Talker by Amy Lane
Tate "Talker" Walker has spent most of his life hiding his scars under a bright punk facade, and until he sat next to Brian Cooper on a bus, it worked. But Brian has spent his whole life being the invisible man, and he’s used to looking below the surface. What he sees in Talker is a fragile and lovable human being.
Brian is outwardly straight, but Talker is desperate for love, and when Talker’s behavior leads to some painful consequences, Brian is forced to come out of his closet—in dramatic fashion. He’ll do anything to make sure Talker sees that he’s the Prince Charming Talker has always needed.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Coming late after many have read this one so there’s little I can add that hasn’t already been said. It’s typically well written like Lane is fast becoming known for and the subject matter is honest, affecting, and moving. The characters have so much texture and depth that they are really quite fascinating even though not much happens over the course of the story. It’s a character driven piece about accepting love and growing from pain. If there’s any fault it’s that I wish the story had been fleshed out into a full sized novel. Lane knows how to develop emotion and intensity and this is the perfect setting for such an engrossing novel. As a novella, I found Talker to be thoroughly entertaining, engaging, and I didn’t want it to end.
Talker is told from Brian’s third person perspective and develops two very different, but needy young men. Brian is an orphan that grew up homeschooled with an eccentric but loving aunt. He’s desperately lonely and needs someone to love and call his own. Brian is constantly described as simple, though that’s an oversimplification. Brian is content with uncomplicated needs and desires. He takes longer to process things, needs more time to think things through, and thus he’s often quiet and rarely talks. He’s not stupid, though he’s portrayed as not the brightest. He’s a caretaker and incredibly loving. What I loved most about Brian is that he’s an incredible partner; caring, nurturing, solid, dependable, and not someone you’d ever worry about cheating or lying. He may not be the flashiest but he’s the rock of the relationship.
Brian is well contrasted with the jittery, twitchy, desperately vulnerable Tate. Tate was burned in a fire as a small child and thus covers the burns and graphs with tattoos. He tries to hide his own needy and fragile nature. Since the story is told from Brian’s point of view, Tate is always fragile, vulnerable, and transparent. Brian sees through Tate, also called Talker since he talks all the time, and so the reader is given Brian’s insight; a perspective rarely seen by others. Tate is depicted as desperately lonely and needy as well so he and Brian just fit together. Brian is the caretaker while Tate is the dreamer.
The story is told with numerous flashbacks since the two met to how they fell in love. I didn’t mind this though again I would have preferred a fully fleshed out, more linear novel. There is so much left out that could give added intensity and depth. Brian’s own journey to accepting his sexuality is rather easy, though he has the most trouble with getting Tate to see Brian’s love is more than just friendship. There are a number of great scenes – such as Brian’s girlfriend Virginia and her help, memories of the Christmas tree, the blanket mention – that feel cheated in their simplicity. Mentioned and glossed over when I wanted to know more and see more of the characters and situation.
Wanting more is not a negative in this case so it didn’t work against the story for me. I think it stands easily as a well written, entertaining, and absorbing story that had enormous potential to be something more. It could have been great but I think it’s pretty good the way it is and this is a couple I really hope we see more of. It’d be rather sad if we never saw more of their journey.
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