Tag: Anne Tyler

The New Gay Film "Firebird" and Gay for Pay, Book Review For "French Braid" by Anne Tyler and When a Straight Woman Writing Gay Characters Works

The New Gay Film Firebird and Gay for Pay

From what I’ve read so far, the premise of this film reminds me of a short story I once edited for an author named Curtis von Dornheim who was in his 70s. You can look him up. He’s still on Amazon. I edited him for around 10 years and he passed away in 2015, and I know he had someone taking care of his copyrights. He was most known for his spiritual awakening books, and I only edited them because I love anything dealing with the spiritual or supernatural. He also became a very good friend. And it wasn’t easy to edit him, but I also enjoyed his stories about being a gay man years ago. He wrote all his work out in long hand in a notebook, in scratchy cursive, as the spiritual guides helped him along, and I would have to type it all up and then edit. Again, it was such good material I couldn’t say no. 

The reason I mention Curt is that he wrote one short story that reminds me of this new gay movie, Firebird. Just from what I’m reading so far. I haven’t seen the film yet so I don’t really know the storyline in detail. Here’s a link, if you are interested in where you can find Curt’s work. 

With all that said, the movie Firebird has a basic storyline focused on two gay men when the love between two men was considered scandalous and dangerous. The first mistake they made for me in promoting the film was comparing it to Brokeback Moutain. At the time BBM was released I didn’t appreciate the fact that it was gay content written by a straight woman. Even back then, at that time, I knew from working in publishing there were thousands of other gay male authors with stories just as good who were overlooked. I also didn’t like those straight actors who played gayface in gay-for-pay roles. I remember arguing about this with an angry lesbian who saw nothing wrong with it at the time because cultural appropriation was not a thing back then. And gay men had no voices. 

But I won’t judge Firebird on a bad PR firm. So far, I know that one of the male stars of Firebird, Tom Prior, is openly gay, but I’m not sure about the other one. Oleg Zagorodnii who is a Ukrainian actor who talks about the attack on Ukraine by Russia. In fact, there is absolutely no information about how he identifies at all, online, which leads me to suspect he’s probably straight playing gayface. But I could be wrong and I’m keeping an open mind. Ukraine is not exactly great in gay rights so maybe he can’t come out officially. I don’t want to assume anything like those people on Twitter. 

The period piece is based on a true story during the Cold War and “follows a handsome, soulful young soldier named Sergey,” played by out actor Tom Prior, “who embarks on a clandestine sexual affair with Roman, a charismatic fighter pilot on an Air Force Base in occupied Estonia; at the height of 1970’s Communist rule.”

Here’s the rest. It’s all publicity, but it goes into more detail. I’m not making any strong comments until I learn more. 

As a side note, the director of the film is Peter Reban who is also an openly gay male activist. It sounds very promising to me. And I’ll make a point of seeing this. It’s a 2021 film that was just released internationally in April 2022. 

Book Review for French Braid by Anne Tyler and When a Straight Woman Writing Gay Characters Works

I read my first Anne Tyler book in college in my sophomore year and from that day on I’ve been hooked. After I read that first book I went out and read every other book she wrote. And over the years, I’ve waited with patience for her next book, which usually takes about 2 years. I think she’s in her 70s now and she’s still dropping books that are as good as anything else she’s ever written. As an author, she’s one of my heroes and she is one of the people who has inspired me to write fiction. And I am fully aware that the content we write is totally different, but I’m talking about her tight writing style and her need for less is more. In my case, I noticed so many romance authors writing this awful flowery narrative, and ridiculous dialogue that almost always contained said bookisms. And I wanted my gay romances to do just the opposite. It works most of the time with my readers who know better, but some readers simply do not understand word economy.   

Well, Ms. Tyler’s latest book title, French Braid, was astounding for me because she wrote about two gay characters, in the most subtle, tasteful way. And it’s fine that she did this. She didn’t culturally appropriate gay men and she didn’t steal gay culture in any way. She simply added two gay men into her book and there’s nothing wrong with that. It works. It’s okay to add gay characters but it’s not okay to appropriate with entirely gay content. Leave that to the gay male authors. 

With no spoilers, French Braid focuses on another Baltimore Family and how it evolved over the years. With a few exceptions, I think almost all her books are set in Baltimore. I think French Braid covers about 60 years. And the magic is that Tyler can turn something as perfectly ordinary as a French braid…even the gay couple…into something fascinating. She handled the disappointment that can happen in marriage very carefully, with her two characters Robin and Mercy. Robin adores Mercy, but Mercy is a bit self-centered, and in many ways, she has every right to be. They have three children, two girls, and a boy, and their lives are examined, too. 

At times it’s complicated; at times it’s not. The writing, as always, is smooth and neat and tight and it’s a pleasure to read. I truly couldn’t find one single thing that offended me. A lot of people have mentioned the cat in the story and that turned them off on Mercy, but I found it to be an honest gesture and a human gesture. And I think Mercy did the right thing. I think she’s a true artist at heart. 

I would recommend this book to anyone. There’s a reason why it has received so many excellent reviews just here on Amazon. Here’s a link to French Braid. 


Don’t Be Afraid of Virginia’s Woolf

Image

Once Upon a Castle by Ryan Field

A Different Kind of Southern Love Story

What readers are saying about “Uncertainty”

Amazon

“A wonderful story that I loved. The characters were well developed and strong. Gus: A sweet young man. Doing something for all the wrong reasons. Craig: his boyfriend, he’ll go along with anything Gus say. Henry: Gus father a no-nonsense man, who’s husband died last year. I enjoyed this story.”

Uncertainty by [Field, Ryan]

What readers said about “Altered Parts”
“Best Gay Novel In Years. This story will stay with you and you will feel you know every character and the beauty of their home in the mountains of North Carolina.”
In paperback or e-book. #gayromance #Wednesday

Altered Parts

Altered Parts by [Field, Ryan]

Guardian Interview with Author Anne Tyler

I often recommend reading Anne Tyler’s work for practical purposes…to see how she writes, to see her technique, and to see how well executed her dialogue is. I’ve read all her fiction, except for one children’s book she wrote with her daughter. I’ve never been disappointed.

This interview she gave is rare…for her. She doesn’t do this often, if ever. And I thought it was both interesting and informative. I learned a few things I didn’t know…like the fact that Judith Jones has been her longtime editor for years, and, they’ve only met four times. This is not unusual. I’ve never met any of my editors in all the years I’ve been getting published. It’s not that writers are reclusive. It’s that we are more behind-the-scenes people than up front people. For those who don’t know, Judith Jones discovered Julia Child and rescued “The Diary of Anne Frank.”

But the statements to which I’m linking in this piece that come from Anne Tyler are as understated as the clear simple lines in her books.

I found this amusing:

 For some it seems Tyler’s work is just too darn “homely” to be a contender for Great American Novel status – adjectives such as “homespun”, “heartwarming” and “cosy” pop up alongside the superlatives in reviews – even though books by male contemporaries are meditations on the same theme (Franzen’s latest bumper family novel isn’t called Freedom for nothing), and twice as long. There’s not enough sex for a start. “I would never be in bed with my characters,” she says. “I try to show them respect.”

It’s interesting to me because I’m in bed with most of my characters and I try to show them the same respect in bed…more often than not…whenever I can. I can’t help getting into bed with them, so to speak, I write erotica and that’s what my readers want. I write for them, not for me. But I get what she is saying. Sometimes it does seem just a little too familiar and I wind up defending them and I have to hold back on a good deal of emotion.

And this is so true:

She says that over the years she learnt “just to go to my room and plug away. It doesn’t take very long for most writers to realise that if you wait until the day you are inspired and feel like writing you’ll never do it at all.”

It’s a long article and you can read it in full, here.http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/apr/13/anne-tyler-interview There’s also an interesting recommendation from Tyler about a book she thinks all fiction writers should read.

Book Review: The Beginner’s Goodbye by Anne Tyler


Unless you’ve actually experienced a horrific event in your life that is so shocking it not only defines your past but also your future, it might be difficult to grasp the magnitude of The Beginner’s Goodbye. In other words, that one day in your life…or maybe even minute…that defines everything about you and tests you, where there was your life before the event and then your life after the event. People who have experienced these sudden losses, so strange by nature they never could have been predicted, will know what I’m talking about. You’re never the same again.

In this book it’s the sudden loss of a spouse, in a relationship that was far from perfect and yet it worked for both husband and wife. And this sudden, unpredictable loss leaves Aaron not only in shock, but also going through all the stages of grief, from blame to acceptance. One minute he’s living his normal ordinary life and the next he’s living someone else’s life and he’s not sure how to start over. But more than that, he’s not ready to let go of his wife either. There’s so much left unsaid and so many things he wished he’d done he begins to run into his dead wife in the most unlikely places…or at least he thinks he does.

The intricate relationship between Aaron and his wife before her death is examined closely, and those who know and understand what being married for the long haul is all about…the compromises and frustrations and the little things taken for granted…will laugh and cry at various stages of this book. Even the reaction Aaron has to his own home is depicted in such detail, and it’s so real, people who have lost their spouses will be amazed something like this could have been written so well. One day he’s enjoying the less than perfect aspects of his home and the next he can’t even stand to look at it from the curb.

As the story progresses, Aaron slowly moves forward toward his new life, by stumbling and tripping (literally and figuratively) with each step he takes. This is the new life he never imaged he would have. He does this in his own quiet way, by remembering little details about his dead wife’s flaws and attributes. He examines his marriage all the way back to the moment he met his dead wife. And by doing this he not only learns more about his dead wife and his marriage, but he also learns a few things about himself he didn’t see while he was married. At times it’s funny; at times it’s painful. For those who have experienced trauma like Aaron’s experienced, at times it’s even difficult to read.

I’m not going to give out any spoilers in this review because that would ruin it for all the people who will understand where Ms. Tyler was going with this book, and who will relate to Aaron. The writing is solid and tight, without overwritten sentences or poor dialogue tags. There’s no unnecessary dialogue to slow down the pace. What’s there moves the story and the characters forward with each sentence. And the only down side to reading a book like this by Anne Tyler is that now I’ll have to wait at least another two years for her next novel.

My one suggestion would be to advise readers not to read the book description by the publisher. It does contain a spoiler I thought was intricate to the story, and had I read it before I started the book I would have missed out on one huge surprise in the book. I don’t know who wrote this book description, but he/she clearly doesn’t know how to write book descriptions very well.

Book Review: The Beginner's Goodbye by Anne Tyler


Unless you’ve actually experienced a horrific event in your life that is so shocking it not only defines your past but also your future, it might be difficult to grasp the magnitude of The Beginner’s Goodbye. In other words, that one day in your life…or maybe even minute…that defines everything about you and tests you, where there was your life before the event and then your life after the event. People who have experienced these sudden losses, so strange by nature they never could have been predicted, will know what I’m talking about. You’re never the same again.

In this book it’s the sudden loss of a spouse, in a relationship that was far from perfect and yet it worked for both husband and wife. And this sudden, unpredictable loss leaves Aaron not only in shock, but also going through all the stages of grief, from blame to acceptance. One minute he’s living his normal ordinary life and the next he’s living someone else’s life and he’s not sure how to start over. But more than that, he’s not ready to let go of his wife either. There’s so much left unsaid and so many things he wished he’d done he begins to run into his dead wife in the most unlikely places…or at least he thinks he does.

The intricate relationship between Aaron and his wife before her death is examined closely, and those who know and understand what being married for the long haul is all about…the compromises and frustrations and the little things taken for granted…will laugh and cry at various stages of this book. Even the reaction Aaron has to his own home is depicted in such detail, and it’s so real, people who have lost their spouses will be amazed something like this could have been written so well. One day he’s enjoying the less than perfect aspects of his home and the next he can’t even stand to look at it from the curb.

As the story progresses, Aaron slowly moves forward toward his new life, by stumbling and tripping (literally and figuratively) with each step he takes. This is the new life he never imaged he would have. He does this in his own quiet way, by remembering little details about his dead wife’s flaws and attributes. He examines his marriage all the way back to the moment he met his dead wife. And by doing this he not only learns more about his dead wife and his marriage, but he also learns a few things about himself he didn’t see while he was married. At times it’s funny; at times it’s painful. For those who have experienced trauma like Aaron’s experienced, at times it’s even difficult to read.

I’m not going to give out any spoilers in this review because that would ruin it for all the people who will understand where Ms. Tyler was going with this book, and who will relate to Aaron. The writing is solid and tight, without overwritten sentences or poor dialogue tags. There’s no unnecessary dialogue to slow down the pace. What’s there moves the story and the characters forward with each sentence. And the only down side to reading a book like this by Anne Tyler is that now I’ll have to wait at least another two years for her next novel.

My one suggestion would be to advise readers not to read the book description by the publisher. It does contain a spoiler I thought was intricate to the story, and had I read it before I started the book I would have missed out on one huge surprise in the book. I don’t know who wrote this book description, but he/she clearly doesn’t know how to write book descriptions very well.

FSoG, Release Date for "Chase of a Lifetime," and What’s Considerred "Vanilla"

This is going to be my last post…I think….on “Fifty Shades of Grey” for a while. I’ll have a release date for “Chase of a Lifetime” very soon…it will be released this week. And even though the self-publishing experience on Amazon has been much harder than what I normally do with publishers, I’m going to begin a novella as soon as COAL is up on Amazon. I’ve enjoyed the experience and there’s a project I’ve always wanted to tackle. So I figured I might as well give it a shot on Amazon. I’m also in the process of submitting a short e-book to Loveyoudivine.com titled, “Cowboy and Sparky.”

Back to FSoG. Last night I read an interesting blog post over at Pub Rants. PR is an agent blog written by Kristen Nelson of the Nelson Literary Agency which is based in Denver. I’ve been following it for a long time. I don’t always agree with everything on the blog, but I do admire the fact that Ms. Nelson is what I consider a pioneer in publishing in the sense that she saw opportunities on the Internet and built a successful literary agency in Denver instead of New York. She’s proven that not everyone has to be in New York in order to have a New York Times bestseller or a successful publishing career. I think that’s groundbreaking in itself.

This week she posted about FSoG, asking her blog readers to offer comments as to why they think the book is so popular. She was honest. She couldn’t figure out why a book like that would not only cross into the mainstream but also become such a big hit. It’s an interesting post, and more than a few people commented. Some of the comments weren’t very important. But one blog reader seemed to nail it. Ms. Nelson then wrote a second post, here, and printed the comment.

I’ve already posted about FSoG, and just this past weekend I went into detail about how friends of mine have been talking about the book. It’s interesting to see how different people have such varied views all the way around.

This line from the PR post resonated with me:

The sex is vanilla.

I thought the same thing. But then I think most erotic romance these days is too safe and too vanilla. I kept quiet about this when I heard friends discussing it because they were all talking about how “filthy,” and “dirty” it is. I just figured that because I write erotic romance I’ve become immune to what is considered “vanilla.” I should also add that the friends I was with were all gay men who thought FSoG was so filthy and dirty. And when I read the PR post, I was glad to see someone else agreed with me that it wasn’t at all like that. At least not in my opinion and I’m not even into BDSM. I’ve never written it and doubt I ever will.

I also agreed with every other reason why this person who commented on the PR blog liked FSoG. I know it’s not great literature, and yet I couldn’t put it down. And I haven’t even read the other volumes because I haven’t had time. I will read them, as soon as I finish the new Anne Tyler novel I just started, “The Beginner’s Goodbye” (all reading of any kind stops short for me when Anne Tyler publishes a new book). And in a way, I’m kind of saving the other FSoG books on purpose as something to look forward to as the weather gets warmer. I like knowing that I can plan my reading list way in advance. And because I only get a few hours very late at night to read fiction for pleasure, I’m not as selective about what I read as I probably should be. My only interest at that hour is to be entertained. And I think FSoG will be a great follow up to Anne Tyler, because there isn’t a fiction writer out there, in my opinion, who can compare to her. If anyone is interested in seeing how fiction should be written from a technical POV, read any of her books. Just the way Tyler writes dialogue and dialogue tags alone is something all fiction writers should see in order to learn how to craft a novel and stay away from too many of those hideous said bookisms and dialogue tags with adverbs like lovingly and longingly. This alone is a good example of why she’s a classic. I might even write a post about this after I’m finished reading the book just to show what I’m talking about. Unfortunately, I see far too many mistakes these days, and they are simple mistakes to fix.

FSoG, Release Date for "Chase of a Lifetime," and What's Considerred "Vanilla"

This is going to be my last post…I think….on “Fifty Shades of Grey” for a while. I’ll have a release date for “Chase of a Lifetime” very soon…it will be released this week. And even though the self-publishing experience on Amazon has been much harder than what I normally do with publishers, I’m going to begin a novella as soon as COAL is up on Amazon. I’ve enjoyed the experience and there’s a project I’ve always wanted to tackle. So I figured I might as well give it a shot on Amazon. I’m also in the process of submitting a short e-book to Loveyoudivine.com titled, “Cowboy and Sparky.”

Back to FSoG. Last night I read an interesting blog post over at Pub Rants. PR is an agent blog written by Kristen Nelson of the Nelson Literary Agency which is based in Denver. I’ve been following it for a long time. I don’t always agree with everything on the blog, but I do admire the fact that Ms. Nelson is what I consider a pioneer in publishing in the sense that she saw opportunities on the Internet and built a successful literary agency in Denver instead of New York. She’s proven that not everyone has to be in New York in order to have a New York Times bestseller or a successful publishing career. I think that’s groundbreaking in itself.

This week she posted about FSoG, asking her blog readers to offer comments as to why they think the book is so popular. She was honest. She couldn’t figure out why a book like that would not only cross into the mainstream but also become such a big hit. It’s an interesting post, and more than a few people commented. Some of the comments weren’t very important. But one blog reader seemed to nail it. Ms. Nelson then wrote a second post, here, and printed the comment.

I’ve already posted about FSoG, and just this past weekend I went into detail about how friends of mine have been talking about the book. It’s interesting to see how different people have such varied views all the way around.

This line from the PR post resonated with me:

The sex is vanilla.

I thought the same thing. But then I think most erotic romance these days is too safe and too vanilla. I kept quiet about this when I heard friends discussing it because they were all talking about how “filthy,” and “dirty” it is. I just figured that because I write erotic romance I’ve become immune to what is considered “vanilla.” I should also add that the friends I was with were all gay men who thought FSoG was so filthy and dirty. And when I read the PR post, I was glad to see someone else agreed with me that it wasn’t at all like that. At least not in my opinion and I’m not even into BDSM. I’ve never written it and doubt I ever will.

I also agreed with every other reason why this person who commented on the PR blog liked FSoG. I know it’s not great literature, and yet I couldn’t put it down. And I haven’t even read the other volumes because I haven’t had time. I will read them, as soon as I finish the new Anne Tyler novel I just started, “The Beginner’s Goodbye” (all reading of any kind stops short for me when Anne Tyler publishes a new book). And in a way, I’m kind of saving the other FSoG books on purpose as something to look forward to as the weather gets warmer. I like knowing that I can plan my reading list way in advance. And because I only get a few hours very late at night to read fiction for pleasure, I’m not as selective about what I read as I probably should be. My only interest at that hour is to be entertained. And I think FSoG will be a great follow up to Anne Tyler, because there isn’t a fiction writer out there, in my opinion, who can compare to her. If anyone is interested in seeing how fiction should be written from a technical POV, read any of her books. Just the way Tyler writes dialogue and dialogue tags alone is something all fiction writers should see in order to learn how to craft a novel and stay away from too many of those hideous said bookisms and dialogue tags with adverbs like lovingly and longingly. This alone is a good example of why she’s a classic. I might even write a post about this after I’m finished reading the book just to show what I’m talking about. Unfortunately, I see far too many mistakes these days, and they are simple mistakes to fix.