I woke up the other night and thought “I need to read more Benjamin Law” – an odd thought for three in the morning. I’ve enjoyed his writing in various papers over the years, and perhaps it’s because I’ve recently been checking my Twitter a lot more and I’ve been enjoying his tweets. When I got up, I hit the library and borrowed The Family Law.
It’s so good. He talks about so much craziness, stressful things and some quite horrible things, but there is clearly so much love for each other that, reading it, you feel like you’ve been let in on the joke.
I hate the title of this book. Perhaps I’m a prude, but I just didn’t want to take this book on the train or tram or whatever just because of the title. Yet, it’s pretty much the perfect title for the book. Benjamin Law went to various parts of Asia and checked out stuff that was happening in the gay communities around the place. Still hate the title.
The first chapter made me wonder if the whole book was going to be about nude gay men having sex in and around pools in gay, clothing optional resorts. Whilst Law looked at the way the sex industry was affecting Balinese culture, it seemed a bit light-hearted. In chapter two, he spends time with the organizers and contestants in one of the world’s only transsexual beauty pagents. Again, it initially seemed a bit light, but then delved below the surface. It was only in chapter three that I began to really get into the rhythm of the writing and the humour, so much so that I re-read the first two chapters when I finished the book and found a lot more depth than had originally struck me.
Benjamin Law was another author that I discovered during the MWF (click here for more) and I am so glad I picked up this book. It is fascinating to learn about other cultures, and the way it is written gives no real judgement or criticism to the culture. Or perhaps I don’t see this because I probably share similar opinions with the author as to what is right and wrong. I suspect that the judgement is not explicit, but rather is in the general attitude of the pieces. As I made my way through the book, I found I couldn’t put it down without finishing the chapter. I needed to see each story through to the end. It was fascinating.