Berman, Steve, ed. Best Gay Stories 2015. Lethe Press, 2015. $15.00. PB. 220p. ISBN 9781590210505.
This venerable series has continued for many years. All these new stories, by experienced writers, were previously published elsewhere, as noted at the end of the volume, along with author biographies.
This collection focuses mostly on older gay men coping with life’s challenges. Most of the pieces are based in the United States, with one from Scotland and another from Canada.
A few samples: Joseph DeMarco describes a man who supports his lover of 25 years as he dies of ALS. Richard Bowes remembers his youth growing up in Boston in a large, Irish, homophobic family. From Jameson Currier comes a burned-out gay New Yorker who escapes to a friend’s cabin upstate and encounters a fantasy-inspiring young man before reality calls him back.
J.M. Parker’s story features a penniless young man wanting to return to his San Francisco lover, so he sells himself for travel funds. And Philip Kennicott remembers his first taste of homosexual literature many years ago, before more positive gay stories began appearing. He critiques these often famous works for their negative impact on gay attitudes.
Additional pieces come from Keith Banner, Peter Dube, Joe Okonkwo, Nathan Sims, and Michael Carroll, among others.
These are all serious, well-written stories, mostly focusing on the challenges of real-life gay existence in our time. About half are composed in the first person, often in the form of confessions. Sex is rare.
Fans of gay fantasy stories should look elsewhere, but for those seeking depictions of authentic gay life, this book is recommended, especially for libraries and individuals who collect serious gay fiction.
James Doig Anderson
Professor Emeritus of Library and Information Science, Rutgers University