Saturday, April 28, 2012

Carnal Matters: Four Short Stories by Alexander Goodman ebook MOBI

Carnal Matters: Four Short StoriesCarnal Matters: Four Short Stories by Alexander Goodman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


The NY Times obituary of George Haimsohn lists that he wrote "gay pornographic fiction under the pen name Alexander Goodman". I think a modern audience has a different view of pornography from the audience when this was published in 1965, as I don't believe there's any way this could be called pornography.

Published by the Guild Press, this was really the forefront of gay literature. This was the first time gay stories were being mass produced for a gay audience by a gay publishing house. The works of Mr Goodman are very rare today, and I am fortunate enough to have found and digitized almost all of them.

This book is one of, if not the first, written by Haimsohn and contains four short stories.

EVERYBODY LOVES CHARLIE - One of the great parts of these stories is the dated, time capsule feel to them. This one concerns a small group of men living in San Francisco and their overly charming friend Charlie. In this story there's much melo-drama, all the queens are bitchy and back-stabbing, and every gay relationship is doomed, as is typical of many stories from the time.

THE BATTLE BETWEEN THE POETS AND THE PAINTERS - A story of a poetry club that kind of goes nowhere. The club goes to an arts school and gives a poetry reading. The best parts are the outrage at paying three dollars each for dinner, who would ever pay that much?!?! And a dramatic reading of a poem called "We are the gay!!!"

IRVING - This one is worth the price of admission, this is the one that gets the book five stars. Set in Hawaii, the story concerns gay sailors on shore leave. The narrator asks his older male friend, whom he refers to as mommy, why he can't get laid. He is told the reason is he doesn't have the je ne sais quoi. In all of these stories, the feminine gays are reviled. It is as Quentin Crisp says, they are all looking for the great dark man to go to bed with, but once he goes to bed with them, he's no longer masculine, and they want something else.
Anyway, his "mother" gives him advice, saying he needs to stop looking for the great dark man and focus on hustlers and trade, straight guys looking for a quick time. The book contains several tips on how to pick up trade, what to say to them, where to take them. Hotels at the time wouldn't let you bring just anyone back to your room. There's a twist ending, and overall this story is the perfect time capsule of the early 1960's gay life.

PICTURES YOU'D BE PROUD TO SHOW YOUR MOTHER - The final story is about a man who works in computers. He's very methodical and the book describes the man having a computer in his brain, complete with punch card and red flashing lights, as all computers have. The self-centered man meets a physique photographer and agrees to a posing session for a magazine with another guy. The catch is this guy is straight and has a wife and kids, so no funny business. The computer-minded man knows this won't be a problem, he's so logical, but will his body be in sync with his analytical mind?

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Coventry by Helen Humphreys

CoventryCoventry by Helen Humphreys
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A good solid, satisfying read, though very quick.

I had never really put together the Hell of war from the perceptive told here, the English being bombed by the Germans. This was really brought to life in the book and is something I had never considered so I enjoyed having that insight.

I had seen the show 1940's house so I knew about the Anderson shelter, but I was surprised at the devastation the bombings brought and how quickly life could be snuffed out, a house or street destroyed.

While I did connect with the events unfolding, I didn't really connect with any of the characters, I sometimes had trouble telling the two women apart even, and as the book is all about one night, it's over very fast. I did enjoy it.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Signed: The Triumph of Miss Chief by Kent Monkman

I was first introduced to the art of Kent Monkman in September 2010 while I was in Victoria, BC. His art blew my mind, it is so vivid and coulourful and bright and loud and gay.  I loved every second I was there, I just stared at the paintings trying to drink in all the details.

I was fortunate enough to be able to meet him at Nuit Blanche 2010 and have him sign his book, the exhibition catalogue for the art installation in saw in Victoria.

When I was in Victoria, I was poor and at the end of my vacation and money.  The book was $60 and I really didn't have it.  The gallery had three copies.  I went back to my hotel that night and looked on the internet, figuring I would buy the book there when I got home.  The book was $400!  The next day I went back to the Victoria Gallery and purchased the book. 

Today, an unsigned copy of this book with someone else's writing all over the title page sells for $521.83. I have a better copy and it's signed.

Signed: Anthony Goicolea by Anthony Goicolea

As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm a real fan of Mr Goicolea's work.

All the photos in this book are of him, sometimes many of him in one photo, and it's a very original concept with lots of use of colour and style.  You can see a couple more examples of his work here.

I own every book he has made and this one, his first, is signed.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection by Alexander McCall Smith

The Limpopo Academy of Private DetectionThe Limpopo Academy of Private Detection by Alexander McCall Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I agree with the reviews posted on Goodreads, this book marks a return to form for McCall-Smith. It's lovely to step back into life in Botswana once a year with this gifted author. He paints life in Africa as a picture and you step in to it with both feet.

I burned through this book in about 24 hours. The mystery element is not as strong as in some of the other books (though better than a few), but what is great is that I thought I knew where it was going and it went somewhere else. Basically all of Botswana blows up, with three major crises occuring involving Fanwell, The Matron of the Orphan Farm, and even Clovis Anderson, author of the bible on detection.

A great story, a return to form for Smith, a worthy addition.

Africa Africa
Africa Africa Africa
Africa Africa

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Signed: Wild Animals I Have Known: Polk Street Diaries and After by Kevin Bentley

In the last while I have been really into signed books, as you may have noticed, and just before Christmas I searched for books on  I search of the word "gay" with signed books specified, sorted by price from lowest to highest, brought up this book for around $10.

Now it is signed "For David" but it is signed, and the book sounded great, a book all about San Francisco in the late 1970's and the gay rights movement and wild times of the author.  I like how the cover photo is a crop of a bigger photo on the inside cover, the inside photo reminds me of Toronto pride, I'll never forget that first time there and being unable to walk down the street for all the people.

Signed: Monoceros by Suzette Mayr

I posted my review earlier, but it must be said that I enjoyed the book more after hearing the author talk about it.  I liked hearing about the issues she had while writing it, about her thoughts behind the meaning of the story.  Suzette Mayr is an incredibly nice and bright woman.  I like that she basically wrote herself in to the book in a character named Crepe Suzette.  The problems that I mentioned before were still there, but they seem smaller in retrospect.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Signed: When You Were Me by Robert Rodi

Robert Rodi is a great author who wrote lots of fluffy gay fiction in the 90's like Fag Hag and Whatever Happened to Princess Paragon?  This is his last mainstream published novel, a gay body-swap comedy.

I sent this to Robert Rodi in September as part of my American collection.  I think I've read all of Mr. Rodi's books, but I got them from the library so this was the only one I had to send.  Ironically this one I purchased is the one I haven't read yet.  But it's high up there on my list.

Robert Rodi started writing non-fiction as it was more lucrative, and recently wrote a fiction book, The Sugarman Bootlegs, which he self-published on the Internet.

Rodi has a Kickstarter project currently ongoing for his next book.  If you've never heard of Kickstarter it's the coolest thing ever.  One of the problems with the digital age is that a lot of content is made available for free. One of the things I've always been concerned with is how to pay for the things I enjoy.  I want people who make gay themed movies to get paid, but I don't need a copy of the DVD.  I have no space for storage and my harddrive, which can fit hundreds of movies, is much more convenient.  Kickstarter starts to address this kind of issue.

The way it works is someone has an idea for a project and puts up a video and proposal.  It can be anything.  In Rodi's case, it is I need $2000 to spend a month of my life writing this new book and still be able to afford to live.  In other cases, the person may want to publish a gay themed graphic novel and not have the required $5000 to take the book to print. There's all kinds of stuff, I want to open a hot dog stand, to I run a small non-profit theatre and want to buy the rights to put on a play.

There are incentives for backing at different levels and you only pay the money if enough people agree to back you and the project is funded.  If you say you need $5000 and get $4995, people pay nothing, the project is not funded and you're done.

It's a great way to get smaller artist's work out there and to support artists you believe in.  As of this exact moment, Rodi's Kickstarter project only has 60 hours to go so click the link and pledge him now.

Signed: The Mechanics of Homosexual Intercourse by Lonely Christiopher

Another from the series of books I sent to American authors in September.

I bought this book because it was from Dennis Cooper's imprint series Little House on the Bowery. I also bought it for the cover, the photo is by Anthony Goicolea. I love Mr. Goicolea's work, I have all of his books, he went through this period where he put himself in all his work, this photo is from that period, he's made up to look like a boy but he's actually in his 20's.

I really appreciate Lonely Christopher (a pseudonym?) signing this book and returning it to me and hope one day to read it.

The Jade Peony by Wayson Choy

The Jade PeonyThe Jade Peony by Wayson Choy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An excellent, rich story of life in Chinatown in Vancouver in the 1930's.

The author does a fantastic job of painting his life as a child of immigrants, and the struggle to balance the old and the new ways. The character of his grandmother is amazing, in her 80's and born in 1850 she is such a wealth of knowledge and really represents the ways of old China.

Many times with this book I found myself talking to family and friends about it, relaying how the Chinese all believed in ghosts, how they lived in a shack and you could see daylight through the walls, how every white person in their life was referred to as "White Demon".

Later in the book the author also illustrates very well the us vs them mentality of war. People who live across the street are suddenly violent enemies. At one point a lynch mob of sorts goes through Japan-town and breaks things, beats people up, and the small child narrator wonders why they didn't go help. But the older Chinese remember a time 30 years or so before when a similar mob went through Chinatown and know this is not the answer. This book is especially relevant now in our global village where lines are blurred and we are all on the same side.

The book was well put together and made me think. The only criticism I have is that it ended too suddenly and I did not feel the significance of the title was fully explored. Also as mentioned in the questions at the back of the book, not much happens in the story.

But I really feel these are minor complaints compared to the rich tapestry of life presented in the story. 4.5 stars, a must read for every Canadian.

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Friday, April 20, 2012

Signed: The Sluts by Dennis Cooper

As I mentioned previously, I sent a few books and about $50 cash to Dennis Cooper, who is one of my favourite authors, in the hopes that I would get them back. He thanked me for reminding him to send them the other day, it does honestly seem like he is willing to sign them and send them back, whether it actually ever happens or not, we'll see.

I sent him Closer and The Sluts, my favourite two of his books. When I was looking online on abebooks for signed copies of books by him, I found a limited edition printing of The Sluts.

The edition is illustrated, numbered, and limited to 550 copies, all signed by both Cooper and the illustrator. I bought this copy, number 450, off the internet from New Jersey for $60. It's a beautiful edition, very nicely bound, but to say the illustrations are sparse would be an understatement, they're barely there.

Signed: The Works of Josh Kilmer-Purcell

Josh Kilmer-Purcell is my favourite author, I love him, I love his sense of humour, I love his warmth and his sarcasm, I love his looks, everything.

I first found his address from his Beekman 1802 website, where in the FAQ's it says you can send Josh his book with a self-addressed, stamped envelope and he'll sign it and send it back.  I sent him my hard-cover, first edition of his most recent book, The Bucolic Plague, with an envelope and as I live in Canada and can't buy US stamps, I just sent a $20 US bill.  I've used this method a couple of times and it works, I figure send more than is required and advise them to keep any change.

I was THRILLED when I got the book back in the mail signed by both him and his partner Brent Ridge. When I went to New York and sent a few parcels out, I also sent him copies of his first two books, the New York Times bestselling memoir I Am Not Myself These Days, and his first work of fiction, Candy Everybody Wants.  For Candy Everybody Wants, I has asked that he sign it to Adam, so inside it says "ADAM"!!! in huge letters followed by his signature which was cute and a little cheeky.  The original copy of I Am Not Myself These Days I got from the library, so I bought a copy online to have signed, and I was pleasantly surprised when this disco fish cover arrived with the variant British cover which I much prefer.  Unfortunately I lent it to a friend who promptly spilled something all over it, so I had to send to England for another copy that I could get signed.  It doesn't feel right asking someone to sign something covered in filth.

I got those two copies back in the mail, and then on November 26, 2011, the Beekman Boys came to Toronto, both of them, and I got to meet them and hug them and it couldn't have been a better day.  They were as amazing and nice and handsome and caring in person, I was awestruck.  They both signed my paperback copy of the Bucolic Plague (the paperback came out with extra stuff the Hardcover didn't have, so I bought that too) and their new cookbook, The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook.  They also signed the event poster I managed to take home and their DVD and I got a photo with them and a hug, they couldn't have been more accommodating.

This cookbook by the way is the deal of the century. Available at Amazon for under $20, it looks like it costs $80.  Full colour photos, amazing recipes, little touches like inside the cover it says "First generation to own this book" with a place to write your name, super high quality printing, it really is amazing.  I have given a few away already and plan to give many more, it looks so expensive and is so high quality, no one will know it was under $20 and I love supporting the guys. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Signed: Selfish & Perverse and Remembrance of Things I Forgot by Bob Smith

Gay comedian Bob Smith was the first openly gay comedian on the Tonight Show.  He wrote his first novel, Selfish & Perverse, which I got signed on Sept 21, 2007, I saved my receipt from the Oscar Wilde Bookshop in NYC inside the cover.

Last year I met him again when he was in Toronto signing copies of his new novel, Remembrance of Things I Forgot.  A great man who was diagnosed with ALS /Lou Gehrig's Disease, he was a picture of strength and courage, pushing through and doing his best.  The quick progress of the disease shocked me as he went from showing no signs in 2007 to having difficulty speaking in 2011.  The change is also reflected in the marked difference in his signatures.

I got a lot of strength from meeting Smith, he was an inspiration to me to make the best of every situation, as he continues to do.  I wish him all the best.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Signed: Queeroes by Steven Berenzai

I got this signed when I went to the book launch at Fly nightclub in 2009.

The author was a very nice man whom I later met on one of my gay cruises and who must live near me as I saw him walking down my street last night.

This book is also on my never-ending list of books to read.

"Save the gay, save the world!"

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Signed: Fruit and Natural Order by Brian Francis

Brian Francis signed my copy of Natural Order at last year's Word on the Street festival. I knew he was a local author with a gay themed book and asked him to come to my book club, which he agreed. I had lost my voice that day, hence his comments on the book.
I got home and quickly devoured the book and it was the best novel I had read in years, a full story with fully fleshed-out characters, emotion, humour.  I loved it to death.

I then bought Mr. Francis's first book, Fruit, and read that almost as quickly.  I found several parallels to my own life in this book, a gay boy in small town Ontario, I really enjoyed this one too but in a different way.  It wasn't the tour de force that Natural Order is, but it is still excellent.

I had to wait from September when I asked him to the end of February when he finally came to my book club and the wait was AGONIZING as I respected him so much and couldn't wait to ask him questions. The event went better than I could have hoped with a super large turn-out and a great response from all.  I was amazed that in addition to being such a great author, Mr. Francis is also an excellent, engaging speaker, handsome, charming.

I am a little smitten.

Signed: Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man by Bill Clegg

Next up is another book I sent away to the group of Americans while I was in New York City.  Bill Clegg's handsome face and winning personality have inspired books of poetry and even feature films and here he discusses his battle with addiction.
Another book that is HIGH on my never-ending list of books to read, Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man recently inspired a sequel, Ninety Days.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Shuck by Daniel Allen Cox

ShuckShuck by Daniel Allen Cox
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A quick read, worthwhile enough but more for what it indicates the future may bring for the author.

A typical first book, coming of age tale with a 23 year old protaganist that likes to use drugs and make bad decisions, like we all did at that time, but I was glad I wasn't 23 anymore as I read this.

The novel is at times overly bleak, I would have preferred a more upbeat tone, but there was moments of humour, especially at the beginning, that showed promise of what the author may do in the future with a less downbeat narrator.

I know very little about the author but everything I do know was in this book, indicating he based it heavily on his own life.

The good was the humour (drawing Turtles, shoe store), and the porn/hustling parts were mostly good and the use of description was good, I could clearly visualize most of what took place in the book.

Less good was the lack of a story line, the lack of definition in characters other than the narrator, and the not following through with the humurous elements, keeping them mostly in the first half of the book, leaving the second half a slow depressing slide.

As the author ages and gets less in to the "all about me" and "life sucks" phases, I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next.

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Signed: Shuck and Basement of Wolves of by Daniel Allen Cox

There's some negatives that come with attending a book signing.

Tonight I am attending a book event for Canadian author Daniel Allen Cox. The streetcar was REALLY delayed so as I walked in to the event starting at 7, I heard the church bells chiming the hour. The event is being held in the back of a bar and I arrive to a handful of people.

Having come alone, I sit at a table and try to read from the book I'm waiting to get signed - no sign of the author yet. Someone decides the room needs more mood lighting, though what mood light a book launch requires I don't know, and turns the lights down just to the point where the words on the page in front of me become an unreadable blur.

I wander over to the merch table and buy a copy of the new book - not sure if I'll read it as I only seem to be reading ebooks lately. Still no sign of the author. I didn't realize I was attending a Rolling Stones concert with the band arriving an hour late.

I begin to daydream and imagine myself walking over to the book table and demanding a refund, saying I only came to get the book signed and at the moment there seems little chance of that happening.

I look around, it seems like everyone here has come with friends. Who are these people with friends with similar literary tastes able to drag them out on a Saturday night? My friends are all at home. Of course the majority of them are over 65, perhaps that has something to do with it.

An Asian lady comes around offering me a free issue of a magazine about magazines that I ignored earlier when I saw it on the book table. I take it to avoid having to say no and she encourages me to sign up for the magazine's newsletter.  "That's why I'm here..." she says.  I decline and she moves on.

The author has entered the room and is standing at the back drinking a beer and talking. Should I go over and ask for my book to  be signed?  Is everyone waiting to do that at the end? Is anyone else here waiting for that?

Someone comes over and asks for one of the chairs at my table and as they take one I feel like a lonely lady at a restaurant eating alone with no chairs around her and looks of sympathy from fellow diners. Maybe I should go ask him to sign the book... I read in the paper he has had trouble with over-eager fans, with stalkers, and I'm not eager to present that image so I sit and wait. The author used to be a prostitute and a porn star, I googled him tonight before I left home - he has a 10' uncut cock. Nice, but nothing to stalk over. Particularly since I have yet to finish his first book.

7:43, will this thing ever start? I should turn around and see if he's still there. Screw this, I was planning to eat dinner when I left here and haven't eaten all day, I'm starving to death. I need him to sign the book so I can go eat.

That's it, I'm going. Well maybe I'll go ask at the table where I bought the book. That would be less pushy. Yes, I'm going to do that.

I have been advised the author will probably sign but after the event. It's 7:47. The Rolling Stones have still not taken the stage.

I just looked around and suddenly the author is sitting RIGHT BEHIND ME. I'm going for it. I could die here waiting for this to start.

I walk over and ask the author and he smiles and says of course he'll sign my books, he'd be happy to. I pass him my books and think about other times I have been in this situation, other conversations I have had with other authors and nothing comes to me. I think my hunger has fried my brain. I smile.  I need to say something, although usually when I meet authors it's not in the back of a dark bar with music playing. He was sitting with a friend and I can feel the friend's presence. I need to say SOMETHING! Nice weather??? Nice 10" uncut cock???

"You seem to know some people here!" I finally say.

Daniel Allen Cox looks up. "Yes, a few."

Damn, now I need something else!

"I'm about half way through your first book. It's good, I'm enjoying the humour in it. The shoe store. The turtles with markers strapped to their bodies that make artwork...."

"I won't tell you how it ends then" he says, again with a smile and a silence settles in as he continues signing, though a more comfortable silence than before.

The event starts as he hands the books back and I say thank you and return to my seat. The host announces that tonight is an event, that the evening will start with a short story by one author, followed by a reading from a novel by another and will finally end with a reading by Daniel Allen Cox. Again with the Rolling Stones.

I'm not going to last that long. I will faint from hunger before I ever get to hear him. And a large part of me also hates this ambush at book readings. They turn the event into a parade, making you sit through varying authors of varying quality. I resolve right then and there that if I ever write a book I will not attend group readings.

The first author takes the stage to start and I glance for the exits. Apparently the organizers knew what they were doing as the place is now full. Perhaps the invitation said GENERAL PUBLIC: 7 pm. COOL PEOPLE: 8 pm. And I some how missed it.

I turn to face the stage and listen to the man's story, something about two little kids showing each other their private parts and the one has a baby brother he has to drag around. I glance next to me and see a father with his two girls, both under five years old. What a fantastic education for them. Just wait until Daniel Allen Cox starts talking about prostitution.

How long is this thing?  We ride the swings, we kiss in the park, my brother tags along.... My stomach is eating itself here - does no one care?

I grab my coat and as the story ends I zoom over to the doors to see they're closed and as I try one, locked. Perfect. I dash over into the bathroom to think of another plan. Someone of course immediately follows me in, looking around at me as shifty as if I was Dr Evil. Maybe he's looking to score with me? Maybe he's wondering why I'm salivating at the mouth and have a look like I might knaw off my own arm?  Who cares. I zip up and make a dash for the exit.

Daylight! I'm free!

The first thing I see is Wanda's Pie in the Sky. Mmmmm... Pie...  I walk in and see the display of baked goods and my stomach rumbles. I check out the prices:

6" pie: $8.95
9" pie: $16.95

$17 for a nine inch pie! Are they nuts?  Measure 9 inches now with your fingers. It's small. I haven't eaten all day!

It's one inch less that Daniel Allen Cox's cock size!

I buy a slice ($6.50) and eat it on my way home, missing the reading parade but with newly signed books in my bag.

No wonder I had trouble finding people to come along.
Note who wrote the quote on the back cover, my favourite author: