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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 13 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 28
Bookmarks: Melissa Scott mixes whodunit, Gay love, fantasy, and speculative fiction
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Bookmarks: Melissa Scott mixes whodunit, Gay love, fantasy, and speculative fiction

by Richard Labonte - SGN Contributing Writer

SPREADEAGLE
KEVIN KILLIAN

Two decades in the writing, this pop-culture-peppered novel manages to reference the February 11, 2012, death of Whitney Houston. (Score one for on-demand, one-book-at-a-time publishing.) Part One centers on Danny Isham, author of a series of sexy San Francisco-set novels - a running joke is that Isham is forever confused with Tales of the City's Armistead Maupin. The scene shifts in Part Two to a meth-centric small town in central California, where fake-autograph entrepreneur Geoffrey falls in with grifter Gary Radley (Adam's brother, peddling fake AIDS cures to the desperate), and where Avery, online and in person, is coveted by a wealthy recluse - one of the deliciously decadent threads that knots this novel's brilliant, bifurcated boisterousness together.

TEA LEAVES
JANET MASON

A Lesbian comes to terms with her family's history, with class differences, with her difficult mother, with the inevitability of aging, and with the end of a loved one's life: there are layers of heart-grabbing accomplishment in this intimate memoir, a poignantly powerful narrative rooted in the news that Mason's mother has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. The emotional tailspin that follows, chronicled with luminous prose, eventually strengthens the often-fraught mother-daughter connection, even as it impacts Mason's own long-term relationship. The coming together of two generations of women - of three, in fact, as the author contrasts her mother's feminist feistiness with her grandmother's disapproving hardscrabble staidness and with her own accomplishment as her family's first college graduate - is not easily accomplished. But if there's a moral to Mason's emotional ruminations, it's that the immediacy of death does heal wounds. That's both the candid core of this loving reminiscence, and a universal truth for readers whose own parents are making the transition from vital to vulnerable.

Featured Excerpt
'Six months after my mother died, my father found a letter she wrote to me in a notebook that my mother kept for detailing my parents' financial assets. She had written the letter more than a decade prior to this - to tell me what I should do in the event that my parents would both die together. I was reading aloud, as my father requested, and at the end of the letter my mother wrote, 'I, in my little dust pile, love you. You are one good worthwhile person and I'm proud of being your mother.' I broke down in sobs.' - from Tea Leaves

POINT OF KNIVES
MELISSA SCOTT

There's a mystery to be solved in this meaty genre-bending novella, which is primarily a fantasy, given that it's set in the other-where city of Astreiant, a free-floating Middle Ages sort of place where well-imagined magic rules and astrology is a true art. The story bridges two previous books in what's now a trilogy of sorts - its plot picks up where 1995's Point of Hopes ended, and the storyline precedes that of 2001's Point of Dreams (both were co-authored by Scott's late partner, Lisa A. Barnett). In the first, Adjunct Point Nicolas Rathe (think of him as a cop) and Leaguer Philip Eslingen (think of him as a hired gun) crossed paths. Here, the physical attraction between them is fleshed out, as it were, as they investigate two murders and the whereabouts of an untaxed chest of gold. Scott nimbly folds a parlous investigative pursuit worthy of the best whodunit, a blossoming Gay love affair, and prime speculative fiction world-building into an engaging read. (Lethe's reprint of the 1995 novel is now available; the 2001 title is a fall release.)

COBRA KILLER: GAY PORN, MURDER, AND THE MANHUNT TO BRING THE KILLERS TO JUSTICE
ANDREW E. STONER & PETER A. CONWAY

The Gay porn video industry. Underage teen performers. Self-made video entrepreneur Brent Corrigan. Accusations of pedophilia. A porn producer stabbed 28 times, his throat slashed, his body burned. Male adult video stars discussing business in a Las Vegas restaurant before the murder, then meeting clandestinely on a San Diego beach after. Did we mention Brent Corrigan? So many hooks! Five years after Cobra Video producer Bryan Kocis was killed by Harlow Cuadra and his boyfriend, Joseph Kerekes, the events that scandalized the Queer universe - well, the Gay adult video universe specializing in twink imagery - are chronicled in this true crime tale. Co-authors Stoner and Conway have been assiduous about mining trial transcripts and blogs and interviewing the suspects to compile a soundly researched story, including the fact that Kocis built his porn biz on the back (and the unprotected butt) of an underage - and now sincerely repentant - Corrigan, who himself wasn't interviewed; only his online entries are cited. The narrative's solidity can't be faulted, but as true crime this is more mundane than macabre.

FOOTNOTES
Queer Young Cowboys, formerly an outlet primarily for publisher Johnny Murdoc's own writing, has broadened into a 'micro-pub dedicated to publishing raunchy and cerebral Gay literature' and is now accepting submissions of novels and novellas - but it's not aiming to be a traditional publisher. 'We believe in being fair to writers. We are writers,' says Murdoc, who plans to pay authors 50-50 based on sales, rather than implementing the traditional print-based royalty of approximately 15 percent per book sold - all of which usually goes to an anthology's editor after authors are paid a flat fee of between $60 and $100 a story. 'We are not interested in making more money from your work than you do,' Murdoc says on www.queeryoungcowboys.com. 'Publishers that do can go fuck themselves.' The newish press is open to all genres, 'but stories must feature Gay sexual relationships as a central, core theme of the story. Romance is welcome but not required. Sex isn't always about love. But sometimes it is.' The publisher's first official print-release book is Never Easy, containing two short stories by Murdoc, two by Rob Wolfsham, and three by Natty Soltesz. Current titles include three e-book collections by Murdoc, as well as Volume Three of the journal Blowjob, two raunchy horror-story e-books, and the erotic anthology Daddy/boy: The Original Unexpurgated E-book, by Soltesz - which includes four stories rejected by Amazon! For info: johnnymurdoc@gmail.com.

Richard Labonte has been reading, editing, selling, and writing about Queer literature since the mid-1970s. He can be reached in care of SGN, or at BookMarks@qsyndicate.com.

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