Review: Second Thoughts: More Queer and Weird StoriesSecond Thoughts
Published by Lethe Press
Reviewed by Liam Tullberg
Steve Berman’s second collection of short stories, ‘Second Thoughts: More Queer and Weird Stories’ more than delivers on its title’s promise.
Following 2001’s ‘Trysts: A Triskaidecollection of Queer and Weird Stories’, in this selection, Berman introduces readers to an original take on the fairytale of the gingerbread man in ‘Bittersweet’, talking (and tempting) boxer shorts in ‘Always Listen to a Good Pair of Underwear’, and a man whose thoughts appear as words on his flesh in ‘Tearjerker’.
The range of subject matter is diverse, but perhaps the most apposite and ambitious of Berman’s thirteen tales is ‘Secrets of the Gwangi’. With tongue firmly in cheek, Berman explores the creation of a film featuring gay cowboys and ferocious pterodactyls from which the gay cowboys are later axed at the fictional studio producer’s request. ‘More dinosaurs and less fagelehs,’ the studio exec tells the writer. ‘That’s what makes a movie.’ The ending to this fragmented fiction is touching and believable, and one to a story that, in the following Author’s Note, Berman asks the reader to decide is utterly true or utterly false.
Each of the stories that make up this book is accompanied by such an Author’s Note in which Berman discusses the background and purpose of the piece. The tone is informal and the device effective, giving the reader a greater insight to the writer while enhancing the impact of the tale.
Though Berman’s style varies greatly throughout the 200 plus pages of this selection of stories, it is consistent in its quick pace, punchy dialogue and confident originality. No two stories are the same, but are linked in their fine marriage of reality and surrealism.
This collection is excellent for readers of the lesser-found gay supernatural fiction, or anyone appreciative of twisted tales in their many forms.
Liam Tullberg is a Bristol-based author currently working on his novel, From the Darkness, and can be contacted through www.liamtullberg.com