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Text: World Copyright
Martin Foreman

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Reviews of A Sense of Loss
Gay Men's Press, 1993
read an excerpt

"Accomplished, literate, dignified, deeply felt"
Times Literary Supplement, London
"as delicate and haunting a piece of prose
as I've read all year"
"Martin Foreman has an uncomfortable, probably accurate view of the human condition; an excellent book"

Of all my books, A Sense of Loss has received the most contradictory reviews. Some loved it; others hated it. The following reviews are typical.
A Sense of Loss

June / July 1993

This collection of 15 short stories is what writing should be about. The stories are, firstly, very readable. Martin Foreman employs a variety of styles, sometimes strikingly ('Discotheque' gives a tempo to one character's internal monologue which perfectly matches the rhythm of the dance beat) but consistently good. Here is a master at work.

Martin Foreman is also a clever writer. In one story, the Flying Dutchman moors near a remote Islands community: does he at last find salvation and peace through being loved by the young barman of the village pub? More audaciously, in the title story, 'Death in Venice' is retold by a now grown up Tadzio. This is not mere experimentation or playing about but genuine, original creativity, done well and not a little bravely.

These are all gay stories and the characters, relationships, settings and situations are all believable and well observed by a writer of sympathetic and thoughtful insight. You are in the gay disco, or the sleazy back street bar in Brazil; you have had a coffee in a cafe like the one here (actually, I don't do things like that, but I know people who do); I have drunk in that bar; the cynicism, romance, hope and callousness are all real; and what the blurb calls the sexual compulsion of 'A Room With No View' you remember and hope to experience again. And you'd like to think that Father Christmas will come for you the way he does here (you will need to read the book now)."

These tales are by turn funny, moving, disturbing, hopeful, sad. They all share another quality. Whatever style employed, whatever content, it haunts and flavours Martin Foreman's work. Comparisons are odious, but it reminded me a little of Graham Greene's pervasive catholic alienation. At heart, it is as bleak as the Highlands and Islands land and seascape which is described so knowingly. Martin Foreman has an uncomfortable, probably accurate view of the human condition; our essential separateness. This is an excellent book by an honest man.

Someone who's obviously on my wavelength. The comparison with Graham Greene was especially welcome, given that he is one of my favourite writers.

Northern Star (UK)
15 Apr - 22 Apr 1993
For some the most acute sense of loss will result from the hefty hole the cover price leaves in your bank balance. Others might feel bereft of any sense of contact with the 'real' world.

If you're going to read this, I'd sit in a chair which isn't too comfortable, otherwise you might be tempted to close your eyes and drift into a deep, welcome sleep. If you do, it won't be these characters you'll dream about, I'm sure.

There are fifteen stories about a gay man and his experiences. The book calls itself a shifting kaleidoscope of gay reality in Britain today', but there are so many stereotypical, sad, caged, gay men it made me long for a few stable, happy characters. Yes it would be boring to have happy characters all the time, but surely a few would help to redress the balance.

I know it's fiction and should be read and such. A quote from its cover says that the characters' 'interesting journeys weave a tapestry that maps the very essence of gay experience.' If that's not fiction, I don't know what is.

You win some, you lose some. I'd be more prepared to accepts JAC's comments if he showed a bit more accuracy. He says 'there are fifteen stories about a gay man and his experiences'. Actually each story is about different people, including one about a woman. And if JAC thinks that Santa Claus, the Flying Dutchman, a mass murderer, an old lady and a ghost are stereotypical characters, he lives in a very different world from mine. But who cares about accuracy when you have a deadline to meet?

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