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Book Review: A Fool Among Fools

In: Reader Submissions, The Arts, Totally GAY!

It’s a year in the life of an ad exec in mid-1980s New York. Twenty-nine is a tricky year – you’re too young to be old, but you’re too old to not have accomplished SOMETHING. You have your family, sure, and your relationships with them are good, mostly. You’ve had a boyfriend, but now you’re single. You have a job, but it’s not satisfying you (and you supervisor is certifiably insane). You’ve got friends, and thank God for that. They get you through the days, through the nights, through the ever-present awareness of the virus that has been sweeping through everywhere.

Michael Gregoretti (MG for short) can’t believe he is turning twenty-nine. His job as a secretary turned junior copywriter isn’t getting him anywhere. The play he is writing, about life in an ad agency, isn’t going anywhere. His love life since his ex Tim moved to California to pursue his acting career is definitely not going anywhere. His most immediate problem, though, as he starts his thirtieth year, is summed up in two words: Gwen Hammond, his supervisor at Malcolm & Partners Worldwide. Gwen’s controlling and creatively-dead work is suffocating MG.

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Book Review: Selfish and Perverse

In: Reader Submissions, The Arts

Take a writer’s assistant/writer from LA, introduce him to a salmon fisherman/archaeologist from Alaska, then introduce them both to an actor/sex god fresh from prison and you have the makings of one helluva love triangle.

Nelson isn’t particularly happy with his job as a writer’s assistant, nor is he happy with his lack of a boyfriend. Luckily, shortly after meeting the next future man of his dreams in Roy from Alaska, he gets fired for smoking pot with the surprisingly intelligent movie star Dylan. The three of them end up spending the summer in Alaska, and the result is this comic, sweet, and sexy story of friendship and romance, doubts, jealousies, and one helluva threeway.

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Book Review: Songs For The New Depression

In: Reader Submissions, Totally GAY!

Gabe Travers is dying. He knows it. He is surrounded by the people he loves, his mother and her new wife Pastor Sally, his best friend Clare, his lover Jon. These are the people who have clung to him through the years, who have stood by him through bad decisions and bitchy remarks. Dying, he takes Jon to Paris; what better gift to give the man you love than the world?

It was a gift he’d been given 9 years earlier, by a man he loved, and as the book goes back in time, we the readers are taken on that journey with him. And then that journey continues back 10 years, to first kisses, to coming out, to a time when Gabe begins to make those relationships that will set the course of his life. To when he first hears Bette Midler.

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Book Review: The Letter Q

In: Reader Submissions, The Arts, Totally GAY!

This isn’t a novel. This is a collection of letters, written by some of the greatest queer authors of the day, to their younger selves. As such, I don’t recommend sitting down and reading it from cover to cover. Keep it tucked away in your backpack or purse or briefcase, and pull it out when you need a warm fuzzy or a pep talk or simply a few moments of enjoyment.

Each letter is unique. Some even take the form of comics. They tackle all the issues you’d expect: bullying, coming out, sex, and all the emotions that go with them: shame, fear, anger, and eventually pride and contentment.

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If you’re a romantic, if you believe in love at first sight, if you believe, like Snow White, that one day your prince will come, then this book is a must-read.

Peter Cashorali takes stories we grew up on and twists them for gay men. Beauty and the Beast, Hansel and Gretel, Rumplestiltskin, the Ugly Duckling and more, all become queerified, and young gay kids and mature gay men will enjoy seeing the fairy tales they knew, now resonating more with tales of Princes’ happily ever afters.

All the magic is still there, all the talking animals, unexpected transformations, ogres, ghouls, and Death. Now, they’re parables on aging, mortality, AIDS, coming out, the shallow and fickle nature of attraction, and, as always, the quest for true love.

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Book Review: Gulliver Takes Manhattan

In: Reader Submissions, The Arts, Totally GAY!

Ok, first off, you should know I’m a little bit in love with the city of New York, always have been, always will be. So, small wonder that when I received my copy of Gulliver Takes Manhattan in the mail, saw the skyline glowing on the cover, small wonder I was already a little in love with it.

By page 50, I was hooked like a gay guy on Starbucks.

It’s the story of Gulliver Leverenz (don’t make any jokes about the name, because you only get one), who moves from the LaLa Land of the West Coast to Empire City after discovering that his boyfriend Graham has been cheating on him, dirty lying bastards that some men just tend to be. Gulliver is saved from the pain and drama of his Graham-centric LA life when his former college roomie and best friend Todd extends an invitation to move to New York City and start over.

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Book Review: Don’t Let Me Go

In: Reader Submissions, The Arts, Totally GAY!

I’ve been going through the gay fiction section of my local bookstore pretty fast lately, and some reads have been better than others, and then along came one that punched me in the stomach even as it proceeded to rip my heart out of my chest.

Don’t Let Me Go by JH Trumble is the love story of Adam and Nate, who meet in high school and who are inseparable from that point forward. When Adam gets a chance to go to New York to pursue a career on Broadway, it’s Nate that pushes him to go. That’s where the book begins.

But it’s not just the story of a long-distance relationship, because you see, the book jumps around a bit in time, flashing back to first touches, first times, coming out, and the horrific assault Adam and Nate suffer at the hands of their bigoted classmates. So all through this love story, you’ve got a darker thread of intolerance, homophobia, and hatred, and it’s different than when you see it on the news. More real, because you really start to care about these guys. Well, I did anyway. All of Nate’s feelings, I’ve felt, jealousy and paranoia and the need for some sort of revenge, at the same time as you’re feeling angry at the world for its bigotry and want to make some grand political statement and be a martyr for the gay cause.

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Book Review: Dancer From The Dark

In: Reader Submissions, The Arts

Dancer from the Dance by Andrew Holleran is the story of gay life in New York in the late 70s, from the tenements of the Lower East Side to the beaches of Fire Island, from the bars and the baths to the avenues and the parks, all the places where gay men cruised for cock and love. It is a story about too often having to sacrifice substance for style, and how, once in a while, you do the opposite. It is a story of decadence and despair, of lust, love, and the lies we all tell, of coming out and the end of innocence. It is the story of Malone, beautiful, romantic, idealistic, and Sutherland, queeny, campy, and jaded. It is the story of how they met, became friends, and how their friendship intersected and impacted the lives of the people around them.

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