Monthly Archives: May 2010
Some people say that bigger is better and perhaps that’s true depending on your stance or position, but for me I like them short – short stories that is. I love picking up a book whether it’s a single author or multi-author collection and delving into the different characters, plots and places that the author has created. It’s like an orgy waiting to happen with different tastes, sizes and talents all in one place.
Many single author collections come with one major flaw, the narrative voice. It’s as if the author cannot switch from one character to the next, no matter how different the stories are the voice doesn’t have any unique traits to individualize the various stories that make up the collection.
I must admit that I was a bit worried that a collection of stories about bottoms would be…well…a bit one sided. Thankfully I was wrong. Gavin Atlas has found the secret key to single author collections. Gavin has woven a brilliant collection of stories which stands above many others that I’ve read. Each story is unique in its place, plot and most importantly voice.
“Duel in the Sand” is a very erotic story set on a beach where the main character lives out his fantasy of being “taken” while people watch. I found this to be one of my favorite stories, as I found the character Cal, absolutely adorable. “Blue Star Boy” is a perfect example of how Gavin’s style and narrative voice sets the characters and stories apart. It’s a bit softer than most of Gavin’s stories but that is one reason why I liked this hot surfer story with a touch of romance thrown in.
There are too many wonderful stories in this collection to name them all, but trust me, you won’t be disappointed in any of them. After reading this collection, I’m not surprised that it’s been one of the top sellers from Lethe Press since its release on February 14th.
Top, bottom, up or down; there is something for everybody in this collection. If you haven’t read this anthology you are missing out. Get a copy today!
Reviewed by William Holden
A Legal Guide for Lesbian & Gay Couples – Dennis Clifford, Frederick Hertz, & Emily Doskow (NOLO Press)
The annual sojourn to New Orleans is over for another year—the bags are unpacked, the laundry done and the re-entry into our other lives started. We have much work ahead of us, many contacts to sort and things to think about and organize. Projects and ideas swim around us, just waiting to be tackled. And with the support of the new friends we made last weekend, tackle them we will.
What makes gatherings like this so necessary is the community building and the absolute treat it is to be around others who “get it.” Oh, you may be able to discuss writing and your story problems with your partner or your friends, but unless they’re professional writers, they don’t really understand. And they sure as hell don’t like to talk about it as much as we do.
And while we build our community, we tell our stories. Be they historical, horrific, erotic, non-fiction, mysterious, literary or romantic, those tales need to be told. Lacking an oral tradition (get your mind out of the gutter, please), no one will chronicle our community, its history or its problems except us. Do you think straight people will write about us? What’s more, would you really want them to? Anyone or anything that helps us with any aspect of that process is a step forward for the entire queer community, whether they read or not.
That’s why it’s such a privilege to be a writer, to be someone who sets down the story, who desperately attempts to get it right so that others may understand. I’ve often been accused of taking myself and gay lit too seriously, and I don’t comprehend that. How can you not take it seriously? Good or bad, it’s the record of who we are.
So until next year, we’ll keep pecking away at our keyboards, producing works of absolute genius as well as drooling stupidity,because that’s what we do. And you’ll read about many of them here. Please keep coming, please keep leaving comments—positive and negative—and please support your favorite authors, no matter who they may be.
We are in this together, after all.
When it rains here, it doesn’t mess around.
Our day started with breakfast at the Clover Grill, where we watched a rain that made Saturday’s deluge look like a gentle trickle. It didn’t let up until the drains were overwhelmed and the streets flooded. But the clouds broke, the sun poked through and the water subsided. The last day of Saints and Sinners had started.
And what a choice of panels and readings: from “Meet the Press,” a panel about publishing with small presses to specific panels about craft like “Writing Intimacy, from Sex to Family Dynamics” to a “Dramatic Writing Roundtable.” But we opted for more of the reading series, listening to such terrific writers as Rob Byrnes, Greg Herren, Anne Laughlin, J.M. Redmann and Joe Formichella.
Then we had to lunch to gather strength for our own panel: “Erotica 101: Stripping Away the Fluff and Getting Down to Basics,” featuring me, my Out in Print cohort Bill Holden, Dale Chase and Gavin Atlas. Our original moderator, Steve Berman, had to return home early, but Jeff Mann stepped in to ask us the hard questions. We had a wonderful time answering, even if none of the mikes worked. The audience was small but the grilling was intense, and everyone came away learning something. Even us.
And then, sadly, it was time for the closing party. Awards were given, drinks were poured and goodbyes were said. The latter is the toughest by far. Facebook, texting, phone calls – no technological advance beats seeing your friends in person and basking in each others’ auras. We all look forward to next year before we’re even getting on the plane to leave.
I’ll be back tomorrow with some final thoughts on the conference, community and the privilege of being a writer.
Saints and Sinners 2010, the literary festival that tempts its participants away from the decadence and depravity that is New Orleans with inspiring classes, expressive readings and divinely GLBT inspiration, officially kicked off Thursday night with a book signing.
This effort—New Fiction from the Festival, edited by Amie Evans and Paul J. Willis—is a collection of S&S stalwarts as well as some new voices selected from the conference’s first ever Annual Short Fiction Contest. Held upstairs at the Bourbon Pub, the signing was a great mix of reading, schmoozing and greeting many friends Bill and I only get to see once a year, and it was a perfect way to start the conference weekend.
I haven’t gotten a chance to dive into the book yet, but from the selections I heard last night it looks to be a killer. Uber-bear Jeff Mann read from his entry “Demon Seed,” then we heard from one of the contest finalists, New Orleans-based James Nolan, whose hilarious pick-up-gone-wrong story“ Latins on the Loose” got the crowd laughing so hard they nearly spilled their drinks. Lucy Jane Bledsoe read from her selection, “The End of Jesus” and then contest runner-up James Driggers continued the religious theme with “Jesus is My BFF.” The final reader was contest winner Wayne Lee Gay, whose “Ondine” is a subtle portrait of a girl named Elizabeth and the awakening that steers her away from her religious upbringing towards a freer, more expressive life through piano lessons.
What I always come away from Saints and Sinners with is a renewed, recharged creative vitality – the classes and panels are certainly informative, but it’s the readings that inspire me the most. Listening to these fine writers was a terrific appetizer for the smorgasbord that awaits us this weekend.
Buy it now at Amazon through The Dreamwalker Group.
In 1988, Tom Marino is 21 years old. Having just ended a straight relationship that was headed toward marriage, he begins to embrace his homosexuality, which has always been with him—as his ex-fiancée knows, he’s no stranger to gay encounters.
What else is there to say about young Marino? In addition to his administrative job at a bank, he works as a stripper. And he is very, very taken with himself. No, really, he could give lessons to Narcissus in self-adoration. And in case the reader should forget, Marino mentions on virtually every page how hot he is, how much he enjoys looking at himself, and how lucky we all are that we can look at him, too.
The young Marino can’t change clothes without pointing out how smashing he looks in whatever he’s wearing; can’t pass a mirror without stopping for a let-me-admire-myself moment. In short, if you already suspect that great-looking guys with chiseled bodies tend to be shallow and self-absorbed, there’s nothing in this story that will change your mind.
The book’s main concern is Marino’s relationship with a man, also named Tom, whom he meets at a club. Instantly falling in love with each other’s looks, they fall into bed and then into a relationship. I use the word “fall” advisedly, for the affair is a plunge toward disaster from the very start. I’m giving nothing away by saying that Tom is a sociopath who is just out to get all he can get from Marino. (One of the first things Tom does is to get Marino to hand over all of his credit cards. Hello!)
Anyone who has been in a train wreck of a relationship will identify with Marino, who realizes he’s in trouble but can’t do anything about it because he is so deeply in love. And in case you’re wondering, the answer is yes: when two perfect-looking guys have sex, it’s just perfect.
If this book was a novel, you might put it down early on and never pick it up again. But the fact that it’s a memoir changes everything. Marino is nothing if not honest, and there’s something compelling about the way he leaves nothing out when it comes to his own past behavior. I’m talking binge drinking at every opportunity, cheating on Tom with other men and a woman, and masturbating while driving. That last behavior disturbed me deeply because, let’s face it, New Jersey drivers are bad enough when they have no distractions at all.
Speaking of Jersey, yes, this is what you get—a story played out in exurbs and suburbs, among strip malls, greasy spoons, and cul-de-sacs. It’s fitting that this story of shallow people takes place in such shallow waters. And yet, and yet—I recommend this book. Its saving grace is this: it’s compulsively readable. You know already that the story can’t end well, but you keep turning the pages for the same reason that bystanders keep looking at an accident: watching a tragedy in progress is so damn fascinating.
So by all means, take Tomorrow May Be Too Late to the beach this summer. Reading about perfect guys having perfect sex isn’t all bad, especially when you’re half comatose from lying in the sun. You can skip the superfluous Epilogue, in which Marino tries to put the best face on things by saying that his 10 months with Tom was the happiest time of his life. Unfortunately—and this makes the book a very guilty pleasure indeed—it’s the unhappiness that keeps us riveted to the page.
Reviewed by Wayne Courtois