Category Archives: GGR Short Story

No Ugly Cignets Here

A Wild Swan and Other Tales
Michael Cunningham

Illustrated by Yuko Shimizu

I’ve long been a fan of Cunningham and will happily read anything he writes – fairy tales included; these ones were a pleasure.

When I say writing, I mean literally the way individual sentences are crafted.

Ex.  It’s his lucky night. … Finally, cherries have appeared in all three of his slot machine windows. 

In classic show don’t tell style he didn’t just tell us “it was his lucky night,” or even that “he’d hit the jackpot”, instead, Cunningham gives us the momentary thrill of hitting it ourselves. “Finally, cherries have appeared in all three of his slot machine windows.”

He seems to be on a bit of a fairy tale kick at the moment. The title of his last book, The Snow Queen, was based on a Hans Christian Andersen story. (See my review of it here.)

And like the Polari first book prize winner of 2014 Fairy Tales for Lost Children Cunningham’s fairy tales are not meant for children  – at least not young children. They’re written for an adult audience. It’s kind of the reverse of going to a Pixar movie which is, ostensibly, aimed at children but with lots of hidden adult humour thrown in. These fairy tales are clearly aimed at adults but maintain the structure and fantasy elements typically at children.

He consistently takes the reader behind the scenes into the internal lives, hopes and desires of the main characters which I found gave added poignancy to the traditional morals these tales were originally designed to showcase.

Several of your favourites are here; Rapunzel, Beauty and the Beast, Jack and the Beanstalk. Cunningham has renamed them; Her Hair, Beasts, Jacked. There were a few others that I’d forgotten and enjoyed being reintroduced to and one or two that I’d never heard of, which did not inhibit my pleasure in reading them.

Overall, an enjoyable and recommended collection by one of our foremost writers.

LotR and Hobbit Snogging

More people are likely to think of Lord of the Rings than Love on the Road when they see the initials LotR, and while I like to imagine the Lord of the Rings as an extended hobbit love story, with Sam and Frodo finally confessing their devotion to each other on the road to Mordor; it’s not.

Oh wait, no, that part happened.

Continue reading

Handsome Men…

…are Slighty Sunburnt.  I know, it’s an odd title.

Handsome Men are Slightly Sunburnt
Frank Ronan

I was more than happy to find this collection of shorts by Ronan in which he applies his gift with language in the service of telling stories.  The writing is lyrical in the way the Irish make look natural and Ronan uses it to lend dignity, empathy and humor to characters that might otherwise strike a reader as difficult to relate to; shut-ins, closeted gay men, widows. Continue reading

Two Pocket Gay Books by Alan Bennett

That’s  two terrifically clever and terribly short books by Alan Bennett that will fit into your pocket and possibly your lunch hour.

The Uncommon Reader is the most recent one and concerns a certain Queen who takes up reading in her later years only to discover she may have a story of her own she wants to tell. Entertaining and surprising throughout, Bennett demonstrates the power of reading by showing how taking it up can change a person’s views about others and ultimately his or her self. Norman is the ginger haired, and strongly implied gay, boy from the kitchens who initially helps her select her reading material including many classic works by gay writers. Entertaining and surprising throughout. Continue reading

Polari First Book Prize 2014 Recipient

Fairytales for Lost Children by Diriye Osman is this year’s Polari First Book prize winner.

Osman is a British – Somali writer and Fairytales is a collection of his short stories about young gay and lesbian Somalis and their experiences in Somalia, in Kenya as refugees and in Britain as immigrants.  Osman writes equally fluently from the perspective of his lesbian characters as from his gay ones. Continue reading

Enchanted Gay Bar You Say?

golden-gate-bridge-from-battery-spencer-mdI did say.  The bar in question is the setting for Dougie Doodles and the Enchanted Gay Bar  a short story by Alvin Orloff, published in Issue 8 of Instant City, a San Francisco quarterly magazine.

It’s short, it’s very funny and it’s got a moral.  Read it here.

Instant City bills itself as a literary exploration of San Francisco through fiction, non-fiction and art. I picked up Issue 8, in which you can find this story, at Aardvark Books – my favorite used and new bookstore in SF.  Issue 8 is devoted to “Cowboys, Mutant Cowboys, Vampires, Earthquakes, and some Noir” and contains a number of other short stories and original art you can enjoy on their site – Instant City.

If you enjoy Dougie Doodles you may want to check out Orloff’s books as well.

In the meantime sit back with your favorite cocktail and enjoy some time at your local enchanted gay bar.