Cleanness review ´ 3

summary Cleanness

Cleanness review ´ 3 ✓ In the highly anticipated follow up to his beloved debut What Belongs to You Garth Greenwell deepens his exploration of foreignness obligation and desireSofia Bulgaria a landlocked city in southern Europe stirs with hope and impending upheaval Soviet buildings crumble wind scatters sand from the far south and political protesters floodSters flood the streets with songIn this atmosphere of disuiet an American teacher navigates a life transformed by the discovery and loss of love As he prepares to leave the place he’s come to call home he grapples with the intimate encounters that have marked his years abroad each bearing uncanny reminders of his past A u. “Anything I am you have use for is yours”Why not start off this review by saying that Cleanness includes the most intense sex scene I’ve ever read Cause there are uite a few descriptions of gay intimacy in this novel and they’re all rathermemorableNow before we get to the rest of it there’s probably one thing that’s helpful to know Cleanness is or less a seuel to Greenwell’s first novel It has the same narrator and I was told that it apparently helps understand him and his actions better if you’ve read it although the author himself says it’s not necessary to do so in order to read Cleanness I agree I certainly didn’t know that before starting this book but I’m going to check out his debut because I feel like I didn’t uite grasp everything that happened hereI liked the main character well enough and I often felt seen especially when he struggles trying to balance desire and shame trying to let go and just explore his sexual fantasies while often feeling like his lust is sinful and inappropriate I believe it’s a general human experience We all grow up thinking nudity and sex must be hidden away must remain unseen The stigma around ueer sex and sexuality only adds to that shame Being gay is unacceptable the exploration of ueerness is viewed as dirty and forbiddenAll of that is bullshit As long as sex is consensual by everyone involved shame has no part in it whatsoever Still freeing yourself from these ideas isn’t easy and Greenwell did great discussing the struggleOverall I really liked the portrayal of Sofia Bulgaria and enjoyed the chapters about travels and romance There were a couple of things that I didn’t love like missing uotation marks come on and names being abbreviated to their first letter why but I can only recommend this book Just remember that the content is very graphic and even brutal at times It’s an adult novel for a reasonFind of my books on Instagram

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Eer student’s confession recalls his own first love a stranger’s seduction devolves into paternal sadism and a romance with another foreigner opens and heals old wounds Each echo reveals startling insights about what it means to seek connection with those we love with the places we inhabit and with our own fugitive selve. 45 rounded upThose who were entranced as I was by Greenwell's first novel What Belongs to You nominated for the NBA and numerous other book prizes have reason to celebrate since his new book is not even really a seuel as much as it is a continuation of that first book The narratorprotagonist would seem to be identical that is a youngish gay American teaching literature and English in Sofia Bulgaria It or less picks up where the previous book ends and continues the adventures professional and romantic of said individual who would appear to be at least semi autobiographical No worries if one HASN'T read the first book since although knowledge of it would probably enhance one's experience it is by no means necessary for enjoying this oneThe book is divided into three sections each three chapters long which can roughly be designated as before during and after the central relationship depicted which the narrator has with R all characters in the book are only designated by initials which I found a slightly irritating tic but let go uickly R is a younger student from Lisbon who is restless and rather aimless but provides the narrator with a focus he himself needs and desires The 2nd and 8th chapters depict in graphic almost pornographic detail pick up encounters of an S M nature the narrator has with anonymous strangers in the first of which he is willingly passive and in the latter of which he assumes the unfamiliar dominant role and I am sure these will both garner lots of attention and be polarizing for many But they are absolutely justified in delineating the growth of the protagonist which would seem to be the author's intent rather than mere prurienceMy only other minor uibble is that since six of these stories were published previously as stand alone short stories in various magazines and literary journals they don't have a strong through line but these short story collectionpseudo novels seem to becoming the norm these days see All That Man Is; Girl Woman Other; Disappearing Earth etc And in an odd way it also reminded me of Rachel Cusk's recent trilogy in that one finds out much about the central figure through both internal thoughts and interactions with othersI have a feeling this book will be an even bigger success for Greenwell and probably go on to be nominated for and possibly win many book awards in 2020My sincere thanks to Netgalley and FS G for an ARC of this book in exchange for this honest and enthusiastic review

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CleannessIn the highly anticipated follow up to his beloved debut What Belongs to You Garth Greenwell deepens his exploration of foreignness obligation and desireSofia Bulgaria a landlocked city in southern Europe stirs with hope and impending upheaval Soviet buildings crumble wind scatters sand from the far south and political prote. I have a hunch that this major release will be polarizing which only speaks to its poetic power and daring structure I am deeply impressed by Greenwell's achievement At the heart this is a story about a gay American teacher in Sofia Bulgaria who wins and loses the heart of a young man from Lisboa conseuently these events are told in the middle section of the novel entitled Loving R The first and the last third of the book offer three vignettes each that illustrate the unnamed teacher's life in Bulgaria his experiences and desires and the repercussions of his love to R Greenwell is a fantastic psychological writer diving deep into the thoughts subconscious urges and conscious longings of his main character and the result is not for the timid If you think you read explicit sex scenes think again At times in this book I had the goal of writing a scene that was at once one hundred percent pornographic and one hundred percent high art Greenwell explains The author uses those elaborate and detailed episodes always told from a first person perspective to show sex as a form of communication to illustrate the workings of sexual desire and what it might be rooted in and this intention is extremely well executed On many levels this is a book about sex power and controlSo let's go back to the main character and his lover R for a second While the former teaches English to high school students R is a college exchange student Our protagonist explains Sex had never been joyful for me before or almost never it had always been fraught with shame and anxiety and fear all of which vanished at the sight of his smile simply vanished it poured a kind of cleanness over everything we did The narrator perceives this love as clean as pure and some of his sexual desires as shameful which represents a toxic version of the ideal of cleanness a complex dynamic that runs through the whole book The teacher and R stay together for two years even after R has to leave the city but then their relationship collapses no spoiler it becomes clear very early on Greenwell effectively conveys the inner workings of this transformative relationship and the fact that the narration is limited to the teacher's point of view makes the reader uestion the validity of the account The other six vignettes all take place after the teacher and R split up They are very atmospheric and present a kaleidoscopic account of who and where our narrator is In part 1 we read about our protagonist meeting with a troubled and distressed student who comes out to him hoping to find sympathy and advice for his situation as a gay man in conservative Bulgaria; visting a man he met online for a BDSM sex date; taking part in anti government protestsIn part 3 we read about our protagonist spending time with Bulgarian writers; having very rough sex with a man he met online; going out with acuaintances shortly before he leaves Sofia All of these present events evoke memories of the narrator's past and reveal their deeper subjective meaning through them And yes the book is intentionally disparate but the voice of the narrator manages to hold it together The striking details the gripping descriptions of shifting emotions the acute perceptions The writing is captivating and develops a very peculiar dynamic the mounting curiosity being rooted in the uestion what other aspects of the main character Greenwell will reveal and how the author will further investigate his central theme the ambiguity of desire Greenwell I do think one component of desire is always a kind of desire for obliteration of the self whether we figure that as a metaphysical experience of union and transcendence or as the desire to be made nothing This is daring fresh unusual literature telling a story with no holds barred showing alienated characters who long for pain and degradation but also for love There is something brutal about this narrative but it's never intentionally shocking Greenwell himself taught literature at the American College in Sofia and his first novel What Belongs to You was also set there and was also a triptych just like Cleanness The author's approach might thus be compared to Édouard Louis' autobiographically tinged writing Cleanness is a fascinating read and will certainly make waves