Review: Send Me: Fiction by Patrick Ryan
Patrick RyanSend Me: Fiction
Published by The Dial Press
Reviewed by Shaun Frisky
Patrick Ryan's prose are so damn sexy it makes you want to glide your tongue along the spine of the book. The words cascade together in an excited stream to form a richly textured portrait of a complex family over 40 years. Almost every section is a snapshot in the life of one of the family members exploring his or her perspective, zigzagging through their history to contrast the past against the present. Ryan evokes the emotions of each of these characters with such sensitivity you’d think their experiences were his own.
One of the sons in the family, Frankie, is a trickster causing each of the family members to look at their lives in a different way. He’s unashamedly gay, quite casually declaring his crush on Luke Skywalker at a young age. Later in college he has outrageous sexual experiences while his inhibited (closeted) brother Joseph makes a muddled attempt at cruising in a public bathroom. The painful sense of discomfort Joseph has in expressing his sexuality is drawn sharply against Frankie’s (ultimately-dangerous) free attitude towards manly lovin’. Frankie is a fantasist and it seems very apt that he’s obsessed with extra-terrestrial experience as it feels like he’s not quite of this world. You’d think such an oddball wouldn’t be able to maintain a compatible relationship with the gentle-natured mother he ultimately returns to, but the bond between the two is demonstrated in a heart-breaking final scene. This is essential reading for all gay men who have trouble connecting with their family sometimes, which I’m guessing is almost all of us! It’s highly recommended that you read this book aloud while in bed with your lover in between bouts of Luke Skywalker/Hans Solo role play.
Thanks again to Kurt for the fab photos shot for this review. See more of his work here.
Labels: Shaun Frisky Review
Review: Erzulie’s Skirt by Ana-Maurine Lara
Published by Redbone Press
Reviewed by Kay Sexton
Erzulie’s Skirt is part-novel, part-fable, and part exploration of the black diaspora. In all that, the bisexual nature of two of the three protagonists; Miriam, Micaela and Yealidad, is a minor note, made more so by the fact that one reason for the bisexuality is that during voodoo rites Miriam is ‘ridden’ by Changó, the male deity of thunder, giving an added level of resonance to this complex story.
Lara reveals a rarely told story; that of the many Caribbean-born women who are forced, or cajoled, into travelling to other lands to work. It’s a sweeping tale of love and loss, discrimination and affection, material poverty and cultural richness. In places the material is uneven; one whole section of the book deals with Micaela’s aunt arriving from America and insisting the girl attends school, but this is not developed with any sense of the value (or otherwise) of education, and Yealidad is little more than a footnote, designed to allow the other characters to move into the period after death. There are some inconsistencies too: a houngan is described in the glossary as a voodoo priestess but referred to as ‘he’ in the narrative, and Miriam is greeted by Jérémie with ‘You should be more discreet Miriam,’ although he asks a few lines later ‘What is your name, beautiful girl?’ Despite these minor glitches, the book is absorbing, tender and powerful, and a delight to read.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 http://www.moondance.org/
Review: Mark Stone: Secret Agent by Marc Holland
Mark Stone: Secret Agent
Published by STARbooks Press
Reviewed by J. DeMarco
If you like a lot of plot, a lot of action, and a lot of sex – this international spy romp is for you. Mark Stone, hunky secret agent, is enjoying a respite from saving the world. At a chalet in Switzerland, in the midst of an encounter with a sexy chalet attendant, he gets a call instructing him to get to Madrid immediately. Never ignoring the call to duty, Stone sets out in an Alpine blizzard only to encounter two researchers in a mountain cabin – isolated, horny, and just waiting for someone like Stone to come along. Well, Stone reasons, he might as well spend the night before pushing on – and so he does. But it isn’t sleep that he gets.
Next he finds himself in Madrid where he learns his mission – to stop the Crimson Army, a terrorist group, and bag it’s shadowy leader Caligula. On to Paris where he confronts Crimson Army operatives who are almost as interested in him as they are in blowing things up. Wherever he goes, the intrepid secret agent is never without a man to keep him company. And more often it’s several men who entangle themselves in his bedsheet intrigues. After a while in gay Paris, Stone flies off to St. Lucia in the West Indies where he cuts a sexual swath. Rio is next and we all know the kinds of men to be found there. Anxious to complete his mission and return to his much needed vacation, Stone once more saves the day. Job done, Stone makes his way back to the same Swiss chalet and as soon as he arrives the very same blond and sexy attendant finds his way into Stone’s arms beneath a down-feather duvet where they find ways to heat up the cold Alpine air.Joseph DeMarco lives and writes in Philadelphia. His work appears in many publications and his latest stories can be found in Paws and Reflect (Alyson) and Charmed Lives (Lethe) as well as his monthly column in XFactor magazine. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Review: The Fame Game by Charles Casillo
Charles CasilloThe Fame Game
Published by Alyson Publications
Reviewed by J. DeMarco
Three driven characters make up the heart of this book: Mikki Britten is gorgeous, talented, and desperate to be an actress; she only needs to meet the right people and she’ll do anything to meet them. Carla Christaldi is the daughter of a famous Hollywood director but all she wants is to make it on her own merits, except she lacks that spark. But she learns that deception is her real talent. Mario DeMarco is a sexy prostitute with an idea. His looks have made it easy for him to get by, but to his chagrin no one has ever recognized the intellectual talents beneath the looks. He’ll do anything for that recognition.
On one fateful night a deadly game is begun in which someone will win but the price of failure is too horrible to contemplate. Each of the tales takes its own direction, each character finding their own way through the intricacies and sandtraps – each of them desperate for recognition, accolades, and fame.
Casillo knows his way around New York and Hollywood and the many types of people who inhabit these magnets for talent. The complex and very human characters he creates, along with well-drawn settings, pull you into the book while the plot twists and turns keep you turning pages. Well plotted, suspenseful, emotional, and enjoyable, The Fame Game is a great summer read, or an anytime read. But make certain you have the next day off, this book has kept more than one person awake until they could finish. It combines the old-fashioned Hollywood tale of driven people hungry for a break, and gives it a modern sensibility which fills it with an edgy, cautionary feel – one that will make you think. There are emotional highs and lows, enough tension to fill a barn, sympathetic characters, and lots of insider information that make this a book you’ll want to read.
Joseph DeMarco lives and writes in Philadelphia. His work appears in many publications and his latest stories can be found in Paws and Reflect (Alyson) and Charmed Lives (Lethe) as well as his monthly column in XFactor magazine. He can be contacted at email@example.com
Review: The Bisexual’s Guide to the Universe by Nicole Kristal and Mike Szymanski
and Mike SzymanskiThe Bisexual’s Guide to the Universe
Published by Alyson Books
Reviewed by Kay Sexton
One line from this book, ‘Not many folks leave their houses on a Friday night thinking, “I hope I meet a nice bisexual tonight.”’ - sums up bisexuality for those of us who are. I do have a quibble with the title – it’s actually The Bisexual’s Guide to the USA. It’s relentlessly focused on one geographic area and one cultural reality. That apart, you will not find a better feel-good, laugh-aloud, tick-box introduction to the weird, wonderful and often almost inexplicable world of those who swing both ways.
The best sections for this reader were the ‘bi-slogans’ and the quizzes. I was somewhat adrift with some of the BIcons, which is where the American focus of the book left me a bit cold (like who IS Marin Hinkle
?), but for those unsure of their sexuality the list of bi potential role models is huge, and there’s definitely someone for everyone (Marin Hinkle
, possibly?). I would have liked more identification of the difficulties that arise out of bisexuality in relation to ethnic and religious issues – being bi is tough enough, but being female, bi and black can be a lot tougher, so my partner tells me - and I think the authors missed a trick in failing to categorise that aspect of ‘fluid’ sexuality, given that they managed to find a category for almost everything else.
The book made me laugh, and that’s quite a feat in a world where being bi often means ‘second-class citizen’. If you’re bi – buy: you will enjoy.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.
Review: Koula by Menis Koumandareas
Translated from the Greek by Kay Cicellis
Published by Dalkey Archive Press
Reviewed by Paul Kane
Koula is a novella that is concerned with concupiscence and its consequences.
Koula is a novella that is concerned with concupiscence and its consequences. Over an all-too brief 88 pages, it charts the stormy course of an affair between an older woman – the eponymous Koula -and a younger man. Koula first meets Dimitri on the subway, and their beginning, hesitant conversation gradually leads on to something more.
One of the author’s most attractive qualities is a predilection for placing his two characters in challenging predicaments and then seeing whether, and how, they cope. Here, there are finely wrought descriptions of excitement and hesitancy, tenderness and passion, ecstasy and anger, infatuation anddisillusion. There is jealousy, deceit, guilt and (at the end) a barely held together indifference. And for a man (so it seems to me, although I’m not entirely qualified to judge, admittedly) Koumandareas is particularly good at conveying the inner life of a middle-aged woman in the grip of a not entirely healthy (‘twas ever so) erotic obsession.
Koula has something of the same quality as Raymond Radiguet’s The Devil in the Flesh, another novella about an illicit affair, but without quite the same age difference, of course. Also, Radiguet’s story is not told from the woman’s point of view.
The translator, Kay Cicellis, a writer of some substance herself, has done an excellent piece of work. She has rendered Koula into a sophisticated, richly lyrical English prose that brings out all of Koumandareas’ literary art and emotional subtlety. Overall, this is a novella of great literary distinction.Paul Kane lives and works in Manchester, England. He welcomes responses to his reviews and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org