On “Moonlight”: in praise of blue black boys

I finally saw the movie “Moonlight” over the holidays. I am pleased that it was nominated for 8 Academy Awards. Adapted from the play “In Moonlight, Black Boys Look Blue,” the film is, among other things, a coming-out story of a young black man, set against the backdrop of the 1980s war on drugs. It’s a sparse film, full of small gestures and precise performances. The main character is seamlessly played by three actors, from prepubescence to young adulthood.

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The resonance between my 2013 YA novel BEREFT and the film is very strong. Like the character Chiron in Moonlight, my 13-year old character Rafe faces bullying and lives with his mentally unstable mother in an inner city neighborhood. (BEREFT differs in that it focuses on Rafe’s school life when he gets a scholarship to a Catholic prep school).

The importance of the movie, which centers on black queer love, cannot be overstated.
Our stories are finally getting the recognition they deserve.

NEW FICTION: Pestilence (Case Studies in Paranoid-Empathetic-Selective-Telepathy”

The rise and subsequent normalization of White Supremacy in this election season is the reason I wrote “Pestilence (Case Studies in Paranoid-Empathetic-Selective-Telepathy,” It’s a piece of flash fiction that deals with the new forms that racism has taken on in the current zeitgeist.

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BOOK REVIEW: The Incarnations by Susan Barker. An interstitial epic set in China

The IncarnationsThe Incarnations by Susan Barker

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Spanning over 1000 years, The Incarnations starts in contemporary China and follows the life of a young taxi driver and his family. Wang Jun is the son of a former Maoist official whose mental illness and bisexuality estranges him from his already cold father and his manipulative stepmother. Wang Jun is married to a massage therapist and has a 10 year old daughter who aspires to be a comic book artist. The family lives in abject poverty, a stark contrast from the relative opulence of his upbringing. Wang Jun begins receiving anonymous letters addressed to him that recount in vivid detail the past lives he and the letter writer have lived, starting from the Bronze Age and up to and including the Cultural Revolution. The appearance of the letters begins to intrude into his family life in unexpected ways.
The prose style of the anonymous letters, addressed in the second person, are rich, (homo)erotic and flavored with folklore as well as historical accuracy. The contemporary scenes are beautiful rendered, full of carefully crafted characters and emotionally resonant vignettes. There is a wonderful tension between the modes of storytelling —psychologically acute portraiture and the epic, tall-tale style of the letters. This is an uncategorizable novel—historical and contemporary, magical and mundane.