This is a passionate story. Yet, it is written in a deceivingly delicate, simple style. Kawabata uses imagery throughout this story; a kerchief with aThis is a passionate story. Yet, it is written in a deceivingly delicate, simple style. Kawabata uses imagery throughout this story; a kerchief with a thousand crane motif held by a young woman, the precious objects utilized during a tea ceremony, rainstorms, an ugly birthmark marring a breast. The story takes on a complex flavor as objects and events become a suggestion, an insinuation, symbols for life and death, for eroticism, passion, for shame and / or resentment, for corruption and / or purity. A magnificent read. ...more
In Bloodlines the tone is lighter. Nick is moving on and has found peace. Yet, the specter that was AIDS in the 1980's still haunts the reader. The twIn Bloodlines the tone is lighter. Nick is moving on and has found peace. Yet, the specter that was AIDS in the 1980's still haunts the reader. The two mysteries are interesting and involved, however, for me, the interpersonal relationships make this book a winner. Actually, Thornton's Boystown series is an all-around winner and a must read!...more
I put off reading From the Ashes. The beginning is grim after the events that occurred in Murder Book (Book #5), but as I have come to expect from Mr.I put off reading From the Ashes. The beginning is grim after the events that occurred in Murder Book (Book #5), but as I have come to expect from Mr. Thornton, this is another excellent addition to the Boystown series. The slow development of Nick's "rebirth" was perfection, as were the mystery and contributions by secondary characters. A 5 star read. ...more
Accessible literary fiction that reads like a memoir. Written in short, connected chapters that move backwards and forward in time. The beauty of langAccessible literary fiction that reads like a memoir. Written in short, connected chapters that move backwards and forward in time. The beauty of language and its fluidity are key to this story about a Vietnamese immigrant recalling her childhood journey from Vietnam to Quebec, Canada, and going on to relate life as an adult. This novel won the Canadian 2010 Governor General's Literary Award and, in my opinion, deservedly so....more
Love the historical details in this book and Gellis' attempt to capture the medieval mindset. And I still love Alinor. I was as saddened by Simon's loLove the historical details in this book and Gellis' attempt to capture the medieval mindset. And I still love Alinor. I was as saddened by Simon's loss during this REREAD as I was the first time around. The romance between Alinor and Ian is plagued by one too many misunderstandings and lack of real communication. There is a heavy contrast here between Ian's youth and Simon's maturity. Regardless, this is my second favorite book of the Roselynde Chronicles. ...more
Rereading the Rosalynde Chronicles by Roberta Gellis. First read Roselynde back in the late 70's, early 80's and this reread stands the test of time.Rereading the Rosalynde Chronicles by Roberta Gellis. First read Roselynde back in the late 70's, early 80's and this reread stands the test of time. I still love young Alinor the Intrepid and Simon the Honorable. Fantastic details, excellent characters and a plot that kept me engaged from beginning to end. ...more
I enjoyed reading all 17 short stories, essays and/or articles in Best Gay Stories 2015 ed. by Steve Berman.
It has been said that life is "nothing morI enjoyed reading all 17 short stories, essays and/or articles in Best Gay Stories 2015 ed. by Steve Berman.
It has been said that life is "nothing more than an accumulation of moments or events," some pivotal in a lifetime while others just occur with no real beginning or end. I am always searching for short pieces capturing those unique or pivotal moments in a character's (or a real person's) life, and for authors with the talent to write in the spare, well-constructed, elegant prose necessary to create gems out of those pivotal or flash-in-the-pan moments. Personally, I prefer stories that wring a response from me: thought-provoking, positive, negative, emotional. I found much of or all of what I search for between the pages of this anthology. Here are a few examples:
"Outing" by Allan Radcliffe is hard to forget as it tenderly focuses on a special moment in the life of an established, older gay couple whose first kiss in public is inspired by two young men kissing at a train station. Touching and beautiful. In "Lovely Company" by Ron Schafrick a too cautious man makes the wrong decisions for his father and himself. This sad, realistic piece made me think about the importance of taking risks, living, and enjoying the moment. Life.
"What Did I Know?" by Joseph R.G. DeMarco is a profoundly thoughtful and intimate piece. A childhood trauma causes Joseph to suffer from fear of death, abandonment, and being forgotten. He believes that romantic love is the answer to his personal terrors. However, it is after losing his long-time partner, while going through the grieving process, that Joseph comes to understand the true meaning of love and finally sheds his fears. The intimacy of this piece engenders a connection with the reader. Personally, I re-read the last page countless times.
"Stories I Tell My Friends" by Richard Bowes is a compulsive read, not only because of the content, but because of the style in which it is written. Set in Boston, this is a string of stories, within a story, narrated by the author. They are recollections of events that took place during the narrator's childhood and young adulthood while his family moved from place to place. The narrator's father, cops, firemen and actors feature prominently. Events are intertwined as one story runs into the next until Bowes makes a final point. This is an excellent example of unique short story construction I mention above.
"The Case for PrEP How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love HIV-Positive Guys" by Evan J. Peterson is an article in which the author makes his case for the drug Truvada. The essay lists points made against the drug, however in general it has a positive slant for its usage and interviews, numbers, percentages etc are utilized throughout the article for this purpose. Peterson documents his own choice to use Truvada and the stigma that follows those who make the decision to do so. He gives examples such as public judgments made against it (Truvada has been called the "whore pill"), as well as the fear-driven negative responses to a drug that allows gay men to have unprotected sex without fearing HIV infection. Informative and thought-provoking.
"Needle" by Peter Dubé is a story about a sex-driven, highly volatile relationship based on addiction and mutual violence. This intensely disturbing piece is deeply memorable, more so because Dubé keeps the reader on edge to the very end by utilizing two different settings, a skewed first point of view narrative and a silence presence that makes a strong impact. Excellent read. "Skin" by Joe Okonkwo actually wrung a wow from me at the end of this piece. Oh the hypocrisy!! Okonkwo focuses on ageism and the gay community's iconisation of the perfect body. He touches all the important points, i.e., the invisibility factor and the effect it has on men after they reach a certain age, as well as the love of the "body beautiful" and how it affects gay men who do not fall under that category. Skin is a great read throughout, but the ending makes it unforgettable.
"My Adventure with Tom Sawyer" by Jameson Currier is one of three re-reads for me, the other two are "The Balaclava by Nathan Sims" and "Shep: A Dog by Alex Jeffers," two stories I thoroughly enjoyed. My Adventure with Tom Sawyer, however, has to be the most delightful story in this anthology. Currier is an author whose deft hand at writing a self-deprecating, humorous piece is so well represented with this piece that for the second time around I sat back, relaxed, and settled in for the long-haul forgetting that this is a short story, yet it ends exactly where it should. Excellent execution. Memorable quote: "I was aware that I was having one of those awful motion picture moments when the old- maid spinster realizes her tour guide is someone generations younger than she is. Or worse, finding myself in a country-music version of Death in Venice."
"Smuggler" by Philip Kennicott. "I remember my first kiss with absolute clarity. I was reading on a black chaise lounge, upholstered with shiny velour, and it was right after dinner, the hour of freedom before I was obliged to begin my homework. I was sixteen. It must have been early autumn or late spring, because I know I was in school at the time, and the sun was still out. I was shocked and thrilled by it, and reading that passage from a novel by Hermann Hesse, made the book feel intensely real, fusing Hesse's imaginary world with the physical object I was holding in my hands." Kennicott is referring to"Beneath the Wheel" as he begins this fantastic essay focusing on 19th Century and early 20th Century literature featuring homoerotic scenes or homosexual characters, and the positive / negative effects reading these books had on the author or may have had on other gay readers. He ends with what, if any, the future holds for these classics, particularly after all the recent changes that have taken place in the gay community. I am oversimplifying here friends, but believe me, this is a fascinating, well-thought out, clearly defined, elegant piece begging to be read.
The above samples highlight some of this anthology's diverse content, however, the gay theme is prevalent throughout and there's something for everyone. If you enjoy short fiction and non-fiction the way I do, Best Gay Stories 2015 is an anthology I recommend in its entirety....more
I liked this contemporary gay fiction read. It's very British, well written, and highly entertaining. It has an upstairs, downstairs flavor and a dashI liked this contemporary gay fiction read. It's very British, well written, and highly entertaining. It has an upstairs, downstairs flavor and a dash of BDSM restricted to spanking without graphic sex scenes.
I so enjoyed this book! Flappers, bootleggers, speakeasies, drinking, dancing, cross-starred lovers, and a villainous father!
"Jo guessed even then tha
I so enjoyed this book! Flappers, bootleggers, speakeasies, drinking, dancing, cross-starred lovers, and a villainous father!
"Jo guessed even then that Mother's purpose was to have a son, and she was kept from all other causes. Them included."
The Girls at the Kingfisher Club is based on The Twelve Dancing Princesses fairy tale but this is not a fantasy piece, it is strictly fiction set in 1920's Manhattan. The story loosely follows the same structure as the fairy tale with twelve sisters born to a wealthy Mr. Hamilton who kept his wife pregnant in the hopes of having a son to carry on the Hamilton name until the wife died. He confines his twelve daughters to the second floor and attic severely neglecting them. The girls' one and only outlet is dancing. The four eldest daughters, Jo the "general," vivacious Lou, gorgeous Ella, and down-to-earth Doris sneak out at night and hit the Manhattan speakeasies at age fourteen until they find a home at The Kingfisher Club. After that, as the rest of the girls come of age and under Jo’s watchful eye, they dance their nights away at the only place where they feel safe and taste precious moments of freedom.
“The girls were wild for dancing, and nothing else. No hearts beat underneath those thin, bright dresses. They laughed like glass.“
I love how well Valentine integrates the fairy tale and her own version with the Hamilton daughters as 1920's flappers. It is a great story with a controlling father as the ultimate misogynist who attempts to sell his daughters to men like himself as a solution to financial troubles, and how his daughters outwit him and make their way in a world they don't recognize by daylight.
“The girls could hope that these husbands, wherever her father planned to find them, would be kinder and more liberal men than he was. But the sort of man who wanted a girl who’d never been out in the world was the sort whose wife would stay at home in bed and try to produce heirs until she died of it.“
There is a romance of sorts between the eldest daughter Jo and bootlegger turned club owner Tom, but Jo emerges as the mistress of her own destiny and throughout and to the end controls her own happiness.
"You can't expect people to give you the things you love, unless you know how to ask."
Of the sisters, Jo is the best developed character with Lou, Doris, and Ella following in importance. The rest of the sisters are sometimes distinguishable only by the dances they prefer or key characteristics. Of the secondary characters, Mr. Hamilton, Tom, and Jake, The Kingfisher Club's bartender and loyal friend make the greatest impact.
There is a certain awkwardness to the writing style or structure as a result of long paragraphs containing thoughts or commentary placed between parentheses. Although after a while I became used to this ongoing style, there was always an awareness at the back of my mind that interrupted the reading flow throughout the novel. However, the story itself is engaging and a quick read with excellent Roaring Twenties atmosphere and gritty details of Manhattan's underground speakeasies as the setting. The descriptions of dancing in seedy or glamorous clubs are gorgeous. The heartbreaking moments, Jo's sacrifices for her sisters, the sisters' escape from captivity into the real world, and the final payoff, all make for a magnificent tale by Valentine.
“She was still trying to discover how people related to each other, and how you met the world when you weren’t trying to hide something from someone. It was a lesson slow in coming.“
A novelette that’s science fiction by association.
This novelette, set in the post 1950s, brought back memories of that moment when I first heard thatA novelette that’s science fiction by association.
This novelette, set in the post 1950s, brought back memories of that moment when I first heard that man landed on the moon -- the wonder, hope and dreams. At the time, I owned a children's picture book about Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin's first journey into outer space, and was already stung by the "space bug."
This touching and nostalgic story is about a little girl, the daughter of a rocket scientist working on those first space modules for NASA, who dreams of becoming an astronaut. Her parents encourage her despite the fact that at that time girls and women were not expected to want careers based on science, much less to harbor dreams of becoming an astronaut. I love the connection Ann Goonan makes with Walt Disney's building of Tomorrowland and to the detailed documentaries aired by Disney describing plans for future space travel.
This original story's connection to science fiction is tenuous at best, however as it was posted in honor of Tor.com's sixth birthday, I believe that it works well for that purpose. This historical event sparked the imagination of adults and children alike. Personally, I can't believe the nostalgic feelings of wonder the story brought back!...more