Taylor, Charles George. Chill and other stories. No place: A Conquistador Publication, c2016. 192 p. Paperback. ISBN 978-1-329-96338-2.
This is a charming collection of short stories, more than half of them autobiographical, about a young man who grows up gay in the Amish country of Pennsylvania and joins the army to go straight. Surprise surprise, that was not successful, so he escapes to New York City and Brooklyn to be gay. He suffers mental illness after the death of a lover but survives and perseveres. The longest story is about his later lover, a black man, and himself, being attacked by the Hispanic boys and their father who live upstairs in their slummy Bed-Stuy apartment building. Our hero is the only one injured, but they are all arrested and carted off for a couple of nights in the Kings County jail. No one presses charges so eventually they are all released.
The title story, “Chill”, is about an inmate, the brother of the author’s army lover, to whom the author sent letters. Later, Chill is the only one who visits the author in the mental hospital.
Some of the stories dip into paranormal, religious or mystical realms, such as secret messages at the Stonehenge. The autobiographical stories are told in the first person, but some of the other are in the third person, such as delightful “In the Garden of Eva,” about two elderly widows who keep trying to find and capture rich men to rescue them from their poverty. In the meantime they enjoy Eva’s garden and each other’s company.
The stories are nicely told and most of them are entertaining even if sad, especially the autobiographical ones. I recommend this volume for collections of modern gay short stories and to readers who enjoy short stories.
James Doig Anderson
Professor Emeritus of Library and Information Science, Rutgers University