Men With Their Hands
Author Raymond Luczak has entertained, touched, and enthralled readers with his fiction, poetry, and essays for many years. And now the talented storyteller has written a new novel, Men with their Hands, which tells the stories of a number of deaf gay men over a period of 15 years. However, at the heart of the novel is Michael Osborne, who not only has to cope with being deaf in a world inhabited mainly by people who can hear, but who must also grapple with love, loss, and family dissension.
Luczak uses some interesting narrative devices to tell Michael's story as well as the tales of the men who, in time, become part of his life, the men who become his family. The first portion of the novel, "A Smalltown Boy," focuses on the young boy Michael as he deals with his burgeoning sexuality, teenage angst, and troubled and complicated relationships with family, friends, and acquaintances. From there, "Familiar Strangers" moves the story to New York City and peeks into the lives, loves, triumphs, and tragedies of a group of men united by two things that they all share in common: each is gay and each is either deaf or has a hearing impairment. The final two sections of the novel bring Michael to New York and into the lives of this family of gay men as he learns firsthand the joys of love and the devastation of loss.
The end result is a remarkable exploration of sexuality, friendship, loss, reconciliation, and survival. It is a peek into a bygone era, one of unbridled sexual freedom and liberating sexual expression and one of ignorance and fear as AIDS began to devastate the gay community. It is a glimpse into a world that is unknown to many of us, a world where individuals must use their hands to communicate, to bond, to unite.
Luczak's narrative structure can be frustrating at times. Just as the reader becomes immersed in Michael's life, Michael disappears as other characters take center stage. But it is clear the Luczak has a vision for his characters and their stories and, in time, that vision unfolds and comes to life on the page in broad, beautiful, deliberate strokes. Characters who seemingly have no ties to each other meet, relationships are formed, and the stage set for change and resolution. Along the way, characters learn to love, accept, and let go, characters die, families - both biological and ones created by choice - are reconciled, and the reader becomes immersed in Luczak's brilliant and soulful vision. It is an exhilarating journey made possible only by Raymond Luczak's limitless vision, his flawed and complex characters, and the author's always powerful, often poetic words that touch the heart, challenge the mind, and captivate the soul.
For information about Raymond Luczak, please visit his website.