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Trying to throw my arms around the world by Lee Harlem Robinson

Because dyke drama is a state of mind 

As Lee Harlem Robinson struggles to come to grips with the insanely fast-paced city of Hong Kong, where she was sent by her employers, she starts to wonder where it all went wrong. The reader is taken on a journey back in time from Lee’s early years in romance in London and Paris to her current life in the city where “yuppie actually still works as a term of endearment”. The big question, as in every romance, is: will she eventually find love?

Note: Trying to throw my arms around the world is unfinished, and will likely remain so.  It contains some harsh language.

An abandoned novel

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Listed: Mar 16, 2011


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Editorial Reviews

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Editor’s First Impression

By Chris Poirier, editor

Mar 16, 2011: Straight-forward, memoir-like writing. Should be of interest to those looking for lesbian "chick-lit".

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Most Helpful Member Reviews

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Not a romance as you’d expect it: more like a relationship drama slice of life.

By Eren Reverie, author of Et Alia

Jan 22, 2015: This is not your typical romance. It is written as an autobiography or memoir, covers far more relationships than ‘the one that is destined to be successful’ that you find in traditional romances, and wasn’t actually as bad a read as my rating might suggest at first glance. There were a few issues though, and I’ll try to outline those.

First of all, the site layout could have been improved. There’s only one place on the site for navigating backward and forward, and since the ‘Start reading now . . . ‘ link doesn’t take you to the first post, it might take a moment to realize that on this particular site, the left link moves forward in the story and the right link moves back. I didn’t really mark anything down for this since the author also offers the first book’s worth of content as a free download – so I ended up reading it on my Kindle instead of online. If you only read online, though, keep the navigation oddity in mind.

The writing isn’t bad, but it isn’t spectacular either. There weren’t more typos than I’ve come to expect from a random piece of web fiction, and it was pretty darn entertaining at points.

The story starts out being told partially in the present day Hong Kong, and partially in flashbacks to old relationships back in England and France. That was kind of interesting, except that it led to a few dangling plot threads: we’re given some information about the end-state of side character’s relationships in the present day bits, but we never see how they get there in the flashbacks. Also, at about the half way point of the first book it stops being about the author’s search for love in Hong Kong, and becomes told entirely in recollection of the past: it turns into the story of how she came to be in Hong Kong, and the relationships that led her there.

There is a lot of relationship drama, self-sabotage, moral hypocrisy and revenge sex, but at least the protagonist acknowledges her hypocrisy in her own thoughts.

Unfortunately, that moral hypocrisy and self-sabotage still resulted in the protagonist being rather unlikable to me. Which is to say: it was really easy to feel sympathetic with her, until I started to get frustrated with her inability to make her own choices and stick with them. She responds to people and situations, is easily influenced by those around her – and although she recognizes these things about herself, and comes to recognize when she is being hypocritical or engaging in self-sabotage, she doesn’t do anything to mitigate them even when she sees them as problematic. There is more than one point where she clearly recognizes that something she is doing is something she will regret bitterly in the future – but she does it anyway because it’s fun in the present, and she doesn’t seem to actually be affected by foreknowledge of how she will feel about events. She acts only on what she is feeling in the moment.

It seemed to me that she was a lot more enamored with falling in love and experiencing that new relationship energy than she was interested in being loving in the long term, or experiencing the sort of love that a relationship evolves into once the initial rush has expired.

Character growth was very slow, and usually more a growth of self awareness than of actual change in the character, which I also found frustrating. About one third through the book (the first time I was about to put it down, actually) the main character finally started recognizing her bad behaviors (which is why I kept reading). By around the one half point, she was recognizing the sorts of situations that would trigger them, and sortof looking for help in regards to that.

Even in the end, though, I don’t think she was effectively doing anything to avoid situations where she wouldn’t be in control of her decisions or otherwise acting to moderate herself – which would have been fine, except that she clearly recognized the consequences of many of her actions as bad for her relationships, but did nothing about it.

Ultimately, I almost walked away from this story more than once, but it kept reeling me back in – toward the end, though, I’ll admit that was more because I wanted to finish the book before writing a review than because I was holding out any hope that the protagonist would change.

The end of the first book’s worth of content concludes with a mention that the next book follows the protagonist into Hong Kong. I don’t know if I’ll pick that up: I keep going back and forth on it. If I do, it’s more likely to be because of morbid curiosity as to whether or not the character backslides into one of her bad past relationships than it will be because I want to see if she finds love. Reading about the trail of destruction her relationships have wrought on her own and other’s emotions is kind of like watching a train wreck, that way: it’s almost too horrifying to look away; you have to know how bad it really is.

If you’re looking for a traditional story of two people falling in love, this is not going to be the story for you. On the other hand, if you like slice-of-life stories with lots of relationship drama, happy beginnings, bad endings, and flawed characters then this one is probably worth a look. Just be warned: if you do get sucked in, you’re probably going to have as much trouble walking away as the protagonist demonstrates in dropping her bad habits.

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