Thursday, August 14, 2008

Rascals by Todd Yeager

Todd Yeager

Published by Bruno Gmunder Verlag

Reviewed by Paul Kane

On the face of it, this is just a book of dirty drawings. There are plenty of clandestine liaisons, pictures concerned solely, it would seem, with the mechanics of sex. Yeager undoubtedly has “a desire for the dirt” (I’ve forgotten the original French phrase, if I ever quite caught it) and his tenebrous drawings, bruised and raw and sometimes sepia- or azure-tinted, are redolently expressive of it.

Yet this is not all. The best of these drawings, the most revealing of the artist one suspects, are those where the mood is one of tenderness, abandon, seduction; and especially the portraits which lambently capture moments of aloneness, introspection and even innocence. Two skinheads kissing, each one lost in the embrace. A Latin-looking guy with gentle post-coital eyes. A couple of young men, intimate allowances made, at ease in one another’s company. A beautiful blonde boy, his face scarified, a wanton expression in his eyes. This is book with some serious soul, along with the sleaze (which is welcome too, naturally).

Yeager’s erotic fantasies are to be found in the quotidian: this is his Elsewhere. These are drawings of ordinary young men; some are pretty, though not overly so. They have paunches, unremarkable and often skinny torsos. Their anatomy is realistic, not idealised and certainly not over-muscular. If Yeager has a kink it is a partiality to strange bodily adornments: tattoos, piercings, bejewellments of various sorts; scarifications all.

As an artist, Yeager counts Paul Cadmus as an inspiration (and I detect a hint of Fred Berger’s photography too) and he uses an accomplished, cross-hatchet technique. All of the drawings here are worth contemplation, but the portraits are the most impressive, and in particular one where the model’s arms, chest and genitals are pink and flesh-coloured, but the middle of his torso is as pale as death. A puer figure in extremis.

Overall the book is well produced, but perhaps the contents could have been better organised. Certain of the pictures seem part of a definite series and I would have welcomed some order, or some explanatory text, in this regard.

Paul Kane lives and works in Manchester, England. Hewelcomes responses to his reviews and you can reach him at


Thursday, August 07, 2008

Interview with Drew Gummerson by Liam Tullberg

Author Drew Gummerson

'I fell over in the ladies' loos,' says Drew Gummerson of the launch party for his new novel, Me and Mickie James (Jonathan Cape). 'I don't remember that, but I remember it was a great party.'

Me and Mickie James is Gummerson's second novel following 2002's, The Lodger, and perhaps you'd think things would be easier this time around, more comfortable. But, no, he says he was more nervous about the release of the latter than the former.

'There's more pressure this time,' he says. 'I mean, I've got an agent, a publisher and a publicist. There are a whole lot more expectations than last time, and for a while I was really nervous about the book coming out, almost to the point that I wasn't enjoying the anticipation. But with the launch, having my friends and family around, that was when I started to relax.'

Me and Mickie James is a gay love story between the anonymous 'Me' and, yes, Mickie James set to a soundtrack of pop music and a backdrop of London, Europe and Iraq to name but a few. It's uplifting and funny. And original since Gummerson has cast a hunchback as one of the two protagonists.

'I've always liked writing about deformities,' he says. 'I once wrote a short story about a boy who stole another boy's penis, and another about a man who loses his feet.'

Me and Mickie James was finished two years ago and was soon sent to an agent who, though initially keen on the idea, ultimately refused the novel.

'I felt let down,' he says of the experience. 'And I suppose I was a bit depressed because I didn't write for a year after that.'

But in the hands of another agent, who loved the book, it was soon on the way to prestigious publishing house, Jonathan Cape and, as of last month, is on the shelves for the book buying public.

Now working for the Leicestershire Police, Drew works shifts that allow him time to write in the morning, his much preferred time.

'People at work ask if it's dead boring writing all the time,' he says. 'I think they think that it's dull if you're working on your own, but I really like it. I love the feeling I get after finishing the first draft. I mean, being published is great, of course it is, but that excitement of getting a story down from start to finish is something else.'

Now with two novels written and short stories appearing in a variety of anthologies including the Arts Council Anthology of Stories, Drew's in the process of publicising Me and Mickie James while continuing new work.

'I've started work on another novel and one of my short stories is going to be in Tell Tales 4, Global Village,' he says. 'I'm also taking part in the Summer Sunday in Leicester, a poetry and literature festival.'

It's busy times ahead for Drew, but good times too. What deformity he'll write about next, we'll just have to wait and see.

Teeth, a short story by Drew Gummerson will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in October. Keep an eye on his website for further details.

Liam Tullberg is currently working on his novel, Keeping You A Secret, and can be contacted through