This book had me at "genderqueer terrorism." Insurrectionary queer literature? Yes, please.
I enjoy Comeau's irreverent writing style, which tends to t...moreThis book had me at "genderqueer terrorism." Insurrectionary queer literature? Yes, please.
I enjoy Comeau's irreverent writing style, which tends to tackle deep issues (like gender identity or hate crimes, for example) with levity. His humor doesn't blunt the sharper edges of his writing, however. This book and its two protagonists are complicated; there are no innocent victims, no easy victories, and no real moral at the end. As an exploration of violence and its effects, the way that people are disempowered by systemic and individual acts, it's very effective.
There's something really satisfying about reading about queers bashing back, even in ways that I don't agree with. Equally satisfying: reading some smart, hot sex scenes, complete with unexpected moments that run the gamut from tender to creepy.
I've heard that other people have been dissatisfied with the short length of the two novellas, but personally, I'm a fan of the short form. Both of these stories feel complete to me, and Comeau's minimalism is poignant, even though it sometimes lacks grace. This book is definitely more of a pipe bomb than a switchblade.
The best thing I can say about this book is this: I had to stop reading it on the train, because it made me want to start screaming obscenities at strangers about dominant hetero-normative paradigms. You can't say that about too many books. (less)
A rep from Chizine (the publisher of this series) sold me on this book by describing it as a gay western horror, and I was not disappointed on any of...moreA rep from Chizine (the publisher of this series) sold me on this book by describing it as a gay western horror, and I was not disappointed on any of those fronts. The main character is a preacher-turned outlaw hexslinger, who burns a blasphemous, burning path across the mythical West with his sharpshooting, sharp-tongued boyfriend. A detective from the Pinkerton agency has managed to infiltrate their gang, but there are bigger worries for all three men. There's an apocalyptic storm brewing (my favorite kind!), and they're about to be caught in the middle of it.
The story takes place in the western territories after the end of the Civil War, a place that's rife with outlaws, prostitutes, cowboys, detectives, preachers, shamans, and characters that walk from one appellation to the next without a backwards glance. There are monsters and witches and old gods that are thirsty for blood. All in all, it's an enjoyable read. There are some fun characters in here, some great (and creepy!) imagery. Files' has the sort of language that I love in genre writing, playing fast-and-loose with her words to give them a poetic edge, without wandering into a wilderness of pointless literary imagery.
Files' storytelling leaves a little to be desired, though. Her plot jumps around, shifting from the present to the past to the future to a flashback. The transitions in time and POVs was awkward. I never felt lost, but it got tiresome. The book never drags, but there are a few letdown moments, where all the tension wheezes out of the plot like a balloon with a leak. I'm planning on reading the second book, but I'm not burning for it. (less)
Is there a theme I love more than freaks and weirdos banding together? Stead is adept at creating a diverse set of characters with recognizable idiosy...moreIs there a theme I love more than freaks and weirdos banding together? Stead is adept at creating a diverse set of characters with recognizable idiosyncrasies. (Like Bob English Who Draws. I knew that kid. Everyone knew that kid.) Stead inserts enough detail for a reader to understand a character, but not so much that we're bored. As an author, Stead likes to keep her audience guessing.
This is a story of both resilience and acceptance, of learning how to accept the things you can't change, and fight the things you can. This would be a great book for any kid who's a little bit different, who's struggling with maintaining their sense of self in the swamplands of adolescence. (less)