Gay and Lesbian Humanist

Winter 2001-2002

The Gay Times Book of Short Stories: The Next Wave, edited by P-P Hartnett

reviewed by Stephen Blake

The editor P-P Hartnett’s second collection of short stories follows on from his successful The Gay Times Book of Short Stories: New Century, New Writing, published by Gay Times Books last year (see review, G&LH Winter 2000-2001, page 15).

None of the writers are over 25, and, in the words of Hartnett himself in the book’s introduction, the stories “tap into a vast, diverse, and growing anti-assimilationalist queer movement far away from the Budweiser-sponsored Pride parades”, making “a connection with the hopes, fears, preoccupations and dreams of gay, bisexual, transgendered and questioning youth”.

As with the earlier volume, this new set of stories presents us with a very fresh outlook. Unfortunately, it’s not possible for me to do anything other than attempt to whet your appetite a little in the space allocated here.

Presenting a total of 28 stories of varying length and tone, this anthology presents themes from dark and gruesome through to light and humorous.

The book kicks off with a positive and reassuring tale from fifteen-year-old Anthony Baulch. “Telling Mother” is about a young man’s coming out – first, to his schoolfriends (“Well, good for you!”) and then to his mother (“Oh, honey, I know that”).

Some of the stories disturbed me: Lewis Gill’s “A Picture of James”, Nathan Buck’s “8” and, especially, Dean M Drinkel’s “The Child Fucker”. Others surprised me: much in the way that Jomo was by Sean in Zio J Walsh’s “No Shame In My Game”. One or two left me laughing out loud: Morgan Melhuish’s “Like When You Swallow Ice Cream” springs achingly to mind. I laughed, too, at Geezer’s “Bloke”, while, sadly, despite the presence of a “T” in “LGBT”, being reminded that some queer lives are often still overlooked within our “community”.

I’m sure other readers will find, as I did, that many of the stories chime with instances (both profound and trivial) in their own lives – David Watkins’s “Girl” left me thinking about something a friend once said to me about the type of men I find attractive! And the last story in this anthology, Alistair Whyte’s “Getting Ready”, is definitely the type of story I wish I’d written.

From the world over, 463 submissions were received for The Next Wave. New queer writers are everywhere and anthologies such as these are giving them a well-deserved platform.

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Created : Sunday, 2002-02-17 / Last updated : Wednesday, 2007-12-12
Brett Humphreys :