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{Pink tape covering his mouth} Hostage
By R.D. Zimmerman
Published by Delta Books (Fiction)
277 pages, $15
Review by Michael Cottrell


"Hypnotic... mesmerizing... a tough, uncompromising novel." -- Minneapolis Star Tribune
"A wonderul read... an intense, spirited page-turner." -- Southern Voice
"Pulses with suspense." -- Chicago Sun

OK I want to know, and I want to know right now, who the hell reviewed this book? Did the above newspapers actually have critics read Zimmerman's "Hostage"?

Sitting on my computer desk is a scratched, bashed, ripped, tattered copy of "Hostage". The book has been bouncing around in my pack sack for months, begging to be finished.

"Hostage" was published in 1997. One in the series of novels about the gay Todd Mills, TV reporter ("Closet", and just released "Outburst"). This book's predominant theme: its characters kidnap a right wing American congressman and threaten to infect him with HIV-tainted blood. AIDS is a dominant character.

That is where the book begins, that is where the book ends... yawn.

Now I have to say, that having held a lover in the washroom as every ounce of body tissue and fluid seemed to drain into the sewers, I am not so keen on reading Zimmerman's writing where he describes at great length Tina wasting away in the toilet. Especially when the death seems so contrived to the storyline.

Throughout the book, I got the feeling that the writer wanted to show me his technical knowledge. It became a perverse sense of "name-dropping" -- instead of see who I know, it was see what I know about AIDS-related diseases.

Like any name-dropping, it is always done at the most inappropriate times, and left this reader unimpressed and distracted. Zimmerman's insistence on sharing his knowledge sabotages his novel.

Characters and storylines fail to flow together because just as the reader gets moving with the story, the author throws it off again, and again, with irrelevant information. The authors's medical perspective on AIDS creates a time lock.

"Hostage" becomes a captive to its own theme.

Facts do not create pictures.

Literature is the art of words, strung and blended together to create an image.

Zimmerman's Hostage is limited in the vocabulary.

The plots, being herky-jerky (now isn't that a description), give underdeveloped images.

Literature... art, has to give us textures and hues, depths and energies. Art has to touch the senses. Good art touches one deeply.

"Hostage" fails at the shallowest level.

I finished the book, I finally finished the book, and like a freed hostage, I question what went on and who the hell reviewed this novel.




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