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You are here: Home > Forum > A Place of Safety > Literary Merit > Mark Behr - Author of 'Smell of Apples' and 'Embrace'
Mark Behr - Author of 'Smell of Apples' and 'Embrace'  [message #70896] Fri, 22 January 2016 09:42 Go to next message
Ian John Copeland is currently offline  Ian John Copeland   United States

Toe is in the water
Location: South East
Registered: December 2012
Messages: 33



Sadly Mark has died (at the tender age of 52), he wrote two schoolboy romance novels, Embrace is his masterwork but Smell of Apples, his first novel, is also well worth the read.

Mark's novels describe life growing up young and gay (or possibly bisexual) in South Africa in the dying days of the Apartheid regime, as someone who was born in Arusha Tanzania of mixed Irish-Afrikaans ancestry, Mark was conflicted in his loyalties, something that came to a head at Stellenbosch University where he ended up spying on his fellow students for the regime. That episode left him pondering his true identity, something that comes over in all his books.

In Embrace, Mark describes his affair with a school teacher and with a fellow pupil at the exclusive Drakkensberg Choir School.  It was the school he went to as a boy, and a small school it is, with just 120 pupils, so to use the school, not re-identified was a brave move, especially since there are photos of him at the school.  There is nothing to say that what he wrote was all fiction, but it is certainly intriguing!

I have written a little bit about him on my blog (see link below), do pop in and take a look, I have put Mark in with other authors like Edmund Marlowe, Henry de Monthelant and Roger Peyrefitte all authors of the schoolboy romance genre.

Ian

[Updated on: Fri, 22 January 2016 09:46]




Visit my Blog: http://thepaintheagony.blogspot.co.uk/
Re: Mark Behr - Author of 'Smell of Apples' and 'Embrace'  [message #70897 is a reply to message #70896] Fri, 22 January 2016 10:22 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy   United Kingdom

Has no life at all
Location: UK, in Devon
Registered: February 2003
Messages: 13454



I had not heard of him before.



Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Re: Mark Behr - Author of 'Smell of Apples' and 'Embrace'  [message #70913 is a reply to message #70897] Sat, 23 January 2016 09:57 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Ian John Copeland is currently offline  Ian John Copeland   United Kingdom

Toe is in the water
Location: South East
Registered: December 2012
Messages: 33



I would encourage anyone who has not read Embrace to read it, it is a mammoth 700 page tome but the book takes you right inside the head of a boy growing from 3 to 14, the bits of the book where he is at 'The Berg' (the nickname of the school) is a well presented look at a complex boy who is coming to terms with a doomed relationship with his choir master and a relationship he feels he has to end with one of his mates who is as openly gat as he could be in South Africa in the 1970s.

Unusually, although I view the genre of 'schoolboy' romance as mostly one of tragedy and loss, Embrace ends on an almost upbeat note as the central character accepts the situation even though the usual terrible things have happened. In this respect, the melodramatic endings, so common in this genre have been avoided.

And there is a postscript too!

Ian




Visit my Blog: http://thepaintheagony.blogspot.co.uk/
Re: Mark Behr - Author of 'Smell of Apples' and 'Embrace'  [message #70914 is a reply to message #70896] Sat, 23 January 2016 10:23 Go to previous messageGo to next message
solsticeman is currently offline  solsticeman   United Kingdom

Likes it here

Registered: November 2012
Messages: 105



That a story of novel length has been set in the Drakensberg Choir School is a delightful discovery... if a little too late to be able to tell the author that he has another fan.

The Drakensberg Choir School, or Drakies, is one of the great boys choirs outside Europe. The school is multicultural and that is reflected in their repertoire, a mix of English, Dutch (Afrikaans) and Zulu music and western songs sung with an African rhythm and enthusiasm, a Zulu impi's dance.

Here is a link to a playlist of their more recent work.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZdE95DJJVY

Re: Mark Behr - Author of 'Smell of Apples' and 'Embrace'  [message #70927 is a reply to message #70914] Sun, 24 January 2016 08:29 Go to previous message
JaredDreamer is currently offline  JaredDreamer   

Getting started

Registered: January 2016
Messages: 5



Oh my God. I actually cried when I read this. I had no idea. "Embrace" was one of the most beautiful books I have read about man-boy love in my entire life. I have quoted it to fellow boylovers since it came out. I can't even tell you how many times I have used the word "starfish" in my own stories. (A Mark Behr invention, as far as I know). About four years ago, when my husband and I adopted kids, I donated my very extensive library of gay-themed books to a local high school's gay-straight student alliance, and they were overjoyed to have them. I gave them over 300 books. Not because I disliked or was embarassed by those books, but well, I don't need my 9-year-old necessarily wondering why Dad has 300 books about boys diddling other boys. Anyway, I gave away all but a half dozen of those books. I kept "For a Lost Soldier." I kept "A Boy's Own Story." I kept "Becoming a Man." And I kept both "Embrace" and "The Smell of Apples." Too beautiful to part with. I've never read a more beautiful story about M/b love, more sensitively done, than "Embrace."
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