With: New Gay Fiction, edited by Jameson Currier, features sixteen authors writing on relationships with men: gay men with their friends, lovers, partners, husbands, dates, tricks, boyfriends, hustlers, idols, teachers, mentors, fathers, brothers, family, teams, co-workers, relatives, and strangers.
Contributors include David Bergman, Michael Carroll, Lewis DeSimone, Jack Fritscher, Ronald M. Gauthier, Michael Graves, Shaun Levin, Dan López, Jeff Mann, Vincent Meis, Matthew A. Merendo, Joel A. Nichols, David Pratt, Tom Schabarum, Stefen Styrsky, and William Sterling Walker.
Jameson Currier is the author of five novels, Where the Rainbow Ends, nominated for a Lambda Literary award, The Wolf at the Door, The Third Buddha, What Comes Around, and The Forever Marathon, and four collections of short fiction: Dancing on the Moon; Desire, Lust, Passion, Sex; Still Dancing: New and Selected Stories; and The Haunted Heart and Other Tales, which was awarded a Black Quill Award for Best Dark Genre Fiction Collection. His short fiction has appeared in many literary magazines and Web sites, including Velvet Mafia, Blithe House Quarterly, Confrontation, Christopher Street, and the anthologies Men on Men 5, Best American Gay Fiction 3, Boyfriends from Hell, Mammoth Book of New Gay Erotica, Best Gay Erotica, Best American Erotica, Best Gay Romance, Best Gay Stories, Circa 2000, Rebel Yell, I Do/I Don't, Where the Boys Are, Nine Hundred & Sixty-Nine, Wilde Stories, Unspeakable Horror, and Making Literature Matter. His AIDS-themed short stories have also been translated into French by Anne-Laure Hubert and published as Les Fantômes. His reviews, essays, interviews, and articles on AIDS and gay culture have been published in many national and local publications, including The Washington Post, Newsday, The Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine, Lambda Book Report, The Harvard Gay and Lesbian Review, The Washington Blade, Southern Voice, Metrosource, Bay Area Reporter, Frontiers, The New York Blade, and Body Positive. In 2010, he began Chelsea Station Editions, an independent press for gay books, and the following year launched Chelsea Station, a literary magazine devoted to gay-themed writing. In 2013 he edited two original anthologies for the press: Between: New Gay Poetry and With: New Gay Fiction. He currently resides in Manhattan.
This anthology features sixteen authors writing about all different types of relationships between gay men and others, including, but not limited to, lovers, family, friends, and acquaintances.
"Gold Mine" by Michael Graves Gold Mine is an engaging and deeply emotional read written from two points of view. First, we have the boy anxiously waiting for his lover's return from the Iraqi War, and then we have boy's grandmother whose keen observations are shared with the reader. Graves uses both perspectives to explore the boy's relationship with his lover, the grandmother's love and acceptance, as well as the rejection he experiences from family members and the lover's family. This piece is engrossing in style with a political flavor that feels a bit dated, but not so much that it is not pertinent today. Particularly since there are lovers still waiting for their loved ones to come home safely.
"In Pride" by Lewis DeSimone Lewis DeSimone's In Pride focuses on today's issue of gay marriage and all the changes that the new laws bring to individual lives and to the gay community as a whole. It's a beautiful thing and San Francisco is celebrating. But it all comes down to analyzing change and effect in the life of his main character, and as he joins the throngs of those celebrating, the effect it will have on a few of his friends who come from an older generation as opposed to the younger members of the gay community. There are questions: Is this something he wants in his life? Should he settle for the young lover who's already in his life or should he search for the right person? Does he want to? Is there still a chance for him? This is a fantastic piece by DeSimone who hits the right tone while addressing the new choices available to the modern gay man from the perspective of an experienced, mature generation.
"Werewolf" by Michael Carroll Werewolf by Michael Carroll is one of those stories that just about anyone can relate to. It is about childhood friendships, you know, the ones that we let go with almost a sense of relief and later regret, usually when it's too late, because there are unresolved issues and feelings. In this case, Carroll's main character got there in time to say those last loving words to a dying friend and came to terms with rough realities. This is a deeply emotional, reality-based story that touches on the truth of those teen-year friendships that span years and in so many ways shape us.
I only highlighted three short stories as examples. It took me a while to finish this anthology because I read each story between other books. As a final assessment I will say this, the editor chose the right stories and writers for this anthology, and each one of the 16 stories included is definitely worth reading. As a bonus, I found a few new-to-me authors whose works I will be reading. This is B+ read for me.