Introducing my weird fairytale novel, HAIRSBREADTH

I’m pleased as punch to announce that my new novel HAIRSBREADTH will be released in serial installments by Broken Eye Books.

Here’s the description:

Broken Eye Books is publishing the serial novel Hairsbreadth by Craig Laurance Gidney, a contemporary fairy tale in the tradition of Victor LaValle’s The Changeling and Helen Oyeyemi’s Boy, Snow, Bird.

Seventeen-year-old Zelda has always been isolated, born with deep dark skin and fast-growing hair that seems to have a mind of its own, and moving from place to place with her grandmother. But when the two of them move to the remote eastern shore town of Shimmer, her power grows in strange new ways—she can hear and see the dead, which proves useful to her grandmother’s folk medicine business. Zelda thinks she has a gift at first. But she soon discovers that there is a dark side to her powers.

Hairsbreadth is a dark retelling of the fairy tale “Rapunzel,” steeped in African-American folklore, and a coming-of-age tale full of Black Girl Magic.

https://www.brokeneyebooks.com/news/hairsbreadth-by-craig-laurance-gidney#/

This book has been burrowing through my brain for years, revealing its dark beauty like a slowly unfurling flower. The first chapter is up for those subscribed to Broken Eye Books’ Patreon. Thanks to editor-publisher Scott Gable for taking on this project!

Art by Pierre Jean-Louis — an inspiration. (He has no relationship to this project) Check out his work

STORY REVIEW: The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere by John Chu. A magical realist comedy-of-manners

The Water That Falls on You from NowhereThe Water That Falls on You from Nowhere by John Chu

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This short story could be in the New Yorker. The fantasy element is slight and serves to underscore this comedy-of-manners family saga. The story is grounded in reality and comes alive in the tensions between the siblings. Reminds me of the “mundane” magical realism of Jonathan Lethem, Jonathan Carroll or Karen Joy Fowler.

View all my reviews

BOOK REVIEW: Minions of the Moon by Rick Bowes. Top-notch Queer Fantastika

Minions

Lethe Press has reprinted one of the seminal works of Queer Fantastika (magical realist/weird fictional texts with LGBT content). Don’t miss an opportunity to read this.

 

Kevin Grierson comes from an Irish-American family that’s cursed by violence, booze and shadows. The Shadows, in this case, are real quasi-people who embody all of the worst instincts and impulses that a person can have. They are like the Id, given substance. In Grierson’s case, his Shadow pushes him into drug and sexual addiction and the petty crime that goes along with that lifestyle. The novel, told in a series of vivid flashbacks, starts in the late 40’s, in Boston and ends in the 90’s in New York’s West Village.

A strange coming of age story told in first person, Minions takes us on Kevin’s journey as he struggles to find out where he and his Shadow are separate entities. On one hand, the doppelganger drags him closer to hell and failure; on the other, the Shadow is streetwise and savvy and saves Kevin in more than one instance. Kevin and his Shadow exist in any uneasy balance with each other. They move from tragedies, failed relationships (with both men and women), and dangerous situations together, helping each other out in a sick, co-dependent-yet oddly comforting way.

.The scenes of sexual degradation and drug dementia are chilling and horrific in their accuracy. It’s part of what makes this a horror novel-the all-too real world of chemical dependency. As disturbing as these scenes are, they are what keeps this novel edge-of-seat reading. Bowes’ voice (as Kevin) is so real that at times I thought I was reading an autobiography. This is because Bowes makes us care about Kevin, even when he does horrible things. We’re with him when he finds love and transcendence, as well as with him down in gutter, looking up towards the stars.

The fantastic element is skillfully woven into the story. The mechanics of the Shadow are never properly explained-a vague telepathic awareness of each other when they’re split up is alluded to, never elucidated. The characters that enter Kevin’s life walk and breathe on the page, even if they appear for only a couple of scenes.The locales, particularly the seamy underside of New York, seem to be characters themselves.

Minions on the Moon is one of those novels that completely transcends the genre for which it was marketed. It is a stunning examination of identity and the search for meaning when you’re under the influence of various addictions and self-destructive behaviors.

Books I Wish I’d Written: The alchemical novel A Visitation of Spirits by Randall Kenan

Vintage Contemporaries  2000 Chin-Yee Lai

Whatever happened to Randall Kenan?
If you like magical realism, you must read his first, and to my knowledge, only published novel, A Visitation of Spirits. The book follows a young closeted black nerd (comic books are his obsession) named Horace. He wants to transform into a bird to escape the religious, homophobic community where he lives. He believes that his desire is the result of demonic possession. The novel chronicles a season in hell, to borrow Rimbaud’s phrase. Keenan’s prose soars and he uses all manner of narrative techniques to convey Horace’s interior emotional landscape. It’s what I would call an alchemical novel, one that transcends the limitations of realistic fiction to reveal greater truths. A Visitation of Spirits is a masterpiece of magical realism and belongs on the same shelf as Toni Morrison and Ben Okri. It is also a seminal work about black gay lives. Anyone who loves lush, surreal language should hunt down a copy!
I wish Kenan would write another book!