An offbeat collection of well-told stories with LGBTQ themes.

SLASHED AND MASHED

SEVEN GAYLY SUBVERTED STORIES

A set of seven familiar folktales, retold with gay characters. 

In Peters’ (Irresistible, 2018, etc.) anthology of what he calls “gayly subverted” tales, readers encounter gay protagonists in folkloric settings. In “Theseus and the Minotaur,” for instance, the Greek mythological hero Theseus winds his way to the center of the Labyrinth only to find a half man/half bull with a heartbreaking life story who isn’t the monster that many people claim him to be. In the story of “Károly, Who Kept a Secret,” a boy must hide the fact that his sword sings to him, even if it turns people that he loves against him. Fumihiro and Aito, in “The Peach Boy,” encounter a giant peach with a baby inside it, and Adalbert must overcome his own selfish ways in “The Vain Prince.” In “The Jaguar of the Backward Glance,” René encounters an unknown tribe in the jungle while on an expedition, and its shaman informs him of a curse on René’s ex-lover. An Egyptian merchant living in New York City encounters a jinn in “Ma’aruf the Street Vendor”; the man wishes for a new life elsewhere, but trouble finds him there, as well, In the final tale, “A Rabbit Grows in Brooklyn,” Ramon meets a strange man named “Rabbit” who seduces him and disappears, leaving him with nothing. Peters offers versions of seven classic tales that all receive his own unique spin, which often involves playing with his audience’s expectations regarding happy endings. Not every story ends happily; however, all of them feature love between two men. The collection’s title suggests a passionate romantic romp, but the author takes a relatively low-key, literary approach to his tales. His prose is clear and fluid, which gives the stories the traditional air of their original inspirations; as a result, aficionados of all kinds of folktales may be interested in putting this book on their shelves.

An offbeat collection of well-told stories with LGBTQ themes.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-951057-25-1

Page Count: 351

Publisher: NineStar Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 4, 2019

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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