on my Grave
Life and a Death
Hundred and Seventeen Bits
Two Press Clippings
a few jokes
puzzle or three
a fiasco now and then
help the story along
promise is a promise - no matter how hard it is to keep.
Robinson of Southend, England, is intelligent, witty, self-deprecating,
and somewhat innocent. During his sixteenth summer, friendship
and then romance blossom between him and the self-confident
Barry Gorman. When Barry dies in a motorcycle crash, Hal is
driven to re-creating the events of the summer in a vivid colloquial
account that conveys the emotional upheaval he is enduring after
Barry's death. The account is preceded by news clippings and
interspersed with reports made by the social worker assigned
to investigate Hal's state of mind after his alleged desecration
of his former lover's grave. […] The author is marvellously
gifted at suggesting the ecstasy and insecurity that accompany
new love - including its emotional and physical, social and
spiritual aspects. A major strength of the book, the central
conflict hinges not on the lovers being gay, but on their having
two idiosyncratic and contradictory personalities.' The Horn
I die first you dance on my grave,' Barry makes Hal promise.
Barry's melodramatic request of his lover is fully in character
with who Barry is, or who he believes he is: a fast living,
fast loving, fast driving rake and seducer. Hal is the opposite:
he thinks he has found in Barry his "boy with the magic beans,"
a bosom and eternal friend and lover. Witty and sophisticated
[…] Elegantly written and full of ideas.' School Library
transcends the genre and tells one of the best coming-of-age
love stories it has been my privilege to read. To have male
feelings so well depicted is a rare treat […] Everything in
this book is superb.' Voice of Youth Advocates
note about The Dance Sequence - click
published by Bodley Head 1982
paperback (with Breaktime), January 2007,
contents are ©Aidan Chambers unless otherwise stated.
the six novels in the Dance Sequence Dance on My Grave,
first published in Britain 1982, has always been the most read
and has provoked the most reaction from readers of all ages.
Until, that is This Is All: The Pillow Book of Cordelia Kenn
was published in 2005.
the reason is that Dance is a book that tracks the obsessive
emotional attachment of one person for another, something most
people experience at one time or another, and most often in
the teenage years.
too frequently listed as a 'gay' story, Betty Greenway rightly
points out in her critical study, Aidan Chambers: Master
Literary Choreographer (The Scarecrow Press, 2006, p 36):
the novel is quite open and matter-of-fact about the main characters'
homosexuality … homosexuality never becomes an issue to be dealt
with. A review in The Horn Book makes the point that
many critics did when the book was released: "A major strength
of the book, the central conflict hinges not on the lovers being
gay, but on their having two idiosyncratic and contradictory
personalities." The central conflict is the obsessive
love Hal has for Barry … But as Hal finds out, Barry doesn't
feel the same way.'
is a story that seems to appeal to theatre and film directors.
Three times adapted for the stage, never satisfactorily, there
have been nine attempts to film it. A novel that looks at first
as if it is virtually a film script soon proves it is something
quite else, and has so far daunted all attempts to bring it
to the screen.