Thursday, May 21, 2009
This anthology is a compilation of works by sixteen talented writers beginning with a beautiful Introduction written by its editor, Richard Labonté. Mr. Labonté, a long time city dweller who moved to a small town, wanted to showcase through these short stories, gay men's experiences of life and love in small, country towns. In the Introduction, which I enjoyed as much as the rest of the book, he gives us a bit of his own history and experiences in the small town where he lived openly with his husband Asa -- the book is dedicated to Asa, a touching and fitting tribute.
There are sixteen short stories in this anthology and every single one of them is worth reading. The writing is diverse, creative, and excellent all around. Some of the stories are very short, as in Bear Season by C.B. Potts, and some a bit longer as in Noel, for the Last Time by Wayne Courtois, but all are well developed.
There were quite a few stories where we are allowed a peek at some erotic, some tender and some wild first encounters between curious young men in the country who explore their sexuality together, and where we meet farms boys, good ole boys, and river boys.
Opening Day at The Fair by J.M. Snyder is worth mentioning in this category as you can almost hear the buzz of insects, feel the lazy summer day, the heat, the sweat and the yearning when reading it. Goodland Kansas by Jay Neal is a touching coming of age story about three boys set in a small town -- "know thyself," the beauty or the tragedy. I loved this story by Neal. These three friends know each other from childhood through adulthood. We share some of their adventures, moments of self-awareness and discoveries, their differences and in the end their choices.
Laying By written by Dale Chase where a young man traveling to California with his family, via a wagon train in 1846, experiences sexual awakening and love is a favorite. But I must say I was so surprised by River Boy written by Tom Cardamone that I had to read it twice. This was a unique piece set in the Florida river swamps featuring two unusual characters and even more unusual circumstances. Cardamone weaves D/s into the tale of River Boy and Skink in the most unexpected of settings. A story I'll remember.
Those pesky city dwellers also make appearances while they're visiting the country. The Farmer's Son by Karl Taggart was a favorite of mine, a story that somehow seemed plausible -- I wonder if our city boy will take his Harley out for a ride down that country road again...hmm. Vincent Diamond's Wrestling Gators is a fast paced erotic tale that proves once again that a man wearing a uniform and playing hero will work every single time, and in Hot Eats by Kal Cobalt, a cinematographer finds more than great fried chicken at the local Diner during that lonely third shift.
There are other stories, Goat Boy by Jack Fritscher is a celebration of manhood the likes of which I've never imagined--it made me laugh and gag at the same time. And there's the beautiful story of home coming by Dominic Santi titled Drum Stone about a Native American who while searching for his roots finds love.
I found this anthology while searching for works by Vincent Diamond, an author who has become a personal favorite. Not only did I find a wonderful story by Diamond I had not yet read, but I also found a slew of new-to-me authors whose stories I can't wait to research and read. Mr. Labonté certainly reached his goal with this anthology; it is a gorgeous celebration of life, love and experiences in the country. Great find!
Gay Erotica - Grade: A
You can find this book and other works by Richard Labonté here
Originally posted at Musings of a Bibliophile May 21, 2009