Read The Coming Storm by Paul Russell Online


Set against the backdrop of a traditional boys' school in upstate New York, The Coming Storm is a delicately and brilliantly rendered tale that reveals the most closely held secrets of the human heart. Russell's award-winning novel is the story of four interlocking lives - Louis Tremper, the headmaster at the Forge School; his wife Claire; Tracey Parker, a 25-year old gaySet against the backdrop of a traditional boys' school in upstate New York, The Coming Storm is a delicately and brilliantly rendered tale that reveals the most closely held secrets of the human heart. Russell's award-winning novel is the story of four interlocking lives - Louis Tremper, the headmaster at the Forge School; his wife Claire; Tracey Parker, a 25-year old gay man and recently hired teacher at the Forge School; and Noah Lathrop III, a troubled student; all of whom struggle with their own inner demons, desires, and conflicted loyalties. When Tracey and Noah become involved in an illicit relationship, dark incidents from the school's past begin colliding with the current growing confusion that all of them must face. Compelling and poignant, this is the finest work yet from one of the best contemporary American novelists....

Title : The Coming Storm
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780312263034
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 384 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Coming Storm Reviews

  • mark monday
    2019-02-19 07:30

    interesting, rich characterizations conveyed through four perspectives: a young-ish gay teacher; an older, maybe-gay? headmaster; the headmaster's wife, in whom still waters run deep; a student on the cusp of understanding his own identity... all of them complex, sympathetic, frustrating, and oh so real. the atmosphere of impending doom is also intriguing (title tie-in!) less interesting is the author's constant fetishization of ankle hair and feet - wtf - that grew old very quickly. at times i worried that this would turn into one of those novels where Everyone Is Gay, but fortunately the strength of the female voice is carefully and ably conveyed. overall, a worthy and occasionally compelling experience - albeit a trifle overthought and, sadly, underwhelming at the end. Russell is certainly a very serious gay novelist.

  • Bill
    2019-02-19 09:50

    Paul Russell gives a literary bent to m/m romance, not only his prose, but his ability to leave judgements up to the reader and to avoid sentimentality. This tale interweaves the lives of 4 flawed characters, characters all nevertheless appealing. The novel can be read simply as a m/m romance and succeeds as such. I saw it more as a modern morality play without any correct answers—just like life (outside those of conservatives who need things to be just so, black and white, biblical). This story and its participants lives are gray, to me at least. It asks what would I have done if I were Tracy faced with a lusty 16 y/o coming out and wanting sex? It asks if it is wrong for a 22 y/o to love a 16 y/o, for a teacher to love a student. It gives examples of possibilities among multiple relationships exploring these questions. I know how I feel and think and am wondering how others do.

  • Morgan
    2019-02-19 14:55

    An excellent read around a very complex issue...relationship between a private school teacher and his student. However, love the detailed workings of the peripheral characters and how Russell goes to great lengths to provide insights into their lives and relationships and how they all are eventually connected to the two lead characters.

  • Kate O'Hanlon
    2019-02-01 11:42

    I bought this a year ago and abandoned it half way through the first chapter because I really didn't want to read about student/teacher relationships. I picked it up again because there's some other books of Russell's that look interesting but I couldn't let myself buy them unless I'd actually finished the one I already owned.I don't really know what to say about this book. It's superbly written and I will definitely be reading more from this author in the future. On the other hand, how much do you want to spend almost 400 pages pondering the moral complexities of pederasty? Not a lot right? This is very uncomfortable reading. More uncomfortable than Lolita uncomfortable (Russell's doctoral thesis was actually on Nabokov). On balance, I'm glad I read this, but dear lord do I want to read something light and fluffy next.

  • Gerhard
    2019-01-31 06:40

    I am amazed at how topical and incendiary this novel remains 15 years after its publication in 1999. Paul Russell went on to win the Ferro-Grumley Award for The Coming Storm in 2000 (and for a second time in 2012 for The Unreal Life of Sergey Nabokov, a much different novel that marks the true skill and depth of this remarkable writer).I was a bit leery about reading this as I kept on thinking of a gay version of Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. However, Russell’s classically simple story of a 25-year-old teacher at a New York prep school having an affair with a 15-year-old student is remarkably free of both cliché and melodrama. It is written with a clarity and a tenderness that must render this one of the pivotal texts of gay literature. Just as the ‘coming out’ novel is associated automatically with A Boy’s Own Story by Edmund White, so is the ‘under-age romance’ indelibly linked with The Coming Storm.The novel speaks volumes about free will, love and desire and the long shadows that parents cast over their children’s lives. This is largely due to the immense technical skill and insight of Russell as author, whose finely wrought characters range from the ageing head master and his wife to his younger protégé and his various lovers and acquaintances, to crucially the character of the young Noah himself, whose vulnerability and volatility are heartbreaking to behold.The reader may think he or she knows how this is going to end, but Russell manages to eke out superlative nuances from what is ultimately such a hackneyed plot. Yes, the resolution is morally problematic, especially in the light of Arthur’s admonition to Tracy to hold onto this beautiful love and never, ever to reject or abandon Noah, which would be a betrayal of the uncompromising nature of their love itself.There is a fascinating contrast and debate here between the young Tracy, who succumbs to his illicit passions, and the older Louis, who spends the bulk of his life closeted and unrequited. Is the one state of existence preferable to the other, or are both indeed equally morally compromised? And how thin is the divide between love and lust, sex and infatuation?Russell’s depiction of Tracy’s first weekend away from the Forge School in the flesh pit that is New York City is deliciously lewd, and got me worrying how he was going to handle the inevitable sex scene between Tracy and Noah without it being titillating. Russell deals with this dilemma by having Noah experiencing gay anal sex for the first time with a fellow pupil, and having him reflect on the animal messiness of the act during a buffet hosted by his father:Suddenly claustrophobic, and focusing on A.J.’s laden plate, Noah said, “Food. That looks like a good idea,” and fled for the buffet table that caterers had set up in the dining room. Shiny metal bins held spicy-smelling Indian food: yellow rice, mercurochrome chicken pieces, unidentifiable lumps in mustardy brown sauce, cheese cubes in spinach. Too many of the dishes looked like one kind of shit or another, and he thought back queasily to the dark matter on himself when he’d pulled out of Chris Tyler’s butt.Contrast that with the following:To speak a language that was as intimate and free as certain dreams, saying darkly, thrillingly, My cock inside of you. Your come in my mouth. Already in that dream he was easing his new friend out of those hip, baggy jeans, exposing smooth young flesh to the surprise of cool air. He focused on the boy’s slim, tight hips; with the tip of his tongue he tasted an asshole’s bitter, forbidden mystery.Russell asks us to consider the separate fates of Tracy and Louis, the former giving in to desire and the latter never acknowledging the possibility within himself. Which is the stronger? Which is truer to his real self? There are no easy answers here, and everyone is culpable to some degree or other.Is desire itself monstrous? Is love the true enemy of human happiness and achievement? While I was reading this the thought lurking at the back of my mind was: just how is Russell going to end a novel that transects such highs and lows? The end, when it does come, is of course just another bittersweet, exalted beginning.

  • Rosemary
    2019-02-17 06:41

    Much more upbeat than I expected, this is a sensitive but not idealistic portrayal of a gay teacher-student relationship - a relationship that clearly breaks the law and moral boundaries too but shows that these things don't have to be as damaging as they often are. The story focuses on two generations: the young teacher Tracy Parker (that's a man, weirdly for a British reader!) who falls in love with 15-year-old student Noah in the 1990s, and the 60-year-old headmaster who has turned his back on such relationships in the past in favour of a loving, compromising marriage where much remains unspoken. I was a little afraid to read this book, expecting a lot of pain and angst, but it was actually fine and I appreciated all the different points of view. There is some graphic gay sex involving an under-age boy which could be an issue for some readers.

  • Mark Wade
    2019-01-25 11:39

    This novel was excellent. The story was intense and beautiful and horrifying all at once. It raised a ton of questions about life and morality but never sermonized answers. Instead, we watch the drama unfold with wonderful prose and have to make up our minds for ourselves.The symbols were a bit heavy-handed at times, but it never messed up the flow. This is a must read if it sounds interesting. If you're scared off by some of the controversial topics it explores, you might want to skip it. It's pretty explicit and unapologetic in that regard.

  • Karen
    2019-02-11 11:51

    A challenging subject matter, but its psychological complexity was dealt with well. Russell writes beautifully, and these characters were flawed but relatable. This is the first of his works that I've read, and it won't be my last.

    2019-02-20 07:53

    As posted in []:In *The Coming Storm*, there are 3 things going on:1. The Forge School headmaster, Louis and his wife, Claire, who teaches feminist literature at a college. They're friends with Reid and Libby. Reid travels around the world and has affairs. Reid retells his encounters to Louis. Meanwhile, Louis wonders why he is still friends with Reid after all these years.2. Tracy is a vegetarian gay teacher who has recently been hired to teach at the Forge School. Tracy's friend, Arthur, is an alumnus of the school. Tracy discovers dark secrets of the school from Arthur. Meanwhile, Arthur is afflicted with HIV/AIDS.3. Noah is from a wealthy dysfunctional family. Noah is in love with his teacher, Tracy. At the same time, he's somewhat fascinated with the Fatwa, a nickname given to another boy, Chris, who keeps to himself.Each of these stories is a storm to itself. However, these 3 "storms" eventually merge into one huge storm. The question is who will survive the storm. Will anyone find their true love? Will anyone come out of the closet? Will someone get hurt or burned?FYI - This is not an easy read as it does involve pedophilia/pederasty. It is addressed in the story.I gave it 2 stars because the book just droned on and on. Paul Russell could have edited 100 pages out.

  • Ray
    2019-02-07 13:39

    This was a good read and perfect for a wintery weekend.I am not a huge fan of rhythmic alternating point of view though it worked better in this novel than in most. I liked the fact that all four characters whose voices we heard were each queer though in vastly different ways.The teacher character, Tracy had this whole gay-guy-in-love-with-coming-out-teens/adolescent boy trip. It's been done before, from Edmund White to Dennis Cooper and it speaks to some psychic wound on the part of many gay men. As I get older though, it gets more and more tired. There's simply no debating the power dynamic at play and it's hard not to just be really judgmental about Tracy's bad decision. More interesting to me were Claire and her headmaster husband's lives and choices.I wouldn't say that the theme of this novel was well defined in the end. But there was a lot to think about here and a lot of feeling and mood left behind to ponder.

  • Tatiana Campos
    2019-02-05 07:55

    I can honestly say…once was enough, and I shall not be reading this one again.It’s in no way ‘bad’ it just wasn’t really my cup of tea. It’s written so that each chapter alternates between the four main characters. First chapter: first character, second chapter: second character, and so on and so forth.My biggest problem with getting into this book was that I really didn’t connect with two of the main characters. They bored me! And I really didn’t like them. So every time I would come to their chapters, I’d mentally cringe. Those chapters forever dragged on for me. Not until the very end did I warm up to them.All around the book was okay I guess. I’m just glad I finished it.

  • Sarah
    2019-02-16 10:51

    Let's be honest here, I bought this book because there was a gay theme and I like that sort of thing, so I have a fairly high tolerance for other faults if there be gayness! This I found utterly dreadful though. I abandoned it and that has only happened to me a handful of times in my life. Life is far too short to be reading something like this. I hated all the characters, all of them. They were pretentious and vile and exceedingly morally dodgy; but this wasn't even tempered with superb readable writing. It was like the author had just thrown words on the page to show how clever he was. Every sentence was about ten words too long and it just felt supremely smug. I hated it.

  • Tom
    2019-02-20 11:42

    A tale of prep-school seduction, in which a young male instructor is led into an affair with a 15-year-old boy student. But there are other sub-plots simmering here, too -- including the sexually repressed headmaster watching the affair develop and feeling a mixture of disgust and envy, and the headmaster's feminist wife who implausibly ends up as everyone's Best Pal as secrets get spilled. I had trouble feeling sympathy for the instructor but could imagine how he might feel tempted.

  • Matty
    2019-02-06 11:48

    I have mixed feelings about this one. It was good, but so overly long. I think that it could have easily been cut down. Another thing I wasn't fond of were the four narratives. I think it would have worked best if it had been just Noah's perspective, or perhaps Noah and Tracy. Having Louis and his wife as narrators too slowed down the book. Also none of the characters were particularly likeable. I enjoyed the ending, but it was a lot of work to get there.

  • Joseph Longo
    2019-02-09 09:49

    I loved this book. I loved the characters and the situations and the complications. Being a teacher, I could identify with many of the situations. And it captured the atmosphere and characters that inhabit an academic institution. I highly recommend this entertaining and insightful novel.

  • Funzee Shu
    2019-02-17 07:47

    Whahahaha, HARUS cari ibuk-nya iniiii...!!!

  • John
    2019-01-28 13:33

    This is a really well-written story. Author Russell effortlessly gets into the head of each character and aptly details their thoughts and motivations. I've found myself empathizing with nearly every main character through their thoughts, faults, and shortcomings -- sometimes even feeling tragically let down when they did things they really shouldn't have. I was looking for something quick and character driven in between more complex reading and The Coming Storm did the trick.

  • Nivalis
    2019-02-18 12:54

    It took me the better part of the first chapter to get into the book and I'm so glad I kept on reading. I loved all the twists, and the writing was beautiful. The novel greatly benefited from the four different POVs used to explore the delicate subject.

  • Nena Kelley
    2019-02-13 12:36

    I’m beginning to think me and authors with PhDs just don’t mesh. They all seem to mirror this story - write super pretentious characters with a plot that drones on and on...

  • Jeffrey
    2019-01-23 08:53

    Relentless use of parenthetical phrasesThe story is about the faculty and students of the Forge School, a prep school for boys in upper New York state. Each chapter is from the point of view of one of the characters, such as the headmaster, the new teacher, the wife of the headmaster, or one of the students. I didn't have any problem with this change in POV, except in chapter 10, where the author seemed to flip-flop between Claire's point of view and then Libby's.I'm going to be the asshole here and give this book a 2-star rating. The book is not dull but it can be slow going, especially in the first half of the book. The main problem with the writing is that the author uses parenthetical phrases relentlessly and these end up as numerous run-on sentences. I found that this extra baggage made the reading very tiresome. This is unfortunate, because underneath all this excess is a rather decent story, perhaps a 4-star rating. Nevertheless, the verbose writing style cannot be excused, especially since the author is an English professor at Vassar. Because of this writing style, I cannot not recommend this book to any of my friends, nor am I likely to wade through another of this author's novels myself. Likewise, I expected a better editing job from a major publisher like St. Martin's Press, who should have deleted all those unnecessary words.If you are a fast reader, you might be able to skim over all the extra words and just glean the basics of the story. This might explain why the book has a 4-star rating at Amazon. For me, though, it just dragged me down.

  • Benjamin
    2019-02-18 06:45

    Captivating, beautifully written story that involves the relationships between up state New York boys' prep school head teacher Louis Tremper, his wife Clair, newly employed young teacher Tracy Parker, and 15 year old wayward student Noah Lathrop III. Deeply repressed gay Tremper befriends handsome Tracy, and attempts to share with him his love of opera; Tracy himself develops a close friendship with Claire as confidant. More dangerously Tracy becomes involved with troubled Noah, initially seeking to help him but inevitably the relationship develops much further until they become sexually involved. Whatever the rights or wrongs of the relationship between Tracy and his young student, it is clear Noah is no innocent party, and subsequent events prove the effect, for good or bad the story reveals, all this has on Noah. This is in no way a predicable or inevitable story, but full of surprises. It is most beautifully written and told, and the relationships that develop between the various participants are most endearing. A story that is both heartbreaking and heart warming, it is not until the end that it becomes apparent who surprisingly is/are the true hero/heroes. Not to be missed on any account.

  • Kangarucci
    2019-01-22 14:37

    My heart was in my mouth from the first page to the last. Having been a teacher in a Catholic boys school, I was all too aware of the scenario that unfolds in this story. It's de rigueur to say that any sexual experience involving a teacher and a student is the teacher's fault. And so it is. Not open for discussion is any suggestion that the student might be responsible. That I accept without question. But read this book if you want an insight into just how complex the situation can be. From the moment the teacher allowed his charge to have his way I kept saying Stupid! Stupid man!! You will live for the rest of your life wondering when this will catch up with you. You will never be able to go anywhere that this cannot follow you. In case you're wondering, no. It didn't happen to me. But I know someone to whom it did happen. I still shudder when I remember this story.

  • Matt
    2019-02-10 09:44

    Written in the 90s when HIV was still a death sentence and it was still a status symbol to have an office high up in the World Trade Center, this is the story of Tracey Parker who takes his first teaching job in an expensive boarding school for difficult boys in New England, and quickly gets a little too close for comfort to one of his underage students. The narrative alternates between four characters: Tracey, Noah the student, the headmaster (closet) and his wife (possibly closet lesbian) and although I was mostly interested in Tracey and Noah I enjoyed having all four perspectives. It was frustrating to read about the headmaster and how completely repressed he was, especially the scene with Arthur which I found so painful. The ending was a little too sudden and distant for me but I'd still give it top rating.

  • Beth
    2019-02-14 12:48

    I thought I would like this novel because I tend to enjoy stories set in boarding schools. The main character in this one, in particular, I thought I'd connect with because he's an English teacher.However...whoa. I didn't expect I'd have such a problem with the relationship between the teacher and student (this is fiction after all), but I did. It skeeved me out a lot more than I thought it would, mostly because I started to think that the teacher was not specifically interested in Noah; rather, I thought the teacher was perhaps interested in teenagers in a more general sense. And that made me uncomfortable.Also, the page count is much higher than necessary in order to tell the story. A lot of the narration was really superfluous.

  • Steve Woods
    2019-01-27 10:50

    I really enjoyed this book. It is a story about sexula desire! Not desire for anyone in particular, but for an idea about the desired. It traces the path of what happens when the boundaries between the fantasies we weave around desire are fiixed to a person in a context that is less than acceptable to society and how the translation from fantasy to reality has consequences, for the two never match. It adresses in the particular context of a boys school this human drive to force the issue, to attempt to make reality fit the fantasy. There we have the spectrum of potential fallout laid before us. It is a fascinating study, and an interesting exploration of a stereotypical "gay" archetype.

  • Melissa
    2019-02-09 10:51

    This was really a well written homoerotic novel about an ephebophile school teacher and a possibly secretly bisexual older teacher and a past history of a pervy school administrator. In factx what I found most ridiculous was the fact that all men in the novel ranged feom bicurious to homosexual, and I don't think that's true. In addition I was irritated by several mentions of steaight couples who are breeders and overpopulating the planet. Perhaps the author hadn't heard, but gays also reproduce now, and straight people often choose to be childfree or only have 1 to 2 children.

  • Fred
    2019-02-03 09:53

    Absolutely brilliant book and author - subtle, nuanced, great character-writing and a wonderful sense of the moral perils of semi-everyday lives. I was clearing out a great many old novels and nearly sold off Russell's works, as I'd forgotten how good they were. Luckily, my local secondhand bookshop owner wasn't interested in gay(ish) literature, so failed to take any of the Russell books I had, so I pulled them out and am amid giving them another reading - all excellent! Date finished is for second-reading...

  • Ursula
    2019-02-11 06:54

    Beautifully written but if you read the back of the book you pretty much don't need to read the novel. Nothing new or surprising happens that isn't told to you on the back cover. Russell renders a believable world and the dialogue was life-like. I wrote the review above a year ago, and have since read about 65 books, and yet The Coming Storm still lingers in my mind. Today I had to edit my review and add an extra star to my rating. The setting and the characters are quite memorable. I highly recommend this book.

  • Carl
    2019-01-20 13:48

    I could not put this book down once I started reading it. This is my first time reading Paul Russell, and now I want to read all his books. I think Paul Russell is very brave to take on the subject matter in this book.This book is about a part of gay life that we have not figured out yet. The parts that are not very easy to understand, and the parts that have yet to gain mainstream acceptance, but still exist and call out for exploration. This book is an adventure into the familiar and into the unknown.

  • Skip
    2019-01-30 09:38

    On the one hand, this novel leaves you constantly saying, no don't do it. But then also wanting these folks to find their own peace. They're all so troubled, (except maybe for Betsy and Claire.) The real question is, was Noah better off or not because of his relationship with Tracy? I'd have to say, yes. Because it was not one founded on power, but instead, love. And wasn't that the whole point Claire was trying to get across in her class...?