Show me the books he loves and I shall know the man far better than through mortal friends - Silas Weir Mitchell
I'm very glad to have Kyell Gold as my Inside Reader this week. I recommended his Out of Position to many of my friends, and the response is always very positive. I believe that Kyell Gold's name will become soon one of the favorite among the Gay Romance readers, and I'm happy to be able to say that I'm one of his faithfull readers.
I must confess that I don't read a great number of specifically LGBT books. Part of the reason I started to write gay (furry) romance was because there was very little out there I wanted to read. That said, I have read several books with LGBT themes that stuck with me over the years, certainly enough to compile a top ten list, if we stretch the theme slightly. I'm going to bring in several non-fiction books, because I think that the real experience of being gay is so new and unexplored that the stories might as well be fiction for their strangeness.
1) Marcel Proust, “Swann's Way.” Proust himself, the narrator, experiences an attraction to the melancholy, unfortunate Swann, but the larger part of this work concerns the heterosexual loves of Swann himself. Besides Proust being gay, there is a lesbian couple mentioned in it, and the overall sensibility of the book is very much about the nature of love, so I declare that it qualifies. Besides, the prose is so beautiful (try the newer Penguin translations) that I'll take any flimsy excuse to recommend it. It's about as gay as a successful book could be in the 1800s.
Paperback: 496 pages
Publisher: Penguin Classics (November 30, 2004)
Publisher Link: http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780142437964,00.html?Swann's_Way_Marcel_Proust
Amazon: Swann's Way: In Search of Lost Time, Vol. 1
Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time is one of the most entertaining reading experiences in any language and arguably the finest novel of the twentieth century. But since its original prewar translation there has been no completely new version in English. Now, Penguin Classics brings Proust’s masterpiece to new audiences throughout the world, beginning with Lydia Davis’s internationally acclaimed translation of the first volume, Swann’s Way.
2) Steve Kluger, “Almost Like Falling In Love” My favorite gay romance novel ever: funny, touching, real, with characters that jump off the page. Kluger's epistolary style doesn't work as well here as in his more acclaimed “Last Days of Summer,” but it works well enough to bury you in the story of Travis, now a college professor, as he tries to recapture the love of his life, a jock named Craig with whom he'd spent a magical summer back in high school. The question is, does Craig even remember him?
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks; First Edition edition (May 11, 2004)
Publisher Link: http://www.harpercollins.com/books/9780060595838/Almost_Like_Being_in_Love/index.aspx
Amazon: Almost Like Being in Love: A Novel
A high school jock and nerd fall in love senior year, only to part after an amazing summer of discovery to attend their respective colleges. They keep in touch at first, but then slowly drift apart. Flash forward twenty years. Travis and Craig both have great lives, careers, and loves. But something is missing .... Travis is the first to figure it out. He's still in love with Craig, and come what may, he's going after the boy who captured his heart, even if it means forsaking his job, making a fool of himself, and entering the great unknown. Told in narrative, letters, checklists, and more, this is the must-read novel for anyone who's wondered what ever happened to that first great love.
3) Eleanor Arnason, “Ring of Swords” Science fiction story that is really about communication. An alien race called the hwarhath has encountered humans, and one of the protagonists of the story is a human who's been a prisoner/guest of the hwarhath for many years. The hwarhath live in a sexually segregated society, where the males form relationships between themselves and the females (presumably) do as well. The human is in a kind of relationship with a hwar general, and though their cultures are different, the strains on the relationship are familiar to any of us.
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Orb Books; 1st Orb ed edition (November 15, 1994)
Publisher Link: http://us.macmillan.com/ringofswords
Amazon: Ring of Swords
For half a century, Earth has been on the brink of total war with an implacable alien race. Biologist Anna Perez is the first to discover the truth-the hwarhath have segregated their society strictly along gender lines, to prevent the warlike males from harming women and children. In their eyes, humans are a dishonorable and barbaric race who may require extermination...
4) Kevin Frane, “Thousand Leaves” Disclaimer: Kevin is a friend of mine, and we share a publisher. But I would recommend “Thousand Leaves” anyway. It's a furry book, like mine, a thriller set amidst the interlocking relationships of a group of gay friends. Two of the three protagonists are involved with one of the central figures, one his current love interest, the other his ex. Many of their friends are dying from a mysterious disease that doctors seem unwilling or unable to diagnose, and so they have to take matters into their own hands—or paws.
Cover and interior illustrations by Kamui
June, 2008 - 294 pages
Publisher: The Sofawolf Press
Publisher Link: http://www.sofawolf.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=85
For Reeve, it’s shaping up to be a very cold winter. Months have passed since the coyote broke up with his boyfriend, though, and now he realizes that the chill he feels has nothing to do with the weather or his loneliness. When an otherwise healthy friend mysteriously crumbles into a physical and emotional wreck, Reeve suspects his condition might be a contagious disease – one that may have already spread to people he knows. Doctors, however, insist that there’s nothing wrong, and of his former friends, only Monique, the assistant to a power-hungry politician, and Ryan, a computer programmer, are willing to help him. The fact that Ryan is now dating Reeve’s ex doesn’t make things any easier. When unknown assailants endanger his friends and Reeve’s condition causes him to doubt his grip on reality, the full threat becomes apparent. Fighting not just one, but two unknown dangers, Reeve and his friends must uncover the truth before this epidemic wipes out their entire world.
5) Stephen Pagel, ed. “Bending the Landscape: Fantasy” A collection of LGBT stories in fantasy settings, most well worth a read. Pagel did two more collections, “Science Fiction,” which is good, but not quite as good, and “Horror,” which is half stories about AIDS and half stories about homophobia. But the “Fantasy” collection is a great read.
Paperback: 362 pages
Publisher: Overlook TP (July 27, 2004)
Amazon: Bending the Landscape: Fantasy
Bending the Landscape: Fantasy, edited by world-renowned speculative fiction author Nicola Griffith and publisher Stephen Pagel, brings together the best short fiction from the fantasy genre's most notable and daring writers. In Leslie What's "Beside the Well," a captivating myth set in ancient China, a young woman rebels against her abusive husband by allying herself with the spirit of his first wife. Tanya Huff's "In Mysterious Ways" tells the riveting story of Terizan the thief and her intrigues in the Thieves' Guild. Don Bassingthwaite's "In Memory Of" is a tantalizing look into the passions and jealousies of two improbably long-lived brothers. This stunning anthology of works by writers both gay and straight demonstrates that gender and sexual orientation can be used to create rich works of fantasy and spectacularly imaginative plots.
6) Jim Grimsley, “Dream Boy” About the discovery and flowering of same-sex love in high school, with a touch of magical realism. The familiar themes of social pressure, closeted sneaking around, and bruised innocence all come into play in this well-written novel, and yet Grimsley makes something new and surprising out of them.
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Touchstone; 1st Scribner Paperback Fiction Ed edition (January 30, 1997)
Amazon: Dream Boy: A Novel
A prizewinning playwright shares the stunning and heartbreaking story of two adolescent boys who fall in love, painfully acknowledging their homosexuality and, at the same time, trying to sustain each other as their families fall apart around them.
7) Patricia Highsmith, “The Talented Mr. Ripley” On my first casual viewing of the film, I missed most of the gay content. After reading the book and watching the movie again, I marvel at how anyone could miss it. Ripley is a tragic villain, if there can be such a thing, but such a well-drawn character that you can't help being engaged in the book.
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Co.; Reprint edition (June 17, 2008)
Publisher Link: http://books.wwnorton.com/books/detail.aspx?ID=8421
Amazon: The Talented Mr. Ripley
Ripley is back. This new publication of Patricia Highsmith's classic inaugurates the complete Ripley series at Norton. Since his debut in 1955, Tom Ripley has evolved into the ultimate bad boy sociopath, influencing countless novelists and filmmakers. In this first novel, we are introduced to suave, handsome Tom Ripley: a young striver, newly arrived in the heady world of Manhattan in the 1950s. A product of a broken home, branded a "sissy" by his dismissive Aunt Dottie, Ripley becomes enamored of the moneyed world of his new friend, Dickie Greenleaf. This fondness turns obsessive when Ripley is sent to Italy to bring back his libertine pal but grows enraged by Dickie's ambivalent feelings for Marge, a charming American dilettante. A dark reworking of Henry James's The Ambassadors, The Talented Mr. Ripley—immortalized in the 1998 film starring Matt Damon, Jude Law, and Gywneth Paltrow—is an unforgettable introduction to this debonair confidence man, whose talent for self-invention and calculated murder is chronicled in four subsequent novels.
8) Patrick Merla, ed. “Boys Like Us: Gay Writers Tell Their Coming Out Stories” A great non-fiction collection that spans the years from the fifties and sixties to the modern day. What makes the stories great for me is that they reflect so many different eras, the coming-out process being much different over just a short span of time for so many people. It's a terrific context in which to place gay awareness and gay stories.
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks (October 1, 1997)
Publisher Link: http://www.harpercollins.com/books/9780380788354/Boys_Like_Us/index.aspx
Amazon: Boys Like Us
In stunning essays written especially for this collection, twenty-nine noted gay writers recount their true "coming out" stories, intensely personal histories of that primal process by which men come to terms with their desire for other men. Here are accounts of revealing one's sexual identity to parents, siblings, friends, co-workers and, in one notable instance, to a stockbroker. Men tell of their first sexual encounters from their preteens to their thirties, with childhood friends who rejected or tenderly embraced them, with professors, with neighbors, with a Broadway star. These are poignant, sometimes unexpectedly funny tales of romance and heartbreak, repression and liberation, rape and first love defining moments that shaped their authors' lives. Arranged chronologically from Manhattan in the Forties to San Francisco in the Nineties, these essays ultimately form a documentary of changing social and sexual mores in the United States--a literary, biographical, sociological and historical tour de force.
9) Augusten Burroughs, “Magical Thinking” Rather than the more famous “Running With Scissors,” which I have to admit I haven't read, this is a hilarious series of essays in which the very gay Burroughs lets all his neuroses hang out.
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Picador (September 15, 2005)
Publisher Link: http://us.macmillan.com/magicalthinking
Amazon: Magical Thinking: True Stories
From the #1 bestselling author ofRunning with Scissors and Dry--a contagiously funny, heartwarming, shocking, twisted, and absolutely magical collection. True stories that give voice to the thoughts we all have but dare not mention. It begins with a Tang Instant Breakfast Drink television commercial when Augusten was seven. Then there is the contest of wills with the deranged cleaning lady. The execution of a rodent carried out with military precision and utter horror. Telemarketing revenge. Dating an undertaker and much more. A collection of true stories that are universal in their appeal yet unabashedly intimate and very funny.
10) Dan Savage, “The Kid” Another great real-life story, this one of a gay couple going through adoption. Dan Savage, most famous for his “Savage Love” advice column (and podcast), is a terrific storyteller, and chronicles not only the problems he and his boyfriend faced, but also the mistakes they made. In the process, he shows us his relationship, the good and bad, and tells us what the kid means to them.
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Plume (June 5, 2000)
Publisher Link: http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780452281769,00.html?The_Kid_Dan_Savage
Amazon: The Kid: What Happened After My Boyfriend and I Decided to Go Get Pregnant
Dan Savage's nationally syndicated sex advice column, "Savage Love," enrages and excites more than four million people each week. In The Kid, Savage tells a no-holds-barred, high-energy story of an ordinary American couple who wants to have a baby. Except that in this case the couple happens to be Dan and his boyfriend. That fact, in the face of a society enormously uneasy with gay adoption, makes for an edgy, entertaining, and illuminating read. When Dan and his boyfriend are finally presented with an infant badly in need of parenting, they find themselves caught up in a drama that extends well beyond the confines of their immediate world. A story about confronting homophobia, falling in love, getting older, and getting a little bit smarter, The Kid is a book about the very human desire to have a family.
About Kyell Gold: Kyell Gold is a California writer who began writing furry fiction a long, long time ago. In the early days of the 21st century, he got up the courage to write some explicit gay furry romance, first publishing his story "The Prisoner's Release" in Sofawolf Press's adult magazine Heat. That led to a novel, Volle, and a sequel, Pendant of Fortune, both of which won the Ursa Major award for Best Anthropomorphic Novel (2005 and 2006). Kyell continues to write with the goal of releasing one novel-length work every year, in addition to various short stories that appear on sites such as FurAffinity and Yiffstar. He was not born in California, but now considers it his home. His age is somewhere between "well out of college" and "retired," as he works full time in the high tech industry. He loves to travel and dine out with his partner of many years, Kit Silver, and can often be seen at furry conventions in California, around the country, and abroad.
Shadow of the Father by Kyell Gold
Release Date: 12/2009
Publisher: The Sofawolf Press
Kyell Gold's books at The Sofawolf Press: http://www.sofawolf.com/catalog/index.php?cPath=37
Shadow of the Father is a novel set in Argaea some sixteen years after Pendant of Fortune. The Argaea series is a collection of three novels and several short stories by Kyell Gold, consisting primarily of homosexual furry romance and erotica. Two of the three novels have won the Ursa Major Award for Best Anthropomorphic Novel. The fourth novel, Shadow of the Father, is under development.