Show me the books he loves and I shall know the man far better than through mortal friends - Silas Weir Mitchell
Charlie David was the first LGBT celebrities with whom I had a contact; when his first book, Mulligans, was released, he contacted me through Amazon; after that he also forwarded my post on A Four Letter Word to Jesse Archer, and this lead to another nice friendship. Not only that, Charlie volunteered for being judge in the Rainbow Awards and to do this list, despite the busy and international life, television host, writer (Shadowlands is just out now), actor (more or less 10 days to the filming of Judas' Kiss), always hopping back and forward between Canada, US, South Africa and Europe. So I'm really glad to be able to "catch" him for a day, enjoy his list!
Inside Reader – Top Ten Books – Charlie David
I’d like to thank Elisa for inviting me to take part in her Inside Reader! I certainly find this blog extremely entertaining and informative about what’s happening in the gay fiction world. A top ten is definitely challenging to narrow down. This is not necessarily my definitive list but an insight into some of the engaging reading I’ve been up to lately.
1) The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon by Tom Spanbauer. I received this book as a birthday gift and to be honest I wasn’t instantly excited about reading a ‘Western’. On my friend’s urging I began to read and instantly became immersed in the world of the Old West. Shed’s story was heart breaking, beautifully woven, and incredibly moving. One of the finest and most enjoyable books I’ve ever read.
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Grove Press (January 6, 2000)
Publisher Link: http://www.groveatlantic.com/#page=isbn9780802136633%20
Amazon: The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon
Set around the turn of the twentieth century, The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon provides a vision of the Old West unlike anything seen before. The narrator, Shed, is an orphaned half-Indian bisexual boy who lives and works at a hotel and brothel in the tiny town of Excellent, Idaho. Despite being surrounded by a loving, if eccentric, surrogate family at the hotel, Shed finds in himself a growing need to find an identity among his mother’s Indian tribe. Setting off alone across a haunting and unforgiving landscape, Shed encounters a rich pageant of extraordinary characters along the way. Although he learns a great deal about the mysteries and traditions of his Indian heritage, it is not until Shed returns to Excellent and witnesses a series of brutal tragedies that he attains the wisdom that infuses this exceptional and captivating book.
2) Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice. The super nova novel by Anne Rice sang to ever fiber of my being as a fifteen year old boy attending a private Catholic school. The angst of searching for love and the meaning of both a mortal and immortal existence has continued to haunt both my perspective of the world and my writing ever since. The love between Lestat and Louis was in fact my first glimpse into the M/M world and as their relationship swept across the sliding sands of history so too has it colored my quest for an ever-lasting love.
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books (March 18, 1997)
Publisher Link: http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780345409645
Amazon: Interview with the Vampire
Here are the confessions of a vampire. Hypnotic, shocking, and chillingly erotic, this is a novel of mesmerizing beauty and astonishing force--a story of danger and flight, of love and loss, of suspense and resolution, and of the extraordinary power of the senses. It is a novel only Anne Rice could write....
3) A Density of Souls by Christopher Rice. As a mega fan of Christopher’s mother, Anne Rice, I was incredibly curious to read his work. I quickly devoured The Snow Garden and Light Before Day. My favorite was A Density of Souls likely because of the similarity in the Rice’s writing styles. This was Christopher’s first novel and though I believe his story telling has certainly improved over the past decade (as it undoubtedly does with all of us who put pen to parchment) for me it holds a special place because it came with the realization that one of my favorite authors had a son who had followed in his parents’ literary footsteps and that they had cultivated that passion as well as supported him as an out gay person. It’s interesting then to consider the cosmos and wonder if Anne’s homoerotic writing hadn’t been inspired by the angels in preparation for Christopher.
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Miramax (August 22, 2001)
Amazon: A Density of Souls
Take the sensuous, fecund New Orleans setting, add a generous helping of tangled Southern family history, and season liberally with a sensitive teenage boy rejected by his friends and frightened of his own homoerotic impulses and you wouldn't be surprised to discover that the novel containing all of the above was written by someone named Rice. But a few paragraphs into the first page, it's clear that Anne Rice's son's first novel isn't about vampires or witches and does not otherwise read like one of her exceedingly popular books. The only family resemblance is in the setting, the sexual orientation of the lovingly described male characters, and the scent of overripe magnolias.There's murder, suicide, and madness at the heart of this rather clumsycoming-of-age story, which focuses on the youthful friendship of Stephen Conlin, Meredith Ducote, Greg Darby, and Brandon Charbonnet. This friendship is destroyed by a sexual incident that takes place just before the foursome enters Cannon, an exclusive prep school. There, Stephen is ostracized by his former friends, now the most popular kids on campus, who'd just as soon forget their own complicity in the event. Envy, passion, and rage drive the narrative, but the emotions are as juvenile as the characters, and the long passages depicting the rituals and cruelties of high school, from pep rallies to football games, slow down the pace without really illuminating character or motivation. The novel reads like a roman +á clef. Rice might have been wiser to tell someone else's story rather than his own. --Jane Adams
4) The Persian Boy by Mary Renault. My hero in life is Alexander the Great. He was a fearless warrior king who united the Eastern and Western World. My fascination with him has inspired the reading of several books of historical fiction. None compare with Mary Renault’s well researched, lyrical and eerily detailed accounts of his life in her novels Fire From Heaven, The Persian Boy and Funeral Games. Though the language and ancient names can take a few chapters to get your tongue around once immersed Renault spins a world around you in a way that you’d swear she was witness to the events.
The Persian Boy is my favorite in the triad because it examines a unique time in Alexander’s life. He and his life partner Hephaestion have an unbreakable bond and yet in Greek style he has taken a Persian Boy, Bagoas as a second lover. As fascinating as his adventures in the discovery of the East are the finely woven relations in this ancient love triangle between Alexander, Hephaestion and Bagoas. As one can imagine dating the King of the Known World at the time was ripe with both jealousy and love. A superb accomplishment and true labor of love.
Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Vintage (February 12, 1988)
Publisher Link: http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780394751016
Amazon: The Persian Boy
“It takes skill to depict, as Miss Renault has done, this half-man, half Courtesan who is so deeply in love with the warrior.”–The Atlantic Monthly. The Persian Boy traces the last years of Alexander’s life through the eyes of his lover, Bagoas. Abducted and gelded as a boy, Bagoas was sold as a courtesan to King Darius of Persia, but found freedom with Alexander after the Macedon army conquered his homeland. Their relationship sustains Alexander as he weathers assassination plots, the demands of two foreign wives, a sometimes-mutinous army, and his own ferocious temper. After Alexander’s mysterious death, we are left wondering if this Persian boy understood the great warrior and his ambitions better than anyone.
5) Hero by Perry Moore. I admit it, in addition to my Hero worship of Alexander the Great I’m a puddle on the floor for Super Heroes. Muscle, tights and a cape and I’m done for. Perry Moore has painstakingly created a modern Hero for each of us. His characters are flawed, layered and easily accessible. Though potentially intended for a teen audience Hero will resonate with anyone who has ever struggled to find themselves and find what makes them special in the world. Moore has created a page-turner and is a genius at holding back information and swirling a whirlpool of mystery making Hero impossible to put down.
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Hyperion Book CH; Reprint edition (May 5, 2009)
Publisher Link: http://hyperionbooksforchildren.com/board/displayBook.asp?id=2103
The last thing in the world Thom Creed wants is to add to his father’s pain, so he keeps secrets. Like that he has special powers. And that he’s been asked to join the League – the very organization of superheroes that spurned his dad. But the most painful secret of all is one Thom can barely face himself: he’s gay. But becoming a member of the League opens up a new world to Thom. There, he connects with a misfit group of aspiring heroes, including Scarlett, who can control fire but not her anger; Typhoid Larry, who can make anyone sick with his touch; and Ruth, a wise old broad who can see the future. Like Thom, these heroes have things to hide; but they will have to learn to trust one another when they uncover a deadly conspiracy within the League. To survive, Thom will face challenges he never imagined. To find happiness, he’ll have to come to terms with his father’s past and discover the kind of hero he really wants to be.
6) A Home at the End of the World by Michael Cunningham. I believe Michael Cunningham is a master storyteller. His ability to cinematically capture precise imagery is astounding. I first read The Hours and the A Home at the end of the World – both highly recommended. Cunningham has an astute gift for creating realistic and lovable characters and then folding them into each other so before we realize it a whole world has enveloped us. An incisive perspective on human sexuality and both the torment and ecstasy that come in its many variations.
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Picador; 1st Picador USA pbk. ed edition (November 15, 1998)
Publisher Link: http://us.macmillan.com/ahomeattheendoftheworld
Amazon: A Home at the End of the World
From Michael Cunningham, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Hours, comes this widely praised novel of two boyhood friends: Jonathan, lonely, introspective, and unsure of himself; and Bobby, hip, dark, and inarticulate. In New York after college, Bobby moves in with Jonathan and his roommate, Clare, a veteran of the city's erotic wars. Bobby and Clare fall in love, scuttling the plans of Jonathan, who is gay, to father Clare's child. Then, when Clare and Bobby have a baby, the three move to a small house upstate to raise "their" child together and, with an odd friend, Alice, create a new kind of family. A Home at the End of the World masterfully depicts the charged, fragile relationships of urban life today.
7) Christopher Isherwood Diaries. When I stumbled upon this book I was transfixed – a volume of Isherwood’s personal sentiments spanning 1939-1960. Though not always a daily account this volume defines his move from England to California and his formative years there as a writer. His diaries tell how he became a disciple of the Hindu monk Swami Prabhavananda, his pacifism in World War II, his work as a Hollywood screenwriter and his friendships with artists and intellectuals like Garbo, Chaplin, Bertolt Brecht, Stravinsky, Olivier, Richard Burton, and many others. In luminous prose he reveals his most intimate and passionate relationships, with Bill Caskey and later with the very young artist… Don Bachardy. A fascinating read!
Paperback: 1104 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (September 9, 1998)
Amazon: Christopher Isherwood Diaries
In 1939 Christopher Isherwood and W. H. Auden emigrated together to the United States. These diaries, covering the period up to 1960, describe Isherwood's search for a new life in California, where he eventually settled. The diaries tell how Isherwood became a disciple of the Hindu monk Swami Prabhavananda; about his pacifism during World War II; about his work as a screenwriter in Hollywood and his friendships with such gifted artists and intellectuals as Garbo, Chaplin, Thomas Mann, Bertolt Brecht, Stravinsky, Aldous Huxley, Gielgud, Olivier, Richard Burton, and Charles Laughton, many of whom were émigrés like himself. Throughout this period, Isherwood continued to write novels and sustain his literary friendship with E. M. Forster, Somerset Maugham, Gore Vidal, Tennessee Williams, and others. He turned to his diary several times a week to record jokes and gossip, observations about his adopted country, philosophy and mystical insights. In spare, luminous prose, he also revealed his most intimate and passionate relationships, particularly with Bill Caskey and later with the very young Don Bachardy.
8) Black Wade: The Wild Side of Love by Franze & Andaerle. As I’m learning French I’ve found an accessible and fun way into the language is by reading comics. They often use street language and are easy to follow because of the illustrations. So why not read some that are sexy at the same time. I picked up Black Wade in Paris on a recent trip and found both the story and illustrations extremely engaging. ;)
Black Wade is available in both English and French so take your pick. Comics have definitely become a new fun pastime for me and I’m working with two new artists on creating comics for upcoming film projects Shadowlands and Judas Kiss. I look forward to sharing them with you!
Hardcover: 80 pages
Publisher: Bruno Gmunder Verlag Gmbh (August 2009)
Amazon: Black Wade
Black Wade shows the entertaining love story between a rough, square-edged pirate and a young fine officer finely detailed and brilliantly colored. dreaded pirate Black Wade has a cruel mind and an explosive sexuality. His mercilessness is legendary, but it wavers when he encounters the young and warm-hearted english officer Jack Wilkins. these two absolutely different men are prisoners to their fate. overwhelmed by their passion they unite in a fight for freedom and love.
9) The Assignment by Evangeline Anderson. Sometimes it’s nice to have a departure from the everyday and The Assignment certainly provided just that. The story of cop partners, one gay and one straight, who must go undercover at an all gay party weekend as boyfriends in order to take down a drug ring. Since I’ve often had crushes and unique relationships with my straight best friends I certainly related with the story. And really, is there anything sexier than our boys in blue?
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Loose Id, LLC (March 11, 2008)
Publisher Link: http://www.loose-id.com/The-Assignment.aspx
Amazon: The Assignment
Detective Nicholas Valenti, tall, dark and stoic, has been best friends with his partner, Sean O’Brian for six years. The two men have seen each other through divorce, disaster and danger and saved each other’s asses more times than Valenti can count. Exactly when he started seeing his blond, intense partner in another light, Valenti isn’t really sure. He only knows that he wants O’Brian in a way that had nothing to do with friendship and everything to do with possession. It is a desire he will have to hide forever because O’Brian is undeniably straight. Just as Valenti is coming to grips with his new, unacceptable feelings for his partner their police Captain puts them on a new case that could blow Valenti’s cover once and for all. He and O’Brian are going undercover at the country’s largest and most infamous gay resort to bust a notorious drug lord and stop the shipments of poison cocaine that are flooding the gay bars all over the city. Now Valenti will have to make a choice between friendship and desire. He and O’Brian will play the roles of gay men that will push the limits of their relationship to the breaking point. Will their time at the RamJack forge a new bond between them or destroy their partnership forever?
10) The Rest is Illusion by Eric Arvin. Like so many of the wondrous moments in my life I have trouble piecing together the sequence of events that led up to the chance connection of author Eric Arvin and myself. At any rate Eric, who is an American author, and I have been trading emails over the past few months and discussing a range of topics from modern publishing to literature to his astute talent for finding sugary sweet visual delicacies for his daily blog, Daventry Blue.
Eric is a dedicated and prolific author with six titles under his belt. He’s well on his way to filling a shelf in my library here in Cape Town. A few weeks ago as a gift Eric sent me his latest book, The Rest is Illusion. My reading pile has been contesting Kilimanjaro for highest point in Africa recently so only this evening did Eric’s new book surface.
First let me say – to say I enjoy reading would be a wild understatement. In the new hotel, Manna Bay, we have a beautiful library overlooking Cape Town and there’s never a doubt as to where I can be found wiling away stolen moments. Though I often will read four or five books concurrently, slipping in and out of storyline and characters as the mood suits me I read Eric’s book cover to cover in one sitting. (Okay, I did get up for tea twice.)
Eric has an incredible gift with language. His characters are honest, flawed, and struggling to find meaning in a shifting reality. His use of nature imagery is sublime and most inspiring to me he tells a story that ignites something within. The Rest is Illusion is an earnest reminder that like the Phoenix, in order to be reborn as something more pure and essential than we currently are, we must endure the flames.
Paperback: 188 pages
Publisher: Young Offenders Media (May 25, 2010)
Amazon: The Rest is Illusion
"The world has to hide its magic now, in deep valleys and dark forests. Sometimes, if you're lucky, you chance upon the honesty of the natural world." - Page 84, The Rest is Illusion Verona College, a small, traditional liberal arts school somewhere in the Mid-west, is an old and respected institution. The river valley which it overlooks, however, is much, much older; And in those old forest glens and clearings, in the ruins of ancient walls and other constructions of men long past - dwells magic. The focal point of this ancient magic is a tree - a tree preparing to die; And in the magic of this tree, a boy preparing to die finds comfort. As the ordeal of accepting death and finding life's meaning roils on in the private life of the beautiful and charismatic Dashel Yarnsbrook, his three friends - and one determined enemy - struggle with their own impediments to attaining adulthood. Sarah must decide whether to face down her domineering father. Ashley must learn to cope with the physical differences which cause others to shun him. Tony must choose whether to accept his burgeoning sexual attractions to Dash, or continue to live in denial for the sake of his family and his athletic career. And then there's Wilder Rawls - taught at a young age that love is weakness, and the only through the manipulation and destruction of others can one truly succeed in the world. And possibly make his distant father proud of him? As the four friends meet their respective challenges, and support one another, they become increasingly aware of the magic that has awakened all around them. While it does not give them answers, it does help to give each of them strength. Only their nemesis, Wilder, is alarmed and unsettled by the seemingly inexplicable events of the early spring thaw. As events come to a head, and tragedy unfolds, each of the five are forced to decide what road they will go down, what obstacles to confront, what truths to face and accept. But the entity is there for them, for all of them, reaching out to offer them a drop of divine guidance, a means to bear the daunting pain that each now suffers - all save one. With elements reminiscent of Knowles' "A Separate Peace", Laclos' "Les Liaisons Dangereuse", and even Mick Jackson's movie, "L.A. Story", brilliant young author, Eric Arvin, spins a coming of age tale that is different from the rest, which asks us to touch his characters' souls, and admonishes us to begin, once more, to take note of the magic that lives on all around us - take note...and bestow reverence.
About Charlie David: Charlie David has been a host for E! Television, NBC, OutTV, LOGO, here! TV, Pink TV, EGO, Fine Living and Life Network on such shows as FYE!, SpyTV, Crash Test Mommy and his travel series Bump! which now airs in over 10 countries worldwide.
He has appeared as musical guest on VH1, BBC, CBS¹s The Early Show, and dozens of radio shows.
His recent film and television credits include A Four Letter Word and Kiss the Bride, Bravo!¹s Godiva¹s, Showtime¹s Reefer Madness, Sundance Channel¹s award winning Terminal City and starring in a 4th season of the gothic gay soap opera Dante¹s Cove.
Charlie¹s writing has been published by Instinct, National Youth Ambassador, Adventure Women, Outlooks and BoyCrazy! magazines and AfterElton.com. The latter culminated in a guest appearance on NBC¹s The Other Half with Dick Clark, Danny Bonaduce, and Mario Lopez.
In 2009 he had his first two novels, Mulligans and Boy Midflight, published by Palari Publishing.
The Cold Reading Series in Vancouver awarded Charlie ŒBest Feature Screenplay¹ for Mulligans and ŒBest Short Screenplay¹ for Narcissus, a story featured in his new anthology, Shadowlands released in 2010.
In 2005 Out Magazine recognized Charlie in the ŒOut 100¹ at their gala in New York for outstanding contributions to LGBT Arts and Culture. In 2007 the Philadelphia Film Society awarded Charlie with their Rising Star Award. In 2008 the Festival del Sol in Gran Canaria awarded their Best Male Actor Award to Charlie and the male cast of A Four Letter Word.
Charlie is co-owner of CTM International Enterprises Inc., a Canadian Talent Agency representing actors for film, television and commercials.
In 2007 he started Border2Border Entertainment Inc., a production company whose film credits include the award winning Mulligans and Beyond Gay: The Politics of Pride.
He is a graduate of the Canadian College of Performing Arts and currently resides in Victoria, Canada and Capetown, S. Africa.
Shadowlands by Charlie David
Paperback: 260 pages
Publisher: Border2Border Entertainment Inc. (August 9, 2010)
Charlie David's celebrated collection of short stories explores the heartfelt, and sometimes heartbreaking passion and pain of gay sexuality. Ancient myths are re-imagined with an exciting queer twist masterfully depicting the charged, fragile relationships of urban life today.