David Kingston Yeh's Blog

October 21, 2020

AN AUDIOBOOK FOR TALES

So last summer, I learned that an audiobook was being produced by ECW Press for Tales from the Bottom of My Sole. How exciting! This October, I was emailed the recordings of three auditions for the reader, and asked to chose one.

Tales is a novel told by Daniel Garneau, a 25-year-old gay man from rural Ontario. Daniel grew up in a blue-collar family, working in sawmills and playing hockey. At age eighteen, he moved to Toronto with his best friend Karen to attend university. By the time of Tales, he’s enrolled in med school, and living in a loft in Toronto’s Kensington Market, with his Italian-Canadian boyfriend David.

Daniel’s story has been one of misadventures, discovery and growth. All three auditions were different, yet each had something to offer. Selecting one proved to be a painstaking task! I was compelled to reflect at length on what qualities were essential to bringing Daniel and his story to life.

Where Daniel is surrounded by colourful characters, he is in fact the “straight man” throughout (no pun intended!) In literary terms, we can also think of him as the “everyman” – benign and ordinary in most every way. Daniel Garneau is not some eccentric outsider, or heroic figure, or supernaturally endowed Chosen One. On the contrary, he’s just a regular guy. He is you and me.

Next week, I’ll be consulting with the actor I’ve selected to narrate the audiobook. I hope I can communicate Daniel’s anxiety, leadership, self-doubt, open mind, vulnerability, and steadfast love for his family and friends. As the Little Prince says: “What is essential is invisible to the eye.

In the end, what I heard in this actor’s voice was kindness and care. This is what is essential to Daniel, I believe, and to his story. As different as we are as human beings, it is this openness to each other that unites us as a civil society. My hope is that Daniel is the kind of friend that we feel we all deserve.
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Published on October 21, 2020 20:08

October 10, 2020

OUR QUEER STORIES: Rescue & Healing

It's Thanksgiving Weekend in Canada. October is also LGBT History Month.

It was with mixed feelings that my husband Daniel and I recently watched the 2020 remake of The Boys in the Band. As a closeted teen, I remember stumbling across the 1970 film version on late-night television. I was utterly mesmerized. What zeitgeist in queer history produced these wounded, frightened, angry men? It was (as one character puts it) "like watching a car crash." Fifty years later, The Boys in the Band remains all too relevant. Sardonic wit has always served as a balm for pain— and oh how witty we gays are! ("Reading is fundamental" after all :)) The alternative, of course, has always been bleak angst.

I conceived the story of Daniel Garneau as a counterpoint to the queer narrative of trauma and tragedy. To be clear, this narrative is important to tell. Yet there is so much more to our lives. Admittedly, since the 2000s, a canon of affirming LGBTQ+ YA literature has exploded on the scene. But YA lit readers grow up— and what is there for them? Genre fiction mired in M/M tropes. Not that there's anything wrong with gay vampires and queer superheroes, mind you! But... I wanted to offer something more.

In the publishing industry, A Boy at the Edge of the World and Tales from the Bottom of My Sole might be considered New Adult literature, insofar that they explore the experiences of 20-somethings discovering adulthood, but not yet settled into careers and families.

I wanted the tone and style to be accessible. I wanted the story-telling to be honest and true. That meant the sex, actually, needed to be realistic. And the story, of course, needed humour. Because life is absurd. Because life, after all, (as my character Isabella De Luca observes) is an opera buffa. I wanted to write something that was the opposite of epic and heroic. I wanted to write about real, ordinary people.

On this particular weekend and in this particular month, I'm especially grateful for the hundreds of queer and trans young people who have gifted me with their stories. Storytelling rescues, and can (sometimes) even heal. As we tend daily to old and new wounds, I invite us to make space also in our lives for stories of celebration, laughter and connection. We deserve it. It is, more than ever, what we need now. -DKY
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Published on October 10, 2020 19:41

October 1, 2020

TALES BOOK RELEASE: A Liminal Space

Tales from the Bottom of My Sole by David Kingston Yeh

Today, Oct 1, 2020, is not my eleventy-first birthday... But it is the book release date for my second novel, Tales from the Bottom of My Sole.

Heartfelt thanks to the staff at Guernica Editions, and all the ARC readers who have posted reviews. Your kind and thoughtful words have meant the world to me. As any author will tell you: writing is a love affair.

In the spring of 2018, my husband Daniel and I hosted a celebratory send-off for my first novel, A Boy at the Edge of the World - a glamorous, boozy, packed-house book launch at the legendary Glad Day Bookshop in Toronto, Canada. What a treat!

Today could not be more different. It is a quiet, cool autumn in Ontario. I work from home alone. Daniel, a hospital manager, labours long hours at the office, preparing for the pandemic’s "second wave.” It is a liminal space we live in now.

Yet I can't help thinking: there is an intimate and creative exchange between an author and reader. And books can bring us closer in ways far more powerful and profound than any social media. In an age when discord and disconnect have become ordinary, books can work extraordinary magic.

Tales is not for everyone. I imagine, like A Boy, it will be banned in some countries. I was grateful to hear recently that the Toronto Public Library just purchased four copies. If you have taken the time to read this, know that you are extraordinary. You are rich and strange. You are what this world needs now.

As Elizabeth Gilbert exhorts: “Be the weirdo who dares to enjoy.

DKY
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Published on October 01, 2020 18:23