September 1, 2014

‘Prelude to Bruise’ by Saeed Jones

Posted on August 31, 2014 by in Poetry, Reviews

“I’ve seen how/brutality becomes the rhythm to a kind of/song”

-Carl Phillips

Saeed Jones may be one of the most necessary poets of our time. Our time, which, as of this moment, is ravaged by news of Ferguson, heartbreak in Gaza, Tina Fontaine, the murders of two transgender women in Detroit, a massive water shortage in California, earthquakes—to name a few things. As I type this, my news feed and inbox are full of letters and articles and tweets and comments and frustrations and fundraisers of all of the folks in my immediate community and their immediate communities and the vast global communities we occupy by sharing the same umbrella of identity, the intersection of race, ability, gender, class, occupation, illness. If it’s true (and I believe it is true) that our movements and traumas are reflected in the art that we consume, or that the art that we consume often tells a better story than any journalist, then Saeed Jones’ Prelude to Bruise is an archive of resistance. (more…)

‘Best Gay Stories 2014′ Edited by Steve Berman

Posted on August 27, 2014 by in Anthology, Reviews

Lethe Press, the independent press that publishes the annual Best Gay Stories anthologies, takes its name from the river of forgetfulness and oblivion in Greek mythology. With the publication of Best Gay Stories Lethe’s name becomes a bit of a misnomer for two crucial reasons. The first is that most of the twenty stories collected in the 2014 edition deal with memory, to the extent that “memory” means the absence of forgetfulness. Only three of them are in the still-cutting-edge present tense; the rest are firmly in the past, confronting issues of wanting to forget the traumas and stigmas of growing up gay in the previous generation, but also of nostalgia. As editor Steve Berman writes in his introduction, “The men you will meet in these pages are pained by the realizations that they are no longer young boys who can leap off rocks into a swimming pool or can happen upon a tryst without consequence. Some are at the precipice of adulthood, some are already across the great divide of years[...]”. The second reason for the name’s irony is simpler: most of these stories are truly quite memorable and attentive. (more…)

James Jenkins: Publishing Lost Gay Classics

Posted on August 21, 2014 by in Features, Interviews

As a young reader, several of my favorite science fiction authors were lamentably out of print, so a trip to a used bookstore was a treasure hunt. There was always the possibility that I would find a rarity, or even a book previously unknown to me. As an adult reader, I’m continually surprised at the breadth and depth of gay fiction. The Stonewall riot may have been the start of a civil rights movement, but it was not the beginning of our history. Intuition, coded cover art and friendly guidance has led me to many a title, and I’m glad that there are still surprises on this journey, chief among them Valancourt Books. My friend Trebor Healey interviewed them recently at the Huffington Post, where I learned that they’ve been reprinting gay classics and Gothic and horror books since 2005. I immediately went to their website and was startled at the number of books that they’ve resurrected, and the obvious care and diligence that went into those books’ recovery. I’ve since chatted up one of the publishers, James Jenkins (his partner in books and marriage, Ryan Cagle, handles the horror side of the business), to learn more about some of the gay titles they’ve brought out. (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…)

Bad Romance: Writers and Suicide

Posted on August 13, 2014 by in Features, Opinion

Suicide.

It goes against the grain of our very DNA. We are hard-wired to survive. Our autonomic reflexes tell us, live, breathe, run, live. For God’s sake, live.

Sometimes our brains rewire themselves. Sometimes pain outdistances DNA. Sometimes we want to die. Sometimes dying is not the threat, but the promise. (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…)

‘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…)

‘Looking After Joey’ by David Pratt

Posted on August 2, 2014 by in Fiction, Reviews

Calvin, an aging gay man who ticks the minutes of the evening down anticipating the porn he will watch when he returns home, is about to get a surprise. For one, he’s about to get sucked (pun intended) into the world of gay porn. Not the adult industry, but into actual porn-land, where every man’s girlfriend is away for the weekend (and they’re just horny, and have needs, you know?), the pizza delivery guy never has change but can always work something out, and every body is perfectly sculpted. ThinkPleasantville, but with more lube and moaning. (more…)

‘Returning to Reims’ by Didier Eribon

Posted on July 31, 2014 by in Bio/Memoir, Reviews

One of the most alarmingly overlooked issues facing lgbt politics is the impact of social and economic class divisions within the lgbt community. Today, as lgbt organizations increasingly promote the image of the upper middle class professional as the face of its campaign for rights, it is more important than ever that we understand the role social and economic class plays in the queer world as issues such as gentrification, homeless youth, and affordable healthcare affect the more vulnerable members of the community. Didier Eribon’s Returning to Reims presents a fresh insight into examining social class as an integral part of gay identity. Part personal memoir, part philosophical treatise on the relationship between sexual identity and social class status, Eribon’s book is both a delicately told tale of a young Frenchman crafting a gay self in the working class world and a stunning analysis of how acculturation into a social class identity affects sexual identity and vice versa. (more…)