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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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07/04/2006 Archived Entry: "Book review: The Left Hand Dreams of Him"

The Left Hand Dreams of Him
Only the Ring Finger Knows, Volume 2 (novel)
By Satoru Kannagi
Published by DMP Books, 2006

Review by Ginger Mayerson

My review in a nutshell: If you like Kazuki and Wataru, you'll love this novel.

My review not in a nutshell: Y'know, I'm not an expert on Japanese novels, but I've read quite a few of them, in translation of course. What I've discovered is that you have to watch out for them most of the time or they emotionally knee-cap you when you least expect it. However, this is not the case with the latest Satoru Kannagi novel from DMP Books: Only the Ring Finger Knows 2 - The Left Hand Dreams of Him, which is kind of a long title for Kazuki Loves Wataru. And he really does.

It's safe to read this novel. No one's girl friend gets leukemia and dies rather horribly (Socrates in Love), no one's whole future, and the whole future of her little sister, is determined by how well she wears a kimono (Makioka Sisters), and no one's best friend is possessed by a sheep demon (Wild Sheep Chase). Honest.

Okay, that's what doesn't happen, here's what does happen: these two guys are so in love even someone as jaded as me can enjoy it. The sex scenes are so muted and tasteful, I almost missed them going by. My personal favorite starts on page 92, just in case you were wondering.

This novel, like the novel before it, Only the Ring Finger Knows, is actually two sequential novellas. Unlike the first novel, this offering is 233 pages vs. 172 pages, but I think the typeface might be a little bigger (I've never wanted a pica ruler until now). Nevertheless, it feels like more story, and good story at that. And like the novel before it, it's not a long Tolsty-like read, but it's got enough fodder to obsess over for months. Hopefully enough obsessing fodder to get me to the next offering in October. Hurry October. (I'm kidding, this year is flying by fast enough.)

I salute DMP Books for being the first publisher in America to publish a boys love novel in English. To the best of my knowledge, we don't really have this genre in America or English literature, including pop lit, so this is quite an accomplishment. Okay, maybe E.M. Forester's Maurice fits this genre. I don't consider the wham-grr-thank-you-sir gay porn novels I've read to be in the same category. Although Gordon Merrick's The Lord Won't Mind comes to mind and is, I suppose now that I'm thinking about it, yaoi (in fact, The Lord Won't Mind was published in 1971, so might even pre-date yaoi [hmmm]). However, the angst and the sex in The Left Hand Dreams of Him are much more soft focus and the characters are more likeable. In my dotage, I find I prefer it that way: my emotions get a break and my imagination gets a work-out.

As usual, this book is up to DMP's stellar production values: good binding and nice illos scattered here and there. It's just my opinion that they could use me as a copy editor because there are things I would have caught and a few places I would have edited to make clearer (dialogue mainly, you perverts), but this did not in any way interfere with my enjoyment of the book.

So, hey, get your copy today!

Only the Ring Finger Knows, Volume 1 - Only the Ring Finger Knows
Only the Ring Finger Knows, Volume 3 - The Ring Finger Falls Silent

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