Book review: BiOlogy
by Claire Louisa Thomas
BiOlogy is a book of short stories by Claire Louisa Thomas, all on the subject of people who are attracted to more than one gender. Some of these people identify themselves with the word “bisexual” and some do not – either for personal reasons or because they exist in a time before there was such a word or concept.
A great strength of the book is the wide range of protagonists in the stories – young and old, men and women, soldiers and kids, from historical eras as well as modern ones.
The broad themes of BiOlogy’s stories are more similar: they’re about people struggling with their sexual identify or its implications. Some of these characters are afraid of facing up to their attractions to people of more than one gender, and some of them face contempt, ostracism and even threats to their physical well-being from partners, family, and peers – vividly illustrating why the others might be so worried!
Of course conflict is a necessary part of any good story, so it’s easy to see why the author chose to represent the themes she does, but sometimes we don’t need the help to generalise bisexual life as a string of rejection, despair, and torment.
The best short stories describe a single idea or moment well, and these do; they are clearly the work of an accomplished writer. But because short stories are a snapshot that might be taken out of context, more about the middle than a beginning or end, there is less of the reassuringly normal and unremarkable life that a lot of us, bisexuals or otherwise, have come to know and love. While these tortured young people might well find someone to curl up with on the sofa and watch telly one day, while these boys might stop trying physical violence as their problem-solving technique and these old men living lives of quiet desperation might find peace…. contentment and functional lives are not what makes for good short stories!
Still, reading such things makes me appreciate that I have found the cosy life these people haven’t, and it’s good fun to curl up on the sofa with this book!
You can buy this book from the Amazon kindle shop at: tinyurl.com/3wkmds7