the LGBT community’s reaction to his love. These are significant enough pieces of the narrative that this certainly must be considered a bisexual novel – which is odd since it is at least the third book about a bisexual character that I have read recently that avoids using the word “bisexual” (Pink and The Tastemaker being the other two, for those keeping score).

However, it would be a mistake to label this book too rigidly – between the interspersed episodes from Hindu creation stories; the rich, psychedelic illustrations that comment on them; Vivek’s almost stream-of-consciousness style, and the intensely personal perspective, it is an impressionistic piece that resists the discipline implied by phrases like ‘this is a book about x…’

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Authoralex johnston

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