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on 11 March 1999
This book is short is one of the best works of gay-oriented fiction I have ever read. The book has a varied and fascinating cast of characters, in addition to being very sexy and romantic. Neil Bartlett has an incredible power of capturing the beauty of the English Language. 'Ready To Catch Him Should He Fall' was definately a page turner for me. I was somewhat disappointed with 'The House on Brooke Street', however.
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on 16 December 1998
Gay sex lacks paradigms - it lacks EXAMPLES. You might not want to get involved in the whole "bottom" or "top" scene, but that doesn't mean that you want to have sex as an "equal". In fact I can't think of anything worse than two people undertaking a responsible and calmly thought out reasonable act of sex, or sexual relationship. WHAT WOULD BE THE POINT?! It would be like junk food. Neil Bartlett provides an archetype for a new kind of relationship - a deconstructed relationship with power relationships and contradictions, but THANK GOD, no compromises. This book is astonishing in that it draws you into a plot that is moving, but more importantly into a relationship that is fundamental, new, exciting, transgressive and yet equal (in its own way). In no way is this a trashily sentimental or sexy book. Nor is it at times an easy book to read. But christ bounce on me, it's a bloody brilliant one...
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on 24 March 2013
Possibly the finest book I have ever encountered. I spent the majority of it sobbing or on the verge of tears just by the beauty of it and the strength of Bartlett's writing and characters.
I've even bought many extra copies to give to friends so they can share in the amazing experience.
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on 14 November 2009
This book made an instant impression on me. I read it in a night; it's and one of the most lush, romantic, beautifully written novels I have read.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 February 2011
Our nameless narrator tells of the arrival at The Bar, a discreet establishment with an exclusively gay clientele, of a young nineteen year old incredibly handsome fair skinned lad who they called The Boy, and his subsequent courtship and marriage with the equally handsome older man, know simply as O. The whole affair lovingly watched over, and almost managed by, Madame or Mother, the flamboyant proprietress of The Bar.

Beautifully written, steeped in atmosphere and rich in detail, but often deviating considerably from the main subject, Ready to Catch Him Should He Fall is a tender and moving love story. It also paints a vivid picture of the unspecified (but hinted at) time in which it is set, a time when in London gays were oppressed and regularly the victims of street attacks.
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on 3 August 2014
For two decades I've heard various folk saying what a wonderful novel this is and so I've read it in order to be impressed, to be rewarded. But all it is is a very very long-winded morality tale. There are only three significant dramatic events in the entire 300 pages! And two of these prove to be deliberately un-dramatic anti-climaxes, meant simply to reinforce the simple love story.

The tale is as follows: two extraordinarily handsome men meet, they have a sadomasochistic relationship which you are led to sense may go badly wrong, they continue to frequent the bar run by "Madame", then against a backdrop of homophobic attacks in the city Madam in an unusual act of love and charity brings the two men together and eventually "marries" them in a sort of ceremony which she devises upon the stage in her bar. All along fatherly letters have been arriving for one of the two men from an off-stage person called "Father", but shortly after the "marriage" his condition deteriorates such that he is brought into the two men's household and they care with great dedication for him not only as a dying invalid but as if he were their own baby. After he dies, the two men are accosted by homophobic attackers in a street one evening but the love of one of the two men for the other is so powerful that his verbal rage alone sends the homophobes fleeing. And then these two extraordinarily handsome men wander the city hand in hand like fearless conquerors till the early hours of the morning, apparently unchallenged by a single person, even when they dance arm in arm in some place where heterosexual couples are dancing in public.

And that's it. A tale that shows that S&M lovers and the habitues of a rather colourful gay bar can be deeply loving persons.

Perhaps this message seemed bold and remarkable when it was published back in the 1990s but even if I had read it then I think I would have found it rather overblown. It's elegiac, and it's somewhat daring, but it's dreadfully lacking in plot. Endless elegiac repetition cannot make up for lack of action.

I could give this book the three Amazon stars which indicate "It's OK", but I'm afraid the excessive, repetitious, and pointless wordiness of this novel inclines me more towards giving it the two stars which in Amazon's review system mean that, despite the novel's worthy message, overall "I don't like it".
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on 8 October 2008
I read this book when it first came out and I must have enjoyed it because I've kept a copy for all these years but when I picked it up off the shelf to re-read I had absolutely no memory of it- usually a book stays somewhere in the subconscious but as I began it I thought I'd never read it before. Until, that is, Bartlett's hypnotic prose began to draw me in once again. The plot is a simple love story- Boy meets Older Man so nothing there was memorable enough to stay with me over the years but Bartlett's style is exquisite- it's a mixture of kitchen sink drama, fairy tale, gay coming of age story, myth and great tragedy yet it ends up being none of these. Enigmatic is probably the word for it but that makes it sound inaccessible which it isn't. At times it is a book of extraordinary power and beautiful writing, in places it is a little frustrating and borders on being pointless but it is certainly worth reading even if time hasn't led it to be the "classic" it promised to be when it was first published. I'm putting it back on my book shelf to re-discover in another fifteen or so years.
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on 2 April 2001
This is without doubt the most dis-jointed, pretentious and self-indulgent drivel that I have ever had the misfortune to encounter. I realised by the time I reached the end of the first chapter that it was going to be hard going, but I forced myself to continue in the hope that it would improve. It did not! None of the characters had any substance, and it progressively got worse until it reached its dismal non-conclusion.
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on 9 November 2012
Simply wonderful and fascinating; A 'cant put it down' book. The writing is subtle and wonderfully creative. Really this book!
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