Delicate Men is a subtle collection of stories focused on what it is to be a man and all the narratives and trials and tribulations that this entails. Walking the line between the sensitive and the harsh in these men's lives and hearts, R. Dean Johnson has managed to create a collection for the ages.
Commonly, society expects women to be the nurturers bearing the heavy burden of emotional support where as men are the hunters/providers who are exempt from showing much in the way of emotion. They are strong and expected to just know their way to adult hood. Delicate Men uses Zach, Jim, Collin, Garret and others who are in the process of growing into manhood and who are still very fresh and inexperienced.
R. Dean Johnson demonstrates through a series of stories the mine fields of emotion, sensitivity and hardening of one’s heart that men must maneuver. The relationships between male and female, male and male, mentee and mentor are explored and reveal growth, vulnerabilities and doubts. Males having to meet and accept the roles thrust upon them by society; it is a long rocky road full of pitfalls and rituals that in the end make them stronger, smarter … make them men.
Garret is caught between being popular and standing up for his friend Jamie. Jim struggles with his new-found love while backpacking across Europe and fulfilling her meth dependency. Both struggle with relationships, how others will view them and ultimately becoming a man – the steps that follow in their lives. Each story reveals more and more about men and their doubts, vulnerability.
Johnson’s short stories are poignant and telling. Well written and haunting. The feelings, doubts and experiences shared feel true and are written with confidence leaving no room for confusion. The characters and their experiences are clear and communicate what needs to be known in a clear manner. The stories are subtle but highly effective.
Scott Leslie, the narrator, did an excellent job of reading the stories. Talented, he portrayed the uncertainty and subsequent growth of each character through his voice pattern, pitch and emotion. Leslie’s voice adds to the story giving it more depth and range. Soft spoken, concise and yet boyishly charming.
This audiobook was not what I expected at all. It is so much more! This is a book that should be required reading. Raising a son and a grandson, I had no clue the difficulties young men faced with reaching adult hood. I have fallen into the myths society has supported for eons. Young men walk a fine line between being sensitive and being a man who is smart and strong and that people will respect.
The audio production of this book was fine, there was a little bit of white noise in between stories and at least once or twice where sentences were repeated. Otherwise it was well done.
Audiobook was provided for review by the publisher.
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