digthewriter's review

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I think of all the stories, I really only maybe liked 2. Only 2 actually stuck w/ me as the others kind of just didn't leave an impression at all.

Utterly disappointing.

It really felt like the bottom of the barrel w/ all the short stories. Le sigh.

apostrophen's review

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(February 4th, 2009):

Full disclosure: I'm in this book. "Heart" is the first story I ever had published, and to say that I am overwhelmed at the company I'm keeping in this anthology would be a grand understatement.

R.D. Cochrane and Timothy J. Lambert collected an amazing assortment about love - and speaking of which, read Lambert's introduction, which is in and of itself a phenomenal piece about romance - and I treasure the entire experience. You will get the quality you have come to expect from the great names of gay fiction in this volume, and - I hope - also find a few new favorites.

(January 29th, 2013):

I know I did a story-by-story wander through Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction when it first came along back in 2009 - and can we just take a moment to be stunned that that was four years ago? But if you click that link there, you'll see a publication date of this month - for the audiobook.

I had no idea!

I'm a huge lover of the audiobook. For one, reading in a moving vehicle makes me want to hurl cookies almost as much as listening to Sarah Palin, but for another, there's just something about someone reading to you. Also, I like listening to books while I do the laundry or the dishes, and I find I enjoy - and absorb - more when I listen to nonfiction books (especially biographies) rather than eye-reading them.

The reader who does this version of Fool for Love is so far charming the heck out of me. I've listened to a few of the tales, ergo today's Short Story 365 of...

"Thai Angel," by David Puterbaugh

I already knew I loved this story from the first time I got to read it back in 2009. In fact, I originally said What a start! The wit in the dialog made me laugh out loud, which has always been a test for me of how much I've been sucked into the story. The characters are colorful and charming. He especially captures the "joy" of an older sister's tendency to meddle in the love life of her younger brother vividly. All that, and there's still a warm and snug little love story tucked inside that made me smile and think just how good a ride this book was going to be. 'Thai Angel' is the perfect way to begin. Those crafty editors, they know what they do.

Added to the above, I'll say this: having this story performed by Roman M. Wagar added a whole new level. His voice-acting for Mali (the older sister) and the mother was phenomenal. I laughed out loud all over again - which, given the reality of listening to an audiobook on the bus - was likely amusing to my fellow passengers. Or annoying. One of those.

It was a joy to listen to this and to start revisiting the stories of that first anthology all over again.

"Love Taps," by Mark G. Harris

The audiobook version of Fool for Love gave me another wonderful journey through stories I already knew I loved. Originally, I had this to say:

'Love Taps,' by Mark G. Harris gives us Sullivan, a character who somehow manages to mix cute and neurotic into a whole you can't help but love, even if you might want to slap him a little. Again, there is wit - a word I'm afraid I might be using a whole lot in describing this anthology, but so many of the stories have this caliber of intelligent wordplay. And I think Mr. Harris' story has my new favorite declaration of affection. 'Love Taps' charms.

Having now also listened to this story aloud, I can say that the wit I read on the page is evoked all the more by the tone and cadence of the performance. This reader conjured a voice for Sully and his boyfriend and just nailed it. Again, I was laughing aloud in a public place with my headphones in.

And I still think 'I love you more than my snooze-button' is pure genius.

"Matchmaker," by Shawn Anniston

Originally, I had this to say about Shawn Anniston's "anti-romance" romance: In the style of the best grumpy romance, Mr. Anniston introduces us to an absolutely avowed romance-athiest. That he's living with two lesbians who are convinced they can find a Mr. Right for him only stirs the pot, and - here comes that word again - the witty dialog made me grin all the way through. Mr. Anniston has a knack for making you easily relate to his characters.

The performer for this story - Roman M. Wagar - is just freaking wonderful. The various degree of snark that he injected into the ongoing voice of "Matchmaker" was sublime. I chuckled, burst out laughing, and snickered at all the right parts, and the performance really added to the joy of the telling of the tale. The Peanuts (the lesbian couple that the fellow lives with) were lovely supporting cast the first time I read this, but aloud Wagar reminded me of just how freaking adorable they were.

Everyone should have the joy of hearing their story performed well.

"The View," by Brandon M. Long

In my re-visit through Fool for Love on audiobook, I've found a lot of those "little" things adding up to change the experience. For example, my first read through of this tale, I said this: Next up is 'A View,' by Brandon M. Long, which has this fantastic sense of collision to it; the main character has a tendency to keep a distance, and watching these defenses break down is sweet. He makes mistakes you can picture yourself making, and instead of making you flinch, you empathize. It's sweet without being saccharine, and the quirks of the main fellow made him all the more adorable.

What I hadn't recalled - and what came through so much when the reader was performing the story - was how the conclusion of the story had played out balancing on one of those seemingly "little things." I won't ruin it, but it made me smile. Again, the voice the reader chose for the character felt genuine, and the end result was a kind of "everyman" that I did get on my initial read of the story.

It's fascinating to have these two different reading experiences.

"Gratitude," by Felice Picano

Before I begin, I want to mention how this man is a complete short fiction hero of mine. I originally said, of "Gratitude," this:

"Gratitude," by Felice Picano drove home once again to me how stunned I am to be in this anthology. Felice Picano! Ahem. Anyway, "Gratitude" is a really sweet story, and deals with a different sort of romance, the love of being surrounded by friends, and friends-as-family, both of which are topics quite true to my own philosophies of what love is all about. I had a little "aw" moment at the end of this tale.

Since finding out that Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction was made into an audiobook via audible.com, I've been listening to these tales and enjoying how different the experience is when you hear the tales performed. And, I've said this before, Roman M. Wagar does an excellent job.

What hit me even harder this time around with "Gratitude" - which is a tale of a man who makes an incredibly costly gesture of selflessness in a moment of danger - was how the love in this tale isn't lesser than the love in the other tales, even though it's very different. And how wonderfully that changed the tone and flavor of the anthology as a whole. It wasn't what I was expecting the first time, but it was a delight. And that - having read and enjoyed Felice Picano before - shouldn't have been a surprise.

"Happy Hour at the Café Jones," by Rob Byrnes

When I first got to read this story, I said this: Next up is one of my writer heroes, "Happy Hour at Café Jones," by Rob Byrnes. Visiting Café Jones should be more than enough to charm you with how love likes to take you by surprise. It reminded me again why Mr. Byrnes is one of my writer heroes: he's clever. More, he's funny, romantic, and has this unbelievable readability that I envy. Just go buy everything he ever wrote, already.

I'll add to that the following, from the audio: the timing of the reader/performer was just nigh on perfect, giving the listener the perfect tempo for the wit. I'll confess that I listened to this story today because I found a second anthology in which I had a story had been released through audible, and I downloaded it, and the reader is... Well, nowhere near perfect. In fact, in my story the reader made multiple mistakes in reading before I just shut it off and decided not to listen to it again. It was bad. So I popped back to Fool for Love and fell into the story of a blind date that turns out very differently than expected. The voice is dead on, and I laughed out loud at his delivery. I want this man to do the audiobook of every story I've ever loved.