After taking a short hiatus, I brought Out in Print: Queer Book Reviews back in reaction to the installation of the Tr–p Reich by Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and Boris Badenov, doing my best to amplify as many queer voices as I can in my little corner of the blogosphere. And 2017 has provided many fine voices to share with you. Hopefully, we can drown the bastards out in 2018. We’ll see. Before the year ends, however, it’s time to take a second look at some of those voices, so here is OiP’s ten best list in no particular order:
In this absorbing WWII homefront story, one of my favorite authors tells the story of these queer and disenfranchised women with such attention to detail and care for her characters that their struggle becomes real. The war effort becomes secondary to their goals, but more than one battle is being fought here. Timeless and beautiful, this book (especially the nursing home scene) sticks with me nearly a year later.
Art reacts to life, and political strife provides the perfect catalyst, especially the shocks we’ve experienced since the Russians forced their puppet into our Punch and Judy show. Those were but a glimmer on the horizon when this volume came out. Borland and the voices he brings us may be preaching to the choir, but let’s hope someone else is listening as well.
Every m/m author working today should take a lesson from Chase on how to do gay male romance with verisimilitude. Her characters are anti-heteronormative, healthy, well-adjusted (in terms of their sexuality) gay men who have a lot of sex. And aren’t ashamed of it. Or anything else, truth be told. Billed as erotica, it’s more romantic than anything you’ll read from anyone else on the subject. Period.
Two-time Ferro-Grumley Award winner Trebor Healey shows what he can do with short fiction in this diverse collection. His stories are less romantic than they realistic and gritty. Suffused with heat and horniness, this collection provides some terrific twists and turns as Healey takes us on a tour through his head as well as his heart. And…uh…other regions.
From the little gay boy, Bing, to the battles Ms Hina must fight daily with her administration, this portrait of a teacher and her students in an “urban” environment is heartfelt and sincere. It never sounds false or preaches, yet its lessons are legion. Hernandez has a marvelous eye for detail and an even better sense of the absurd, both requirements for success in the profession of education. This is a stunning book, well worth your time.
Redmann’s Micky Knight series is one of my favorites, and this entry is absolutely top-notch. The mystery is tight and well-plotted, and Micky continues to founder in her post-Cordelia state, but she is starting to feel her way back to what passes for normal. This is one of the few detective series I’ve read whose sleuth is as interesting as her cases. Maybe even more.
This compendium of man/plant erotica apparently grew out of a bet as to whether or not Berman could make the concept work. He succeeded beyond anyone’s expectations, perhaps even his own. Featuring some of Lethe’s stalwart writers as well as some newcomers, this volume is creepy and weirdly hot. Just start reading, and, trust me, it will grow on you (see what I did there?).
Arch Brown’s film work of the 1970’s may not have been shown in mainstream theatres, but it was as influential as Spielberg or Friedkin or Kubrick – just not in the same arenas. Brown’s memoir also leaves little to the imagination as we meet his players and stars. It’s a fascinating book that puts both the films and their time into an artful context.
A Quiet Death – Cari Hunter
And speaking of series, Cari Hunter comes up aces with this entry in the Dark Peak saga. Well-plotted and perfectly executed, this look into the Pakistani neighborhood and culture is both informative and harrowing. Hunter hits the ground running and never stops. You’ll not be able to put it down.
Jeff Mann’s Scottish wampyr Derek MacLaine finally gets a full-length book all his own, and what a delight it is. He and his coterie take on the mining industry in a novel as environmentally friendly as it is erotic. Mann is clearly comfortable slipping into his well-worn MacLaine leathers, and we’re all the better for it. Sexually charged and anti-establishment, this is Mann at his best.
So, there we have it. Hopefully, we’re in time for you to peruse the list and pick some stocking stuffers. Books make wonderful gifts for readers and great rewards for authors and publishers and their hard work. And in these desperate political times when most everything this audience holds dear is threatened, we need to shout and spread the word as loudly as we can. And Out in Print will be around to help as long as necessary. Thanks, and have a happy holiday!!
© 2017, Jerry L. Wheeler