NBC will be doing a live broadcast of The Wiz in December. I loved the play and the movie (which was a huge flop). The movie introduced me to the legend that was Lena Horne, who bought the house down with her rendition of “Home.” Lena as Glinda the Good Witch features in my coming out/ diva worship fable, “Circus Boy Without A Safety Net.” Here’s hoping that NBC doesn’t make a mess of the show as they did with Peter Pan!
Happy Birthday to my friend, colleague Jonathan Harper’s debut collection, “Daydreamers.” It’s been getting some great buzz. Harper and I not only share publishers (Lethe Press), we also live relatively near each other (DC Authors represent!). I’ve heard him read from the collection and can assure you that his fiction is full of humor, and excellent characterization.
Confirmed readers: Timothy Liu, Michael Carroll, Ellen Bass, Dia Felix, Jameson Currier, Craig L. Gidney, Michael Broder, Thomas McBee, David Swatling, Ron Suresha, Rafe Haze, Kelly Cogswell, Susan Kuklin, Sean Strub, Vinton McCabe, Bob Hofler, Rob Smith, Shelly Oria, Dominic Ambrose, Sheela Lambert, Philip Gefter, Ann Herendeen, Stephen Morrison, Alexis De Veaux, Tim Federle
When I was in fifth grade, we studied Greek Mythology . The text we used was Edith Hamilton’s Mythology. I think the teacher cleaned-up the myths up, taking out all the naughty bits, but she sparked my interest in mythology in general. Because of this interest, I got another, more comprehensive salacious book at a yard sale for 25 cents. That was the birth of my obsession.
What cemented my obsession, though, is an obscure children’s novel, called The Gods in Winterby Patricia Miles. The teacher read the novel aloud to us a couple of times a week. It’s set in 1950s Britain and retells the story of Persephone and Demeter. The POV characters are kids, after their parents hire a mysterious nanny who always seems to be looking for her lost daughter. The mythic echoes in the story are full of wonder and terror, I remember being haunted by expertly invoked angst of the nanny (who, of course is Demeter/Ceres in disguise).
“Inscribed” is a kind of skewed homage to that book. It’s set in the present-day, and concerns the esoteric research of Byron Davies, a kind of Robert Graves-styled academic, and the legacy he leaves for his son, Simon, who isn’t interested. It’s a kind of Oedipal tale about fathers and sons, betrayal and alchemy. The figure of Hermes—as psychopomp, magician and trickster—is woven throughout the story.
Robert Levy’s supernatural thriller debut, THE GLITTERING WORLD is a sinister reinterpretation of the changeling child myth set in the ruins of a remote Canadian artist’s community. Levy is trained as a psychologist, and this insight into various mental states and disorders underpins the tightly-drawn character portraits. The story is told from four distinct view points, and the grounding in the ‘real’ world (hippy artist’s communes, 90s-era club scene, the professional lives of chefs and a working psychiatrist) makes the intrusion of the counterfactual more chilling.
Levy’s novel reminds me, tonally, of the movie UNDER THE SKIN. The works share themes of otherness—true otherness (think of Starfish Aliens)— existential despair and both works use the landscape-as-character (the highlands of Scotland in UTS, the Canadian wilderness in TGW) effectively.
Highly recommended for fans of Elizabeth Hand and Holly Black (in her dark lyrical mode).
Lethe Press, founded and run by Steve Berman, published my first book (Sea,Swallow Me & Other Stories). Yesterday was their 14-year anniversary. Taking advantage of Print on Demand Technology, the press has grown from publishing neglected and forgotten books to being one of the premiere gay presses. Lethe publishes gay and lesbian fiction, erotica, and various oddities (a book on the history of barber shops!) and in addition to new and exciting voices, have published work by bestsellers like Tanith Lee and Melissa Scott.
The press is particularly notable for publishing Queer Speculative Fiction. Several Lethe Press books have been Lambda Literary Award finalists, and at least three Lethe titles have won the award.
Berman is selling his debut novel, a YA ghost story titled Vintage, for 99 cents as an eBook as a way of celebrating the achievement of being in business for 14 years. (Check out the usual online venues).
I would recommend checking out some Lethe titles. I’ve started reading Bitter Waters, a collection of gay-themed ‘weird fiction’ stories by Chaz Brenchley. The prose is top-notch, and water imagery abounds in these haunted tales, which remind one of the elegiac work of Robert Aickman.