Gerry B's Book Reviews

Luke, by Jan Irving

A nice light, wholesome read: Two men and a baby from a gay perspective.

 

 

Book blurb: Wandering cowboy Luke Walker is at the end of his rope after his girlfriend abandons their newborn daughter. A terrified new father, he’s grateful to meet Dr. Morgan Gallagher. Morgan recognizes that he and Luke could help each other: Luke can rebuild Morgan’s property and land so Morgan can have the horses he wants, and Morgan can provide the younger man with a safe place to raise his daughter. In theory, it should work out perfectly, except that Morgan is instantly attracted to Luke—a straight man—and sharing the same cabin and caring for the baby is a more intimate arrangement than he’d imagined.

 Available in Kindle eBook format.

Review by Gerry Burnie

As you may have noticed, I like western-genre stories. Classic westerns are my first choice, á-la “We Pointed them North: Reflections of a Cowboy by Teddy “Blue” Abbott, but more contemporary depictions are enjoyable too, and “Luke by Jan Irving [Dreamspinner Press, 2010] is one such.

It is a sweet little story about two men and a baby, which is a novel approach that could have been further developed for its uniqueness; nevertheless it adds a domestic touch to an otherwise standard ‘guy-story,’ and although the custodial circumstances—i.e. why Luke ended up with the baby—seems a bit incredible, it makes for an interesting twist.

This ‘on-the-edge’ credulity runs throughout the novella, e.g. how Morgan, a doctor, ends up on a broken-down ranch in the middle of nowhere; how Luke just happens to stumble onto it; how an erstwhile straight guy falls in love with another man; and why Zelda—the biological mother—wanders back into his life. Nevertheless, Ms Irving has been able to maintain a fine line along the fair side of plausibility—that safe ground for all authors.

The same might be said about the ending, which the author has wisely attached in the form of an epilogue, for it could just as well been omitted without being noticed.

Altogether, I congratulate the author for having written a plot-driven, western-themed story that doesn’t rely on homoerotica to sell it. Four stars.

October 31, 2010 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay romance | Leave a comment

Variety, The Spice of Life, by Mykola Dementiuk

An interesting read about a genre not very often explored

 

 

 

Publisher’s blurb: Giving up the old for the new means drastic changes…a new apartment, new friends, new lovers, and maybe even, a new sex change? But has he changed that much to accept these changes so readily when he knows that there are even more drastic changes waiting for him?

About the author: Mykola Dementiuk was born in 1949 of Ukrainian parents in a West German DP camp, immigrating to America when he was two. After Catholic grade school & public high school in New York City, he graduated from Columbia University in 1984.

A writer with varied employment, from gyro seller at Lollapalooza to roustabout at the Big Apple Circus, Mykola helped create the magic of Cirque due Soleil performances of “Algeria” with Electrical work.

After suffering a massive stroke in 1997, Mykola eventually returned to writing, using one finger to execute the fantasies and psychological stories of his mind.

 

Review by Gerry Burnie

From the outset I will admit that I have had no exposure to the transvestite genre, or even the culture for that matter, and so when I was asked to review ”Variety, the Spice of Lifeby Mykola Dementiuk [eXtasy Books, 2010] I wasn’t certain I could give it the proper insight. Fortunately the author has developed the story around a main character who is even more uninitiated than me, and with a naiveté that I don’t believe I ever had.

Said character is made even more transparent by not being assigned a name for the first two-thirds of the story. All of this has a purpose, of course. In other words, he is purposefully presented as a blank canvas upon which life paints what he is to become—a “Missy.”

This process starts when this over-sheltered momma’s boy is cast out into the world following the death of his mother. Although he knows he has strong homosexual tendencies, he has no experience apart from being groped by an older man. However, as fate would have it he spies the ‘man of his dreams,’ and being naïve he falls madly in love; emphasis on the ‘madly.’ Now, the Fates are the fickle agents of the gods, and in this case they can’t resist having a bit of fun with this lovelorn swain. Ergo, ‘Mr. Dreamy’ turns out to be a transvestite hooker, petty thief and all-round exploiter. As is so often the case, however, none of this seems to deter our innocent, and it seems the more he is exploited the more his ardour grows. In fact, he even emulates his puppeteer by becoming a cross-dresser himself.

The story is set in New York, and is a very New-York-type of story—gritty, with a cosmopolitan impersonality about it; impersonal relationships, impersonal sex, and the-devil-take-the-hindmost ethos. All of which is intentional and well presented, as is the overall story.

The quibbles are very few. I had some difficulty relating to the main character, but that may be more of a personal comment than a criticism. I also found the ending a bit simplistic, although that didn’t detract from the overall quality of the story, otherwise.

An interesting read about a genre that is not very often explored. Eagerly recommended. Four-and-one-half stars.  

Update on the progress of Coming of Age on the Trail: 163/181 pages of rewrites completed. Should go to the editor by the end of October. Meanwhile, learn more about it and read an exerpt here.

October 23, 2010 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay romance | 2 Comments

Soldier: A Soldiers Story, by Allen Cross and Arius de Winter

This short story should be dishonourably discharged from your reading list

 

 

 

Author’s Blurb: This is the story of a soldier finding himself in the time of battle, falling in love and not being able to express it. This is the story of how soldiers live, of how we, soldiers, fall in love, how the battle field opens the character to express things he never would, and except himself before death finds him. It is a story of odds, moral code and in the end………..?
This book is filled with sexual situations, gay illustrations, sex and one on one sexual situations. Cum join us as these soldiers find something more in the foxhole then war.
As a former soldier who found himself in battle, in love, and in a fox hole, I was blighted by the hopes that might never come, the question ‘why now, why did I find you now” and meeting death face to face. These are the expressions of hope, valor and the human side of love that can be found even in a time of war.
These are the real stories of men in battle, some fictionalized, some up-beat romance added but still the real thing, hope, valor and glory.
This book is illustrated and intended for gay readers, it is my un-edited proof.

 

Review by Gerry Burnie 

Note: Readers should be aware that under the Kindle format, which does not specify either word or page count, some publishers are marketing short stories (some as short as a 30-minute read) with no notice that these are not novellas or full scale novels.

“Soldier: A Soldiers Story” by Allen Cross and Arius der Winter [Amazon Digital Services] is one such example. The complete text of this slapdash effort can be read in about an hour—provided that one has an hour to waste.

The plot, such as it is, is set during WWII in the Pacific Corridor; although that can only be deduced from references to “Japs” and an “island.” The narrator Jack, a soldier, is stationed there and is befriend by two others, Matt and Simon, in the shower. Apart from the fact that Matt has a “full ten inch cock” there is very little description of these two to help the reader get a picture of them. However, “He [Matt] was clean shaved, [sic] cock, balls and all.”

The narrative and dialogue at this point are much along the same lines, i.e.

“Dude,” you ok. [sic]

I felt sick.

He [sic] was this hot guy standing in front of my [sic] with a fucking hard on and I wasn’t supposed to be looking at him like a love lost child. I’d lost total control and now, here my cock was shower dancing with his.

I thought I would explode right there on the spot.

“Hey dude, don’t worry about it, happens all the time”. [sic]

I wasn’t sure what he meant, that his cock was hard or that his and mine were touching?

Matt smiled as he looked down at my cock embrace [sic] with his. He just looked up at me and smiled.

“Hey you fucker, I’m Simon”, the man next to Matt announced. You two dick dancing or can I join.

And so forth.

As a sort of blanket caveat (apology, perhaps), the author is careful to point out that this is an “un-edited proof”—which begs at least a couple of questions: e.g. If the writing isn’t complete, why publish it? and, Does this author not realize that by publishing such shoddy workmanship he is indirectly sullying the image of every other writer who has paid good money to have his or her manuscript(s) edited? And in this regard condemnation I include Amazon Digital Services and every other publisher who markets this type of inferior pulp.

The plot then goes on to gloss over the feeble attempt at a storyline by mixing in lots of explicit, homoerotic sex. However even this is poorly handled in places. For example, the author writes that “Matt sat up, reached for my cock and began to suck my dick as I moaned softly,” but approximately two pages later, he writes, “I desperately wanted his body and his long hard cock but he was so good looking that I wasn’t sure he’d reject me or ask of me more than I was willing to give.” [Emphasis mine]. Rejection? Not two pages beforehand the guy was copping on the narrator’s dick, so it is a pretty fair bet that rejection isn’t overly likely.

Although the hype for this story strongly suggest that this is “…the story of how soldiers live, of how we, soldiers, fall in love, how the battle field opens the character to express things he never would, and except himself before death finds him” I found very few references to army life apart from some superficial, generic situations that told me almost nothing about what it was like. I do know, however, that if soldiers had copulated as openly as these are written to have done, being court-martialled would have been the least of their worries. One-half star.

 

Another short story of the same ilk is: Missing Jackson Hole by Ryan Field [loveyoudivine Alterotica, 2010]. 149K. This story can be read in about 30 minutes; however, one must buy and download it to discover this.

October 15, 2010 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Homoerotic | 1 Comment

Cruising Through History, by Habu

A better-than-average homoerotic work for those readers who enjoy this genre

 

 

 

Book blurb: Since the beginning of man, the unfolding of history has been dominated by the forces of conquest, seduction, and lust. And the pursuit of man by man, although mostly carried out in whispers and in the shadows, is as ancient and constant as history itself. This is a cruise through history in twenty-two short stories, careening from a brash assault on the gates of a Chinese brothel by an adventuring, demanding West to the shores of Tripoli, from an American Revolutionary War colonel’s tent to the brutal dawn ravishment at Pearl Harbor-and even on to alien visitation into outer space itself. You will discover a fast and furious journey of varied and unique tales where men seek out other men for conquest and pleasure. You will be entertained and heated up to the fantasy and treachery and the triumph and glory of the passion one man can have for another-and the sometimes dire, sometimes fully satisfying consequences, that can have in the pursuit of that passion-down through the ages.

About the author: Habu, a bisexual former supersonic spy jet pilot, intelligence agent, and diplomat, is a mainstream novelist and short story writer under another name in another dimension of his life.

Review by Gerry Burnie

Cruising Through History by Habu [CreateSpace, 2008] is a collection of pseudo-historical vignettes along the lines of Time Well Bent, but without the sophistication. Rather, the emphasis in each of these twenty-two short stories is concentrated around the homoerotic sexual exploits of the various protagonists. Now, there’s nothing wrong with this provided that that is all the reader is looking for, but for those looking for more—or even a little variety—it is regretfully one-dimensional.

The problem with too much erotica, in my opinion, is that once you have read one fuck-session you have pretty well covered them all with minor variations.

Having said that, the author has cleverly provided some variety by changing the settings from ancient China to the Iraq conflict. Moreover, the writing is strong throughout—even great in places—e.g. “Naval Dilemma (Pearl Harbor, World War II)” and “Disintegration (Colonial Rhodesia’s demise)”—and both the historical and cultural detail impressed me as being convincingly authentic.

On balance, therefore, I would say that this is a better-than-average homoerotic work for readers who enjoy this genre. Three and-one-half stars.

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October 10, 2010 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Historical period, Homoerotic | 1 Comment

Cut Hand, by Mark Wildyr

Altogether, this is quintessential historical fiction encompassing a fascinating topic and period in history.

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Book blurb: Homosexuals have been with us forever; queers, pansies, and fags are inventions of European civilizations. But, many New World native cultures view “Two-Spirit” people through more respectful eyes. Cut Hand by Mark Wildyr is a romantic action epic set in the early 1800s about an unorthodox love between a white youth on the American frontier, escaping his Tory family’s past, and a young Indian warrior destined for the leadership of his tribe.

Billy Strobaw’s world turns on its axis at his surprising and unexpected physical reaction to a young Indian he and two traveling companions take captive. The handsome warrior, Cut Hand, not only earns his freedom, but also steals Billy’s heart and prevails upon the American to come live among his people.

Plunged into a strange culture where his lust for another man is not regarded as disgraceful, Billy agrees to become Cut’s winkte wife, an act that brings problems, but not from the direction he anticipated. As the two men work to overcome differences in their cultural backgrounds, Billy comes to understand these Native Americans have as much to offer him as he has to share with them.

The sexuality of the protagonists becomes merely a personal footnote in the struggle of the Plains tribes to preserve a way of life that has served them well for generations. Told partially in Colonial and early American English, the novel follows the lives of these two lovers from 1832 to 186l, thirty tumultuous years on young America’s frontier.

 

Review by Gerry Burnie

 Mark Wildyr’s cross-culture novel “Cut Hand” [StarBooks Press, 2010] was a delightful find for me. To explain, I usually shy away from “Wild West” stories because they tend to be little more than loosely strung together sexual romps, to which the plot only serves to move the characters from one tryst to another. On the contrary “Cut Hand,” while sexy, is a plot-driven, insightful look at “Two Spirit” customs within North American Native cultures. Moreover, since it places a white boy in the role of the wink-te (pronounced “wan-te” in this story),  it is unique approach to it.

Billy Strobaw is the product of Tory parents (called “Loyalists” in Canada) who are unsettled as a result of the American War of Independence. He and his family therefore become outcasts in their own land, and after their untimely deaths young Billy decides to seek his fortune in the Far West. Enroute, his party saves a handsome young Indian named Cut Hand from certain death by a rival band. Thereafter Billy is surprised by his unexpected physical reaction to the Indian brave. Surprisingly Cut Hand returns his attention to not only steal Billy’s heart but also convinces him to live among his people.

Thrust without preparation into a strange culture Billy agrees to become Cut Hand’s winkte wife; an act that brings problems but not from the direction he expected. As the two men work to overcome the differences in their cultural backgrounds, Billy comes to appreciate the Native Americans for their oneness with the land and their staunch loyalty to one another.

To simply say that this story is “plot-driven” does not do it the justice it deserves. This a superbly researched glimpse of “a time never again to be seen on the Great Plains,” and done with such credibility that it is a veritable history lesson in itself. Also woven into this is a sometimes poignant story of love between men: manly men; husbands and wink-te wives; warriors; and yet so human that anyone could identify with them.

While commenting on the superlatives inherent in this work, one shouldn’t overlook the cast of true-to-life characters. Wildyr has given each of these a distinctive character, and then goes on to develop and expand it as the story progresses. Moreover, he has resisted the pitfalls of stereotyping the Natives, especially, and has not attempted to ‘sanitize’ them, either.

Altogether, this is quintessential historical fiction encompassing a fascinating topic and period in history. Five stars.

 

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October 1, 2010 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay romance, Historical Fiction, Two spirits | , | Leave a comment

   

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