Guest Review by Sammy
Title: Listening to Dust
Author: Brandon Shire
Buy Link: Amazon
Rating: 5+ stars
I AM SHATTERED. I will begin this review with an apology to you dear reader. I am not sure how to start, what to say, words fail me. I who have always been so glib, so remarkably poised, sit at my computer sobbing, moved beyond what mere words can express.
I do not know how Brandon Shire wrote this novel, Listening to Dust, for it seemed as though it must have been pulled from the very core of his soul. I can try to describe in pitiful words how beautiful this novel is…how stunningly beautiful. I can try to express to you the poetry, the lyricism of this remarkable book, but all would fall so very short of giving you a clear picture of this amazing story.
I can tell you that in theory this novel is about two men who, in the depths of their brokenness, find each other and for a few brief moments find a peace of sorts. But not really, for there is no peace for those who deny their very selves, who question if love can mend a broken soul.
I may relate to you the story of Dustin, who is repeatedly raped by his older brother and who, in an attempt to save his little brother, Robbie, from the same fate, sends him out into a storm where he is struck by lightening and rendered mentally disabled, what the world calls a “dummy” as Shire unflinchingly writes it. I can wax prosaic about how Dustin carries that guilt with him and its trademark all-consuming violent anger and wears it like a shield even after he meets Stephen, an Englishman who carries his own deep scars.
I might go on and speak of Stephen, who lost his parents right after being caught with a boy at boarding school. I could paint for you a picture of the shame he suffers because of the headmaster’s disapproval and the horrid taunts and despising glares of his peers; then you might understand that Stephen blames himself and his homosexuality as the reason his parents were killed, rather than because they were caught in a mission that went wrong in their clandestine work for the government of England. I can speak of how this lie brought him to the edge of suicide at the tender age of 12.
And on and on I could go…but I could not possibly relate any of this story in words nearly as frank, as piercing, and as tragically stunning as Shire’s own words:
There was more in Dustin’s eyes than the mist of spirits; more than the texture of desire. This was need and want and hurt and longing. It was the gentlest part of an unspoken embrace; the heat of a lost touch; the echo of a depth of yearning that Stephen had never encountered before, not even within himself, and despite the fact that he thought he knew loneliness quite well.
I cannot express in words how much this novel moved me, how much I think it will move you as well. And so dear readers I will leave you with this…a portion of a note I penned to Mr. Shire:
…it is so rare that a writer can reach into the soul of a character and show you their pain, their secrets, and their hidden desires and do so with an unflinching eye. But it is even more impossibly beautiful when an author can give us that and make us understand how very alike we are–how very much we have those same feelings and desires and that someone out there sees that–sees us and understands our pain…you are such an author.
I highly recommend this novel, Listening to Dust, by Brandon Shire! It deserves so much more than 5 stars but for now…it will have to suffice!