Very Conservative Christians

Last night I had the opportunity to talk to a book club whose members had read I, too, Have Suffered in the Garden.

Every book club has its own dynamic, and I’m always curious to see how readers will respond to what I’ve written. This particular group was really stuck on Adam’s infidelity. We’re very conservative Christians, one woman said, which might have made me jump to the conclusion that their issue would be Adam’s sexual orientation. But that wasn’t the case. They didn’t like the betrayal of the commitment Adam had made to Joel; some of them, in fact, seemed downright angry. Though they eventually understood Adam’s motivation, his affair made them like him a little less.

Maybe even a lot less.

I get it. Adam’s behavior, especially when viewed outside of the context of his relationship with Bobby–his former lover who died of AIDS when Adam was twenty-five–seems pretty appalling.

Of course, we only see Adam’s perspective. That’s what happens when something is written in first-person. In I, too, Have Suffered in the Garden, you’re in Adam’s head. And along with his viewpoint come his baggage and biases.There’s not a lot of space for anything else.

In The Crossing, coming to you later this summer, you’ll be able to get inside Joel’s head.

Of course, Joel has his own issues, his own baggage. He makes his own terrible decisions. You may be totally annoyed at times by his inertia, or his self-destructive tendencies.

At the same time, everything will start to click: Adam’s relationship with Joel, Joel’s relationship with James, James’s relationship with Adam. They’re all so intertwined, and it’s messy and complicated and actually kind of rich.

Like monogamy. And infidelity.

There’s a reason why those words were triggers last night.

I want to suss that out. Care to join me?

Start by reading I, too, Have Suffered in the Garden, if you haven’t already. (Click here to purchase.)

Then join me on my author page on Facebook. Or ask your book club to read my book. I’ll chat with you in person, or Skype myself in.

Let’s talk about this together. There’s so much we can discover.

p.s. Want to get a jump-start? Tell me in the comments below what you thought of Adam’s affair.

Copyright © 2013 Jennifer Hritz All Rights Reserved


Very Conservative Christians — 6 Comments

  1. Gut reaction, it sucks, he’s an idiot but understanding more about his character…he finds himself locked between two pasts and the present…Bobby, Joel then and Joel now. My question is, why are gay relationships often presented this way in print, very lacking in monogamy? Is that reality? Is that also the norm in the hetero world just kept quieter?

    • These are great questions.

      Is infidelity more prominent in fiction that portrays gay characters? I’m not sure I can answer that, though it would make for some seriously curious research.

      As far as whether or not art is imitating life in this instance, I don’t know. I keep thinking about Joel’s comment in The Crossing (due out later this year), when James (who’s straight) admits that he’s jealous of how often Joel seems to get laid. Joel groans, not wanting James to make generalizations about gay men and promiscuity. I hesitate to make the same generalizations.

      My guess about heterosexual couples? There’s a lot more infidelity going on out there than anyone wants to admit.

  2. So interesting to me, because even though I may have occasionally thought, “Oh, you idiot, what are you *doing*?” I didn’t really feel affronted or upset by his betrayal of Joel. More, I felt empathy for the way we get lost when we are confronted with our unprocessed past…. it seems that we betray ourselves most of all. There’s the rich contrast of Joel, eating well, exercising, doing what he needs to do to maintain his equilibrium…. and Adam, who just can’t seem to get his feet under him, and does all the stupid and counter-productive things there are to do, taking any avenue of escape that presents itself. Fidelity/infidelity… it’s funny how the first word makes me think of clear sound, true to itself, but the second always seems to be about being untrue to another. I think that must almost always mean being untrue to oneself as well.

    • I love that last line, about being untrue to oneself.

      The “unprocessed past”–I like that, too. Makes for some awfully rich story, doesn’t it? And yes, the juxtaposition of Joel doing what he can to maintain sanity and Adam self-sabotaging at every turn really speaks to me. I appreciate this new perspective you’ve offered, that in trying to lose himself in infidelity Adam betrays not only Joel, but himself.

      I’m very interested in the ways the past continues to haunt us, and you’ll see that in The Crossing, where Joel’s the one refusing to process his past.

      Really great comment! Thank you.

  3. I felt the same way but I wasn’t surprised. It is such a subconscious self-defeating behavior… get hurt, avoid real commitment by doing something so bad, you can’t redeem yourself. That destructive behavior happens all the time in all relationships. And really Adam seemed to know very well what he was doing, what he was risking, but his self-pity and fear of the real danger of commitment didn’t help.

    • Oh, I especially like this part of your comment, about behaving so badly you simply can’t redeem yourself. There’s such cowardice there, and also such desperation. In The Crossing there’s a moment–between Joel and Adam, actually–where Joel absolutely can’t face the commitment Adam offers him. The way he escapes: “I say the one thing I know will render me unforgivable.”

      Thanks for commenting!

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