Tag Archives: queer relationships

With: New Gay Fiction – Jameson Currier, ed. (Chelsea Station Editions)

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With: New Gay Fiction, edited by Jameson Currier and published by Chelsea Station Editions is a pleasure not to be missed.

As the foreword states, “These stories portray relationships with men: gay men with our friends, lovers, partners, husbands, dates, tricks, boyfriends, hustlers, idols, teachers, mentors, fathers, brothers, family, teams, co-workers, relatives and strangers.”

This is an anthology of sixteen beautifully written short stories from authors with diverse and compelling voices, voices you likely already know and respect. More than that, With is the relatively rare anthology that is emotionally and intellectually more than the sum of its parts. Each story shines a unique light on relationships with humor, depression, grief, adoration, kindness, pride and fear.

How can kindness from an idolized swimming teacher change a boy’s life forever? Why would a man grieving the loss of his partner steal an infant from a shopping mall at Christmas time? How can friendship be witness to rudderless self-indulgence? These and other story questions help make up the rich weave of the anthology, different ways of being with.

From the first story, of a grad student and a hustler who doesn’t know how to make his life better to the last, a triumphant ramble delivered in Jack Fritscher’s signature beat-poet cadences and strewn with period song titles which sort of relate but sound so cool when the line is read aloud, a story of two men proudly together almost fifty years — this collection’s skilled authors bring to focus some quality or insight about relationship that is worth thinking about longer than it takes to read the story. Especially impactful for me was the life-in-reverse-motion of David Pratt’s “What is Real,” a stunning way to experience the grief of a man lost without his dead partner.

Kudos to Jameson Currier for arriving at such an intellectually and emotionally flexible, powerful theme, and kudos to each author for adding his unique and polished facet to the exploration. After finishing With, I found myself in that reflective, inspired, satisfied space that is a gift of every good book. I think you’ll have the same experience.

Reviewed by Lloyd A. Meeker

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My Dear Watson – L.A. Fields (Lethe Press)

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I started my love affair with Sherlock Holmes when I was a pre-teen, sometime after Edgar Allan Poe and before Ray Bradbury, so I was well acquainted with reading stories with one hand on an open dictionary. I had, of course, enjoyed the movies with Basil Rathbone, but something about the character grabbed me more than the mysteries did. Oh, they were interesting enough, but not as interesting as Holmes himself. The queerling in me recognized a kindred soul, but I would never have thought Watson shared his bed. In L.A. Fields’ wonderfully imagined My Dear Watson, this relationship is explored in detail.

And who explores this relationship? It’s seen in detail by Watson’s second wife, and in a particular bit of genius, Fields chooses to have her review Watson’s affair with Holmes on a chronological basis according to case. Thus, she begins with their meeting in 1874 on “The Adventure of the Gloria Scott” and sees them through their ups and downs (including Watson’s first marriage) to their final case together, “The Last Bow” in 1914. But this is, in itself, framed and commented on by Mrs. Watson during a visit Holmes makes to them after his retirement in 1919.

Naturally, she dislikes the effect Holmes has on Watson; the inexorable pull he maintains on the doctor would be enough to drive anyone close to Watson round the bend, and in the segments about Holmes’ visit in 1919 are fraught with tension as she and Holmes do a bit of sparring:

“Hmmmm,” I hum brightly at him, and once again his face goes sour. I’m sure he heard every subtle facet of that noise, my implication that I know his nature, that I imagine he would be Watson’s wife if he could, my lording over him the fact that I have that official status in Watson’s life, that I have won. It is a hit against him, a palpable hit. Alas, however, I am playing against a master, and I can admit when I’ve clearly been outdone. “You are such a unique person,” Holmes says poisonously. “What a shame that history will most likely never remember your name.”

Holmes can be such a bitch. But we always knew that about him, didn’t we?

All Holmesiana is covered, from his cocaine addiction (“The Sign of the Four”) to his faked death and three year disappearance at the hands of the evil Professor Moriarty (“The Final Solution”) as well as the effects all of these events have on his paramour, Dr. Watson. What I find most admirable about My Dear Watson is how familiar Fields is with the Casebook and how effortlessly she weaves some of the principal characters from the mysteries themselves into the relationship between Holmes and Watson, creating jealousy, confusion, and empathy at times between the men. It’s masterful work, and only someone with a thorough knowledge of the stories could have accomplished it.

Fields also does masterful work voicing Watson’s second wife, a woman with wit and intelligence who not only realizes her husband’s faults, but knows that they are outweighed by his virtues. As seen above, she is wary of Holmes but respects his hold on her husband and does not try to break those bonds for fear they would only grow stronger. Fields finds her voice from the very get-go and never once falters. Kudos are also due to Lethe Press, which seems to be scoring well in the “queering” genre, as evidenced by its recent queering of Edgar Allan Poe (Where Thy Dark Eye Glances) as well another upcoming volume queering Dracula. This volume fits well with those.

Extremely readable and undeniably creative, My Dear Watson should be on your bookshelf if you have even a passing interest in Sherlock Holmes. And even if you don’t, this is a remarkable portrait of fame, its effects, and the power one man can hold over another.

©  2013  Jerry L. Wheeler

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