Books by Robert Drake

HIS2 by Robert Drake
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: June 26, 1997

The second volume in an ongoing series (His, 1995) offering 19 previously unpublished stories on gay themes by both new and established writers. The quality, as in any anthology, varies widely; standout pieces include the angry, exact ``Say Goodbye to Middletown,'' by William J. Mann, and David A. Newman's grim ``Ice Cream.'' Overall, a useful survey, stressing the diversity of tone and intention in gay fiction. Read full book review >
HERS2 by Terry Wolverton
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: June 26, 1997

Nicely varied collection of 21 new stories by lesbian writers, a follow-up to 1995's Hers. There are some startling, technically inventive pieces here, including Alice Bloch's ``Learning the Hula''; typically strong contributions from such established writers as Mary Bucci Bush (``Love'') and Mary Gaitskill (``Processing''); and some moving, exact works by less well-known writers—e.g., Ronna Magy's ``Family'' and Elise D'Haene's ``Breasts.'' Read full book review >
HIS by Robert Drake
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Sept. 1, 1995

Installment number two in a proposed annual series of paired collections featuring gay and lesbian writers (see Hers, p. 811). The 18 pieces compiled here run an unpredictable gamut, from quietly desperate gay coming-of-age tales (``Tar Pit Heart,'' by Tim Miller) to oddly subversive science-fiction yarns ( Frank DiPalmero's ``The Option of the Coat''). According to the editors, the primary criterion for inclusion was literary quality, and while that's a hopelessly ambiguous way of evaluating the offerings, the best stories are indeed very good. Mark Shaw's ``Queerbait,'' for instance, finds a couple of midwestern gays lose in a punk-rock, tough-talking demimonde that's part Christopher Isherwood, part Dennis Cooper. In Bernard Cooper's ``Arson,'' a morally troubled young teenager decides to expunge his guilt by torching his porn in his parents' garage, only to have the burnt fragments of his illicit desire drift into hidden corners. ``To Nam and Bac,'' by Henri Tran, conflates queer issues with colonial anxieties by locating its narrative in preFall of Saigon Vietnam. ``The Road to Mary's Place,'' from David Kelly, finds a cosmopolitan gay man on a visit to his hometown; he's forced to save a hustler he has recently tricked with from the kid's redneck homophobe brothers. But Jason Friedman's ``The Wedding Dress'' is the anthology's standout: a carefully delivered contemporary southern story, reminiscent of Madison Smartt Bell, in which a teenager finds a wedding dress, briefly becomes a local celebrity, and gets spirited off by the dress's male owner, who gives him his first awkward taste of sex. Not all of the pieces strive to explore explicitly queer themes, and some of the less successful ones struggle to get going: Rick Sandford's ``Levi,'' for all its good intentions, reads like creepy pedantry, and Patrick Gale's ``Wig'' suffers from a damagingly self-conscious diction. Not uniformly brilliant, but in places luminous. Read full book review >
HERS by Terry Wolverton
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Aug. 1, 1995

Twenty-one stories by some of America's most promising lesbian writersfor a discerning literary audience of all genders and orientations. Assembled by Wolverton and Drake (Indivisible, 1991, not reviewed), this first contribution to what will be an annual series of companion anthologies (His will be available in September 1995) is surprisingly consistent in quality while varying wildly in subject matter and style. Themes run the gamut from childhood loss of innocence to adolescent coming-out experiences, breast cancer, women in the military, life as a car saleswoman, and turmoil in the Middle East; what the most memorable pieces share, though, is an ability to convey universal truth in an uncommon way. In Elise D`Haene's ``Self-Deliverance,'' two womenfriends and sometimes lovershelp a mutual friend who is dying of AIDS to commit a dignified suicide. The message is a poignant (if arguable) one: It's not about who you love, it's about how you love. Hildie V. Krause's ``Mrs. Yakamoto Comes to Stay'' features a lesbian in a green-card marriage who breaks down and confesses the sham when she's left alone with her Japanese mother-in-law. Mrs. Yakamoto not only keeps the secret but teaches her daughter-in-law that stereotypes are never as complicated as the real people they pigeonhole. ``Campers,'' by Eloise Klein Healey, treats a ``relationship on vacation'' story with humor, tension, and an unexpected twist, and Jane Thurmond's ``The Great Baptism'' explores a brief and unusual relationship through an evocative metaphor and a flood of water imagery. Only a few disappoint: Wendy Frisch's ``E=mc2'' is mindlessly frivolous, and Robin Podolsky's ``Joshua'' tries too hard. But, mostly, it's the strength of the voices that lingers. An eclectic, charismatic collection with just a few dissonant clunkers. Read full book review >