Martin Foreman
First and Fiftieth


The Stories
   Kitchen Table
   Night Traffic
   Basement
   Pokhara
   Foucault's Nightmare
   Homophobia, Darling
   Cold Silence
   Los Feliz
   Judy
   Ten Million Years
   The Last Saturday in May
   Angel
   First and Fiftieth
   Ben and Joe's
   Sunset



   Commentary
   Reviews



The Publishers


The Author
picture of Martin Foreman by mitamada
   Also Available
   Biography
   Bibliography
   Contact



   A View from the Edge
   Arbery Books
   Arbery Productions
   God would be an atheist

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Commentary

The stories in First and Fiftieth developed in my mind and on the page throughout the 1990s. As different stories presented themselves (see the comment to each story for its inspiration) two contrasting themes emerged. The first was the wide range of human experience, depending on age, sex, sexuality, social and cultural background and many other factors. If that approach showed how great the differences between people could be, it was the second theme - the intensity of individual emotions - that brought them together again.

Over the last forty years I have lived, worked and traveled in many countries (for details, see my biography). In most places I have become, at least for a short time, part of the community, either because I learnt the language or because I had friends or contacts who introduced me to the daily life of ordinary people and the homes and streets where foreigners seldom go. Some of that experience is reflected in my second novel, The Butterfly's Wing; more appears in First and Fiftieth. This perspective on the lives of others seen from the inside continues in the short essays about gay life around the world that appear from time to time on my website.

First and Fiftieth continues the pattern of my fiction where the setting of each book has moved further away from the middle-class Britain that I grew up in and which I described in Weekend and A Sense of Loss (although there are a few stories in the latter book where that process has begun). That part of my life interests me little now and others describe it much better than I; my horizons are broader and I continue to be intrigued by the ways in which human desire and emotions are manifest in people whose lives are very different from my own. Which explains why this collection encompasses not only three cities where I have lived - London, Rio de Janeiro and Los Angeles - but many other parts of the world that I have known, from Africa to Nepal, New England to Washington state.

Within that broad perspective, sexuality, in all its expressed and implied forms, has always fascinated me; it is inevitably a major theme here. All the stories in First and Fiftieth involve sexual desire, between women and men or between men, reflecting my view that sex and emotions are the driving force behind many people's lives. They are told in the first person because it is there that the individual's passion is at its height. To a few readers, this emphasis on sex has seemed like overkill but from my perspective to have diluted the collection with stories on other concerns would have weakened the collection as a whole. 

The bringing together of hetero- and homosexualities was deliberate. However, it was only late in the editing process that I realized that in the stories told by men, whether the narrators are gay or straight, their attitudes towards sex have more in common with each other than they do with women. I leave others to decide whether that reflects a General Truth or merely my ignorance. As for the few women narrators, I found it relatively easy to enter their minds, but readers can judge for themselves how well I have succeeded. And of course perspicacious readers will note at least two sexual identities that are not included in the collection.

Whether you are reading this before or after you start on the stories, let me take this moment to thank you for getting this far. And if you have the time and energy to go further, feel free to send any comments you may have to me at martin@martinforeman.com*. With your permission, I'll post interesting and relevant comments on this site.

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All Rights Reserved / World Copyright © Martin Foreman 2015




"Sometimes you sit, watch the trains, the sunset, the rain. Sometimes you talk. Tell your story if you've a mind to. Trouble is, memory changes things. Things you want to forget. Things you want to remember that never happened. Happens to everybody. Gets so, nobody's story's true. Not yours, not mine. But it's all we've got."

First and Fiftieth



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