Review: LOLA DANCES

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May 20, 2016 by kitmoss

51nnbnp9lil-_bo2204203200_pisitb-sticker-arrow-clicktopright35-76_aa278_pikin4bottomright-6422_aa300_sh20_ou01_LOLA DANCES

Victor J. Banis

Publisher: MLR Press,LLC

ISBN:  1934531421 ISBN13: 9781934531426)

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Terry Murphy just wants to be a dancer.  Growing up in the 1840s Bowery in New York City, the odds are definitely against him.  When he is raped by a wealthy man, the only justice it seems likely he will get is a prison sentence for prostitution and blackmail.  His older brother, a tavern bouncer, drags him away to the west to the mining camps of Montana and California.  Terry discovers that escaping the Bowery did not cease his being victimized as his brother begins to relieve his own sexual need on him in bed at night.  When Terry happens into the saloon just as the headliner gets the boot, he and the saloon owner hatch a ruse that will prove fateful.  Terry Murphy morphs into Lola, a mysterious Spanish dancer.  Will he be able to hide his identity and yet avoid the advances of the rough men in the mining camps?   At least he was doing what he dreamed of doing with his life… dancing.

It is fascinating not only to watch Terry grow into the woman Lola, but to digest and continue to savor it.  Terry, everyone’s victim, grows into strength as a woman.  Is he transgender?  It’s hard to say.  When he makes love it’s to a man as a man.  But Lola is magnificent, a powerhouse who defines herself and defies everyone else.  Whether living the double life in the mining camps or queening it up in the Barbary Coast of mid-19th century San Francisco, she is a joy to watch and admire.  Lola/Terry is aware of the sum of its parts of being both male and female and embraces it.

This is a Victor Banis so it goes without saying that the novel is exquisitely written.  There are a handful of authors of so-called gay romance who are truly literary authors, and Victor Banis is way up there.

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