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Cole Parker

Dance of the Wicked Boys

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I was surprised to note there's been no comment here on this story yet. So far, it's another great Free Thinker story, and it really heats up in Chapter 8.

I've always liked the way Free Thinker makes his characters so real, so compelling. That's been true with this one, too. His writing makes you wish you didn't have to wait a couple of days between chapters. You're always left wanting more.

C

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I've been following this story since the first chapter and every time I think I'm ready to discuss it and say how much I like it Free Thinker throws in a new twist and it becomes even better and more complicated. Nice job keeping me on the edge of my seat!

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Thank you very much for the kind words! I appreciate and am grateful for your comments. This story is a bit different from my previous stories, so I hope people enjoy it. I first began working on it a year ago this week.

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And the link is here:

http://www.awesomedude.com/freethinker/dance/index.htm

The first chapter is excellent, and I particularly enjoyed how Free Thinker explained who the lead character was through exposition, done in a clever way that covered his background and appearance in a non-obvious way. Look forward to reading the rest of it!

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And as an update: I want to say that I've read all 9 chapters posted so far, and it's one of the best stories I've read all year. Free Thinker has done a remarkable job on his novel so far, not only plunging the reader into the unfamiliar world of ballet, but also setting a lot of it in the South of the early 1970s. The plot is unusual, stirring, evocative, and goes into some unexpected directions.

If I can offer only one tiny criticism, I think the lead characters -- one 15, one 12 -- are a little too sophisticated and worldly to me, especially for 1970. If they were a little older -- say, 17 and 15 -- I might sorta/kinda believe them more. But Free Thinker's writing is so good, and the dialogue is so snappy and engaging, I'm willing to just buy into it.

Very, very highly recommended. I can't wait to read more.

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One of the things I like is that Rafael is obviously the more sophisticated of the two, which makes sense as his world view has been expanded by his circumstances. Jeremy, from his speech and thoughts, is younger, and is subtly portrayed that way. It's so difficult for a writer to do that: have respect for the ages of the characters instead of making them all sound alike. I think the way that's accomplish in this story, showing two kids of different ages that sound and act in a way to show that difference, is remarkable.

C

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Yes, I agree with that. But still, I had to grin and roll my eyes a little bit at Rafael's sophistication and his familiarity with the elite of NY gay society, circa 1970 (Truman Capote, Andy Warhol, etc.). Those were very interesting.

And I also caught Free Thinker's amusing reference to Dmitri Koronov’s classical ballet "The Ice Prince." (This in-joke will make sense if you're aware of the fictitious characters in FT's previous stories.) Very well-done.

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This is a departure from Freethinkers earlier works. In his past two works, he leaves behind the wonder years settings of the past and takes us to a new world: the world of dance.

It's a world I am completely unfamiliar with and has me doing quite a lot of searching for definitions.

Well done. I'm all for visiting new worlds and I'm having fun with it.

Thanks FT. :cat:

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I am looking forward to when I have the time to read this story.

However it is wonderful see Free Thinker's work being discussed at the level of appreciation in this thread.

I find that very satisfying.

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The Dance of the Wicked Boys is over, complete with curtain call, and it deserves a standing ovation. Three cheers for FreeThinker's tightly wrought, well-controlled dance of redemption and reaffirmation, with its stellar cast of unique characters and with heroes and heroines enough to satisfy all. A wonderfully detailed glimpse of the mysterious world and indefatigable spirit of the danseur noble, and of boys who rose to the challenge.

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Wow, great conclusion. Beautiful job, F.T. -- particularly chapter 14, which I think was the highlight of the entire novel.

I have only one criticism: THE STORY NEEDS TO CONTINUE!

I'd love to hear about the adventures of these two young men in the 1970s -- their ups and downs, their triumphs and their tragedies. There's lots of opportunities for drama in that world, particularly with drugs, disco, and the beginning of AIDS in the 1980s... I can see all kinds of potential story ideas amidst the glitterati of New York in this era.

Terrific tale, well-told, and realistically-done, with lots of genuine romance and emotion. Sincere congrats!

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I have just finished reading the last part... As everyone has said, an absolute triumph.

I know little about the world of dance, or perhaps I knew less than I do now, but... you brought it to life for me as a credible world. I knew of and admired the athleticism and dedication required and I liked the way that was the central theme... these boys, like Billy Elliot are not cissies!

Well done, it shall become a classic. It deserves to be on the bookshelf of every ballet-school

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Just an absolutely great story.

As usual, I waited until the last chapter was posted before I started reading, so I could read it through without waiting for the next chapters. I already sent an email, but I wanted to add to everything that has already been said here, excellent story, excellent characterization, and wonderful writing. As someone who has never had the least interest in ballet you now have me wanting to go and see a performance. Well done.

Thanks

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Thank you so much! I am grateful for the kind words. I have received a number of emails suggesting a sequel and, ordinarily, I don't approve of sequels as they rarely match the original. However, I can see how some feel the story needs to continue to show certain developments later on. I am working on outlining a sequel. Several dancers and others connected to dancing have offered helpful suggestions and I am putting it all together to see if I can do it without it simply being a continuation, but something equal to the first.

I want to thank my editor, who insists on remaining nameless. He has been a friend through all my ups and downs. He made suggestions I didn't want to follow and rebelled against and, in the end, followed-- and he was right. This story would not have been what it is without his help.

I also want to thank Paul and Paco, who put me in touch with a gifted young dancer who trained with the Bolshoi over the summer and gave me invaluable help. To both, a heartfelt thank you!

And, finally, to Dude and the Awesome Dude family for putting up with me and my emotional histrionics and for providing such a wonderful environment and venue for presenting our work. Thank you.

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I can completely understand your feelings about sequels. However, this story does give a lot of story room for more. What happens with their relationship in the new and demanding environment of the school and the city? What challenges do the three year difference in their ages bring, given their differing needs? What about all the temptations and opportunity (good and bad) of living in 70's New York City? What happens when Benji comes to visit? What happens when AIDS begins to rear its ugly head? How does that affect our characters and their behaviour?

So many wonderful possibilities....

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Just the setting in the New York City of the 1970s alone would be amazing in a sequel. If I can offer a suggestion: I would inject some tragedy -- some real pathos and drama -- to offset the "happily ever after" ending. The real-world people of the ballet (in this or any other era) are often very emotional, high-strung people, and I think the sequel should explore those highs and lows. Nijinsky and Rudolf Nureyev are the tip of the iceberg in terms of crazy, destructive people in dance.

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That's assuming a 'happy ever after' end. I can imagine many more unhappy ends for this, if he wanted to go in that direction, than happy ones. It would parallel many a ballet plot, and two boys as different in personality as these two seem almost destined to end up going different ways.

Of course, this is simply another reason to write a sequel. To find out.

C

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As said before, hardly anyone has any idea of what it takes to become a ballet dancer. I love it when a story leads my mind in new directions, entertains and educates in the same breath. I think Free Thinker can be proud of his accomplishment.

As for a sequel, that is his decision alone...if he does it at all. Sometimes is it best to start on something new, go back later, think about the plot possibilities. Not like the characters are going anywhere, they're just on vacation. So many choices, glad I don't have to make them. Thanks, FT.

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Cole and I have had discussions about sequels with each other before - some authors like to finish a story, put it to bed and start work on a new, completely different universe of characters. I, on the other hand, tend to have trouble letting go of characters and enjoy seeing how I can let them develop over time. The whole Naptown Tales series arose because I liked what I accomplished with the first short story that started it all. Some writers do a great job with sequels while others are lousy at it

Free Thinker's writing typically involves the seventies, the very era when I came of age. The term 'gay' was brand new and no one had even heard of retroviruses yet. In many ways it was easier for a teen to be gay, as everyone assumed you were straight, but it was a lot harder to accept being gay and some of us never did.

I agree that this wonderful story about dance would make for a great sequel, but a painful one. We all know what the 1980s did to the world of dance in New York. We aren't talking about losing a few good dancers. Virtually an entire generation of dancers and other artists was devastated. Unless Rafael and Jeremy became strictly monogamous, one or both of them would have died. Even if they both survived, most of their male friends would have succumbed. It wouldn't be a cheery tale.

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Free Thinker's writing typically involves the seventies, the very era when I came of age. The term 'gay' was brand new and no one had even heard of retroviruses yet. In many ways it was easier for a teen to be gay, as everyone assumed you were straight, but it was a lot harder to accept being gay and some of us never did.

Interesting comment. I can remember when the word GAY first showed up on a Time Magazine cover after the Stonewall Riots of June, 1969. I heard the word thrown around in high school, and it made me nervous. It took me a long time to come to terms with it (another 10-12 years), but I eventually accepted it.

I agree that this wonderful story about dance would make for a great sequel, but a painful one. We all know what the 1980s did to the world of dance in New York. We aren't talking about losing a few good dancers. Virtually an entire generation of dancers and other artists was devastated. Unless Rafael and Jeremy became strictly monogamous, one or both of them would have died. Even if they both survived, most of their male friends would have succumbed. It wouldn't be a cheery tale.

There are already a lot of books like that, actually. Quite a bit of the "literary" gay fiction of the 1980s and 1990s deals with serious issues like this, but I think there's a way to straddle the lines between melodrama, sorrow, and happiness. Not everybody who was promiscuous during that era died; Elton John has famously said that he probably had sex with 5000 people in the 1970s and 1980s, and he's felt so guilty at surviving, he founded an AIDS charity and has donated many millions of dollars to the cause. Hollywood exec David Geffen is in that same category, as are a few others.

My take would be that Rafael and Jeremy would survive, but they'd be scarred, older, and sadder-but-wiser people. I could see them break up, experience some heartbreak -- maybe even on different continents -- and maybe get back together years later, when both are a lot more mature, perhaps in the 1990s. It's one thing to have a passionate 3- or 4-year affair when you're a teenager... much harder to maintain it once you hit your 20s. As comedian Chris Rock has famously said: "A man is only as faithful as his options." This is true for everybody, regardless of sexual preference.

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