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The Trapeze Artist

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An exceptional, break-out, coming-of-age novel from the talented Betty Trask Award-winning writer, Will Davis

About the Author

Will Davis is the author of two novels, My Side of the Story, which won the Betty Trask Prize 2007, and Dream Machine. He has trained as an aerialist and specializes in corde lisse (rope), tissu (silks) and static trapeze. He lives in Highbury, London.


An extraordinary tale of tragedy and failure in love, told with great panache * Edmund White * His best book yet * Evening Standard * The past produces the present, and the present turns fearlessly into the future. With a double flourish, everything becomes clear ... the closing scene is heart-stopping -- Colin Greenland * Guardian * A page turning modern classic * Gay Times * An elegant, poignant and perceptive novel about growing up gay without the support of family, about falling and failing in love and about the freedom of eccentricity. A remarkable book * Sydney Morning Herald * Conveys both the challenges of coming out and the extraordinary art of an aerialist so convincingly * Sunday Times * PRAISE FOR MY SIDE OF THE STORY: 'Will Davis is a witty writer who effortlessly conjures up the frenetic detail of Jaz's sixteen-year-old world * Independent * A fresh and funny novel about growing up gay, with absolutely no help from a mad family. Davis gives his narrator a wonderfully wry outlook * Kate Saunders, The Times * The dialogue fizzes with savvy one-liners ... Davis's observations of the dysfunctions of family and school are as sharp as his prose is fresh, and his debut is intriguing, touching and entertaining * Time Out *

A closeted gay man in England sits in the audience of a small circus. He is compelled to follow it, leaving behind his disapproving mother, menial job, and narrow life. He falls in love with Vlad, a less-than-faithful aerial artist, but also with circus life, despite the hazing he receives from the established members. The unnamed protagonist, however, can take all kinds of humiliations, as they are minor compared with the punishment he's been dealing himself since adolescence, when he lost Edward, his charismatic, confident, bohemian teen love. Sandwiched between the narratives of past and present is a third narrative in future tense-describing how the protagonist creates a trapeze rig out of his mother's suburban house and a trapeze artist from his imperfect, aging body. Full of technical detail about how circus equipment works, this novel is also a portrait of how convention and parental expectation can tragically warp a person's potential. VERDICT For those who've always wondered about running away with the circus, this bleak tale by the award-winning author of My Side of the Story and Dream Machine may make you think twice.-Devon Thomas, DevIndexing, Chelsea, MI (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

The unnamed protagonist in Davis's semiautobiographical third novel (after Dream Machine), unhappy with his dreary existence living with his mother and working as a caretaker for elderly invalids in provincial England, literally runs off with the circus, where he finds a home on the road and love with the star attraction, a Romanian aerialist named Vlad. When the third-rate traveling show breaks up, our lovesick hero goes home to find his mother incapacitated by strokes, and in order to build his own indoor trapeze, he takes a sledgehammer to the family house. Whatever nutty charm this premise suggests is sundered by Davis's leaden prose. It is unfortunately ironic that a novel that takes as its subject frustration with the drabness of ordinary life should itself be so cluttered with cliches and stock characters. An overly complex narrative structure, interweaving three separate time frames in the protagonist's life, cannot save this novel from crashing to earth. Agent: Peter Buckman, the Ampersand Agency (U.K.). (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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