June 7th, 2010

andrew potter

Pool Hall Green by Sara Bell

Sara Bell has a way to writing romance that is almost “sweet”, using sweet in that meaning of the old rules of romance, when sweet meant a lot of romance, some kisses and no sex. The no sex part is not part of the pact for Sara Bell, but all the rest is there, and plus also a light undertone, even when the story has a drama plot.

Pool Hall Green is a novella, so the drama is not fully developed but only hinted, but this doesn’t make it less good. Drew is a former pool hustler of an Alabama small town now living in Arizona. His family gladly forgets of him until they don’t need him like this time, to help his brother out of a gambling debt. Only that the owner of the debt doesn’t want money, he wants Drew. Being Drew gay, the reader can think the “want” is in the biblical meaning of the word, but for real Evan wants Drew’s skills with a stick and a pool table. Then if he is willing to talk of other skills with other type of sticks, Evan is not against the idea.

It’s pretty much a less dramatic story than expected, the blackmailing of Evan to Drew is a very poor dangerous one, and Evan looks more like a twink than a thug; he is all swooning on older Drew (34 against 25) like a kid with a comic book hero, and I had the feeling that he is easily distracted from his personal revenge with sex and cuddle. Evan basically needs love and since also Drew needs it, they found each other.

As I said the story is pretty much romantic, there is a bit of sex, but even if sexy, it’s not detailed, leaving the rate of the story more to a warn than hot grade. Not Drew or Evan are big city players, they are more small town boys, where they can appear bigger and worst than who they really are. And then from a boy next door guy with a twink face and an easy smile, Evan, and a lost boy still searching for the love of a family, only in the wrong place, Drew, you can’t expect them to give this story nothing else if not a sweet romance taste.


Amazon Kindle: Pool Hall Green

Reading List:

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Best Overall Gay Novel (1° place): Out of Position by Kyell Gold

ALSO Best Fantasy Novel (1° place) & Best Setting (3° place) & Best Characters (3° place)

Dev and Lee are both college students. Dev is a jock and Lee is not a nerd but almost, he is for sure a "straight" student like Dev: Lee is gay, he is part of the LGBT circle and he writes gay themed play for the local theatre group. When Lee's friend, Brian, is attacked and sent to hospital by two football players for the only reason that he is gay (even if later in the story probably we realize that Brian isn't a so easy character, and probably is not a 100% victim), Lee decides to vengeance his friend at his own way: he dresses in drag and goes to the pub where the local football team is celebrating a victory and hooks up with one of the jocks, Dev. If at this point someone is wondering how Lee could deceive Dev so much, disguising himself as a girl without no one notice it, well, it's simple, there are no clear elements to tell Lee from a girl, like a breast or gentle hips, if not his male attribute (that he can hide under a skirt), since Lee is a fox and Dev is a tiger. Out of Position is another of the anthropomorphic novels by Kyell Gold, and for me his best so far.

As in the other contemporary romance I read by Kyell Gold, Waterways, the problems that Dev and Lee have to overcome in order to have their happily ever after are the same of an ordinary couple, but in this novel there is the bonus that they are both "furry" characters, with tails, and paws and scents... plus there is an obstacle more, they are of different breeds, but this one is not so important as the other big one, that they are gay. Actually at first Lee approaches Dev believing him a 100% straight boy: Lee wants to teach to Dev a lesson, proving him that he can have sex, and enjoy it, also with a man. Problem is that Dev non only enjoys it, he is almost addicts to Lee: Dev can't help to search for Lee even if they are at opposite; Dev is in college with a sport scholarship, he is not a perfect student but he manages to have his credits thanks to his sport success; Lee is the classical perfect student and he and his friends look upon the jocks at college with superiority, like something to suffer since they can't do anything else.

At first Dev comes out like the simple mind guy who discovers that he can enjoy also a male partner; he is not an homophobic, but he has never considered having sex with a man. But if you read with attention Dev's introduction, you will realize that he is not simple as appears; in a world where Dev has the chance to have all the girls he wants, thanks to his jock status, he has a discriminating attitude, he is more for the quality than the quantity. For Dev is not necessary only a willing body, he wants that his partners have also a mind of their own, he wants to be challenged. And so when he meets Lee, after the first shock when he realizes that Lee is a man, he is ready and willing to overcome this obstacle due to the fact that he really likes Lee as a partner, not only as a body to have sex with. Not that the sex is not important, and in the book you will find plenty, so yes, if you can't go through the fact that this is an anthropomorphic novel, be careful since you will have to face a lot of scenes in which the fact that the two characters have furs, paws and tails is clearly in display.

The book is very long and follows the two characters in a long span of their life: not only as two college students that have to hide their relationship due to the homophobic environments where Dev lives, but only as two young man, Dev as a professional football player and Lee as a sport procurator for a professional football team. Strange is that it's not Dev that realizes that living as an openly gay man is not so easy as you imagined in college: it's Lee that has to come to reality, Lee who always though to change the world, and instead now is living and working in an all-male world where gays are not supposed to be. It's Lee that is questioning his beliefs and what he wants to do with his life. What the reader thought at first of the two main characters, Lee the steady one with his future all planned and Dev the uncertain one with no real skills other than being good with a ball, is totally turned up: outside of the secured walls of the college world who has problems to settle down is Lee.

I like a lot how Lee and Dev's relationship evolves: even if they have to face a lot of obstacles, they are always together, and for together I don't mean in the physical way; for work Lee and Dev have to live apart from time to time, but they are always sure of their love, they never question who is the real forever love for each other. They can have problems, they maybe have to change idea on something they thought was the right thing to do, but never, never they think to give up to their relationship. I also like as Dev comes out of the story, how his character develops and deepens to prove to the reader that being a jock not always means being dumb; all in all who makes the most embarrassing and dangerous mistakes is Lee, the one who should be the clever of the couple.


Amazon Kindle: Out of Position

Reading List:


Cover Art by Blotch
andrew potter

The Distance Between Us by L. A. Witt

This was a good story for me for many different reason. The main point was, for sure, that it showed a most than comment event, when two people are still in love but due to their incapacity to talk are drifting apart till the point of breaking up.

Ethan and Rhett were probably the perfect couple of a romance novel, 10 years ago. Rhett was a bisexual man, divorced with a daughter, and he fell in love with Ethan, two years older; when they went to live together, Rhett’s daughter was eight years old, and Ethan was as much as a father for her as Rhett was. Their life was so perfect that they even decided to buy an home together, maybe doing a step longer than the leg, but they were happy, in love and thinking to have the life in front of them.

10 years later, Rhett’s daughter went to college, giving them maybe more space but also unbalancing their family steadiness. Ethan was never the man to speak aloud his feelings, preferring to show his love and interest with passion and sex rather than words. Rhett instead is the overthinking type, always playing scenarios in his mind and really needing to hear aloud that he is wrong, than his worst scenarios are not the reality. The situantion went to hell faster than expected and they are now a broken couple with only a lease to bound them together. To help them paying the lease, and in this way to reach faster the point when they will be able to go separate ways, they decide to rent a room to another gay friendly man.

Kieran is more than gay friendly, he is plenty interested in playing with both of them and without strings attached. He has no problem to switch between them and even to be simultaneously shared. And here is the second point I liked about this story: this is a menages a trois and it’s not. I think Kieran represents the “distance” between Ethan and Rhett, and, even if it sounds strange, and worrisome, he replaced what Ethan and Rhett missed when Rhett’s daughter moved out of home, the reason to be together. Now don’t get me wrong, there was nothing of sexual in the relationship between fathers and daughter, and it’s all about sex with Kieran, but in a way or the other, their daughter and Kieran represent the padlock to bound together the two men.

The real relationship is between Ethan and Rhett, Kieran is a, willing, tool. Kieran is not a permanent addition to the family, at least not in an exclusive way; he can be a good friend, but Kieran will have, sooner or later, to go out and search his own soul mate. But in the meantime he can help Ethan and Rhett to find again the right balance to start the second part of their life as a couple, no more dads and perfect family picture, but now more than 40 handsome men with still a lot of years in front of them to be happy together.


Amazon: The Distance Between Us
Amazon Kindle: The Distance Between Us
Paperback: 216 pages
Publisher: Samhain Publishing (June 7, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 160928125X
ISBN-13: 978-1609281250

Reading List:

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andrew potter

The Inside Reader: Matthew Rettenmund

Show me the books he loves and I shall know the man far better than through mortal friends - Silas Weir Mitchell
When I started to see gay themed movies again (I had a time lapsed after, more or less, In & Out through two years ago), there were four movies I absolutely wanted to see: Big Eden, Shelter, Latter Days and Boy Culture. I was so eager that I bought the DVD directly from the USA, and in a format that allows me to see it only on my laptop, since my DVD player is not USA compatible. Of the four, Boy Culture was the most surprising: I was not really expecting for it to be a romantic movie, and guys, it's also one of the best production I have ever seen in the indie movie market. So good it was the movie that I bought the novel, even if it's often a big delusion: and then I had my next good surprise, the novel was even better than the movie, maybe even more romantic, but basically the movie didn't loose anything in the turning from paper to screen. I started to follow Matthew Rettenmund's blog, Boy Culture, something I strongly advice everyone to do, and so I was really, really glad when he accepted to be one of my Inside Reader. So please, friend, welcome him!

Matthew Rettenmund's Inside Reader List

The following books are my top 10 favorite...at this moment. I can´t swear they will be my top 10 tomorrow, nor were they my top 10 yesterday. But all of these have appeared on my daily top 10 lists often enough to warrant inclusion here.

1) The Celluloid Closet by Vito Russo. Russo´s invaluable scholarly work is also crazy-readable in its coverage of absolutely every film containing homosexual themes, most of them objectionable in some way. This book´s activist tone informed my entire outlook on the issue of outing and made me realize it´s okay to be offended by offensive material and that there is no such thing as harmless entertainment when that entertainment contains elements that cast homosexuality in a negative light (as opposed to those that cast someone who just happens to be a homosexual in a negative light). "I´m tired of trying to figure out whether the latest well-meaning soap opera has succeeded in convincing America that I don´t have horns and a tail, that I am not interested in molesting their dreary children or that the Bible doesn´t really say I´m headed for their world-famous but quite imaginary hell," Russo wrote in an afterword in the $6 used updated edition I bought. We need another Russo.

Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Harper & Row; Revised edition (September 20, 1987)
Publisher Link: http://www.harpercollins.com/books/Celluloid-Closet-Vito-Russo/?isbn=9780060961329
ISBN-10: 0060961325
ISBN-13: 978-0060961329
Amazon: The Celluloid Closet: Homosexuality in the Movies

Praised by the Chicago Tribune as "an impressive study" and written with incisive wit and searing perception--the definitive, highly acclaimed landmark work on the portrayal of homosexuality in film.

2) Now You See It by Richard Dyer. Another film book, this one explores gay and lesbian film with such panache that reading is actually more cerebral and satisying than watching most of the movies it profiles. It also touches on porn, and I remember its expressive author being a huge fan of huge Ryan Idol-high and low art are all art, and passion is passion. One of many money shots? "Yet if camp and pop art are without moral or political `position,´ they are not, especially from a gay perspective, socially inexpressive." In other words, everything has meaning, or has the potential for meaning. His book Stars is a close second on some days, a strong first on others.

Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Routledge; 2 edition (December 6, 2002)
Publisher Link: http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415254991/
ISBN-10: 041525499X
ISBN-13: 978-0415254991
Amazon: Now You See It

Now You See It, Richard Dyer's groundbreaking study of films by and about lesbians and gay men, has been revised for a second edition, and features an introduction by Juliane Pidduck outlining developments in lesbian and gay cinema since 1990. Now You See It examines familiar titles such as Girls in Uniform, Un Chant D'Amour, and Word Is Out, in their lesbian/gay context as well as bringing to light many other forgotten but remarkable films. Each film is examined in detail in relation to both film type and tradition and the sexual subculture in which it was made.

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About Matthew Rettenmund: Matthew Rettenmund is also the author of the novel Blind Items: A (Love) Story and several nonfiction titles and is currently a magazine editor living in New York with his partner Jose Velez. Read his blog at www.boyculture.typepad.com.

Boy Culture by Matthew Rettenmund
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1st edition (January 23, 2007)
Publisher Link: http://us.macmillan.com/boyculture
ISBN-10: 031237271X
ISBN-13: 978-0312372712
Amazon: Boy Culture: A Novel

X a wily hustler, has a dilemma. The object of his affections is his roommate Andrew, who is confused about his sexuality. Meanwhile, X's other roommate--a seventeen-year-old precocious partyboy--is falling for X in a big way. The result is an old-fashioned (well, sort of) love triangle peppered with savage one-liners-a touching portrait of love and lust among three very different gay men.