Monday, May 14, 2007

Review: Killing Me Softly: Morir Amando by Francisco Ibanez-Carrasco

Francisco Ibáñez-Carrasco. Killing me Softly: Morir Amando
Published by Suspect Thoughts Press
Reviewed by Kay Sexton

Ibáñez-Carrasco’s short story collection peels the gloss off the Western gay scene and reveals something uglier underneath. The superficial lifestyle of drug-taking hedonism is dissected to lay bare the short, often bitter life of rough trade and the long, painful coming to terms with AIDS, rejection and poverty that follows.

The title story contains the key to this collection: an exploration of why love goes wrong and the hideous outcomes of confusing need with affection. It is a thoughtful and satisfying tale and brings the reader insight into the many kinds of exile Ibáñez-Carrasco describes with superlative skill. Given that he can write with beauty and power about relationships, both straight and gay, it is a shame these twelve stories are almost relentlessly focused on the worst experiences of the poor and disenfranchised.

The surrealism of some of the tales, like that of the vengeful shape-shifter, sits a little uneasily with the gritty realism of his depictions of street life in Canada, and this mismatch weakens the overall coherence of the collection. However, each individual story is packed with detail and moves swiftly enough to satisfy the reader, and the description of dispossession, of all kinds, is fresh and powerful.

As well as writing for the UK's premier sustainability journal, Green Futures, Pushcart-nominated Kay Sexton has recently completed ‘Green Thought in an Urban Shade’, a words and pictures exhibition with painter Fion Gunn that was shown in London, Dublin and Beijing. She has had more than ninety short stories published. Kay blogs about writing fiction at http://writingneuroses.blogspot.com/ and has a regular column at www.moondance.org.

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