Desire: Tales of New Orleans by William Sterling Walker
Gay Fiction: (2012, Chelsea Station Editions)
William Sterling Walker's collection of short stories set in a pre-Katrina New Orleans is one of those books where everything, from the characters to the setting and from the writing to the subject matter, comes together perfectly into one unforgettable package. Walker's ability to make time, place, and characters come alive is uncanny. I've re-read passages, single, and various stories from this collection repeatedly after my first go round -- Desire, Aubade, Menuetto, Fin de Siècle -- and keep the book handy. I cannot recommend this collection enough.
Red-Inked Retablos by Rigoberto Gonzalez
Creative Non-Fiction: (2013, The University of Arizona Press)
In Red-Inked Retablos, Rigoberto Gonzalez invites readers to contemplation and activism. He speaks with authority and passion from the many viewpoints that make up his life experiences -- the Latino, the gay man, the writer, the teacher, the activist -- but, most importantly he speaks from the heart. I read this book in February 2013 and referred to it several times throughout the year. A memorable and highly recommended read.
In His Secret Life by Mel Bossa
Bisexual/Gay Romance: (2013, Bold Strokes Books)
Mel Bossa writes beautiful romances filled with conflicted gay and bisexual males in pursuit of understanding, self-awareness, and love. I love her LGBT romances, and in 2013 she did it again with In His Secret Life where Bossa again displays her talents for creating three dimensional characters and a complex, memorable romance by tackling a controversial love affair between a married bisexual man and single gay man further complicated by family ties.
Boystown #5: Murder Book by Marshall Thornton
Mystery: (2013, MLR Press)
Set in Chicago at the beginning of the 1980's, the Nick Nowack Mystery series by Marshall Thornton is gritty and makes an impact on the reader with more than just the great mysteries. Throughout the series, it is Nick's personal life -- sexual exploits and romantic interests -- that slowly become the ongoing source of tension for the reader. Thornton takes the readers back to the 80's and keeps them there with his no nonsense writing style and magnificent central character. Time for Secrets #4 (2012, MLR Press) and Murder Book #5 are both favorite reads, but I highly recommend the entire series!
Death by Silver by Melissa Scott & Amy Griswold
Fantasy: (2013, Lethe Press)
Scott & Griswold's world-building is a combination of high magic and Victorian morals in a quasi-recognizable London. Death by Silver is an excellent blend of fantasy and mystery with steampunk elements. The romance in the making between the two main characters and their inner conflicts, however, give this novel a perfect emotional touch, as do the secondary characters and gray areas that these two authors explore throughout the story.
Dust Devil on a Quiet Street by Richard Bowes
Fantasy/Speculative Fiction: (2013, Lethe Press)
In 2013, I read three books by Richard Bowes including his collection of fairy tales The Queen, The Cambion and Seven Others (2013, Aqueduct Press) and When Angels Fight (2013, Fairwood Press). I reviewed two of the three books, but enjoyed and recommend them all. Dust Devil on a Quiet Street is a fantastic compilation of short stories that are organically blended into one book or one story. Bowes' knowledge and love of New York City and the intimacy of thought found in his narrative are fantastic. This book is categorized as a fantasy, yet I am still fascinated by the fact that at times it is impossible to tell where truth ends and fiction begins. Richard Bowes is that talented.
Light by 'Nathan Burgoine
SFF/Romance/Suspense: (2013, Bold Strokes Books)
We all need heroes in our lives, even reluctant heroes who hide their light are welcome! Burgoine is a multi-talented author who successfully creates short stories within different LGBT sub-genres such as speculative fiction, romance and gay fiction. His debut full-length novel Light makes it to my list of favorite reads as one of the most enjoyable books read in 2013. This action/adventure, superhero, romance suspense yarn is tough to place into one of those little boxes or categories, what is not difficult to do is love it. It is fun, entertaining, and absorbing with a memorable central character and a grounded, focused central gay theme. Light now resides on my "reread" shelf.
Best Gay Stories 2013 ed. Steve Berman
Anthology--Fiction, Creative Non-Fiction: (2013, Lethe Press)
Best Gay Stories 2013 is undoubtedly my favorite anthology of the year. Steve Berman compiled 20 amazing fiction and creative non-fiction pieces by 20 equally fantastic authors, some already well known to me and others not at all. I read many collections and anthologies during a single year and was greatly surprised to read one excellent piece after another in this anthology, each with a different theme highly relevant to today's gay man -- young and not so young -- some embracing recent history and others dealing with the here and now.
Favorite Short Stories: I chose the following short stories from favorite single author collections and anthologies rated A (5.0) and A-/B+ (4.5). I'm sort of cheating since the books, as well as the short stories, are highly recommended in their entirety.
"Things I Can't Tell My Father"
The Silent Hustler by Sean Meriwether (2009, Lethe Press)
The Rest of Us: Stories by Guy Mark Foster (2013, Lethe Press)
"Light and Dark" by Damon Shaw
"The Third State" by Lee Thomas
"The Origin of the Fiend" by Hal Duncan
The Lavender Menace: Tales of Queer Villainy! ed. by Tom Cardamone (2013, Northwest Press)
"Sic Him Hellhound! Kill! Kill!" by Hal Duncan
"A Strange Form of Life" by Laird Barron
Wilde Stories 2013: The Year's Best Gay Speculative Fiction ed. Steve Berman (2013, Lethe Press)