My thoughts on your book The Strange Haunting of Johnny Feedlwater:
“The Strange Haunting of Johnny Feelwater”. Hmmm, how do I describe how this book entered my being and affected me? I sincerely believe that any given book may affect you in ways which the author never expected or intended. For me, “Rebecca” by Daphne duMaurier and “Chesapeake” by James Michener did it. And now Johnny Feelwater has joined the pantheon of life altering characters for me.
When I stopped being an anal retentive, married idiot in the early 1990’s the so called mens movement was alive and well. I devoured all the Joseph Campbell and Robert Blye I could get my hands on. Then I realized that all their allegories and metaphors didn’t mean jack shit to me. I’m way too literal for their style of writing.
Then this man named Martin Brant started writing. And I started reading his work. As a gay man I immediately started questioning whether Brant is straight, bi or gay. My gaydar just wasn’t kicking in on this, it was buzzing but not strongly. I was well into the second book when I decided the answer to that question was immaterial since he covers all three orientations with magnificent and intelligent insight. Who cares how he gets his rocks off? My concern is that he continues writing because he has a great deal to say which transcends anything Campbell or Blye wrote for me. And he gracefully bridges the chasm between being intelligent and being intellectual without talking down to his audience.
Johnny Feelwater. Who is this man? He is an amazingly grounded man who – gee, what a surprise – starts questioning himself as a man, as a husband, as a lover, and as an African American. I make no pretense to identifying with the last fact, to do so would be the height of hubris as I am lily white and have no reference points on that issue. However, I can relate in all other ways. And the way he unravels what is happening in his life, and the way in which he interprets and adapts to what is happening – well, wow, does it resonate! I mean, really. Here is a man who runs away from his problems by giving his wife some cock-and-bull story about seeing someone in the depths of Africa. Does he act like your typical shallow male, letting his little head think for the big one? Does he attempt to believe the crap he just sold to Marilee? No, he takes the new round of adversities, compares them to his problems back in Georgia, USA, and, whoa, HE LEARNS something about life and about himself which alters his life irrevocably.
And he does it without allegory, without metaphor! And he gave me an understanding of men, of myself, and of my world which amounted to a series of “ah ha” moments.
Like I said, he is a grounded man. He does things somewhat pragmatically. He thinks things through without romanticizing the issues. He confronts his demons as best he can and accepts that in some respects he never will be able to do that.
Martin Brant: thank you! And if you ever suspect you’ve lost your Muse, let me know. I will hunt him/her/it down, hog tie it, bitch slap it, and return it to you.
$2.99 on Kindle and Nook