Threesome: Him, Him and Me ( Lethe Press )

The latest book in which I have a story is Threesome: Him, Him and Me edited by Matthew Bright. Publishers Weekly just named it one of the most notable books in their Most Anticipated Books of Spring 2016 issue! They say it has “astonishing breadth and delightful verve.” My story, titled “Call for Submission,” opens the collection.

The volume will be released March 3rd, 2016. Pre-order it here:

http://www.lethepressbooks.com/store/p296/Threesome%3A_Him%2C_Him%2C_and_Me.html

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“Call for Submission” by N.S. Beranek

“Time to Dance” by Matthew Bright

“Share and Share Alike” by Evey Brett

“The Big Match” by Lawrence Jackson

“Dr. Dave” by Dale Chase

“Fancy Dress” Chris Colby

“The Guards of Governor’s Square” by Shane Allison

“Spring on Scrabble Creek” by Jeff Mann

“Vanilla” by ‘Nathan Burgoine

“Invasion” by Rob Rosen

“Sea Glass” by Robert Russin

“Strawberries” by Jerry L. Wheeler

“Greedy, Deviant and Perverse: Living and Writing a Triad Relationship” by Redfern Jon Barrett

 

 

The Role by Richard Taylor Pearson

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Mason Burroughs is an actor on the verge of giving up after being turned away at audition after audition. But his life changes when he bumps into Kevin Caldwell, an old crush from acting school. Kevin helps Mason land a role that could make him the next Broadway star. However, as rehearsals begin, Mason learns that there’s a lot more drama than just what’s on stage. With a personal trainer claiming he can mold his body to resemble a Greek statue, an underhanded understudy waiting in the wings to replace him, a megalomaniacal director, and Kevin hellbent on breaking up Mason and his boyfriend, Mason must choose how much he is willing to sacrifice to make his Broadway dream a reality.

Releasing Late Spring of 2016

Pre-order here:

http://www.lethepressbooks.com 

Saints and Sinners 2016 Finalists and Runners-up

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The latest book in which a story that I wrote will appear is Saints and Sinners: New Fiction from the Festival 2016, edited by Amie M. Evans and Paul J. Willis (Bold Strokes Books). It will be released during the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival in New Orleans in April. This judge for this year’s contest was Ellen Hart, award-winning mystery author of the Jane Lawless and Sophie Greenaway series.

In alphabetical order by author’s last name, the 2016 Saints and Sinners Short Fiction Contest finalists and runners-up are:

Chris Arp for “A Man A Man”

Rich Barnett for “The Most Unusual Sweet Potato Competition

Sally Bellerose for “Discretion, 1957”

N.S. Beranek for “Do Unto Others”

‘Nathan Burgoine for  “Sweet William” (Runner-up)

Bryan Collins for “The Weirding Path”

Darrow Farr for “Last Dance”

John Florio for “King of the World”

Aaron Hamburger for “Loo Rolls”

Jerry Rabushka for  “Trumpet in D”

Carol Rosenfeld for  “Fallen Angel”

Vince Sgambati for  “Emmas” (Runner-up)

Thomas Westerfield for “Mr. Sissy in Sin City”

Andrew Willett for “The History Professor”

The winner will be announced soon.

From the website, http://sasfest.org:

The Saints and Sinners Literary Festival was founded in 2003 as a new initiative designed as an innovative way to reach the community with information about HIV/AIDS, particularly disseminating prevention messages via the writers, thinkers and spokes-people of the LGBT community. It was also formed to bring the LGBT literary community together to celebrate the literary arts.

The Festival has grown into an internationally-recognized event that brings together a who’s who of LGBT publishers, writers and readers from throughout the United States and beyond. The Festival, held over 4 days each Spring, features panel discussions and master classes around literary topics that provide a forum for authors, editors and publishers to talk about their work for the benefit of emerging writers and the enjoyment of fans of LGBT literature.

2015 Year in Review

2015 New Year's pic for blog post_20151231_205206

I’ve been putting off writing this blog post, and I think I know why. 2015 has been one of the best years of my life, possibly the very best, and I don’t want it to be over. Other years have seen incredible highs, but none can match this year’s sheer volume of thrilling moments. It’s also true that the great moments in other years have been tempered by losses, while 2015 has been good all the way through.

It is certainly the best year as far as my writing is concerned. In March I attended the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival in support of my story “Days of Awe,” which was a finalist in the festival’s contest and therefore was included in the anthology, published by Bold Strokes Books. Once again, I was honored to be asked to read a selection from my story, which is always a double-edged sword of excitement and terror. Also as usual, I learned a great deal during the festival’s panel discussions by day, and, by night, lurked in dark courtyards, drinking and chatting with authors and publishers whose work I admire. (In many cases, they are the artists responsible for the stories I reviewed on this blog as part of last year’s 365 Short Story Review project.) I am incredibly lucky to have found, and been welcomed by, such an accomplished and inspiring bunch.

I want to say it was as a result of that experience that I found the courage to send my novel, Angels Fall, to publishers and agents, but that was actually a cumulative process. It included having stories in two of the previous Saints and Sinners anthologies and attending the corresponding festivals. Too, it was having a story in Best Gay Romance 2014 (Cleis Press), and one in Diverse Voices Quarterly vol. 6, issue 21.

In any case, shortly after this year’s festival I received a request for a partial, which gave me the courage to ask Steve Berman of Lethe Press if I might submit the manuscript of Angels Fall  to that house. He said yes, and not too long afterward sent back a book contract. It was the day I’d looked forward to at least since sixth grade, and a part of me still cannot believe it occurred.

Steve not only took a chance on my novel, he then took a chance on me, by naming me the editor of The Role, written by Richard Taylor Pearson. A funny, thought-provoking, and highly entertaining tale, the book gives the reader insight into the life of an actor in New York City, right as he gets his big break. The author, Richard, turned out to be every bit as engaging as his work, and I have loved every moment of the process of bringing the book to completion. I am forever indebted to Steve for giving me this opportunity.

In June the Supreme Court made marriage a possibility for all of our nation’s citizens.

In the fall I received word that my story “Call for Submission” was accepted for publication in the anthology Threesome: Him, Him and Me, edited by Matthew Bright. That book will be released in March. It and The Role are currently available for pre-sale at http://www.lethepressbooks.com.

Lastly, just within the past two weeks, I learned that my story “Do Unto Others” is a finalist in this year’s Saints and Sinners Fiction Contest, and will be included in the festival’s 2016 anthology. The story deals with events which unfolded in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision.

It turns out I have a number of things to promote in New Orleans next year. I couldn’t be any happier or more grateful. That’s why I don’t want this year to end, despite the fact that 2016 promises to be great as well.

I’d like to thank everyone who helped make this dream of mine a reality.  I wish each of you a 2016 filled with moments that bring you joy.

Happy New Year!

The Winner’s Circle – 27th Annual Lambda Literary Awards and HAHAT giveaway

The 27th Annual Lambda Literary Awards were held last night in New York City. The level of craft is always astonishing, and waiting to see who will win always nerve-wracking, but this year it was even more so. Several of my friends and two of three of my publishers were up for awards, often competing against one another, and in one case, against themselves.

 

 

Here are the nominees and winners:

 

BISEXUAL FICTION

Best Bi Short Stories: Bisexual Fiction, Sheela Lambert, editor, Gressive Press, an imprint of Circlet Press

Extraordinary Adventures of Mullah Nasruddin, Ron J. Suresha, Lethe Press

Finder of Lost Objects, Susie Hara, Ithuriel’s Spear

Give It to Me, Ana Castillo, The Feminist Press

She of the Mountains, Vivek Shraya, Arsenal Pulp Press

 

BISEXUAL NONFICTION

Fire Shut Up In My Bones, Charles M. Blow, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Not My Father’s Son, Alan Cumming, HarperCollins Publishers/Dey Street Books

Recognize: The Voices of Bisexual Men, Robyn Ochs & H. Sharif Williams, editors, Bisexual Resource Center

 

GAY EROTICA

Bears of Winter, Jerry Wheeler,Bear Bones Books an imprint of Lethe Press

Incubus Tales, Hushicho, Circlet Press

The King, Tiffany Reisz, MIRA Books

Leather Spirit Stallion, Raven Kaldera, Circlet Press

The Thief Taker, William Holden, Bold Strokes Books

 

GAY GENERAL FICTION

All I Love and Know, Judith Frank, HarperCollins/William Morrow

Barracuda, Christos Tsiolkas, Hogarth

Bitter Eden: A Novel, Tatamkhulu Afrika, Macmillan/Picador USA

The City of Palaces, Michael Nava, University of Wisconsin Press

I Loved You More, Tom Spanbauer, Hawthorne Books

Little Reef and Other Stories, Michael Carroll, Terrace Books, an imprint of the University of Wisconsin Press

Next to Nothing: Stories, Keith Banner, Lethe Press

Souljah, John R Gordon, Angelica Entertainments Ltd/Team Angelica Publishing

 

GAY MEMOIR/BIOGRAPHY

Body Counts: A Memoir of Politics, Sex, AIDS, and Survival, Sean Strub, Scribner

Charles Walters: The Director Who Made Hollywood Dance, Brent Phillips, University Press of Kentucky

Closets, Combat and Coming Out:  Coming Of Age As A Gay Man In The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Army, Rob Smith, Blue Beacon Books by Regal Crest

Inside a Pearl: My Years in Paris, Edmund White, Bloomsbury

Letter to Jimmy, Alain Mabanckou, translated by Sara Meli Ansari, Counterpoint/Soft Skull Press

The Prince of Los Cocuyos, Richard Blanco, HarperCollins/Ecco – TIE

Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh, John Lahr, W. W. Norton & Company – TIE

Wagstaff: Before and After Mapplethorpe, Philip Gefter, W. W. Norton & Company/Liveright

 

GAY MYSTERY

Blackmail, My Love: A Murder Mystery, Katie Gilmartin, Cleis Press

Boystown 6: From the Ashes, Marshall Thornton, MLR

Calvin’s Head, David Swatling, Bold Strokes Books

DeadFall, David Lennon, BlueSpike Publishing

Fair Game, Josh Lanyon, Carina Press

A Gathering Storm, Jameson Currier, Chelsea Station Editions

Moon Over Tangier, Janice Law, Open Road Media

The Next, Rafe Haze, Wilde City Press

 

GAY POETRY

[insert] boy, Danez Smith, YesYes Books

Clean, David J. Daniels, Four Way Books

Don’t Go Back To Sleep, Timothy Liu, Saturnalia Books

ECODEVIANCE: (Soma)tics for the Future Wilderness, CAConrad, Wave Books

The New Testament, Jericho Brown, Copper Canyon Press

Prelude to Bruise, Saeed Jones, Coffee House Press

This Life Now, Michael Broder, A Midsummer Night’s Press

This Way to the Sugar, Hieu Minh Nguyen, Write Bloody Publishing

 

GAY ROMANCE

The Companion, Lloyd A. Meeker, Dreamspinner Press

Everything’s Coming Up Roses: Four Tales of M/M Romance, Barry Lowe, Lydian Press

Foolish Hearts: New Gay Fiction, Timothy Lambert and R.D. Cochrane,Cleis Press*

Like They Always Been Free, Georgina Li, Queer Young Cowboys*

Message of Love, Jim Provenzano, Myrmidude Press/CreateSpace

The Passion of Sergius & Bacchus, A Novel of Truth, David Reddish, DoorQ Publishing

Pulling Leather, L.C. Chase, Riptide Publishing (1)

Salvation: A Novel of the Civil War, Jeff Mann, Bear Bones Books, an imprint of Lethe Press

 

LESBIAN EROTICA

All You Can Eat. A Buffet of Lesbian Erotica and Romance, Andi Marquette and R.G. Emanuelle, Ylva Publishing

Forbidden Fruit: stories of unwise lesbian desire, Cheyenne Blue, Ladylit Publishing

Lesbian Sex Bible, Diana Cage, Quiver Books

 

LESBIAN GENERAL FICTION

Adult Onset, Ann-Marie Macdonald, Tin House Books

Last Words of Montmartre, Qiu Miaojin, Translated by Ari Larissa Heinrich, New York Review Books

Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932, Francine Prose, Harper Collins/Harper

Miracle Girls, MB Caschetta, Engine Books

New York 1, Tel Aviv 0, Shelly Oria, FSG Originals / Farrar, Straus and Giroux

The Palace Blues, Brandy T. Wilson, Spinsters Ink

The Paying Guests, Sarah Waters, Riverhead Books, Penguin Random House

Yabo, Alexis De Veaux, RedBone Press

 

LESBIAN MEMOIR/BIOGRAPHY

Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith, Alethia Jones and Virginia Eubanks, with Barbara Smith, SUNY Press

Cease – a memoir of love, loss and desire, Lynette Loeppky, Oolichan Books

Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger, Kelly Cogswell, The University of Minnesota Press

The End of Eve, Ariel Gore, Hawthorne Books

Under This Beautiful Dome: A Senator, A Journalist, and the Politics of Gay Love in America, Terry Mutchler, Seal Press

 

LESBIAN MYSTERY

The Acquittal, Anne Laughlin, Bold Strokes Books

Done to Death, Charles Atkins, Severn House Publishers

The Old Deep and Dark-A Jane Lawless Mystery, Ellen Hart, Minotaur Books

Slash and Burn, Valerie Bronwen, Bold Strokes Books

UnCatholic Conduct, Stevie Mikayne, Bold Strokes Books

 

LESBIAN POETRY

Haiti Glass, Lenelle Moïse, City Lights/Sister Spit

Janey’s Arcadia, Rachel Zolf, Coach House Books

Last Psalm at Sea Level, Meg Day, Barrow Street Press

Like a Begger, Ellen Bass, Copper Canyon Press

MxT, Sina Queyras, Coach House Books

Mysterious Acts by My People, Valerie Wetlaufer, Sibling Rivalry Press

Only Ride, Megan Volpert, Sibling Rivalry Press

Termination Dust, Susanna Mishler, Red Hen Press/Boreal

 

LESBIAN ROMANCE

Christmas Crush, Kate McLachlan, Regal Crest

The Farmer’s Daughter, Robbi McCoy, Bella Books

The Heat of Angels, Lisa Girolami, Bold Strokes Books

Jolt, Kris Bryant, Bold Strokes Books

Nightingale, Andrea Bramhall, Bold Strokes Books

Seneca Falls, Jesse J. Thoma, Bold Strokes Books

Tangled Roots, Marianne K. Martin, Bywater Books

That Certain Something, Clare Ashton, Breezy Tree Press

 

LGBT ANTHOLOGY

Black Gay Genius: Answering Joseph Beam’s Call, Charles Stephens and Steven G. Fullwood, Vintage Entity Press

A Family by Any Other Name: Exploring Queer Relationships, Bruce Gillespie, TouchWood Editions

Outer Voices Inner Lives, Mark McNease and Stephen Dolainski, editors, MadeMark Publishing

The Queer South: LGBTQ Writers on the American South, Douglas Ray, editor, Sibling Rivalry Press

Understanding and Teaching US Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History, Leila J. Rupp & Susan K. Freeman, University of Wisconsin Press

 

LGBT CHILDREN’S/Young adult

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, Susan Kuklin, Candlewick Press

Double Exposure, Bridget Birdsall, Sky Pony Press, an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing

Five, Six, Seven, Nate!, Tim Federle, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Forgive Me If I’ve Told You This Before, Karelia Stetz-Waters, Ooligan Press

Lies We Tell Ourselves, Robin Talley, Harlequin Teen

Pukawiss the Outcast, Jay Jordan Hawke, Dreamspinner Press/Harmony Ink Press

This is Not a Love Story, Suki Fleet, Dreamspinner Press/Harmony Ink Press

When Everything Feels like the Movies, Raziel Reid, Arsenal Pulp Press

 

LGBT DEBUT

Death in Venice, California, Vinton Rafe McCabe, The Permanent Press

Kill Marguerite and Other Stories, Megan Milks, Emergency Press

A Map of Everything, Elizabeth Earley, Jaded Ibis Press

The Music Teacher, Bob Sennett, Lethe Press

Nochita, Dia Felix, City Lights/Sister Spit

Part the Hawser, Limn the Sea, Dan Lopez, Chelsea Station Editions

Unaccompanied Minors, Alden Jones, New American Press

The Walk-In Closet, Abdi Nazemian, Curtis Brown Unlimited

 

LGBT DRAMA

The Beast of Times, Adelina Anthony, Kórima Press

Bootycandy, Robert O’Hara, Samuel French

A Kid Like Jake, Daniel Pearle, Dramatists Play Service

The Whale, Samuel D. Hunter, Samuel French

Wolves, Steve Yockey, Samuel French

 

LGBT GRAPHIC NOVELS

100 Crushes, Elisha Lim, Koyama Press

Band Vs. Band Comix Volume 1, Kathleen Jacques, Paper Heart Comix

Pregnant Butch: Nine Long Months Spent in Drag, A.K. Summers, Soft Skull, an imprint of Counterpoint

Second Avenue Caper, Joyce Brabner; Art by Mark Zingarelli, Hill and Wang, a division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Snackies, Nick Sumida, Youth in Decline

 

LGBT NONFICTION

An American Queer: The Amazon Trail, Lee Lynch, Bold Strokes Books

Hold Tight Gently: Michael Callen, Essex Hemphill, and the Battlefield of AIDS, Martin Duberman, The New Press

The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality, Julie Sondra Decker, Skyhorse Publishing/Carrel Books

Nevirapine and the Quest to End Pediatric AIDS, Rebecca J. Anderson, McFarland

Robert Gober: The Heart Is Not a Metaphor, Hilton Als, Ann Temkin, Claudia Carson, Robert Gober, Paulina Pobocha, Christian Scheidemann, The Museum of Modern Art

Sexplosion: From Andy Warhol to A Clockwork Orange, How a Generation of Pop Rebels Broke All the Taboos, Robert Hofler, It Books/HarperCollins

The Transgender Archives: Foundations for the Future, Aaron H Devor, University of Victoria Libraries

The Up Stairs Lounge Arson: Thirty-Two Deaths in a New Orleans Gay Bar, June 24, 1973, Clayton Delery-Edwards, McFarland

 

LGBT SF/F/HORROR

Afterparty, Daryl Gregory, Tor Books

Bitter Waters, Chaz Brenchley, Lethe Press

Butcher’s Road, Lee Thomas, Lethe Press

Child of a Hidden Sea, A. M. Dellamonica, Tor Books

Full Fathom Five, Max Gladstone, Tor Books

FutureDyke, Lea Daley, Bella Books

Skin Deep Magic, Craig Laurance Gidney, Rebel Satori Press

 

LGBT STUDIES

After Love: Queer Intimacy and Erotic Economies in Post-Soviet Cuba, Noelle M. Stout, Duke University Press

Charity & Sylvia: A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America, Rachel Hope Cleves, Oxford University Press

Delectable Negro: Human Consumption and Homoeroticism within US Slave Culture, Vincent Woodard, Ed. Justin A. Joyce and Dwight McBride, New York University Press

Queen for a Day: Transformistas, Beauty Queens, and the Performance of Femininity in Venezuela, Marcia Ochoa, Duke University Press

The Queerness of Native American Literature, Lisa Tatonetti, The University of Minnesota Press

Sexual Futures, Queer Gestures, and Other Latina Longings, Juana Maria Rodriguez, New York University Press

The Sexuality of History: Modernity and the Sapphic, Susan S. Lanser, University of Chicago Press

Under Bright Lights: Gay Manila and the Global Scene, Bobby Benedicto, University of Minnesota Press

 

TRANSGENDER FICTION

Everything Must Go, La JohnJoseph, ITNA PRESS

For Today I Am a Boy, Kim Fu, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Moving Forward Sideways like a Crab, Shani Mootoo, Doubleday Canada

Revolutionary: A Novel, Alex Myers, Simon and Schuster

A Safe Girl To Love, Casey Plett, Topside Press

 

Transgender Non-Fiction

Man Alive: A True Story of Violence, Forgiveness and Becoming a Man, Thomas Page McBee, City Lights/Sister Spit

Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love and So Much More, Janet Mock, Atria Books

Trans Bodies, Trans Selves: A Resource for the Transgender Community, Laura Erickson-Schroth, Oxford University Press

 

– See more at: http://www.lambdaliterary.org/features/news/03/04/the-27th-annual-lambda-literary-award-finalists/#sthash.R18Mi1wt.dpuf

 

HAHAT Giveaway

 

The winner of the Hop Against Homophobia giveaway is….

 

Kimberly Lynn Workman

 

Congratulations! You’ve won a copy of Speaking Out: LGBTQ Youth Stand Up*, edited by Steve Berman (Bold Strokes Books, 2011). I have sent an email with further details.

 

*Reviewed on this blog as part of last year’s Short Stories 365 Review a Day project.

 

Review of Saints and Sinners: New Fiction from the Festival 2015

SAS Anthology Scaled 2

Now an INDIEFAB Book of the Year finalist!

The latest book in which I have a story is Saints and Sinners: New Fiction from the Festival 2015, edited by Amie M. Evans and Paul J. Willis (Bold Strokes Books). It debuted during the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival in New Orleans in March.

Is it gauche to review a book in which one’s own work appears? Perhaps. If so, I am unrepentantly so, having also reviewed the 2013 and 2014 editions of the anthology, as well as Best Gay Romance 2014 (Cleis Press) and Diverse Voices Quarterly vol. 6 Issue 21, despite having stories in each. Oh well. As of this writing only one other person has seen fit to review this volume (huge shout out to ‘Nathan Burgoine). Really, people? C’mon.

I love this anthology series, and this year’s edition did not disappoint. It started off on a very serious, pull-no-punches kind of note with “Gingerbread” by Eric Andrew-Katz. Set in Germany during WWII, it’s the story of a Jewish man who finds himself at the mercy of his ex-lover, now part of the Nazi machine. Brutal, bleak, and disturbing, it’s a hell of a way to open the collection.

The next story, “Wrens Knell” by Kristyn Dunnion, isn’t much cheerier. Stephen is a dead teenager in limbo, a victim of the systemic homophobia that turns schoolchildren, parents and priests into predators; murderers by proxy if not by point of fact.

Frank Perez turns things around with “Hustlers Court.” It’s full of humor and larger-than-life, loveably flawed characters, although I wish the waitress and lone female of the piece, who is described as “the large woman in a mu-mu,” “the mu-mu woman,” and “the large mu-mu lady” (that one four times), had been given a name, in the same way that Wills, Phillip, Benson, JD, Frizzy, Earl, John, Urban, Hoyle, The Oracle, Nox, Lamar, Spinato, Dorignac, and even the bar itself, the Double Play, and its competitors, the Grand Pre and Tiki’s, were all given names. Aside from that seeming blind spot, it’s a gritty, highly irreverent read which I liked very much.

The next story up, “Maple Beach People” by Lee Lynch, feels like part of a novel and really, really, really needs to be turned into one, if it isn’t. I’d buy that book in a heartbeat. The story concerns a network of women, all lesbians, struggling to carve out lives worth living while enduring the oppressive homophobia, misogyny and racism of the 1950s. Who couldn’t empathize with the young protagonist, Luce, as she tries to envision her future?

“What it was Turned Ollie Queer” by Mike Tuohy wins my vote for best story title, but I had trouble identifying with the good ol’ boys of the piece. As with the last story there’s entrenched homophobia and racism; there’s also, though, an outlandishness that’s meant to temper it with humor, only I didn’t trust the majority of the characters and so held my breath through most of the tale, anticipating violence. It did not manifest, thankfully, and a second reading allowed the humor to come fully to the fore.

Next we have the speculative fiction piece “Femorph” by James Russell. The world of the story is one where bodies have obvious dual natures from birth, with one gender asserting dominance and becoming cemented at adulthood, a process termed “calcification”. Aaron is a teenager torn by his desire for conflicting things: the friendship he shares with his best friend Michael, who is gay, vs. the sexual attraction he shares with Michael’s alter-ego Michelle. The thing is, there can be no ambivalence, no shifting back and forth between the personalities inhabiting a body once calcification hits, or the consequences can be fatal. I loved this examination of sexual attraction, gender identity, selfish vs. selfless-ness, and societal expectations, and I hope it finds a wide audience.

I know exactly why I like the story “Fat Hands” by John Kane. It’s because it’s filled with things that remind me of Michael Kearns: Silver Lake, Hollywood, HIV and AIDS, bathhouses, created families, friendships that span decades, and the wisdom of one who has lived life with his eyes wide open. The crispness of the prose elevates the story, rendering what might be maudlin, uplifting and poignant instead. That’s quite a trick.

The next story, “Days of Awe,” is mine. I’d love feedback, if you’ve read it. Moving on, I thought I wouldn’t like “Pageant Girl” by Sam Hawk, because I am not a fan of beauty pageants in general, and ones involving small children tend to make me apoplectic, but I found myself rooting for Elsie and her coach, Bennie. You know what did it? A shared hatred of her biggest competition, Miss Dallas Northeast. In the early nineteen nineties I spent a week in Mesquite, TX. Let’s just say I can relate.

I expected to like “‘Til it Bleeds” by Jerry Rabushka, because I so enjoyed his “Sample Day” in last year’s anthology, and I was not disappointed, though I was thrown for a bit of a loop when the story turned out to have an omniscient POV. It was also rough walking around (mostly) in Kurt’s skin, though I had a hard time identifying why that was. Here is a man who tries hard to figure out his feelings, yet always ends up blaming others for his unhappiness, his loneliness. I’m not sure what his problem is, or how to fix it, but I like him.

Felice Picano’s story “A Perfect Fit” is a time-travelling head trip of an adventure. The hero is sent back several thousand years, in order to investigate the early days of a legend, but as the story events unfold he finds his life and that of the historical figure being conflated. The question arises for the reader: Will he be able to go home? (I’d also like to know if this a fraction of a novel.)

The last story is “Basketball Fever” by Maureen Brady. I admired, first of all, that it has as its protagonists two women of “advanced” age. Charlene and Shoney also aren’t rich or beautiful, and never have been. They’re everywomen who have become friends because their seats as season ticket holders for the WNBA team The Liberty happen to be side-by-side. The thing is, they’ve got a lot more in common than basketball, but fear of rejection keeps them from exploring any potential relationship beyond the sports stadium, right up to and past the last game of the season. Thankfully, they get an opportunity to correct that mistake during a post-season celebration at Madison Square Garden. I loved the affection they exhibit for one another, and the gentle humor that runs all through the story. It’s another one I’d like to see be developed into a longer work.

There you have it. Well, sort of. You can actually have it by clicking here:

http://www.boldstrokesbooks.com/9781626393912e.html

Calm before the storm.

KCA with Hollenbachs I took this

The Thunder Over Louisville hype is not what brought Ehrichto to the hotel. He’d been stopped in his tracks by the sight that greeted him at Fifth and Main. For a moment he’d wondered if he was somehow on the wrong block, or if maybe they’d re-numbered the streets, any explanation at all besides the obvious and unthinkable, that they’d torn down the Conway Distillery building. But they had. All the buildings on that block were gone, replaced by an angular structure of light brown brick and soaring green glass capped by a rounded, corrugated steel roof. The building looked for all the world like a giant soup can laid on its side.

He was standing, staring at it in horror when a voice to his left said, “I know, right? It’s the only decent block in the whole damned city. I so cannot wait to get to Man-hattan.”

Bardo by N. S. Beranek, forthcoming from Lethe Press.