Show me the books he loves and I shall know the man far better than through mortal friends - Silas Weir MitchellG.S. Wiley is not an usual M/M romance author, the stories are more complicated and controversial, the feelings are more "social" commited, but the love story is the same good, even if sometime less "sex oriented"; for all these reasons and since I like the voices out of the choir, I'm happy to host G.S. Wiley as Inside Reader today.
G.S. Wiley's Inside Reader List
Thanks to Elisa for inviting me to share a few of my favourite reads today!
I tend to like genre fiction, everything from mystery to historicals to science-fiction, so most of my picks come from those areas, rather than so-called “literary fiction.” I've tried to stay away from the classics that have been recommended time and again, so hopefully you'll find something new to check out!
In no particular order...
1) “No Night is Too Long” by Barbara Vine. I'm a fan of all of her work, although the newer stuff lacks the originality and impact of the older. This is the story of Tim, a bisexual English graduate student involved in a tumultuous but exciting relationship with an older male university professor, Ivo Steadman. When the two of them go to Alaska, Tim finds himself intrigued by a mysterious woman, Isabel Winwood, which starts them all on a course to ruin. More of a psychological thriller than a traditional whodunnit, but well worth the read.
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Onyx (January 1, 1996)
Amazon: No Night is Too Long
The author of Anna's Book -- who was hailed as "one of the finest practitioners of her craft in the English-speaking world" by the New York Times Book Review -- has written a relentlessly compelling tale of sexual obsession, mistaken identity, and murder. Tim thought he'd gotten away with it. For months after the murder off the Alaskan coast he'd heard not a word. No policeman at his door asking questions. Nothing. And then the letters began. At first they seemed almost innocuous accounts of historical events. But a common theme emerged quickly. It was particularly germane to Tim, and it related directly to murder. In No Night Is Too Long, Barbara Vine has written a tour de force, rich in characters and setting, a remarkable novel by an internationally celebrated master of her craft. To research the book, the author and her husband embarked on a boat trip from Seattle up the Alaskan coast. The stark beauty of that experience provides No Night Is Too Long with an extraordinarily vivid sense of place. The novel's exploration of sexual identity and guilt represents a departure for Vine. Its resolution -- as always -- is a stunning surprise.
2) “The Life to Come and Other Stories” by E.M. Forster. E.M. Forster is well-known for his seminal gay novel “Maurice”, as well as for mainstream classics like “A Passage to India” and “Howard's End.” The quality of writing in this short story collection, however, shows that Forster was equally adept at writing shorter pieces. Many of the stories were unpublished until 1970 due to gay themes, and include standouts like the humorous seaside vignette “The Obelisk” and “The Other Boat,” a tragic story of an interracial relationship during the days of the Empire.
Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (August 17, 1987)
Publisher Link: http://books.wwnorton.com/books/detail.aspx?ID=12595
Amazon: The Life to Come and Other Stories
Representing every phase of E. M. Forster's career as a writer, the fourteen stories in this book span six decades—from 1903 to 1957 or even later. Only two were published in his lifetime. Most of the other stories remained unpublished because of their overtly homosexual themes; instead they were shown to an appreciative circle of friends and fellow writers, including Christopher Isherwood, Siegfried Sassoon, Lytton Strachey, and T. E. Lawrence. The stories differ widely in mood and setting. One is a cheerful political satire; another has, most unusually for Forster, a historical setting; others give serious and powerful expression to some of Forster's profoundest concerns.
3) “Ethan of Athos” by Lois McMaster Bujold. An interesting new perspective on the tired science-fiction theme of life on a planet without women, where reproduction is done through artificial means. While this storyline can easily become misogynistic or homophobic or both, Lois McMaster Bujold avoids those pitfalls here and introduces likeable and sympathetic characters, both male and female.
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Nesfa Pr; First Edition edition (August 2003)
Publisher Link: http://www.store.nesfa.org/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=N&Product_Code=1-886778-39-6&Category_Code=
Amazon: Ethan of Athos
Drafted into aiding a quest for ovarian tissue samples, Chief of Biology Dr. Ethan Urquhart confronts the female members of his species, who have been forbidden to live on their home planet.
4) “The Naked Civil Servant” by Quentin Crisp. Describing himself as a “man who wore makeup at a time when it was scandalous on women,” this is the memoir of an openly gay (and effeminate) man living in London in the years leading up to the Second World War. A unique perspective on being true to oneself despite the obstacles, and often very funny besides.
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Penguin Classics (May 1, 1997)
Publisher Link: http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780141180533,00.html?strSrchSql=0141180536/The_Naked_Civil_Servant_Quentin_Crisp
Amazon: The Naked Civil Servant
Crisp describes his life with uninhibited exuberance in this classic autobiography. He came out as a gay man in 1931, when the slightest sign of homosexuality shocked public sensibilities, and he did so with provocative flamboyance, determined to spread the message that homosexuality did not exclude him or anyone else from the human race.
5) The Stan Kraychik Mysteries by Grant Michaels. Beginning with “A Body to Dye For.” The writing in these five books is not what I would call amazing, and the stories are light and fluffy without much real substance. Still, they're fun easy reading, with plenty of sexual tension between the main character, hairdresser and sleuth Stan Kraychik, and police detective Vito Branco. I first read them as a high school student and I enjoy them just as much now as I did then.
Paperback: 241 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (June 15, 1991)
Publisher Link: http://us.macmillan.com/series/StanKraychikMysteries
Amazon: A Body to Dye For
Hot water is nothing new for Stan Kraychik, a smart-mouthed Boston hairdresser who gave up a career in psychology to "shrink 'em at the sink" instead. When a vacationing National Park ranger turns up dead in Boston, Stan is implicated in the murder, and must find the killer to clear his own name. With an eye for detail and a mettlesome spirit, Stan finds plenty of clues, but he also confronts the police lieutenant assigned to the case, a man with little tolerance for the world of fashion and style, or for Stan's cheeky attitude. With a sharp tongue as his best defense, a most unlikely detective uses even more unlikely techniques to close the loop and get the killer.
6) The “Hominids” trilogy by Robert J. Sawyer. “Hominids”, “Humans” and “Hybrids.” An accident at a heavy water facility in northern Ontario leads to a rift which allows a representative of an alternate universe, one where Neanderthals out-lasted humans to become the dominant species on Earth, to slip into our dimension. This series offers a fascinating look at an alternate world with a fascinating social structure, where everyone has both a “Man-Mate” and a “Woman-Mate” and lives in communities vastly different to our own. Includes descriptions of loving and healthy male/female, male/male and female/female relationships.
Mass Market Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Tor Science Fiction; 1st edition (February 17, 2003)
Publisher Link: http://us.macmillan.com/hominids
Hominids examines two unique species of people. We are one of those species; the other is the Neanderthals of a parallel world where they became the dominant intelligence. The Neanderthal civilization has reached heights of culture and science comparable to our own, but with radically different history, society and philosophy. Ponter Boddit, a Neanderthal physicist, accidentally pierces the barrier between worlds and is transferred to our universe. Almost immediately recognized as a Neanderthal, but only much later as a scientist, he is quarantined and studied, alone and bewildered, a stranger in a strange land. But Ponter is also befriended—by a doctor and a physicist who share his questing intelligence, and especially by Canadian geneticist Mary Vaughan, a woman with whom he develops a special rapport. Ponter’s partner, Adikor Huld, finds himself with a messy lab, a missing body, suspicious people all around and an explosive murder trial. How can he possibly prove his innocence when he has no idea what actually happened to Ponter?
7) “The Dreyfus Affair” by Peter Lefcourt. For all the sports fans out there. This is the funny and touching story of a rocky and star-crossed romance between two players on a major league baseball team (no pitcher and catcher jokes, please!) It was written in the early 1990s, but not much has changed in the last twenty years with regards to homophobia in professional sports. An original twist is added to the romance plot by making literary comparisons to The Dreyfus Affair, a famous case of anti-Semitism in 19th century France.
Paperback: 290 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial (April 14, 1993)
Amazon: The Dreyfus Affair
Consider the possibilities: In the middle of a pennant race, a team's star shortstop falls in love with his second baseman. Which is exactly what happens to Randy Dreyfus, the best-hitting, best-fielding, best-looking, and most happily married young shortstop in the major leagues. The Dreyfus Affair combines romance, comedy, social satire, and some of the finest baseball writing in years. The result is a rollicking, provocative odyssey through one unforgettable World Series championship.
8) “Father of Frankenstein” by Christopher Bram. A fictionalized life story of gay Hollywood director James Whale, best known for directing Boris Karloff in “Frankenstein” in the 1930s. Set in the late 1950s, when Whale is at the end of his life, encounters with a cloying film student and a blue-collar gardener, Clay Boone, lead Whale into reminiscing about his past life and loves, not all of which he wants to remember. Also a movie, “Gods and Monsters,” starring Sir Ian McKellen and Brendan Fraser.
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Plume (April 1, 1996)
Amazon: Father of Frankenstein
In 1957, James Whale, the director acclaimed for such classic gothic films as Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein, was found floating face-down in the swimming pool of his Hollywood mansion. Here, Christopher Bram brilliantly recreates Whale's last days in this fascinating, astute, and suspenseful novel.
9) “Anything Goes” by John Barrowman. Love him or hate him, John Barrowman's personality is inescapable. He is much better known in England and Canada than in the United States, although that was where he grew up. This autobiography—with “to be continued” ending since Barrowman is only in his early forties—is full of funny, often risque stories from his life and his days on stage in London's West End. His future partner apparently saw Barrowman naked on stage before they ever met...kind of an apt metaphor for Barrowman's hilariously exhibitionist life.
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Michael O'Mara (March 1, 2009)
Publisher Link: http://www.mombooks.com/html/book.php?book=1843173336
Amazon: Anything Goes
The autobiography of John Barrowman, star of Doctor Who and Torchwood, and judge on the BBC’s top-rating talent shows How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? and Any Dream Will Do, is now available for the first time in paperback. Leading man. Cult hero. Debonair judge. Show-stopping singer. The many talents of John Barrowman have entertained the world for almost two decades – but what’s the real story behind that dazzling smile? Anything Goes lays bare John’s story for the very first time, in his very own words. Describing his life from his Glaswegian childhood and American adolescence to his current incarnation as Captain Jack Harkness in the ever-popular Torchwood and Doctor Who, this exclusive book provides a no-holds-barred insight into the extraordinary experiences of one of the best-loved figures in show business. Sharing his secrets with trademark charm and irrepressible humour, John recalls working with such theatre luminaries as Stephen Sondheim, Sam Mendes and Andrew Lloyd Webber; discloses hilarious as well as heartbreaking personal memories; reminisces about his glamorous overseas travel; and takes us behind the scenes on the sets of his hit TV shows. In a searingly honest account, he reveals backstage high jinks alongside life-changing romantic encounters, career peaks and private lows. Revelatory, engaging and told with real heart, this is the transatlantic fairy tale of how one boy achieved his dreams.
10) “The Other Boleyn Girl” by Philippa Gregory. Yes, this is overwhelmingly a heterosexual romance with a lot of very suspect historical detail, but the inclusion of a tragic doomed love affair between George Boleyn—who is as much a pawn of his scheming family as his two unfortunate sisters—and another nobleman gets it onto this list. It's not a happy romance, and you likely already know how the whole thing ends, but then no one in this book is given the chance to be particularly happy. Far better than the recent movie, which excised George Boleyn's romantic angst completely, and the only one of Gregory's books I've been able to finish.
Paperback: 672 pages
Publisher: Touchstone; Rep Mti edition (January 22, 2008)
Publisher Link: http://books.simonandschuster.biz/Other-Boleyn-Girl-(Movie-Tie-In)/Philippa-Gregory/9781416560609
Amazon: The Other Boleyn Girl
Two sisters competing for the greatest prize: the love of a king. A rich and compelling novel of love, sex, ambition, and intrigue, The Other Boleyn Girl introduces a woman of extraordinary determination and desire who lived at the heart of the most exciting and glamorous court in Europe and survived by following her heart. When Mary Boleyn comes to court as an innocent girl of fourteen, she catches the eye of Henry VIII. Dazzled, Mary falls in love with both her golden prince and her growing role as unofficial queen. However, she soon realizes just how much she is a pawn in her family's ambitious plots as the king's interest begins to wane and she is forced to step aside for her best friend and rival: her sister, Anne. Then Mary knows that she must defy her family and her king and take her fate into her own hands.
About G.S. Wiley: G.S. Wiley is a writer, reader, teacher, traveller, sometime painter and semi-avid scrapbooker who lives in Canada. G.S. has a fantastic husband, who indulges G.S. in all these pastimes, and makes a mean omelette while he’s at it.
Then and Now: A Collection of Short Stories by G.S. Wiley
Paperback: 298 pages
Publisher: Lulu Press (February 2010)
Publisher Link: http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/then-and-now-a-collection-of-short-stories/6309463
A legionary and an Egyptian immigrant in Ancient Rome. Two American college students on the eve of the Cuban Missile Crisis. A lonely waiter and a soul-searching artist in present-day Vancouver. "Then and Now" is a collection of fourteen short stories, two never before published, of love and longing between men of many ages, cultures, times and places.