More PGN Holiday Reads

Check out what our staffers are reading this holiday season.

 

“A Gathering Storm”

By Jameson Currier

Fiction

Based on real hate crimes — Matthew Shepard’s murder in particular — “A Gathering Storm” is especially timely and topical in light of the recent homophobic attacks in Center City. Set in a small Southern university town, Danny is a gay freshman who is beaten up, tied to a fence like a scarecrow and left overnight. Author and publisher Jameson Currier provides a prismatic narrative, detailing the impact of the crime from multiple perspectives: Danny’s, his friends and family’s, the culprits and members of the community and the media. This approach, which forces the reader to recalibrate each event, is initially distracting, but it can be effective at times. The point and the power of “The Gathering Storm” is the impact the crime has to transform the characters — spurring some to come out or stand proud against hate, and others to vocalize their homophobia. Currier’s novel is marred by too many characters and some clunky symbolism, such as a “Love bandit,” but it is an absorbing read about an important topic.

— Gary M. Kramer

“The Gay Gospel: A Survival Guide for Gay 20Somethings in America Today”

By Justin Luke Zirilli

Advice

Once LGBT people get past the hurdle of coming out, they often feel liberated into their new community — but traversing all that community has to offer, and what an LGBT identity means, can be just as stress-inducing as the coming-out process itself.

Zirilli’s “The Gay Gospel” details common twists and turns many gay guys in their 20s may face, offering simple, sage advice for meeting those challenges. A good portion of the book is devoted to tracing the gay-male relationship process in detail — from tips for looking (or not looking) for a partner to first-date dos and don’ts to the moving-in process to potential break-ups and advice for moving on. “The Gay Gospel” delves into sex, with frank and often-humorous advice for questions some guys may have trouble voicing, as well as partying, proffering a nonjudgmental outline for doing it safely and smartly.

While a lot of “The Gay Gospel” focuses on the practical, there is also an underpinning of more intangible lessons — such as loving and respecting oneself in any situations: the dance club, the bedroom, the office or among a group of friends.

Written by someone with a wealth of knowledge on the topics within — Zirilli is a New York City LGBT party promoter — “The Gay Gospel” is an ideal companion book for young gay men looking to find their place and embrace their potential in their community. 

— Jen Colletta

“The Vines”

Christopher Rice

Thriller

Christopher Rice’s latest creepy-crawly thriller probably isn’t the best book to read during a late-night, can’t-sleep session — speaking from experience. It is, however, captivating and might just keep you up under the lamp longer than you planned.

In “The Vines,” Rice returns to his roots, as it were, and looks at the darker side of the present-day polished plantation picture in New Orleans and the surrounding area. A sketch found of slaves being whipped by their master has the appearance of oak tree branches wrapping around the whip in mid-air. The plantation image holds fear, anger and retribution in its lines.

Caitlin, who, as we happen upon her, is celebrating her birthday at Spring House, has the unfortunate occasion of catching her husband cheating on her at her own party. Angry and distraught, she runs out of the gazebo to get away and decides there to kill herself. The first drops of blood through the wood planks onto the ground below awaken the old evil.

Caitlin’s husband mysteriously disappears, and the mistress goes mad. Her best friend, Blake, who is gay, gets drawn back into her close circle as she tries to discover what is becoming of her and what is going on. Bullies who are after Blake come around and are quickly dispatched by vines, earth and insects.

There are many plot twists, some great surprises and many wonderfully crafted scenes that will grab you as you read this book. It’s a perfect winter-weather, wrap-up-in-a-blanket-on-the-couch kind of tale that will keep you turning the pages.

Just keep an eye on that Christmas tree and the poinsettia. 

— Scott A. Drake