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The Silent Hustler

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Best known for editing the edgy gay fiction of the Velvet Mafia website, Sean Meriwether has quietly been writing short fiction and building up a body of his own work. The Silent Hustler collects his short fiction published over the last decade. Meriwether's fiction spans in range from the literary ("Things I Can't Tell My Father") to the revolutionary ("Burn the Rich") to the downright raunchy ("Sneaker Queen"). Slip into bed with The Silent Hustler. You won’t feel guilty in the morning.

256 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2009

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About the author

Sean Meriwether

13 books33 followers
Sean Meriwether has published over short stories in multiple venues including Best Gay Love Stories and Lodestar Quarterly . His collection of short fiction, The Silent Hustler , was released by Lethe Press (2009). He is currently writing for The Green Economist , a journal focused on Social Issues, Climate Change and Sustainable Development.

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Displaying 1 - 12 of 12 reviews
Profile Image for Paul Jr..
Author 11 books68 followers
December 13, 2009
For years, Sean Meriwether has served as editor of two of the most cutting-edge web magazines out there: Outsider Ink (now shuttered) and Velvet Mafia: Dangerous Queer Fiction. During his time with both markets, Meriwether has found exceptional literature by some of the best writers working. Occasionally he's also thrown one of his own works into the mix and that is how I first discovered Meriwether as an author in his own right. Over the years, Meriwether has been amassing an enviable body of work and that, my friends, is a very good thing for us.

I've always enjoyed Meriwether's stories and I've always known that he is a damn good writer, but until I read his collected works in The Silent Hustler, I didn't fully realize just how exceptional a writer he is. When you read one of Meriwether's works as a stand-alone, you always come away satisfied, perhaps a little (and sometimes a lot) aroused, and definitely emotionally affected, though on the latter you might never quite be able to put your finger on the emotions you are feeling or how Meriwether pulled them out of you. His prose is clean and evocative, creating place and time with the simplest turns of a phrase, and his dialog is impeccable, sounding like real men in very real situations. There are no contrivances here. Not of character. Not of story. No manipulation. Just straight out stories about real people. And when read together as a whole, these works blend seamlessly together to take us on a really interesting and varied journey of growing, becoming and living as a gay man.

The journey starts off with the "literary" (although, honestly, all of it is literary) "Things I Can't Tell My Father." It's part tribute, part indictment, and an always honest look at a father and his son. It's alternately melancholic and funny, touching and bitter, joyful and sad. It also serves as a cautionary tale of how one's actions make your children who they become even if you don't realize it. It packs an emotional wallop, but it isn't heavy handed. And that's the key to this collection. It's understated. There's no manufactured drama here, it's all very real and quietly, almost subversively, effective.

Many of the pieces in this collection would be classified as "erotica," and let me tell you it is erotica in the very best sense of the word. The majority of the stories are sizzling hot, but what I appreciate about each one is that Meriwether never loses the men behind the acts. Unlike much erotica these days these days, Meriwether keeps his characters firmly rooted in their realities. Character never suffers for the sex and, most importantly, Meriwether imbues every single story with the emotional impetus for the sex. Whether it's melancholia, insecurity or unbridled lust that drives the characters towards the sex, it is never superfluous. Take for example "www.menschangingroom.com." Man, this is a hot, erotic piece, but as we draw to a close, Meriwether reveals the emotion that leads out narrator to that site. "Sneaker Queen" is another one that—pun completely intended—sneaks up on you. I don't want to say much more than that. Needless to say, even with the most erotic pieces in this collection, you are going to get a wonderful depth of character and emotion to go along with all the steamy bits. And that makes the sex all that more fulfilling doesn't it?

Now, when one reads a single author anthology it is inevitable that you hit a story that just doesn't speak to you, one that you might secretly skim to the end. I've done it with some of my favorite authors. Well, I can honestly say that there is not a single story in this collection that doesn't work. Each is so incredibly nuanced that you want to savor every word. That's the brilliance of Meriwether's writing…he gives a lot in it and keeps you right there with the characters.

Perhaps—for me, anyway—the story that best represents the complexity of Meriwether's work and this collection is "So Long Anita Bryant And Thanks For Everything." Boy this story packs a lot in. It is incredibly touching, instantly recreating the time of the "Save our Children" campaign Bryant waged against us, and incredibly sexy all at once. Meriwether manages to capture how Bryant demoralized and vilified us, yet also unintentionally empowered us to fight for what should be ours. We also get to experience (or, in the case of us older folks, relive), the wide-eyed innocence of realizing there are others like us out there, that we aren't freaks, and the headiness of realizing—on an sexual level--that there are so many of us out there. And when the narrator announces, "I'm here to fight Anita Bryant," your heart swells with the young man's newfound pride. It's a story of innocence lost, pride discovered and adulthood born. A brilliant piece.

In the end, all the pieces work together—not something that can be aid of every single-author collection—blending seamlessly together to take us on an interesting, erotic, emotional and most importantly a literary journey of growing, becoming and living as a gay man. A tour de force that is not to be missed. 10 out of 10 stars.
Profile Image for Kassa.
1,118 reviews108 followers
February 16, 2010
Short story authors are often overlooked. Their stories may entice, delight, and arouse but rarely is the author remembered with strong, visceral emotions. That’s usually reserved, for good or bad, for longer length work. Here Sean Meriwether has offered a packed collection of brilliantly written, deeply moving stories that are a must read. Anyone walking away from this anthology will remember Meriwether’s name and likely have a strong reaction to it. The strength of such clean writing, evocative prose, and enticing situations makes a strong impression without fail. Twenty five delicious offerings that range from sci-fi to punk, fantasy, erotica, and weird. The stories are raunchy, sweet, sad, tender, and never let the reader forget that the honesty of the men and the situation.

The collection is presented in four parts. The first are two connected stories which are arguably some of the strongest. The honesty of the flawed relationship between a son and his father shows the complexity of such a connection and a brief glimpse into hidden thoughts. From there, a series of connected stories about a young boy named Ryan and his experiences, hopes, dreams, and fantasies in school offer a look at a young gay boy that both hates and loves his tormentors. The confusion of adolescence is beautifully contrasted to the danger of risky choices. The next linked section offers an older look, young men coming out and living in New York City. Here the stories offer touching, charming, and sometimes highly erotic glimpses into fantasies, desires, and heart break. The last grouping is a mixture of sci-fi and grunge/punk stories that show an edgy strength unlike anything else I’ve read.

Each of the stories shows clean writing and a minimum of prose. There is no need for extraneous, lengthy description when Meriwether offers a lush, gritty environment with just a few words. The turns of phrase are simple yet convey a wealth of meaning from whimsical to dark and gothic. The transformation of a young boy to a cultured, experience man is shown in the progression of the stories. Some are harsh, offering dark consequences and bitter answers while others are sweet and hopeful. The contrast also shows the breadth of the author’s ability in writing both beautifully and without missing a step. The focus is not so much on the action but the men and their setting. The themes explored run the gamut of issues, ideas, fantasies, and desires that gay men experience. Innocence, love, lust, confusion, relationships, identity, failure, and crime are all areas this collection touches upon. These are not always happy, feel good stories with tidy endings. The men involved are honest, messy, selfish, foolish, lost, needy, funny, smart, and above all real reflections of people.

The stories are also highly erotic. This is not a flowery eroticism meant solely to entice yet the authentic situations and men’s reality offer vivid descriptions that can’t fail. From the raunchy yet delightful “Sneaker Queen” about a hilarious shoe fetish to the youthful sexual awakening in “The Theory of Forward Motion” and the fascinating parade of men in “For Hire,” these all show erotic elements in many different ways. Even the sci-fi, edgy “Rumford’s Fluid” successfully mixes hope, science, and erotic desire. Each man introduced blends with their setting and crisp dialogue to give an appealing look even when the actions and outcome are grim and disturbing. Often instead of a young man being used by an older, more experienced predator, these stories turn that paradigm around and show a young man just barely sexually aware and yearning for these dark experiences without knowing the consequences. The dark, edgy world of convicts and outsiders appealing to innocent young men twists the common theme with incredible ease.

The anthology parallels its own growth and offers clever and witty ideas among the mixture of themes. From one story to the next you never know where you’re going or what new fantasy will occur or who’s view will you see – the predator or the victim. It’s incredibly hard to pick a favorite from the bounty that is offered in this collection. The stunning literary work of “Things I Can’t Tell My Father” or “So Long Anita Bryant and Thanks for Everything” sits well next to the whimsical and haunting “Boys in Summer” and harsh light of “Read Any Good Books Lately?” The first and last sections stand out for their innovation and daring, edgy themes. The haunting memory of the stories seems to linger even after reading them. The best I can offer is to read the collection for yourself and likely in order, to enjoy the progression of excellence.
Profile Image for Alan.
Author 12 books95 followers
March 4, 2012
Sean Meriwether stitches together an impressive collection of short stories in The Silent Hustler that are visceral, unsettling, poetic, beautiful, and real. He takes a magnifying glass to the edgy side of gay life, following unique characters that seem to jump off the pages and fire the imagination.

I won’t recount every story, but suffice to say that the author flexes his considerable talent to create a series of disturbing tales that challenge the reader, both emotionally and psychologically. Be prepared to have your senses wounded and healed.

Most of these stories involve young protagonists, still exploring their own confused emotions, as well as the gritty world they find themselves battling against.

In a world where much of gay literature seems to rehash the same ideas presented by the same set of stock characters, The Silent Hustler is a fresh, cooling drink for the senses. The range of themes, diversity of characters, and variety of narrative voices keeps this book a fascinating read all the way through.

I can highly recommend this book to any reader who enjoys well-written, taut, erotic stories about young men who are not so innocent. Bravo.
Profile Image for Matt.
256 reviews93 followers
July 20, 2016
A real "mix tape" of short stories and criminally unknown, if you ask me. Granted, there are stories in here that delve into taboos and violence, but overall Meriwether offers a great collection of snapshots of gay culture/fantasy. The beginning is thoughtful, reveries on father/son and father/brother relationships, then delves into the character's erotic life, eventually scenes of soft porn, with a couple punctuations of all-out pornography, then the tone finally dials back for some surreality and meditation. The first third seems to revolve around one character as he progresses from puberty into a life of hustling in New York, but it's blurry as to when the stories leave him to discover other characters. A very good collection, but perhaps too dark and even too raunchy for the reader looking for stories about cuddly gay relationships (I'm addressing previous reviewers, particularly women, who weren't pleased with this collection . . . well, what do you expect when the title contains the word "hustler"?). At any rate, I firmly believe Meriwether deserves a larger readership.
Profile Image for Alli.
255 reviews12 followers
November 15, 2010
The 1st two sections, my favorites, are more relationship based: father/son, bully/target, friend/lover. The stories loosely explore the growth of a confused, lustful boy to an out & sophisticated gay man. Like many of these pieces, "Things I Can't Tell My Father" is breathtaking & bittersweet.

The 2nd half is a more action-driven variety: all erotic, some violent, psychotic, tragic. Every time I thought a story couldn't possibly go there, off it went dinging every boundary. I'm not sure if I loved this portion, exactly, or that the s***load of brutality was too fascinating to stop. Whatever the case, it's impressive.

A definite recommend, especially to those who want something off the mainstream grid.
Profile Image for Tommy Howell.
Author 10 books2 followers
February 24, 2014
This was an eclectic collection of darkly themed gay short stories. Yes, there's some erotica, but often the sex is either discomforting and unsatisfying to the reader or the character. The hottest sex scenes are in the most dangerous situations, which really adds fuel to the fire (literally in one story.)

The tales of growing up gay in a small town rang true in weird ways. Sean really captured a lot of the essence of the time period in stories like "So Long Anita Bryant and Thanks for Everything." Stories like "Exile" and "Rumford's Fluid" deftly wove in fantasy or science fiction elements with a very harsh reality intruding appropriately. I really appreciated the variety of characters like hackers, rock stars, and mad scientists even though there wasn't much ethnic diversity.
Profile Image for Bookbee.
1,355 reviews23 followers
February 11, 2012
Another reviewer (thank you Alan Chin) used the perfect descriptor for this collection of shorts...unsettling. These stories are dark and gritty and yet, I'm glad I read them. Sometimes 'unsettling' = 'satisfying'.
Profile Image for William Freeman.
484 reviews4 followers
April 23, 2020
What can I say about these stories brilliantly written some very disturbing but will seek out more of his works
Profile Image for Emanuela ~plastic duck~.
805 reviews115 followers
September 25, 2011
The stories in this collection are not of the feel-good kind and I don't really feel equipped to write a review about them. I liked the first stories - those about the father/son relationship and about Kevin and the way he copes with his sexuality in a small city. There is a section which is set in New York and I enjoyed those stories, especially the one which is a sort of tabloid where two men confront themselves (or maybe avoid confrontation) in a blistering hot restaurant in summer in an almost deserted city. A few of these story are quite wicked, but also funny, like Sneaker Queen, which tells of a guy with a (rather eewww) fetish for sneakers; For Hire - A Date With John, about a man and the string of prostitutes he hires; www.menschangingroom.com and exhibitionism on the net. My favorite of this section was So Long Anita Bryant And Thanks for Everything!, about a young man who leaves for New York a couple of weeks before graduating, with shame and naivety and idealism, leaving his stepbrother behind.

I found the stories with the "you"-narration a bit difficult to follow, it's a kind of narration that I personally don't like, because I don't want the author to put me in that position, it's quite uncomfortable. I felt like the stories in the last part were too convoluted, so I didn't enjoy them very much.

The writing is very good, but unfortunately a few of the stories are too far from my experience and I couldn't connect with the characters or what was told, but I am glad I read this collection.
Profile Image for Hilcia.
1,113 reviews18 followers
November 17, 2013
I've had The Silent Hustler, a collection of twenty-six stories, in my TBR for a long, long time. I can't tell you how fantastic this collection is! It begins with two gorgeous stories about fathers and sons "Things I Can't Tell My Father," and "Ice Water." These two contemporary/lit fiction stories are brilliantly written with intimacy of thought and emotion. The collection is then divided into three sections: Frankenstein, Alone in the Country, Boys in the City, and Sax and Violins. Each section contains stories that take young gay men from early sexual discovery, through young adulthood and the discovery of the gay lifestyle, and on to adulthood.

There is nothing conventional or pedestrian about Meriwether's writing skills or the edgy, erotic, and emotional stories in this collection. Meriwether hooked me with the first two stories, but he kept me reading to the end by way of his talents, and by challenging comfort zones while making it all seem easy and fresh. A fantastic read! (and a gorgeous, gorgeous cover)
Profile Image for Lola.
183 reviews14 followers
April 17, 2011
UGh....this book contains a story of a misguided poor boy getting molested and raped by prisoner.....And somehow this is glorified? I am truly horrified....even if this is fiction....this is just poor taste...
Profile Image for Victoria.
41 reviews17 followers
May 27, 2012
I didn't enjoy this book like I thought I would - It was much too dark for me.
Displaying 1 - 12 of 12 reviews

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