October 30, 2014

‘Barring Complications’ by Blythe Rippon

Posted on October 21, 2014 by in Fiction, Romance

No doubt about it: June 26, 2013 will always be remembered as one of the pivotal moments in the historical fight for LGBTQI rights. The tide which gathered first with the Stonewall uprising swept away the obstacles to marriage equality when the US Supreme Court decided that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional. But can a new novel, a debut novel no less, do justice to such a monumental event? (more…)

‘Petite Mort’ by Beatrice Hitchman

Posted on October 16, 2014 by in Fiction, Reviews

Petite Mort, Beatrice Hitchman’s debut novel, opens with a Le Monde article—Paris, 1967—announcing the discovery of a thought long-lost silent film reel from 1914. The article also mentions the mysterious fact that a crucial segment of the film is missing. Following this news brief, the novel moves back in time to 1909, where it effectively begins with two sisters, Adèle and Camille. The two are young, carbon copies of each other, sitting in a tree harassed by local boys, but saved, at the end of this first scene, by the town priest, Pere Simon. Very soon after, we discover that Père Simon plays a much larger role in Adèle’s life: exposing her for the first time to film, and coaching her with acting lessons. He is the impetus for her to run away, in 1913, to Paris, in search of a career on screen. Cinema, we discover, in these first brief chapters, is akin to religion for Adèle—a faith she believes will save her. (more…)

‘The Prince’s Boy’ by Paul Bailey

Posted on October 7, 2014 by in Fiction, Reviews

With Dinu Grigorescu, Paul Bailey presents contemporary readers with a challenging narrator. Ailing while on the cusp of 60 in the spring of 1967 and certain that he has little time remaining, Dinu’s setting down a “memoir of a life half-lived.” Though mentioning in passing the lonely decades he endured in London after the mid-1930s, the heart of his recollection relates to what Dinu calls his “Parisian adventures.” A romantic with a “manliness denied [him] by nature,” Dinu’s an acutely sensitive esthete–when far younger and residing for a few months in a Montmartre garret (“a lavender-scented bower”), the poet manqué purchased a beret, no less, and envisioned himself writing in the mode of his literary heroes Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Proust, and Eminescu. As a narrating voice to spend time with, that precious temperament proves something of an acquired taste. And as with many acquired tastes, Dinu’s agonized and reflexively theatrical self-presentation may have limited appeal. (more…)

‘A Gathering Storm’ by Jameson Currier

Posted on September 27, 2014 by in Fiction, Reviews

A Gathering Storm by Jameson Currier is the story of a hate crime. In a small, unnamed university town in the American South, on a Monday night in September, a gay college student named Danny meets two other men in a local bar; after they leave, they drive Danny to a remote spot, beat him, tie him to a fence, and leave him to die. Once he is discovered—after suffering exposure outdoors overnight—and taken to a local hospital, word of the hate crime spreads, and the residents of the town and university suddenly find themselves at the center of a media frenzy, as the news quickly reverberates beyond the local community. (more…)

‘Barracuda’ by Christos Tsiolkas

Posted on September 19, 2014 by in Fiction, Reviews

Deep into Christos Tsiolkas’ Barracuda (Hogarth), Danny, the novel’s angry gay protagonist, returns to his native Australia and has a conversation with his brother. “I could have had a future,” he tells Theo as he looks back at his young life. The words could have been an apt subtitle to the book: Barracuda; or I Could Have Had a Future. Yet in the end, the novelisn’t quite as pessimistic as it might originally seem. While there is no false optimism as we are pulled through Danny’s bleak adolescence into his early adulthood, Tsiolkas does offer a quiet yet clear redemption. Hope is earned, even if in a minor key. (more…)

‘The Paying Guests’ by Sarah Waters

Posted on September 14, 2014 by in Fiction, Reviews

Earlier this year, when Lambda crowd-sourced #abooksavedmylife, one of the first books I thought of was Sarah Waters’ Tipping the Velvet. Fourteen years ago, just before I started questioning my sexuality, I was having lunch with my best friend in New York City when she fished a battered copy of Tipping the Velvet out of her enormous purse and handed it to me. You, she said, her eyes bright, are going to love this book. As ever, she was right. (more…)

‘Keepsake Self Storage’ by Marianne Banks

Posted on September 11, 2014 by in Fiction, Romance

The story of Keepsake Self Storage starts with a “body” floating down the Connecticut River. However, May Hammond is wrong about the ominous looking blob, as she finds out later when the police investigate to find a bag of old clothing. Nevertheless, a body-shaped bag of debris turns out to be a metaphor for the madness that ensues as the tale regresses into a madcap chain of events that sends all parties involved into tornado-like whirlwind of emotion and chaos, sweeping the characters up and spinning them out of control. (more…)

‘The Kills’ by Richard House

Posted on September 10, 2014 by in Fiction, Reviews

Mistakes come in all shapes and sizes. Some, like the one Rem Gunnersen makes when he kidnaps a customer’s dog in a wrongheaded act of revenge, are small—relatively speaking. Others, like the United States’ military involvement in Iraq, are huge; they’re global in scope. Richard House’s novel The Kills is a chronicle of such mistakes and resultant disasters. What we learn quickly enough is that no matter what happens, no matter how enormous or egregious a mistake might be, there is always someone ready to turn what’s happened into an advantage. And all too often that person’s name is Paul Geezler. (more…)

‘Lincoln Avenue: Chicago Stories’ by Gregg Shapiro

Posted on September 9, 2014 by in Fiction, Reviews

It was with a bit of trepidation that I waded into Gregg Shapiro’s slim new volume, Lincoln Avenue: Chicago Stories (Squares & Rebels). It wasn’t the book’s quality that gave me pause, but its specificity—Chicago is a city that I’ve never visited and don’t know very much about. Luckily, while Shapiro’s wry and entertaining tales are deeply rooted in his hometown, they explore a geography that will be instantly recognizable to many of their readers: the inner life of young gay men growing up in the not-so-distant pre-Internet age. (more…)

‘I’ve Got a Time Bomb’ By Sybil Lamb

Posted on September 3, 2014 by in Fiction, Reviews

I’ve Got a Time Bomb is a trans punk road novel that is not for the faint of heart. It is not for the politically or grammatically correct. It is not a respectable trans book and that is a good thing. Too many books written by and about trans people seek to normalize trans lives, and are careful not to offend people within and outside of the community. Be forewarned, Lamb writes without inhibition, no matter how ugly or violent her truth is. (more…)