The Rest of Us – Guy Mark Foster (Tincture/Lethe Press)

96
800×600

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-US
JA
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin:0in;
mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:”Times New Roman”;}

Buy it now direct from Tincture/Lethe Press

You can believe what you want, but the short story—despite
the cries from literary heavyweights far and wide—is not dead. It’s very
much alive, not only in erotica, but in marvelous collections like Guy Mark
Foster’s The Rest of Us, the debut volume of the Tincture imprint of
Lethe Press, devoted to the work of people of color.

Few of the African-American men in Foster’s stories are in
the throes of coming out. Most of them have already made that decision and
taken action on it. They are, instead, dealing with the reactions of other
lovers, spouses, and members of society. Their blackness, like their gayness,
is only a part of their struggle and not the essential fight. They fight
instead, as so many of us do, for love, affection, and understanding.

Foster clearly stakes out his territory in the first piece,
the stream of consciousness life-lesson of “Boy,” a series of commands about
how to act. Innocuous advice about sitting up straight, tucking in your shirt
and paying attention when people talk soon morphs into the mistakes and bad
decisions passed down from generation to generation:

                        “…absolve
yourself of all guilt in your efforts at child-

                        rearing,
as I’ve absolved myself, as my father absolved

                        himself
before me; refuse the role of scapegoat in other

                        people’s
life dramas, it’s unmanly, and people won’t too

                        easily
peg you for the punk you are probably right under

                        my
roof becoming; never become a punk, even if that is

                        exactly
what you are already, instead fight it, slit your

                        fucking
wrist if you have to, leap from a bridge…”

The issue of race is also dealt with head on in “The Word
Nigger,” which sees the ninth-grade narrator listening to his white friend
Bobby read a passage from Hemingway, only to stumble and fail on a sentence
containing the word “nigger,” completed happily by Bobby’s white girlfriend,
Fiona Brown. She later calls the narrator out while they are watching Bobby and
the other boys practice basketball, making them all realize the differences
between them.

Fiona is not the only “wronged” woman in these pages. “The
Affair” has gay college student Mark falling in love with the engaged Troy, who
must break off with Mark or risk his relationship with Bethany, a straight
couple faces dissolution when they hire a male sex surrogate to spice up their
love life in the astonishingly frank “You Get What You Pay For,” and a late
night phone call between a wife and her husband’s boyfriend forms the basis of
the bitter “Congratulations.”

But perhaps my favorite of the lot is the title story, which
has out couple Martin and Paul debating the merit or mistake of their public
display of affection on a late night subway train witnessed by a group of
youths—or possible assailants. This simple, yet telling story parlays the
incident into a marvelous division of character between the two men, who long
for the ability to express their love as much as they fear the reactions of
others. Powerful in a number of respects, this story transcends race and
achieves a beautiful universality.

But the rest of the stories in this collection are equally
daring. Told from a variety of viewpoints, they never bore or repeat
themselves. “The Rest of Us” is a wonderfully varied and absorbing read from start
to finish.  

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-US
JA
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin:0in;
mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:”Times New Roman”;}

©, 2013, Jerry Wheeler

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s