Henry & Jim
by JM Snyder, contemporary (2009, reissue)
eXcessica, $2.99, ISBN N/A
JM Snyder's Henry & Jim doesn't contain any particularly explicit sex scenes, which tells me that eXcessica has branched out into stories that are pretty mild when it comes to sex scenes. At any rate, you shouldn't be reading this short story for the hot stuff. Read it instead for a very well-written tale of a morning in the lives of two gentlemen, one of whom is stricken with early stages of Alzheimer's disease.
Oh, and this short story had been previously published in the anthologies Best Gay Romance 2008 from Cleis Press and Best Gay Stories 2009 from Lethe Press, so if you already own those two anthologies, you may not want to purchase this short story separately unless you are feeling very generous and want to give Ms Snyder some extra pocket change.
Jim, the one with the disease, is being cared for by Henry, his life partner. This story is told from Henry's point of view. As Henry reminiscences about how he and Jim first met, he also has to deal with the present. Throughout it all, Ms Snyder writes in a most effective manner - concise but elegant, her prose emotional but not excessively sentimental. This short story is almost devastating in how it makes me choke a little inside. Okay, maybe it's a little bit more than "a little". You have to admit, it's heartbreaking to see an entire story of love coming down to this, Henry having to deal with Jim who is slowly losing his memory of the life he and Henry had. While the whole situation feels so horribly unfair, the story also drives home the message that, despite the heartbreaking inevitable conclusion to Henry and Jim's love story, love is worth having no matter what life has in store in the future.
And yes, the story ends on a heartfelt note. No, it's not a sad ending, and no, Jim doesn't become miraculously cured - it's an ending that is just perfect for this story. It is tempting to compare this story to Nicholas Sparks's The Notebook, I guess, but Ms Snyder fortunately lacks the clumsy phraseology and excessive mawkish sentimentalism of that hack Mr Sparks, so it's all good in the end.
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