These 20 serious and well-crafted entries in this well-established annual series have a range of themes surrounding the concept of memory. Stories about older men include well-known author Andrew Holleran’s “There is a Small Hotel” about the gay man who returns to New York City where he meets up with an old friend in poor health and on welfare who stays in a cheap hotel. In “Lloyd,” Michael Thomas Ford’s protagonist travels to the West Coast with his partner to visit a friend who has lost his lover. Another journey in Michael Alenyikov’s “Left on Monsignor O’Brien” is to Charlestown (Boston) when a man returns to his boyhood home.
Not all the “heroes” in the collection are honorable: Ed Kurtz’ “The Trick” features a scoundrel who survives one disaster after another, suicide, robbery which netted nothing and accidental murder, aided by a bathhouse trick while his partner steals thousands from his elderly clients.
Other settings include Rome, as the protagonist cavorts with Tunisian boys in the translated excerpt from Josef Winkler’s The Graveyard of Bitter Oranges and Guanajuato (Mexico) in Trevor Haealey’s “The Cervantino Baby.”
Part of the pieces are essays as Dmitry Kuzmin writes about anti-gay discrimination in Russia and ways to resist it in “On the Moscow Metro and Being Gay” and Tommi Avicolli Mecca’s memoir, “Ma tu sei pazzo?!,” about his years as an Italian-American gay activist during the AIDS crisis when he was disowned by his father. James Gifford provides an entertaining review of gay pulp fiction from the 1960s in his “Proem: How to Read Gay Pulp Fiction.”
The majority of the authors are men, but at least one story is written by a woman, L.A. Fields. Best Gay Stories 2014 is highly recommended for libraries that collect gay literature.
James Doig Anderson
Professor Emeritus of Library and Information Science, Rutgers University