Anthologies – Prose

Best of Gazebo

Edited by Michael Harth

This selection of 28 titles by 18 different authors covers a variety of forms: short stories, excerpts from novels, work in progress, some non-fiction and the odd poem. The majority have a decidedly gay or lesbian outlook, with a variety of settings, genres and time-scales, but the emphasis throughout is on entertainment.

‘You know, those pills, the ones they’ve just invented that turn gay people straight.’ – Whose Pills

“‘How do you come to know he’s gay?’ I wanted to know, worried for my son’s moral welfare, even though certain signs have made me feel it’s something of a lost cause.” – Next Door

‘I had every intention of jumping. Why else would I have been all the way up there?’ – Heads You Win

‘Did you hear that?’ Elaine whispered. ‘Did you hear what that Oscar Wilde said?’ – A Queens’ Night Out

“The zombie obeyed her slowly, frowning slightly in a puzzled way but moving with surprising grace.
‘My God, and after all I paid for him!’ Miss Silver exclaimed.” – Caveat Emptor

‘I’ve never actually faked an orgasm, but I’ll admit to overacting on occasions.’ – Bad Sex

“‘You were an officer, I bet?’
‘Yes, but I was friendly with the crew.’” – The Mad Hatters

“‘No,’ said Alistair, ‘the pleasure gardens tempted me. Blond, twenty-two, torn jeans. Need I go on?’” – On Hold

‘So on his next visit, when his attention was distracted by fleshly matters, Madame H kindly arranged to have him slipped a Mickey Finn.’ – Penance

“One of the men had dressed as Santa and all had gone well as he circled the room until he reached our ladies who, as if they had taken him for a stripper, had urged him to ‘get them off.’” – Drop-In and Come Out

ISBN: 978 1 904585 473
Paperback, 208 pages, £7.99
Published: December, 2012

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The Carrier Bag

John Dixon

Nine stories, varied topics, forms and lengths.

The Carrier Bag is a Bridport prize-winning story, of which Margaret Drabble said ‘A tale for our time, which satirically contrasts a wine bar squash playing set with a representative member of the underclass. A fine use of dialogue here, from a writer who has his ear to the ground.’

In Across the Corridor – and Down a Bit a knowing holiday diarist unfailingly gets it wrong. Little Gems is a mother’s monologue on her three daughters. The Untoward Invention is a political satire telling how an invention of potential use in waste disposal is seconded by the War Ministry. In Coping a parent reacts to a marriage guidance counsellor’s trite recommendations. The Heights concerns a Christmas postman who is given a round no one else wants. Well our feeble frame … tells of the Damascus Road incidents of a middle-aged woman on holiday in Jordan. Consequences asks if apparent results are so easily traceable to assumed causes Inconsequences is the erratic diary confessions of an employee losing control.

ISBN: 978 1 904585 40 4
Paperback, 200 pages
£6.99
Published: June, 2013

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A Boxful of Ideas

Edited by: John Dixon, Jeffrey Doorn

A Boxful of Ideas is an ambitious an­thol­ogy from Gay Authors Work­shop. More authors. More titles. A greater range of forms: short stories, poems, and essays. A varied line-up and a new take on current and abiding topics.

Founded in 1999, Paradise Press is run by a collective with­in GAW, and has published over forty titles, including full-length novels, poetry, mem­oirs and history, and six previous antholo­gies.

Authors featured in this anthology include:

  • Greg Woods, Emeritus Professor of Gay and Les­bian Studies at Nottingham Trent Uni­versity
  • Jeremy Kingston, former theatre critic of The Times
  • Chris Beckett, prize-winning poet and author of Ethiopia Boy
  • G. Lee, comedian, novelist, winner of the Ultimate Planet Award for established writers
  • Donald West, psychiatrist, author of one of the first British books on homosexuality.

FROM THE FOREWORD BY NICHOLAS DE JONGH:

‘… this fascinating LGBT an­thology of original poems, short stories, excerpts from novels and non-fiction – nicely titled A Boxful of Ideas. … As long as we are treated and regarded as separate and outsiders we need to record our own histories, experiences and life-themes in whatever art form. It’s for this reason that I heartily welcome A Boxful of Ideas.’

REVIEW

‘… The multi-voiced patchwork of this anthology bears vibrant witness to the fact that LGBT lives in this country are being lived in extraordinary times. Many of the old facts of life – discrimination, invisibility, illegality, secrecy and fear – are now becoming, in theory at least,  things of the past. As they do, the thirty writers whose work is featured here remind us that rather than erasing what makes us special, these changes are freeing more and more voices to tell us about how our  LGBT perspectives on the persistent enigmas of daily existence – love, lust, mortality and the counter-claims of individuality and Society – still matter . Reading this book reminded me of going to the very best kind of party – you’ll meet new friends from around the country and around the world, hear some surprising stories, be touched, spot the odd stranger who will stir your loins, get into one or two cracking arguments – oh, and laugh out loud.  — Neil Bartlett

This brilliant anthology benefits from a Foreword by Nicholas de Jongh who highlights the editors’ note of defiance: ‘Is the gay label necessary?’ Asserting that it is, Dixon and Doorn point to Mid-West bigots (the unreconstructeds who elected Trump), African evangelicals and East European politicians – in other words, The New Normal. Against that appalling backcloth we must tell our stories or go under. Dixon and Doorn have assembled a wide variety of literary weapons to help gay folk wage and win this war.

So – Ladies First: Kathryn Bell takes a firm stand against heterosexist garbage, i.e. the straight-love-interest that ruins otherwise fine films, TV programmes and novels. Elsa Wallace constructs an amusing fantasy about a girl whose rich father supplies her with silent and solitary chauffeurs who enjoy a rather different role collectively. Alice F. Wickhams ‘Julie and Carol’ springs perhaps this collection’s most stunning surprise; and (in ‘I Won’t be Writing Any More Novels’) Beth Lister pays tribute to Elsa and Kathryn (also to May Sarton) and then – delightfully – sings: ‘There’s a wee bittie hoose, it’s in Berwick-on-Tweed, in a street that gangs doon tae the sea | Through a great big gate in the auld toon wa’s (that Elizabeth’s ramparts be) …’

Before focusing on what Gentlemen contribute to A Boxful, I’d like to say the editors are wickedly witty in their juxtapositioning. Elsa’s ladylike opening (‘The Tenth Chauffeur’) neatly offsets Ivor Treby’s defiant conclusion; Rex Batten’s ‘Man on Ham Common’, ‘flicking ash off his suit’, is echoed by Barbara ‘brushing a speck of dust’ in Ross Burgess’s ‘The Reunion’. Look out for these transitions; they’re a treat in themselves.

A Boxful is dedicated to Michael Harth. In the era of UKIP and Nuttall, let’s more-than-ever heed Mike’s warning: gays risk ‘(getting back) that sad lonesome look’ by acquiescing in The New Normal, by colluding with our oppressors. Even in the fun piece that gives A Boxful its title, Jeff Doorn’s ‘unhinged narrator’ story (‘Comrades’) displays a talent perfectly capable of this; Ross Burgess’s ‘Friday Night’ demonstrates how gays betray gays, undermining this; Zekria Ibrahimi’s sonnet-sequence even hints at self-betrayal: ‘I want every sonnet to degrade.’

For my money – and at £8.99 this book’s a bargain (a ‘bank of beauty’) – the boldest narrative here is Tim Blackwell’s ‘A Night on The Rack’, especially when its Dilly-based hero heads for the Thames and for ‘a strange building … like Marble Arch in miniature … an entrance-way to somewhere old and grand’. We urgently need more gay writing in this ‘old and grand’ genre – gay authors to rival Dickens and Hardy. That is the necessary project, now that we’re once again at war. This ‘literary feast’, this Boxful of Ideas, gives us an excellent start.  Adrian Risdon

ISBN: 978 1 904585 862
Paperback
£8.99
Published:

November, 2016

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We want to tell you how …

Edited by
Stephanie Dickinson and Pat Dungey

An anthology of poetry and prose celebrating women’s loves, lives and landmarks.

Fourteen women have contributed to this anthology. We share our experiences of love and life … and the landmarks that mark our progress through our lives … in our own very varied styles, using poetry and prose.

‘We want to tell you how … contains deeply heartfelt, pain-fully honest, and beautifully written pieces of writing. For those who have ever lived with hope or regret, you will find your own story amongst these pages.’ —Clare Summerskill

ISBN: 978-1-904585-89-3, Paperback, 144 pages, £7.99, Published: March, 2018

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Kissyface and Others

Elsa Wallace

‘We don’t mention the beech wood,’ says Herman, but much else is mentioned in these three sets of stories about developments in gay lives.In Kissyface, Hein encompassed by sexuality asserts he is non-sexual, and Liesl reports to her school that she has two fathers and two mothers.

In On the Copperbelt Clare is drawn to nuns and Roland is obsessed with a dead German; if it had stopped at that, how happy his mother would have been.

In Music at the Buchanans Janey loses a job through intimacy with an employer’s wife but finds a better, and the usually wordless Mr Marrant vows that his next kiss will be ‘Not like a savage or, worse, a Frenchman, but….slowly and gently, I will speak to him in my kissing.’

ISBN: 978-1-904585-73-2, Paperback, 203 pages, £6.99, Published: May, 2015

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A Little Chat and other stories

Michael Harth

You can’t blame Colin for that, mother,’ Melvin interrupted. ‘I’m at my physical peak just now: surely you wouldn’t want me to waste it?’ 

His mother pointed out with dignity ‘There is such a thing as self-control.’ 

‘But what would I be controlling it for?’ Melvin asked.

“There are good things in A Little Chat. [They] tend to feature men who are not particularly attractive, not especially active, but are overly obsessed with rough trade and cottaging. Most have a ‘road to Damascus’ experience when, for the first time, sex is really thrilling.”  – Peter Burton, Gay Times, December 2003

ISBN: 978 1 904585 02 2, Paperback, 166 pages, £6.99

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The Monkey Mirror

Elsa Wallace

Don’t look in the mirror at the Hesselmans’,’ said my aunt Sybil. ‘It’s an unlucky mirror. It’s the one the monkey looked in.’

Fourteen stories dealing with areas where human and animal lives meet, for good or ill, some set in Africa, some in UK.

ISBN: 978 1 904585 169, Paperback, 144 pages, £6.99, Published: November, 2011

First and Fiftieth

Martin Foreman

“Sometimes you sit, watch the trains, the sunset, the rain.
Sometimes you talk. Tell your story if you’ve a mind to.
Trouble is, memory changes things.
Things you want to forget.
Things you want to remember that never happened.
Happens to everybody. Gets so, nobody’s story’s true.
Not yours, not mine. But it’s all we got.” 

Martin Foreman‘s latest collection of short stories comprises first person narratives spanning the globe from Rio de Janeiro to Los Angeles, Africa to Nepal, London to Siberia. Men and women from teenagers to grandparents each speak in a distinctive voice and with intense emotion as love and sex, violence and humour, anger and pathos meet in this kaleidoscope of human comedy and tragedy.

“The youthful yet already impressive Paradise Press goes from strength to strength with their publication of Martin Foreman‘s collection of first persona narratives . . . each contains a strong, distinctive and powerful voice, leading the collection as a whole to never be anything less than diverting.” – Gay Times, April 2003 

“engaging, told with style” – Gay Scotland 

“Mr Foreman’s style has evidently had a lot of attention lavished on it, not to mention careful study of the human race in its multiplicity of forms”  – Tregolwyn Book Reviews 

ISBN: 978 0 9525964 7 9, Paperback, 152 pages, £6.99

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Eros at Large

Edited by Michael Harth

How are our lives affected by our erotic impulses? Which impulses and to what extent? Does the particular strain of eroticism that obsesses us at the moment put other people off? And do the varieties of eroticism others enjoy make us curious to join in or more likely to turn tail? Here are twenty-seven stories by seventeen authors, each with a different take on the theme.

‘The adventure with the window-cleaner had not in any way sated her appetite’ – The Juju

‘He was so good at what he did that if I weren’t really completely straight I could have been hooked.’ – A Handful of Keys

“‘Is you goin’ to let me go, girl?’ She’s smiling.” – Life’s Like That

‘Now it was once again the fourth weekend of the month, when his rule was to say yes to any offers that might be made to him.’ – Leaving It to Chance

‘You have curves like a Jaguar. You’re in peak condition. Run in and at maximum performance. What more could you want?’ – Foucault’s Nightmare

‘The only feature by which I might have been able to recognise him was not on display’ – The Bat

‘The two drinkers on the bar stools ordered more pints and started a whispered discussion about the couple.’ – Judgment Day

‘Once he’d got the keys of the car he would load up everything he’d accrued and disappear’ – Into the Woods

‘To him the generally held notion that there should be some sort of commitment to the person with whom one had sex was a kind of mass delusion’ – Getting Laid

‘I emphasised at the time that I was a complete novice’ – Fantasies

‘You are not rough enough for me. And I was told you were picked up fresh from the streets!’ – I Go Private

‘He was neatly dressed in trousers and a jacket, which normally acts as a warning signal to me’ – Cruising

‘It was time to help George discover what he really wanted.’ – The Under-gardener

‘His clients had been known to come to blows when arguing whose turn it was for whom’ – Expansion

‘Twenty years ago or so, when I was really pushed for cash, I went on the game.’ – A Question of Taste

ISBN: 978 1 904585 46 6, Paperback, 272 pages, £8.99, Published: February, 2013

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Oysters and Pearls

Edited by: Jeffrey Doorn and Adrian Risdon

I hunted the pearl of great price
That I’d read about in a story

In this anthology, published to mark Gay Authors Workshop 30th (pearl) anniversary, 14 poets prise open the oyster of life in search of riches: love, sex, food, days at the beach, journeys through nature, cities and time.

“The world’s your oyster,”
Said Grannie in her pince-nez
Her twin-set and pearls.

These 30 poems peer into the lives of isolation and communion, explore relationships open and closed, tenuous or tenacious.

Like a mollusc I was clinging to my rock,
Feeling safe, enclosed within my brittle shell

You may find some verses luminescent, others opaque, some highly polished, others gritty. All are linked by the thread of imagination. Open us up – you might discover treasure. In any event, where else can you find oysters and pearls at this price?

ISBN: 978 1 904585 13 8, 80 pages, £3.99 Archive web link

 

People Your Mother Warned You About

Edited by G Abel-Watters

Who did your mother warn you about? Friends who are not all they seem? Suspicious neighbours, or that black sheep relative? Dirty old men, or young men on the scrounge? Falling in with criminals and drunkards, or coming to the same bad end as your sister? Foreign tourists, or the clan in the next valley? Or just People Like That?

All these and more are present in this collection of stories by lesbian and gay writers. There are people who listened to their mothers, and some who should have done. There are tales of life today, and little pieces of our history. Will you dare to show it to your mother?

G Abel-Watters is also the editor of Queer Haunts.

ISBN: 978 1 904585 12 1, Paperback, £7.99, Published: November, 2011 Archive web link

 

The Physent and other stories

Michael Harth

There was somehow an atmosphere about it, almost as if it was waiting for something to happen, and as Gary stepped into the hollow he could feel the air crackle. He knew he was dicing with danger, but something over and above any fears drew him on till he was standing in the centre.

A collection of frightening, humorous and challenging fantasies, featuring weretigers, vampires and other creatures that live in the shadows of our present day.

“There are good things in … The Physent … The ‘spook’ stories are imaginative, and stray into territory familiar from the tales of M R James … and H P Lovecraft … but generally also possess a sexual frisson.”  – Peter Burton, Gay Times, December 2003

ISBN: 978 1 904585 03 9, Paperback, 146 pages, £6.99 Archive web link

Ghosts and Gargoyles

Elsa Wallace

‘Who would have heard any cries from the attic window at the back? No-one had heard them since but Fiona, trembling in her bed; those dreadful hoarse pleadings and sobbings, hysterical sometimes. It was like a man but also like a child, the noise rose and fell, on and on, sometimes muffled, sometimes sharp, sometimes howling and growling in a sort of madness. Once a sickening laugh came down those stairs. Once or twice she was sure it had called her name, and then ‘Mummy, mummy’ it had said quite clearly. She was terrified of it. What could it be? She ought to be sorry for it but it sounded so bizarre and she couldn’t imagine the being behind it. Was it a man or was it a child or something of both?’

Ghosts and Gargoyles is the second collection by Elsa Wallace, the author of A Short History of Lord Hyaena, Merle and The Monkey Mirror.

ISBN: 978 1 904585 43 5, Paperback, 144 pages, £6.99

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The Picnic and other stories

Michael Harth

Well, at least let me have Marcus again, then,’ pleaded Simeon. 

‘You know perfectly well it’s your turn to see Donald this week. I’m sure I don’t know why everyone keeps asking for Marcus.’ 

‘It’s his attributes, that’s what it is. When you get to my age, it becomes important.’

Male au-pairs, sex services for OAPs, abduction by aliens, a sex contest between two schoolboys, and a picnic that goes wrong are among the themes in this light-hearted, picaresque collection of stories.

ISBN: 978 0 9525964 3 1, Paperback, 148 pages, £6.99

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Queer Haunts

Edited by G Abel-Watters

“There were only a few dozen words on the page, and he soon came to the end of them. He didn’t want to turn the page, but he could feel himself being urged to do so. The struggle was sufficient to wake him: he was sweating, and still had a lingering sensation of dread.”

Scary, friendly, vengeful, sexy – many types of ghosts appear in this diverse volume of stories.  There is a spirit far from home and one who doesn’t want to leave home; there are ghosts who do favours or expect favours from humans, ghosts who tell their own story, and a spirit who wears a green lace negligėe.

In Queer Haunts you will find something for every mood: from chilling to charming, moving to amusing.  Some of these tales link back to ancient legends and times gone by; others are firmly in the modern world where ghosts can jet in and carry a mobile phone.

The stories in this collection have all been written by gay and lesbian authors, and all speak in some way of gay experience.  It reflects their diversity in its diverse collection, and the diversity of the readers to whom it will appeal – in fact, everyone who loves a good story or a good ghost.  So wedge those rattling windows and creaking doors, curl up by the fire and enjoy!

“As is the case with all anthologies, the stories are of variable quality; the most effective being those that sensibly utilise the form by restricting locale and number of characters to a minimum (Jeffrey Doorn‘s In the Catacombs and Journey Round the Circle Line, for instance).”  – Peter Burton, Gay Times, December 2003 

ISBN: 978 1 904585 58 9, Paperback, 198 pages, £7.99

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A Sense of Loss and other stories

Martin Foreman

I lay in bed, alternately pushing the covers away and pulling them over me, sure he was in the room sitting in the armchair by the door as he sat every day on the beach. I saw his hat, a homburg as neatly creased as his jacket and trousers, his moustache, thick, black and grey, stretching over his lips and onto his cheeks like my father’s, and, half-shaded, his eyes, dark, clear, strong, lying below brows that curled into a frown. It was not so much his face I saw as the face of all men, the face of my father when I had done something wrong. 

This collection of fifteen short stories displays a counterpoint of different voices, each with a ring of authenticity. Some reflect the shifting kaleidoscope of gay reality in 1990s Britain: the sexual compulsion of “Room With No View”, the high-energy rhythm of “Discotheque”, or the cyncial manipulation of “Simon’s Dinner Party”. Others take us to wider horizons – to Brazil and off into landscapes of allegory and myth. Finally, in the masterful title story, we hear the voice of Thomas Mann’s silent Tadzio as he relates his encounter in Venice with the writer Aschenbach.

“Accomplished, literate, dignified, deeply felt” – Times Literary Supplement, London 

“as delicate and haunting a piece of prose as I’ve read all year” – Him (now Gay Times / GT) 

Martin Foreman has an uncomfortable, probably accurate view of the human condition; an excellent book” – IQ 

ISBN: 978 0 85449 185 8, Paperback, 186 pages, £6.99

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