Currier (Until My Heart Stops, 2015, etc.) offers a collection of short stories about heartbreaks and humorous mistakes.
In “Lancelot’s Secret,” a college student takes an internship with a traveling production of Camelot, forcing him to contend with secret feelings of same-sex attraction. A man accompanies a friend who’s husband-hunting in the Hamptons and ends up meeting some men himself in “Sometimes You Have to Settle for Popeye (Even Though You’d Rather Play with Bluto).” “Elvis at Three is an Angel to Me” tells the tale of a man who suffers a complicated, unrequited crush on his roommate, who may be HIV-positive. In these 12 stories, Currier probes the possibilities and pitfalls of gay relationships, from adolescent first loves to middle-age what-might-have-beens. In the title story, a 63-year-old man, clicking through old boyfriends’ social media profiles, receives a shocking revelation about a fling he had 35 years ago: “You were never supposed to reach sixty,” the story begins, referring to the protagonist. “You survived a premature birth, the AIDS decades, the Y2K bug, 9/11, four hurricanes, three broken ribs, and two heart attacks. You don’t know whether to feel grateful or cursed.” The stories tend to focus on similar characters—often, expatriate Southerners looking for love in New York City and its environs. Currier varies the points of view, however, and even experiments with structure, as in “How to Obtain an Alfred Hitchcock Physique (and Bonus Dark Psyche),” which he formats as a numbered how-to list. His prose is plainspoken and often funny, although it also contains moments of understated emotion, as when a man describes his work with AIDS patients: “I used to be a ‘buddy’ to a guy who lived on the Upper East Side, which meant riding the subway for hours to take him to doctor appointments and buy his groceries. He was the third buddy in a row that I lost so I am taking a break until I am ready to have another buddy.” Cumulatively, the stories offer a warm, slightly melancholic view of people in and out of love.
A smart, heartfelt set of tales of gay men’s lives.