A LADDER TO THE SKY worth the climb
Readying John Boyne’s THE HEART’S INVISIBLE FURIES was one of the greatest pleasure in my life. This soaring and epic book following an intricate web of family love stories was filled with joy and power.
And the first quarter of John Boyne’s book A LADDER TO THE SKY had the same sense of history and detail which I loved. In Part 1 of Ladder, we meet Gene and middle-aged German writer who survived the war and has made a reputation for himself in the subsequent decades.
When he is befriended by a beautiful young man named Maurice of course, shades of great gay novels from Forster to Highsmith come to mind. In exchange for briefs moments of intimacy – a glimpse of a flat stomach, a touch, a hug – Ernst starts telling the true story of his boyhood crush. Because the inevitability of what will happen starts to come into focus, and you feel strongly for both boy and man, the writing soars.
In the subsequent parts of the book, we follow Maurice, now a famous writer, as Erich has died in disgrace. None of these relationships – including his marriage to a woman, and night with Gore Vidal – were as menacing and meaningful to me.
Only when Maurice meets a young man in the final segment of the book, do we get to see a battle of equals.
The ending is quite satisfying.