Highly recommended for tweens and teens, or anyone who likes Indiana Jones movies. "Fledgling, A Jason Steed Adventure" is a British action/adventureHighly recommended for tweens and teens, or anyone who likes Indiana Jones movies. "Fledgling, A Jason Steed Adventure" is a British action/adventure story featuring the multi-talented 11yo Jason Steed. It's a tale of friendship, loyalty, bravery, military duty, hardship, heroism, father love, and personal loss. Jason is a blond, blue-eyed super kid. A karate brown belt at age 5, he holds advanced belts in karate and jujitsu by age 11. Brought up in Hong Kong, he speaks Chinese among other languages. Despite his small size, his prodigious talents in the martial arts stand him in good stead as he gets involved in one scrape after another -- all of them learning experiences. But "Fledgling" is more than a bloody adventure story (and there's lots of blood). Jason must come to grips with his military father's own problems and prolonged absences. Jason is helped along by his faithful friend, Scott, who teaches him how to speak to grownups, as well as the royal princess whom he falls for big-time. The climax of the novel is a real whizz bang! Note to American readers: the author is English, so when he says "He landed on the floor" it typically means "He landed on the ground!"
Wow. There are a lot of things going on in this novel, but it's never confusing. I couldn't put it down. No emotion is spared, be it love, hate, guiltWow. There are a lot of things going on in this novel, but it's never confusing. I couldn't put it down. No emotion is spared, be it love, hate, guilt, lust, or depression. It touches on sensitive issues but in an unsentimental and un-creepy way. Tears and laughter in beautiful, economically-written prose. The dialog is youthful, straightforward, and salty. As much as the principal characters are gay or gay-freindly, this isn't about the sex (of which there's plenty) -- it's mainly about the love between the title brothers, Nathan and Tommy, past and present. Highly receommended. ...more
“The Lord Won’t Mind” is a peculiar but entertaining novel. Gordon Merrick writes of the all-consuming pre-War love between two young men from respect“The Lord Won’t Mind” is a peculiar but entertaining novel. Gordon Merrick writes of the all-consuming pre-War love between two young men from respectable families both of whom put Adonis to shame. God’s gift to beauty, they even look alike. A possessive, overbearing grandmother introduces the younger Peter to her beloved 23yo grandson Charlie. She has mentoring in mind, but the two men fall instantly in love. But this is the early 1940s, right before World War II, an era in which being openly gay is taboo – unless you’re in the big city and into theater or something. Despite their ever-present hardons, Charlie is in denial about his true sexuality. He doesn’t consider his love for Peter to be “queer.” 19yo Peter, on the other hand, embraces this his first-ever love with complete openness and ardor. That’s about the first 100 pages -- one steamy sex scene after another.
Pulp fiction gay romance? That’s what I was thinking at this point. But after Charlie and Peter’s relationship is indelibly established, the plot thickens. I got hooked. This novel is not only about forbidden love in the 1940s but about ideal beauty, self-awareness, the role of power in a relationship, and who you can trust. It also says a lot about the place of African Americans at the time, peripherally.
As far as his writing, Merrick’s use of ellipsis can be a little off-putting at times, i.e. jumping ahead too quickly. He’s perfectly comfortable with the usual slang terms relating to sex, like the “f” word. Yet he consistently uses the word “sex” to refer to the penis. I found this somewhat annoying, I’m not sure why. And his writing can be rather stilted and mawkish:
“He felt consumed, absorbed, penetrated, possessed beyond the possibility of his own identity’s survival. It was an oblivion he had sought and dreamed of.”
“Peter stepped forward and his sex rose to complete its erection.”
“His sex reared up and grew under his knowledgeable touch and locked into rigidity.”
“Hattie had one reading that made everybody stir slightly with sounds of amusement.”
I first read “The World of Normal Boys” last year, and I liked it a lot. Upon re-reading it, I agree that it’s kind of depressing, unsettling, but alsI first read “The World of Normal Boys” last year, and I liked it a lot. Upon re-reading it, I agree that it’s kind of depressing, unsettling, but also realistic. Remember that this is set in the 1970s. How much did your average gay 13yo then know about Stonewall, for instance?
I can easily imagine a young 1970s boy who knows he attracted to boys, is consumed with guilt on multiple fronts, has virtually no positive role models, jerks off a lot, and gets slapped around by everybody. But does this make for a good novel? Well, I suppose that not every coming-of-age story has to be life-affirming and love-affirming. What Robin thinks, what he does, are wholly believable from a 13yo’s point of view. At the same time, I don’t think I’d want to be Robin, no matter what decade it is -- even if I *did* get to say “screw you” and ride off into the sunset at the end.
Robin has, or ends up having, an antagonistic relationship with almost everyone in his life. The only “nice people” are his guidance counselor, Mr. Cortez, and Vincent, the Greenwich Village trick who gives Robin bus fare for sex. But take the other characters: Robin’s father is the personification of clueless fatherhood, Robin’s mentoring mother has given over to drink, brother Jackson (until his demise) is a bullying brat, sister Ruby and grandmother Nana are ridiculously religious, Grandpa Leo was a drunk, uncle Stan is a dork, cousin Larry is a total prick, and both buds Todd Spicer and Scott Schatz turn out to be losers who, for unknown reasons, like to get their rocks off (indiscriminately) with other guys. Lest I forget Mr. Schatz, the drunken child abuser. So, Robin is awash in negativity. Even Mr. Cortez is clueless about why 13yo Robin has to ditch school.
I think the main shtick in this novel is not homosexuality or parents or friends, or 13yos. It’s Jackson’s injury. It’s the granddaddy metaphor for dashed hopes. Robin’s story is filled with dashed hopes. And at the end, when Robin takes the bull by the horns, says sayonara, and gets on that Black & Tan bus to NYC, the story is still about hope....more
"Leave Myself Behind" is a very poignant short novel. I read it in two sittings (which, for me, is practically unprecedented). Noah, the narrator is ""Leave Myself Behind" is a very poignant short novel. I read it in two sittings (which, for me, is practically unprecedented). Noah, the narrator is "a hilariously profane and searingly honest" 17yo boy who paints, plays the trombone, and who falls in love with another boy from school who lives across the street. But this is not YA palaver. Themes include poetry, family love, family secrets, nice guys vs. shitheads, and being forced to think as an adult at an early age. Yates' style is economical and direct, as in his following novel "The Brothers Bishop." Noah's "voice" is that of an authentic 21st century teenager. Highly recommended.
Fun! With no shilly-shallying. Anthony Horowitz's first Alex Rider action/adventure story moves right along. With some a cast of characters! There's AFun! With no shilly-shallying. Anthony Horowitz's first Alex Rider action/adventure story moves right along. With some a cast of characters! There's Alex, our 14yo hero who, often despite himself, disentangles himself from some pretty awful situations. And then there are the bad guys, "Herod Smell" and the ever-endearing Mr. Grin. Not a lot of UK vocabulary, either, so easy reading for all American tweens and teens. (The book does include some interesting descriptions of UK geography and London landmarks.)...more
Brian Sloan’s novel could have been titled “Love the One You’re With.” It’s the summer of 2006 in suburban Washington DC. The form is epistolary (blogBrian Sloan’s novel could have been titled “Love the One You’re With.” It’s the summer of 2006 in suburban Washington DC. The form is epistolary (blog posts), the style is “teen speak,” and the content includes teen angst, sexual awakening, and the value of enduring friendships. This is a book that any adolescent (or young-at-heart adult) will be able to identify with in some way.
Hal (gay) and Chuck (straight) are two 15yos who’ve been best buds since elementary school. They’re spending their first summer vacation apart. Chuck’s playing the lead in a musical some miles away while Hal must stay home to take a Driver’s Ed course (piss-and-moan!). To stay in touch, they communicate daily and often hourly on Chuck’s Xanga blog about the new people, events, and influences in their lives. Much of their discourse is touching, and often amusing.
These are “good” boys, clever boys, each with his own distinct “voice.” They’re wise beyond their years (except about sex and relationships) and not overly potty-mouthed. They both have rather advanced vocabularies for 15. Sloan’s “teen speak” is authentic most of the time, and there are some wonderful teen-isms like:
• “Re the party, that’s a big black hole of suckdom” • “Again, I’m sorry for harshing on you like that.”
On the other hand, I doubt whether even a precocious 15yo would say things like:
• “… rediscover your lifelong process of channeling your flinty temper into your acting…” • “… later I got to meet Henri’s storied mother...” • “… but not in the way you construed it.” • “… I think she just says stuff like that when it fits her skewed worldview.”
Hal and Chuck often react to the each other’s blog posts with sarcasm and outright bitchiness, especially when one offers the other unsolicited advice. I found this kind of repartee to be somewhat tiresome after a while:
• “I have to say , that is the most pathetic story I’ve ever heard.” • “Jeeeeezzzzzz – testy, testy. Give me a break and a half, okay?” • “It’s really not cute to call me a romantic dope during the biggest emotional panic of my whole entire life!”
And both boys like to use parenthetical remarks, a device which I doubt kids this age would use so much:
• “(remember all those birthday parties we went to there?)” • “(OK – I think I just mixed about five metaphors with that rant!)” • “(OMG – I’m starting to sound like a parent too!)”
Some keywords for this book:
gay/straight friendship losing one’s virginity friends with benefits drugs Parkour
All in all, though, an interesting premise (the blog format) and a contemporary look into the lives, language, and attitudes of two 18yos – oh, I meant 15yos!
My favorite title: “The Lives and Deaths of Buffalo Butt.”
My favorite opening line [from “Whatever Happened to…”:] : “Though I can “From Boys to Men”
My favorite title: “The Lives and Deaths of Buffalo Butt.”
My favorite opening line [from “Whatever Happened to…”:] : “Though I can remember being attracted to men at a young age, for a long time I knew very little about being gay except that it was something I didn’t want to be.”
I agree with Michael, who, in one of his posts to the May '09: From Boys to Men forum, says “This is one of those ‘short story’ collections ( [in which:] many of the essays feel more like fiction than nonfiction, even if they aren't) that will appeal to those men closer to their coming out party than not.” At my age, the “early sexual awareness” shtick got a little tired after a while.
In a light-hearted, wicked moment, I dreamt up some alternate titles for this book:
“From Boys to Slightly Older Boys” ”From Inkling to Doubt to Denial” “ From Playground To Puberty”
It’s almost as if a teacher gave everyone the following assignment: Write a 15-page fictional story about your earliest same-sex feelings. Make sure to include the bullies, the older brothers, and the dolls or action figures you liked the best. Here’s a stylistic sample to get you started: “Alongside a tree in the rear of a schoolyard in kindergarten was where my first kiss took place.” [from “Signs” by Raymonde C. Green.:]
I felt that a number of these stories ended rather abruptly (for instance “The Upshot”). So what are these? Essays? Shortened short stories? Early gay gestalt snapshots? Robin thinks that “the originals were probably longer, and the editors excerpted [them:] so they'd fit into an anthology.” Michael feels that they seem more like stories than essays. He writes “Essays? Memoir? Re-imagined ruminations?” Whatever, I feel that most of the writing was competent and generally evocative.
Those members who contributed to the May '09: From Boys to Men forum liked five stories in particular:
SO did I. I hold a special fondness for “Sleeping Eros” because of the plot twist and the fact that I think it’s the only story in which the narrator is not the emergent gay person. Talk about a shocker. Mike’s 10 years old and both parents come out to him at the same time in a ridiculously awkward way. So when asked “Do you know what gay means” or “Do you understand?” or “Do you have any questions?,” Mike, being totally clueless, feels compelled to lie. At the end of the story, he learns to ride his bike. The very last sentence seems to me a poignant metaphor for his youthful cluelessness: “I stood on the pedals and pumped my legs till the wind filled my ears with meaningless sound.”
After reading each story (in most cases) I jotted down some words to sum up the presumed “message.” Here they are:
"Sleeping Eros" – immaturity, cluelessness “The Story I Told Myself” – imagination “Preppies Are My Weakness” – unrequited love “Barbie Girls” – 7th graders dating “Signs” – denial “No Matter What Happens” – foster child’s loneliness “The Lives and Deaths of Buffalo Butt” – physical appearance, denial “Dick” – denial “The Upshot” – brothers “Guide” – coming out late “Terrence” – gayness and effeminacy “The Boy with the Questions and the Kid with the Answers” – childhood bigotry, cruelty “A Brief History of Industrial Music” – [didn’t comment:] “The Competitive Lives of Gay Twins” – fits in vs. doesn’t fit in “Five Stories about Francis” – [didn’t comment:] “Mom-Voice” – [didn’t comment:] “Growing Up in Horror” – “I was hot for Steve. I knew it.” [Oh, really?:] “Inheritance” – [didn’t comment:] “Whatever Happened to…” – loving straight men, depressing! “Peristalsis” – age five, six, seven, seven-and-a-half, eight-and-three-quarters, etc. “Aplysia californica” – surfing and sea slugs
My favorite paragraph (from “Sleeping Eros”):
“Rays of orange streetlights moved over the hood of the car and up the windshield. The week before I had stayed up too late watching Donald Sutherland on television running from aliens, pod people bent on taking over the planet. They looked like everyone else but lacked emotions, and as we made our way home I imagined the streetlights were alien sentinels scanning cars and passengers for joy, anger, or laughter. If they sensed the things I wanted from the man sleeping behind me, they’d snatch me up and carry me off to their oozing nests, and lay a trembling pod beside me, an alien boy inside, his skin running like hot wax till his face matched mine.”
I found “Boys, Lost and Found” completely engrossing. Charles Casillo has written a really engaging collection of short stories, interspersed with somI found “Boys, Lost and Found” completely engrossing. Charles Casillo has written a really engaging collection of short stories, interspersed with some factual first-person narratives. His writing is crisp, entertaining, and a quick read. Casillo’s portraiture is always astute, whether describing a horny number in a bar, a true love object, or a group of queens at a Starbucks -- hot young guys who are growing older by the minute. The protagonists are young men. The antagonists are their older well-heeled lovers whom they crave. And, the result? Well, no spoilers here! Themes in the stories include loneliness, sex, love, self-love, self-esteem, kindness, decency, humiliation, aging, and the effect of glam lifestyles on gay relationships. At heart, though, “Boys, Lost and Found” is really about longing, in the sense of irrepressible, uncontrollable desire.
Some favorite lines:
“This was only sex, I tried to reason. Only another man and his body. But I couldn’t help myself. I had been dead. Now I was alive.”
“I have a tendency to think too much. This is something that, after much thought, I’ve concluded is wrong.”
“The one you love first always makes an imprint. All the others that come after will have to, in some ways, match up to the first one.” ...more
1st in Sanchez's "Rainbow" trilogy. Light YA reading (can read all three in an afternoon). Especially excellent for gay teens, but entertaining for us1st in Sanchez's "Rainbow" trilogy. Light YA reading (can read all three in an afternoon). Especially excellent for gay teens, but entertaining for us older types, too. ...more