September 21, 2014

‘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…)

‘Belle City’ by Penny Mickelbury

Posted on September 1, 2014 by in Fiction, Reviews

From Annette Gordon-Reed’s works on the lives of the Hemingses and Jeffersons in Monticello, Virginia, to the new book by author Chris Tomlinson on his familial connections with African-American running back LaDainian Tomlinson, much has been written recently about America’s tangled multiracial family tree. Penny Mickelbury, one of the founders of black LGBTQ fiction, joins that group with her new novel Belle City. (more…)

‘Inga’s Zigzags’ by Vica Miller

Posted on August 31, 2014 by in Fiction, Reviews

Ah, to be in Moscow in 1997, where the men are rich and virile, the women stiletto-clad sylphs, and the economic landscape infinitely fertile. With a fresh divorce and MBA in hand, the heroine of Vica Miller’s Inga’s Zigzags returns after a decade in New York to make her fortune in the capitalist playground Russia has become. (more…)

‘The River’s Memory’ by Sandra Gail Lambert

Posted on August 20, 2014 by in Fiction, Reviews

Not long ago, on a trip to Miami, I sat in the Charlotte airport waiting for my connecting flight, thinking about the art and literature of Florida. As a reasonably well-read and cultured New Englander, all that came to mind were Carl Hiaasen, Karen Russell, Art Deco, and the Indigo Girls’ song, “Salty South.” I’m fascinated by the unique art each geographical location in the US produces. For one country, our regions are so distinct, so unto themselves, and while strip malls and box stores do their insidious homogenizing work, I continue to seek out the ideas, expressions, geology, landscapes, flora and fauna that define a region. Reading Sandra Gail Lambert’s remarkable debut novel, The River’s Memory, I’ve found another name to add to my Florida list. (more…)

‘He Mele A Hilo: A Hilo Song’ by Ryka Aoki

Posted on August 12, 2014 by in Fiction, Reviews

Nona Watanabe makes her humble chicken dish so well it might just be a divine calling, but her outfits and skin are never quite the “right” colors for her to feel like she belongs. Her boyfriend Harry can fish and never return empty-handed nor unsatisfied with his simple life, but he can’t shake the memories of his long-dead wife in order to fully embrace his second chance at love. Steve Yates is the richest man on Earth and has just bought a gorgeous stretch of Hilo coastline, but his money can’t purchase the one thing he wants most: his wife’s health. Kam Schulman, haole that he is, moved to Hilo after Hawaii’s music called to him, but he can’t be sure his new bandmates acceptance isn’t provisional. And Noelani Choi is the most naturally gifted hula dancer on the island, but her desire for meaning has drawn her away from the dance and towards an alienating obsession with Jesus. (more…)