Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank E.M. Ben Shaul for stopping by today. Please give them a warm welcome.
Title: Flying Without a Net
Author: E.M. Ben Shaul
Publisher: Interlude Press
Cover Artist: C.B. Messer
Genre: Contemporary, Drama, Gay, Gay Fiction, Gay Romance
Release Date: 11/17/2016
Dani Perez, a secular Israeli working as a software engineer in Boston, has never had trouble balancing his faith and his sexuality—until he meets Avi Levine, a gay Orthodox Jew and sign language interpreter. As they fall in love, Dani finds himself wanting Avi in his life, but he can’t understand how Avi reconciles what his religion demands with what his body desires. And although he wants to deny it, neither can Avi.
Despite the risk of losing Avi forever to a religious life that objects to their love, Dani supports him through the struggle to find an answer. Will they be able to start a life together despite religious ideology that conflicts with the relationship they are trying to build?
Maybe a good way to share a little about myself is to talk about my favorite films, because what you watch can say a lot about who you are.
- “The Princess Bride.” It came out when I was in high school, and the combination of adventure and humor just tickled me. It is also amazingly quotable, and lines from the movie frequently pepper my everyday conversations.
- “Star Wars.” The first one (the one we now call Episode 4 but which will always be the first movie for me) came out when I was six, and it had a lot to do with my lifelong love of science fiction and specifically of space opera. My husband and I showed our daughters Episodes 4, 5, and 6 in preparation for seeing “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” last year, and since then our home has apparently become a new stronghold for the Rebel Alliance, if the overwhelming number of Star Wars-related Lego sets is anything to go by.
- “The Court Jester.” Danny Kaye, Glynis Johns, Basil Rathbone, and a very young Angela Lansbury in a medieval romp. I tell people that if they want to understand my sense of humor, this is one of the movies they have to watch.
- “The Truth About Cats and Dogs.” Janeane Garofalo and Uma Thurman star in a modern retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac. Well, modern in the mid-1990s. But it’s still a fun story of female friendship and the support one woman can provide for another wrapped in the format of a romantic comedy.
- “The Frisco Kid.” Gene Wilder plays a Polish rabbi heading to his new pulpit in San Francisco. Harrison Ford plays a bank robber. It’s the 1850s, and the rabbi and the bank robber form an unlikely friendship as they travel together across the west. Again, it’s highly quotable, though the most common one we quote around our home is “Chickie-chickie-chickie! I don’t want to hurt you! I just want to make you kosher!”
- “Sallah.” Made in the 1960s and starring Haim Topol, it is a humorous look at the lives of new immigrants to Israel in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The clash between the new immigrants and the more established Israelis is both interesting and funny, and the interaction between the new immigrants and the Israeli bureaucracy is ridiculous. How the immigrants finally learn to work the system is a perfect cap to the story.
- “Young Frankenstein.” Another Gene Wilder film, this one Mel Brooks’ classic parody of the Boris Karloff “Frankenstein.” This movie is probably best well known for the scene in which Peter Boyle’s monster tap dances and sings “Putting On the Ritz.”
- “Life of Brian.” A pseudo-biblical romp with Monty Python. My favorite Monty Python movie, in fact (though I do love “The Holy Grail” as well).
- “1776.” This is the movie version of the Broadway show about the writing and signing of the Declaration of Independence. It’s like “Hamilton,” except Alexander Hamilton is never mentioned, George Washington is never seen (though his gloomy dispatches are read), and the only wives we see are Martha Jefferson and Abigail Adams. John Adams, however, is still a jerk, though he’s a loveable jerk in this version.
- “The Muppet Movie.” Kermit the Frog travels from the swamp to Hollywood. Along the way, he encounters many of the Muppet characters that we have come to know and love. It’s a wonderful romp of an adventure with fun music that I still find myself singing today
Avi was silent for a moment, and Dani struggled not to fidget on the sofa. “You’re saying all the right things. I like everything you are saying. But… I have to admit to being nervous. I’m putting a lot on the line here.” Dani started to speak, but Avi raised his hand to stop him. “I’m not saying you aren’t doing the same. But you’ve got experience with this that I don’t. I’m a child compared to you when it comes to sexual experience. Forget sex, when it comes to romantic experience. I’ll tell you about my background, but you have to be aware that it will all seem so innocent compared to what you have done. And I know it’s not a competition, but there’s I worry you are going to give up on me when I prove—and I know I will—to not be ready for whatever you want from me.”
“Please don’t sell me short,” Dani said. “Please have more faith in me, have more trust in what we could have together. Trust that I will listen to you, respect your boundaries.” He reached out then, finally giving in and taking Avi’s hand. “I’m going to screw up. I know that. I’m sometimes impulsive, and I’m not always rational about things that are important to me. But if we can talk about things, then we can find a path that suits us both.” Again with the travel metaphors, Dani thought, suppressing the same smile that almost got him in trouble earlier.
“I can try, but that’s the best I can offer,” Avi said. “This is all foreign to me. Not just the intimacy itself—and, yes, I’ll give you the five-minute explanation of my dating history—but the whole concept, virtually.” He adjusted his kippah two or three times, which Dani had come to recognize as a nervous tic, and sighed. “I want to tell you. I really do. I just… I’m just not sure I have the appropriate vocabulary. And part of me is worried you’ll think I’m too much of a lost cause and you’ll want to find someone else. I like you, Dan. A lot. More than might be good for me. But I’m scared, too.”
“I understand, Avi. You and I are still getting to know each other in many ways. I see this conversation, and the ones that I hope will follow it, as yet another way to learn about each other. There’s not going to be a quiz, there isn’t anything you need to memorize, it’s not an intellectual pursuit. It’s about us, about what we want to have together. And that’s all that should matter. Trust me when I say I sympathize that it is scary to change the way you think about yourself, how you see yourself. But also please trust me when I say that if we make this work, it could be wonderful.”
Dani paused, hoping he hadn’t just completely messed up. This whole thing, this relationship, now that he was definitely calling it that, was full of potential pitfalls, and just when he thought he’d navigated the worst of it, it got scarier. But he still felt the same as he had in that first conversation with Dudu about Avi—this could be the best thing that ever happened in his life.
About the Author
E.M. Ben Shaul lives in many communities. An Orthodox Jew and writer of gay fiction, E.M. lives in the simultaneously gay-friendly and Jewish-friendly Boston area with her husband and twin daughters. A technical writer by day and freelance editor by nights and weekends, E.M. likes to knit, cook and coin neologisms. E.M. seeks to explore the seeming conflict between religious teachings and the heart’s desires.
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I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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