August 21, 2014

‘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…)

‘Olive Oil and White Bread’ by Georgia Beers

Posted on August 19, 2014 by in Reviews, Romance

Olive Oil and White Bread, the cleverly titled offering by romance novelist Georgia Beers, is the story of two women, one from a traditional yet accepting Italian-American family, and one from what can only be termed old-school, uppity American. Angelina Righetti’s family is warm and accepting. Jillian Clark has an apologetic father and a snooty, unsupportive mother. There is an immediate attraction when the women see each other from a distance at a softball game, but only meet months later. It’s clear from their early interactions that these two are meant to be together for a lifetime if they can only figure out what’s important in life and in relationship—and that’s where the problems begin. (more…)

‘If This Be Sin’ by Hazel Newlevant

Posted on August 17, 2014 by in Comics, Illustrated

I love comics about musicians, especially behind-the-scenes bios about their life and creative processes. So for me, Hazel Newlevant’s comic If This Be Sin, which features three music related stories, was like getting triple scoops of my favorite flavor. Plus, one of the stories is about the falling out of rock star musicians Wendy and Lisa with Prince, which this former Minnesotan couldn’t wait to read. What better way to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of Purple Rain than with a little reality check on what Prince is really like? (more…)

’1960s Gay Pulp Fiction: The Misplaced Heritage’ Edited by Drewey Wayne Gunn and Jamie Harker

Posted on August 15, 2014 by in Nonfiction, Reviews

Gay pulp novels of the 1960s sell at steep prices these days. Their racy covers have great camp value, and since they were cheaply produced and meant to be easily disposed of, gay pulps are now collectors’ items. Gay pulps have even made inroads with academics, who have come to regard pulps as repositories of historical information. But it hasn’t always been so. (more…)

‘To look at the sea is to become what one is: An Etel Adnan Reader’ by Etel Adnan

Posted on August 12, 2014 by in Nonfiction, Poetry

Etel Adnan is practically an institution. With writing that has been set to music, turned into plays, and used in political protests, her gripping lyrical style coupled with deep philosophical prowess has made her a literary giant for decades. So when her retrospective collection, To look at the sea is to become what one is was announced to be released from Nightboat Books, I was thrilled to get my hands on a review copy. (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…)

‘Wilde Stories 2014: The Year’s Best Gay Speculative Fiction’ Edited by Steve Berman

Posted on August 11, 2014 by in Fiction, Speculative

Begun in 2008, the annual series Wilde Stories has striven to provide the best in gay speculative fiction (much as its companion series Heiresses of Russ strives to do for lesbian speculative fiction). The latest installment in this series contains fourteen selections published during the calendar year 2013, which first appeared in other anthologies, literary magazines, and three first appeared online (two at Tor.com). Both female and male writers are represented. In his introduction, Berman notes that this installment happens to contain only writers who have never been published in this series before: a sign that perhaps the field of gay speculative fiction is expanding. Berman certainly has an expansive definition for speculative fiction:  four are outright horror, several more blur the line between horror and dark fantasy, most seem set in some version of our world (two are clearly set on another world), one is a historical fantasy, and one is steampunk. Several of the stories defy easy classification, straddling different sub-genres, and a couple do not even strike me as obvious speculative fiction. (more…)

‘All I Love and Know’ by Judith Frank

Posted on August 10, 2014 by in Fiction, Reviews

Relationships can be a source of strength and a solace. Matt learned that when he gave up his druggy friends in New York for the older Daniel in Northampton, Massachusetts. But tragedy tests couples, regardless of how established they are. The death of Daniel’s twin brother and his wife in a café bombing in Jerusalem was devastating. But after gaining custody of their two young children, Matt and Daniel have no choice but to carry on. Judith Frank’s All I Love And Know is a quick-witted and moving novel that acutely explores the ways in which families mourn, the toll death takes on relationships and the resilience that allows people to survive–all against the backdrop of a uniquely tempered portrayal of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (more…)

‘When I Was Straight’ by Julie Marie Wade

Posted on August 6, 2014 by in Poetry, Reviews

When I Was Straight, the newest book from author Julie Marie Wade (Postage Due, Small Fires, and Lambda Award winner Wishbone), is a slim little volume of poems chock full of insight and life. Published as the eleventh volume of A Midsummer Night’s Press’s LGBT-focused Body Language imprint, it offers a look into Wade’s “before and after:” the first half of the book tackles her life before coming out, and the second half details people’s reactions to learning that she’s a lesbian. (more…)

‘Let Me See It’ by James Magruder

Posted on August 5, 2014 by in Fiction, Reviews

James Magruder’s Let Me See It  (TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press) is a collection often interlocking stories that follow the lives of Elliott Biddler and Tom Amelio, first cousins who grow up separately in places like Kansas City and Chicago and find each other as they come of age as gay men in the 1980s. Much of the poignant beauty of Magruder’s book hinges on the very different ways the two young men confront their sexuality and the crises and consequences that await them in adulthood. (more…)