Saturday, August 05, 2006

Review: Everything I Have Is Blue

Wendell Ricketts, ed. Everything I Have is Blue: Short Fiction by Working-Class Men
Published by Suspect Thoughts Press
Reviewed by James Craven

Everything I Have is Blue is billed as a collection of short stories by working class men. You have to wonder how Wendell Rickets ascertained the social status of his authors. Were they means-tested? That might sound flip, but I've got a serious point. Ricketts' aim, which is certainly worthy and intriguing, is to give voice to the multitudes of gay men who fall outside the narrow social and economic boundaries of fabulously-moneyed urban orthodoxy. The stories, though, do little to distinguish themselves.

That said, there's some good stuff in here. Two of the most striking stories, “How To Get From This To This” and “Bleeding Toy Boys” explore themes of violence, self-hatred and confusion. “Hooters, Tooters and the Big Dog” is an entertaining, if improbable story of trucker cruising, “Food Chain” will strike a chord with anyone who's ever moved to a new city with big dreams and no money, and “Flowers, Flames” is a subtle inquiry into prejudice. In the main, though, the collection doesn’t deliver what it promises and the insights into rarely-explored ways of life are too few, although many of the stories are absorbing and well-crafted.

James Craven rarely produces anything of literary merit, but occasionally takes time off to criticize other people's work.


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