Illumination

Illumination

Rowan Speedwell

How does a gay agoraphobic fine artist find love? In the pantheon of opposites attract romances, how artist Miles Caldwell and rock sensation Adam Craig of Black Varen, the band of the moment, meet and fall in love might be one of the most stirring.

After his parents die in a car crash from which he managed to walk away alive although battered, Miles Caldwell hasn’t been able to leave the vacation resort property his parents owned and ran. More out of boredom than because he needs to, Miles, once a fine artist now creates illuminated manuscript pages using the techniques of the medieval monks and sells them online.

After a night performing and then partying, Adam Craig, whose real last name is Karoshewski, decides to have a cab drive him out of Chicago as he attempts to figure out what’s wrong with him and his life. Seeing a sign to the lake resort where he and his family used to vacation, he has the cab drop him off.

Wandering around, reliving the past, he ends up passed out on the patio chairs of Miles’ deck where Miles finds him the next morning. They find an initial connection in their shared memories of summers past when they knew each other as boys. And as two artists, they connect on an aesthetic level also.

But how can two so different people find a happily ever after since Adam’s job is to perform in front of millions of people while Miles’ debilitating fear of leaving the resort makes him physically ill?

Adam, for all his posturing and self-aggrandizement, is only interested in creating music. He’s a decent guy who’s lost in the trappings of his profession and can’t find a way out. He definitely needs someone like Miles to pull him back from the funhouse mirror of fame and ground him in what’s important. He’s the rich lost boy we all like but pity.

Miles, on the other hand, is a fighter, someone we admire for his grit in the face of adversity. He fights his agoraphobia and has had many psychologists, none of whom have helped him. Until Adam shows up on his deck, he’s nearly given up hope of finding a real life even though he has his manuscripts and a sex partner in a friend’s boyfriend. Of the two, he’s the more pitiable, but the more likeable.

Fortunately, Miles has a support group in his good friend, his friend’s boyfriend, and his sister, all of whom upon meeting Adam, try to help Miles find happiness. Adam, too, is surrounded by friends and, in his case, enemies, all of whom try to move him into their ideas of the perfect life. Except for Miles’ friend and his boyfriend, all the peripheral characters are drawn from life and are the people we all know.

This is a strange story since it envelops two distinct worlds. However, Speedwell not only convinces readers that these two men have found the love of their lives but also convincingly illustrates how they can actually make their lives mesh in the real world.