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Brace Yourself—part title, part warning—is the debut e-book collection from Alysia Angel. Angel, a noted fiction, non-fiction, and memoir-based writer and a 2011 and 2012 alumnus of the Lambda Literary Emerging Writers Retreat, is a force to be reckoned with. A self-described southern-bred working class high femme queer, Angel expertly brings readers into the gritty underbelly of her characters’ lives where there is no happily ever after, just hard work, blood, sweat and if you are lucky the release of tears, and sometimes pleasure.
Angel’s stories bring us behind the doors of The Lusk, an apartment complex that reminded me of a very dark dollhouse, where we peer in at the tragedy unfolding in each of the little apartments. Mixing sex and horror, Angel has a unique, poetic storytelling style that captivates. Interwoven between stories of the building are other tales filled with public sex, desire, and unfulfilled passion. These are gritty, filthy stories that pull at some of our deepest places, certainly sexual in nature, but also exploring abandonment, loneliness and at their heart desperate threads of connection. These are characters grappling with the difficult hands they are dealt in life; the brutal struggle but also the moments of pleasure they are able to capture.
Angel has given us an exquisitely crafted collection filled with stories that are as challenging as they are strong. Readers ought to heed the warning of the e-book’s title and Brace Yourself when you begin this book, it will take you into dangerous and complicated lives and homes that you’ll never forget.
by Alysia Angel
Amazon Digital Services
E-book, B00BRW7ATO, 38 pp.