How do we define love? Can it transcend the matter of age, of gender? Can it transcend time? Can soul mates be brought together in every lifetime, if indeed we all live multiple lives? Do soul mates really exist at all?
These are some of the world’s biggest questions, and author Joseph Dispenza pursues them boldly in his progressive memoir, Older Man/Younger Man, which tells the story of his life with his partner, Mike, a man thirty years his junior. Joseph, who spent eight years of his life after high school in a monastery, was in the throes of great self-confusion when he met Mike; he knew only that he wanted to serve others, and finally achieve a healthy, committed relationship for himself. Feeling at once hopeful, nervous, spiritual, lost, and determined, his narrative is one that any reader can relate to, regardless of age, gender, sexuality, or spirituality. In the book he documents the beginnings of his relationship with Mike, through their decade-long courtship and the many trials and triumphs in between: from numerous medical scares, including the dark cloud of cancer, to the ups and downs of making an inter-generational, same-sex relationship work, and even the struggles of uprooting oneself for the purpose of starting over. As Joseph and Mike move from Santa Fe to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, their lives and love continue to evolve, bringing about new challenges and new rewards alike as they work to create LifePath, a retreat center for spiritual and physical healing.
Joseph’s reflection on the struggles of a relationship hindered so strongly by convention are rendered into vivid life through his unique approach to writing Older Man/Younger Man. His narrative takes on a present-tense dialogue, following his recent cancer scare and continued relationship, and weaves it within flashbacks to his first meetings and budding relationship with Mike, offering a depiction of his life from multiple angles. He also reflects back further, to his childhood and the young adult years he spent as a monk, which make the book feel as much a journey of self-realization as it is a love letter to his life’s partner. A third element woven between is the collection of poetic asides that serve as direct verses meant for Mike, written in a prose that feels beautifully archaic as it explores the concept of love through multiple lives, a romantic notion that results in deeply personal expression. This is, in all, a brave work not just in the context of the unconventionalities of the relationship, but in the selflessly honest voice with which Joseph welcomes the reader into the most personal part of himself. I was moved and endeared to the author by his courage in documenting what is surely the most intimate part of anyone’s life: one’s spirituality, sexuality, the acceptance and beauty of age, and the determined pursuit of happiness. When you take away all the layers, these are the most relatable, most human elements we have to share, and in such a way the most private. With Older Man/Younger Man, Joseph puts forward these private, utterly human parts of himself in order to share his story and inspire his readers to let the magic of love open their minds as well as their hearts.
Title: Older Man Younger Man: A Love Story
Author: Joseph Dispenza
Release date: August 30, 2011
Provided by: Joseph Dispenza (C/O)
Buy the book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Better World Books
Connect with the author: Website/blog | Twitter | Facebook