Reviews - What do customers think about Burning Dreams?
Inspiring prose: a continual revelation about love and living Dec 14, 2007
This book may not be perfect, and I may hesitate over a 4 or 5 star rating, but I absolutely love the sure way Susan Smith handles characterizations, setting, and language to weave her tale. It was only very occasionally that I'd feel that the book had wandered into the weeds, and then a deftly woven passage overflowing with emotion and a clear love and knowledge of the power of language would capture me so intensely that I'd completely forget my earlier pique, before it was even fully formed.
There are differences between this version and the online one As far as the boys: Sam doesn't have a crush on Grace, and in fact a bit less time is spent fleshing these secondary Taryn-disciple characters out. In addition the character of Marilyn Huang has been dropped. This left a bit of a loose end from the first book, where part of the reason for the big drag show was for Ms. Huang to help create a performance piece for her time at the University, and I was entertained in the end by how Rosalind basically dared her to go after Taryn online, she was that secure in their relationship, but I understand the reasons for the edits. The focus was more firmly on Paul as a foil for the new world Rosalind has become an inhabitant of. The differences did not bother me as much in this book, though the power of the wedding ceremony in the end is sadly diluted by the exclusion of many wonderful quotes and allegories as spoken by the participants.
Nevertheless, I want to judge this book on its own merits, and not as a reflection of what it was. This is a book that will remain in my collection, and that I will savor again in the future, and for that I'm willing to give it a 5.
It's easy to be hard on Taryn for her behavior in this book, but it's presented from the beginning that she's suffering from some damage to her spirit. The characterizations and motivations throughout are so rich, consistent, and well-supported that imperfection in our heroes is not a hindrance to enjoyment. You feel Taryn's pain, and live with her through the growth she experiences. The overwhelming sense of family and belonging the inhabitants of 34 Mariner create is seductive and wonderful, and the tactic of being able to experience it all again through the eyes of an outsider (Rosalind's ex, Paul) was brilliantly executed.
The people in this book create a space where extremes of emotion are safe to express, and so you live the highs and the lows along with them. The telling of their stories is rarely dull. Grief, mourning, acceptance, change. Yet most importantly, at the heart of this book remains a sweet love story between Rosalind and Taryn, as the past is satisfied leaving them free to build a future, one that you'll be sorry to leave when you reach the end, just as they're beginning.
Burning Dreams Jun 2, 2007
Wonderfully detailed story. Love the continued progression of the main and supporting characters.
Smitty makes Buffalo magical. Mar 7, 2007
It is wonderful to read a book in which place is as much a character as the persons whose lives unfold in the story. The City of Buffalo becomes a magical place as Smitty draws new, vivid characters into the stories of Rosalind and Taryn and their family of trannies, queers, witches, drag kings, lovers and friends. The writing sweeps you in at once, and the plot will hold you through all the transformations which occur in the book.
It's a book which will charm you; plan to keep it for re-reading.
Her Best Book Yet Feb 3, 2007
Susan Smith's Of Drag Kings and the Wheel of Fate was a powerful story, right on the mark in so many ways. Burning Dreams, its sequel, is even better, and Smith's growth as a storyteller is evident right away.
All of the characters from the first book are back. Taryn's and Rosalind's love story continues with Ellie, Joe and Rhea in strong supporting roles. Paul, Ros' ex, is in the picture now, front and center. He travels to Buffalo because he wants Ros back, and he ends up living with Joe and Rhea while he pursues Ros. This generates friction between Taryn and Ros. And this is where Smith's abilities as a writer shine. She fleshes out the characters well, especially Taryn's. With the threat of Paul, Taryn becomes unlikable and bratty. We, the reader, want her to just grow up because she is doing everything to push Ros away. It is hard to find any redeeming qualities in Taryn, and this is the heart of Burning Dreams. Smith defines the depth of love so succinctly and how it doesn't have to make sense to any of us who are not in the relationship. Only Ros can judge Taryn's behavior as it relates to her.
Smith's style is unique. It envelops the reader with memorable and inspiring passages that are the meat of the story. In my opinion, she is one of the best writers of prose in lesbian fiction today. There is so much emotion mixed with wisdom and clarity in Burning Dreams. It is a story about discovering who we are even in the face of adversity, and it is about creating families to support us so we are not invisible. It is intense yet subtle too, like a velvet hammer. The author again challenges our preconceived notions of love, gender, and what is acceptable. Simply put, she makes us think.
This unusual telling of a modern romance will last a long time. It is hard to predict a classic in the making, but I believe Smith has penned one in Burning Dreams.
Starting Over From Scratch Jan 17, 2007
Do you ever wonder what would happen if you could start your life over again? That's exactly what happens to Taryn, Rosalind, and Rhea in this fantastic sequel to "Of Drag Kings and a Wheel of Fate." At the end of that book, these three women found themselves discovering new territory in the fabric of time and space because their souls avoided making fatal mistakes this time around. Now that they have overcome their disastrous fates, these old souls get to enjoy new experiences together. However, these new experiences come with their own trials and tribulations.
For starters, Rosalind's ex-husband Paul enters the picture. He is terribly distraught and lost without her, but she has no intention of re-entering his life. In fact, she is completely committed to the much younger Taryn. Rosalind has to appease Paul and try to be his friend while she also works to convince Taryn of the depth of her love. Just this tangled web would be enough for a great book, but Smitty goes all out by adding many levels to Paul's experiences with Rhea. She also has fun with the characters of Rhea and Joe, and Misha and Ellie.
In my review of "Kings," I noted the characters didn't have much depth. Smitty rectified this and rounded out the characters' pasts and presents. I absolutely loved "Kings," but -- in this reader's humble opinion - the sequel is infinitely better than the first book. Very highly recommended. You'll have to read both books to enjoy the whole experience.