Saturday, November 24, 2012

Irresistable Revolution: Confronting Race, Class and the Assumptions Of LGBT Politics by Urvashi Vaid

Reviewer: Bob Lind, Echo Magazine
Publisher: Magnus Books, October 2012
Pages: 220

The author has been a gifted and dedicated spokesperson for LGBT equality for several decades, and has been a sought-after guest lecturer for dozens of organizations and educational institutions working for diversity and justice for all. Nine of those presentations, some going back as much as twenty years, form the core of this book, which also includes a concise introduction and complete cites to studies and concepts quoted in her talks. 

Ms. Vaid's point is simple, really: The fight for LGBT equality should not attempt to operate in a vacuum apart from other battles for diversity and justice, including those tackling matters of race, gender, religion and economic class, which also should demand the attention of anyone fighting for equality based on sexual orientation. Her points are made in the context of today's culture and politics, and their impact on our diverse relationships and interactions. Her words engage the reader and provide realistic examples (and occasional humor) that make this an easier read than you would first anticipate. Five stars out of five.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Raid by Lee Lynch

Reviewer: Bob Lind, Echo Magazine
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books, October 2012
Pages: 264

The scene is a small Massachusetts town in 1961, where an eclectic and colorful mix of lesbians, gay men as well as a few other diverse locals, frequent the Old Town Tavern, an oasis in that otherwise seedy part of town. Over the years, the bar's owners, employees and customers have formed a family of sorts, and are generally there for each other whenever someone needs to talk, cry, celebrate or cope with life's disappointments. As was common in such times, most are deeply in the closet, and their time at the Old Town is the only time they can open up without fear of being discovered.

Things start to change when the local police seem to be spending a lot of time observing outside the bar, which makes some of the regulars leery about being there. Egged on by a local candidate for mayor, the police eventually raid the bar, causing physical and emotional injuries that may not ever be able to completely heal. While this drives some patrons away, it strengthens the bonds between them, as they help each other through their ordeals and take steps to make it unlikely to happen again. 

The story is told through the eyes of Rockie Solomon, a business-minded, generous middle-aged lesbian who owns a local bindery and has pretty much given up on finding new love after the painful loss of a partner. While there are gay male characters, most of the story centers around the many lesbian character and their lives, with light erotic content that is not out of place in that context. 

An interesting and well-written story, from an author who has been a major force in lesbian novels for over 40 years. This is the first of her works I have read, and I'm definitely planning to look for more. Four stars out of five. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

BEST GAY STORIES 2012 Edited by Peter Dube'

Reviewer: Bob Lind, Echo Magazine
Publisher: Lethe Press, September 2012
Pages: 204

Like everyone else, gay men are looking for love, whether through traditional romance, or chance encounters that feed one's desire. Those desires and longings are as varied and diverse as the individuals involved, yet all unite us to some extent. 

This anthology presents fifteen such stories of longing and desire, written by talented and (mostly) well-known authors of gay male fiction, in styles as different as the focus of each story. From a story of renegade angels running an exclusive dance club, a tale of how bicycling keeps alive the memory of a good friend, a night out clubbing in "Gay City," and a story involving a unique way to enjoy cake, there is likely something here for every taste. Four stars out of five.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Rent By Rick R. Reed

Reviewer: Jon Michaelsen
Publisher: MLR Press
Pages: 236

“Sex can be a dangerous business. So can love…”
I could not have penned a better one-line mark to espouse the appeal of this new sexy romance thriller if I tried. Reed has returned with the release of his latest in fine form, returning to the murder-mystery, thriller genre fans have loved in his previous novels IM and Tricks, Obsessed, Crime Scene and Reckless, to name a few.
Readers of Reed’s earlier novel, Tricks, are treated to a sequel of sorts in that gay go-go bar, Tricks, features prominently within the storyline, with some mentions of previous characters – though not central to the plot. Rent easily stands on its own without reading its predecessor a requisite.
Wren Gallagher wants nothing more than to lose himself within alcohol’s nectar to chase the bad day away following his firing from a dead-end job he didn’t much care for anyway. Making matters worse, he’s somehow misplaced or lost his wallet, but all is not lost when a mysterious stranger steps forward to pay his tab and presents Wren with a rather tempting offer of richness -- and the promise of finding true love.
The stranger is the odd, rather diffident proprietor of À Louer, a male escort agency and he wants the nerdy handsome Gallagher to join his stable of boys for hire. Though initially uninterested, bad news and more unfortunate luck forces Wren to reconsider his financial alternates. He accepts the offer presented to him to become a high-end “whore”, as he refers. Yet what Wren did not expect, was to meet the man of his dreams so soon in Rufus, an older, wiser escort who is assigned to be Wren’s mentor.
On his first call, Wren is partnered with Rufus to perform for a client who only likes to watch, an opportunity to ease the young man’s apprehension, that which becomes the catalyst to the swooning of Wren’s heart.  No sooner has Wren begun his newfound career of hustling his smooth, trim body for successful, often older closeted professionals, does news of the shocking murder of one of À Louer’s escorts stun Wren into quitting, but not before encroaching in the personal privacy of Rufus, an act of suspicion sure to drive the love of his life away from him.
Rent is an outstanding sexy, romantic thriller full of dark, deadly secrets as one after another escort is murdered within a short period. The novel is well-plotted and suspenseful, a surprising thriller that will keep readers on a roller coaster ride through the final pages, with a jaw-dropping shock or two near the end– a trademark Reed eminence in crime fiction.
This heart-wrenching romantic thriller is quite simply brilliant!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Second You Sin by Scott Sherman

Reviewer: Alan Chin
Publisher: Kensington Books
Pages: 314

This is the second book of the Kevin Connor Mystery series. Kevin Connor is a New York City callboy, who also spends his off hours volunteering at the local daycare center. He’s drop-dead gorgeous, has a heart of gold, and his circle of friends/family are all rather wacky and entertaining.  His only problem is that, one by one, his circle of friends is shrinking. Someone is killing off Big-Apple hustlers. Kevin decides to investigate these strange deaths, only to end up a target himself.

Let me state up front, this is a comedy. It’s meant to tickle your funny bone, and nothing more. It’s what I call ‘a beach read.’ The kind of book where 1) everybody is gay, 2) everybody is buff and beautiful, and 3) the plot is as paper thin as the characters. That said, it is hilarious and will keep you turning pages.

This is a light-hearted, speedy read that has something amusing on almost every page. People who enjoy gay comedies will undoubtedly love this story. It’s funny, often witty, and sexy.

I don’t normally read comedies, because I personally start off enjoying the humorous banter, but after fifty pages or so I begin to tire of it. This book was no exception. I found that the author often went off on long, sometimes chapter long, tangents where he blathered on about something unrelated to the story, simply to amuse the reader.

The last thing I’ll mention is that Kensington is a large and respected publisher, yet I found numerous grammatical/spelling errors. My opinion of this publisher has plummeted.

For readers who like a frivolous and funny gay romp, I can highly recommend this book. For readers who prefer a more serious and complex look at life, I suggest you pass on this one.