The Time He Desires, by Kyell Gold – book review by Fred Patten.
by Patch O'Furr
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
The Time He Desires, by Kyell Gold. Illustrated by Kamui.
Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, December 2016, trade paperback $9.95 (113 pages), Kindle $7.99.
Kyell Gold’s novella The Time He Desires and novel Love Match have been written simultaneously, so neither one is a spinoff of the other. Aziz Alhazhari, the cheetah protagonist in The Time He Desires, is the father of Marquize Alhazhari, the protagonist’s best friend in Love Match.
Both are set in Gold’s anthropomorphic Forester University universe. Aziz is a 45-year-old Muslim from the nation of Madiyah who immigrated to the Union of the States with his wife Halifa and his young son Marquize two decades ago. He settled in Upper Devos (read: Brooklyn), bought a pawnshop that grows to a chain of four pawnshops, joined a mosque, became active in the community, and has been living more-or-less happily ever after.
Now he is confronted with a major cultural change combined with a midlife crisis. His son, now a teenager, has declared his homosexuality and walked out. He and his wife have been drifting apart; they are still friends but are no longer in love, and have developed separate interests. Aziz is interested in his pawnshops and his mosque – he goes there for evening prayers every day – while Halifa has gotten active in local charities.
Most importantly, and what brings the crisis to the present, is that the Vorvarts group, a huge developer, has been moving into the community. Vorvarts had previously bought two whole blocks for an Upper Devos Homeporium super-mall, “a six-story blue glass and chrome monster” that clashes with the old brownstone apartment buildings and small shops of the neighborhood. Vorvarts had to get approval from the Upper Devos Business Council, the local homeowners’ association, which had been easy. Vorvarts had promised that the fancy Homeporium would bring lots of new shoppers and trade to the community.
“But that had been five years ago, and as it happened, the people […] who’d been forced to find somewhere else to live when their buildings had been bought, they had been part of the neighborhood not easily replaced. The people who lived and shopped at the Homeporium generally stayed there, not venturing outside to quaint old Upper Devos, and when they did come into the pawnshop, distinctive in their clean, crisply cut clothes, they gawked about with the air of tourists visiting a historical monument. Aziz’s business had fallen off; few of those people were hard up enough to have to pawn their possessions, or interested in buying someone else’s memories.” (p. 1)
Now Vorvarts wants to expand into the blocks where the remaining Business Council lives and has their shops. Vorvarts is offering a generous price, but the destruction of the neighborhood would mean the end of the community. Aziz wants to stay, and so does Tanska, a Siberian tigress who has a small bakery, but he feels that it’s a losing battle.
“He looked back into her [Tanska’s] eyes. ‘I want us to stay,’ he said. ‘But I can’t see any way to make anyone else stay. We spent thousands of dollars researching the community laws to see if we had legal grounds to prevent it. Fighting it in court would take hundreds of thousands, more than you and I have, and if we did that it would destroy the community anyway; the rest of the Association would hate us for delaying their payments.’” (p. 22)
Aziz’s best friend Doug, an elderly Prevost’s squirrel who runs a bookshop, is ready to take Vorvart’s money and retire to the sunny beaches of Coronado on the other coast of the States. Aziz’s wife is also ready to sell out and move. She can find charities to become active in anywhere.
“‘You know that the smart business decision is to sell. The money we would make by staying open in this location for another year or two, as people move out, would not come close to the price they’ve offered us.’” (p. 24)
Their disagreement, although peaceful, brings their marriage to its end.
But this looming decision, while important, is not the major plot of The Time He Desires. A frantic red fox, Benjamin Tonnen, comes into Aziz’s pawnshop looking for a video camera that his husband Gerald DeRoot, a cougar, pawned a year ago with their honeymoon film still in it. Aziz is polite, finds the camera, and sells it back to Tonnen. But this gets him thinking about homosexuality; the States’ changing social attitudes towards it, Islam’s teachings about it, how it took their son from them, and what Halifa really thinks about it (as opposed to agreeing with her husband like a good Muslim wife). Aziz wonders why Tonnen’s cougar husband sold the video and their honeymoon footage if their gay marriage is still secure, so he finds DeRoot and hesitantly asks him. What he learns from Gerald, and how he and Gerald – a homosexual, who is supposed to be shunned by Muslims (but Muslims are also supposed to abstain from alcohol, and most Muslims, especially those in the States, don’t worry about that restriction) – come to feel about each other, helps Aziz to make his decision about how to react to the changing community.
The Time He Desires (cover and five full-page illustrations by Kamui) is another high-quality story by Kyell Gold. It differs from his others by looking at homosexuality from a Muslim rather than a Christian attitude. There is an “About This Book and Islam” afterword for those who want to learn more.
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