I absolutely adored Kevin Sampsell's previous book, his amazing memoir "A Common Pornography." It was a mainstay in a bag for years, and I give it as a gift to at least a half-a-dozen writers and friends. Needless to say, I was excited (and nervous -- my expectations were so electric!) for Sampsell's next book. a novel titled "This is Between Us." As it turns out the excitement was completely justified, and the nervousness a total waste!
Echoing the intimacy and honesty of the ultra-brief chapters in "A Common Pornography," "This is Between Us" pulls the reader in by giving us vulnerable and clear-eyed access to an ocean of moments in the five years of a romance. There are moments of quiet lust, lusty confusion, confusing intimacy, intimate comedy, comedic tragedy and tragic silence.
As someone who just left a decade-long relationship, I find down-right miraculous that Sampsell can be so graceful in showing us the spectrum of what it means to be a relationship: the bravado, the romance, the mistakes -- ones you admit to and ones that you hide --the juxtaposition of feeling like you know someone better than anyone else in the world while also realizing you may not know that at all, all the times you watch them silently, the locks you are always trying to pick within the other.
There is a lot of beauty in this book -- a lot of lust and romance -- but Sampsell allows us the gift of seeing beauty even when there doesn't seem to be any: the awkwardness of bumping into an ex's brother in a clothing store, the nervous heat of taking your girlfriend to place you once brought other woman, the parental fear that your leap towards to love might have consequences you can't easily reverse with the kid who didn't ask to brought into this world.
It's addicting, honest and immensely readable book. I highly highly recommend!