$12.00, United States; $17.00, Canada
reviewed by Michael Walker, Oasis Science and Medical Editor
Moving On is the first book dealing with the issues surrounding the termination of a romantic relationship/partnership that has been written exclusively for gay men. This in itself is something of a landmark in the field of gay publishing, because while a great many popular works have been written concerning psychosocial and personal aspects of being gay, few of these have concerned interpersonal relationships in a serious way. Moving On enters an area that book publishers apparently have generally not considered to be a viable market: gay men who are going through the depressing situation of a broken relationship. Fortunately, this book will offer many gay men a consummate resource for information specifically tailored to their needs -- the sort of resource that has been absent for far too long.
That much said, I am very thankful that Dann Hazel has undertaken the commendable task of writing this book, although I do have a few complaints with the way in which it was written. Hazel takes a very personal approach to his subject matter, illustrating nearly every point he makes with an anecdote from his own life or those of his friends. In many ways, this tactic is useful in bringing somewhat abstract concepts into the realm of an actual relationship, but on the other hand, this approach becomes a little chatty in places and sometimes detracts from the information that the author is trying to impart. Some readers may find Hazel's friendly matter to be very welcome, and I must say that in general, I personally prefer writers who remove themselves to a degree from their non-fiction works. Not everyone shares my opinion in this regard, though. One thing that is an indisputable asset of Hazel's personal manner of discussing an intimate subject matter is that his own experiences and lessons learned do truly shine through the text.
I received Moving On as a book to review about three months after I had broken up with someone myself, so that scenario was fresh enough for me to find a deep empathy with much of the material covered in the book. The psychoemotional reality of a break-up can be extremely traumatic: just realizing when you go home at night, that he won't be there too, can be quite devastating. The balance between genuine emotional grief and the everyday reality of having a job or school to deal with is another area that Hazel covers with a lucid grace, being sensitive while also being pragmatic. Hazel, it seems, is overall a realist, someone devoted to seeing the quality of a person's life being as high as possible and therefore someone who is not going to waste time with situations that lead to a less than optimum reality. To this end, Hazel encourages self-respect, an identity separate from the combined identity of the relationship, and learning to live beyond the former confines and patterns of that relationship. Hazel accurately and realistically stresses the difficulty of leaving a relationship --no matter its duration in time-- that was intense and passionate, leaving a person who was not only a lover but truly a companion, and entering a situation of solitude, but possible renewal and furtherance.
As stated before, some of Hazel's comments in Moving On seemed to be too informal, too abundant and repetitive, but admittedly always on target in their disposition and earnest in their direction. I would have taken a different approach to writing this book, sure, but I didn't write it and for the first work of its kind, Dann Hazel has done an extremely astute job of including information that is pertinent to the probable majority of break-ups in gay relationships. Nothing is lacking in content from this book, either: everything from aspects of sexuality to legal matters pertinent to a break-up to what happens to an extended circle of friends shared by two people who no longer love each other are dealt with in depth. Hazel's commitment to producing a comprehensive and useful book --and not just another self-help book wrapped in the trappings of pop psychology-- is admirable. I can recommend this book to any gay man who is going through a break-up or who has suffered the ordeal of one and is still dealing with a great many mixed emotions due to it; this book is varied enough to offer something useful to just about anyone. Moving On seems to have been intended more for older gay men who had been in a long-term relationship, but many of the points that Hazel makes regarding the emotional dynamics of any serious relationship would apply very well to the shorter-term --yet intense-- relationships that many of use in our late teens and twenties tend to experience. I am thankful that this work is out there as a resource for us all.
MICHAEL WALKER is the interim Science and Medicine Editor of Oasis Magazine. He also has published articles and research proceedings in the following journals: Diagnostic Imaging Europe, GayPlace, Translation Journal, CATScan, Acta Medicinia Slavica, ATA Chronicle, Fetishes, and AirMed. He is also a published poet and writer of fiction as well as a photographer and artist. Mike may be reached at: MCWalker@hotmail.com