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Review - The Celestial

Posted in Book Reviews on Oct 16, 2012

The Celestial

This review originally appeared on Speak Its Name.

As “The Celestial” opens, Todd is working his claim in the mountains near Truckee, about 90 miles northeast of Sacramento. It's about 20 years after the California gold rush started, but there are still a lot of men like Todd staking claims and hoping to strike it rich. Egged on by his irascible uncle, who was invalided in the civil war, Todd has stole away in the night, leaving his mother to care for her brother on their tumble-down farm near Sacramento.

Todd isn't alone on the mountain where he has staked his claim. A group of Irishmen have a camp nearby, where they apparently are working their own claim, among other things. Todd doesn't much care for the rough and tumble men, except for the youngest of them, Breandon. Todd has something of a crush on the other man, who isn't much older than him, but he won't dare admit it. More...

Inspiration - Song of the Loon

Posted in Background on Jun 06, 2012

Song of the Loon by Richard Amory

So, I was on my morning bike ride (cardio, don't you know) and this random thought entered my head, which happens a lot. It's how I get a lot of my ideas. Only this random thought was a memory of a book I'd read a few years ago, one that was rather influential for me in my writing, but which I haven't talked about. The book in question is Song of the Loon by Richard Amory. It was originally published way back in 1966, when I was just a lad of eight, but I didn't find and read the book until three or four years ago.

If you haven't read it or heard about it, here's the current blurb for the reissued edition:

“More completely than any author before him, Richard Amory explores the tormented world of love for man by man . . . a happy amalgam of James Fenimore Cooper, Jean Genet and Hudson’s Green Mansions.”—from the cover copy of the 1969 edition

Published well ahead of its time, in 1966 by Greenleaf Classics, Song of the Loon is a romantic novel that tells the story of Ephraim MacIver and his travels through the wilderness. Along his journey, he meets a number of characters who share with him stories, wisdom and homosexual encounters. The most popular erotic gay book of the 1960s and 1970s, Song of the Loon was the inspiration for two sequels, a 1970 film of the same name, at least one porn movie and a parody novel called Fruit of the Loon. Unique among pulp novels of the time, the gay characters in Song of the Loon are strong and romantically drawn, which has earned the book a place in the canon of gay American literature. More...

Review - Cawnpore

Posted in Book Reviews on May 30, 2012

Cawnpore

This review originally appeared at Speak Its Name.

Cawnpore picks up more or less where the author's previous work, The White Rajah, left off. Like the first book, this one takes the form of a memoir of the fictional John Williamson. Williamson has parted company with his employer and lover James Brooke after the inquiry into the battles that firmly established Brooke as the “White Rajah”. While Williamson is still in love with Brooke, the ghosts of all the people killed in Brooke's name has driven a firm wedge between them.

With a generous severance from Brooke, Williamson could easily return to England and a quiet life, but he's not quite ready to settle down and, intrigued by Brooke's own stories of India, he decides to stop there before going back to Britain. In Calcutta, he applies to work for the East India Company and is surprised to find he is readily accepted and assigned the post of Deputy Collector in Cawnpore. While Brooke did not have a very high opinion of “the Company”, they have certainly heard of his exploits in Sarawak, and have a high opinion of him, and by extension, Williamson.

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Review - Frost Fair

Posted in Book Reviews on Mar 29, 2012

Frost Fair

Gideon Frost is a man skating on thin ice, almost literally. The young printer is barely keeping his business together, and his creditors are circling outside his door. He's only just getting by, and when the need arises he's not above selling his body for a few shillings to make ends meet. His one More...

Siamese Men of the Nineteenth Century

Posted in Background on Jul 13, 2011

[caption id="attachment_89" align="alignright" width="184" caption="Siamese boatman of the nineteenth century"]Siamese Rower[/caption]

 
In the "Journey" books, I've struggled a bit to describe the typical dress of the men of Southeast Asia, particularly Siam, in the nineteenth century. I've seen plenty of descriptions and illustrations, but how to describe it? It's a bit more than a 'loincloth' but not quite trousers. As luck would have it, in More...

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