As I mentioned, I’ve been spending time searching for a Great Gay Novel that isn’t about “rich people in Manhattan.” There’s a new novel about poor people in Manhattan (or at least not rich), Christodora, which spans time from the 80s to now, and includes a character who’s a former AIDS activist. It’s been called “The Bonfire of the Vanities for the age of AIDS,” but after that “Great Gay Novel” label on A Little Life, I’m taking that hyperbole with a grain of salt.
All the same, it’s on my bookshelf, ready to go, after I finish City On Fire, which had the opposite problem – hyped by the publisher, then torn to shreds by reviewers and readers. As with A Little Life, I picked it up for $10 because if it’s good it’s 900 pages so why not and if it’s not o well. And it’s very, very good 500 pages in, and two of the MCs are a gay couple. I know it got knocked for some pretentious prose, but I haven’t rolled my eyes yet, and I would. Of course, the problem with some literary novels is that, when the author doesn’t know how to wrap up a plot, they just kick up a cloud of “luminous prose” and sentency sentences to disguise the fact that they’ve lost the thread, so, judgment still reserved on that book.
I just finished Guapa, a novel about a day in the life of a gay man in an unnamed Arab country (feels like Syria). It takes place during the hangover from the Arab Spring, when it became obvious that Islamist theocrats had hijacked the revolution, and that the rest of the world would support absolute dictators over democratic activists, if that’s what it took to keep the Islamists from power. It’s a wonderful book, and I dog-eared any number of pages, hoping to give it the Learned Exegesis I gave to A Little Life. But that’s not to be right now; see below.
The thing that ties all these books together is that they’re not Gay Novels, but they all feature significant gay characters and storylines. Guapa is about a gay relationship under the pressure of a traditional society, but it’s also about the lives of young educated secular Arabs trapped in a totalitarian regime, trapped by the medieval expectations of their families. It draws a parallel between the failure of the two men’s relationship and the failure of the Arab Spring, without being heavy handed. And, best of all, it’s a literary novel that’s written in clear and lucid prose, no sentency sentences designed to impress some MFA round table. I really loved it, and can’t recommend it enough.
But you know, maybe there’s no need for a Great Gay Novel anymore. Maybe what we need are great novels with gay characters that are about wider themes…
As I said, I’d love to talk about all those dog-eared pages in Guapa, but, that’s not to be right now. The good news is that I’m getting a nice stream of editing work (still booking more, hit me up!), and of course I’m full steam ahead on audiobooks (Apollo’s Curse at 47%, so probably on Audible etc. by the beginning of September!). So it leaves little time for anything other than making money, at least until I have enough money in the bank that I can take time to, you know, write for free.
I recently tried writing for a site called Steemit.com, where posters are actually paid to produce, in a new cryptocurrency that’s exchangeable for Bitcoin and then for cash. But I got burned out on it pretty fast, seeing hot chicks posting basically anything (today’s big hit is a post by a Playboy Playmate) and making all the monies as they were voted up by the overwhelmingly young and male readership. The site and its economy are built around a new cryptocurrency called Steem, but honestly, seeing what makes money there? They should just call it Titcoin.
I put myself out for a few ACX auditions and struck out, which is okay. I realized that between chasing the rainbow on Steemit, trying to write a $10,000 post (yeah, that’s right, only it’s complicated, the payout is long term, never mind) and spending a fair chunk of time doing ACX audition recording and producing, not to mention dog-earing those Guapa pages for a long thoughtful post, I was spreading myself too thin.
I need to concentrate on my core businesses now: editing work for other writers, narrating my own books, and eventually writing my own books again when I’m fiscally stable. The likelihood of picking up Per Finished Hour narrator work as a “newbie” is minimal, and I can’t put in the time to do a full length book on a royalty share basis, unless I knew it was going to make some bank. (Though I did hint to a certain MM author that her books would make great audiobooks and that I would be the right person to do them… )
I do have an idea for a 25k “reentry” story when I’m ready to write again, though as previously mentioned, to be successful with a Short Read on Amazon would require Submission To The Great Satan Kindle Unlimited to really score the monies. “I hit because I care,” Amazon says every time they change the program, and honestly I can’t see myself going back for more in the abusive relationship that is KU. That said, one short piece can’t hurt, can it? Right now Kyle’s New Stepbrother is the only title still in KU, and that only because there are so very few other sites who’d accept it.
So. Go buy Guapa. To paraphrase Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac, “Be well, read good books, and touch yourself.”