Thursday, August 12, 2010
The Blue Moon Cafe and Tales from the Sexual Underground by Rick R. Reed
In 1764 a novel was written by Horace Walpole called The Castle of Otranto. With the publication of this work a new genre was born; the Gothic novel. The book was also written in the literary and artistic period known as the Age of Romanticism. This was a time when artistic sensibilities were often primal, and authors, as well as other artists, wore their hearts on their sleeve Many times these works included characters that showed fear and apprehension towards life and their surroundings. In short, they were exquisitely sensitive individuals, and were often out of place in the world they lived in. These works were often highly romantic as well.
Over the years this genre has taken on many hues, and one of them is that of the paranormal romance. One has only to watch an episode of True Blood or read any of the “Twilight" books, and you know that this type of thing is extremely popular.
Now, although we as GLBT folks can find a certain sense of fulfillment by imagining ourselves in these predominantly straight situations, we no longer have to do so. Fortunately for us, there are authors among us who have taken up these themes and situations and infused them with decidedly gay colors, usually with exciting results.
One such author is Rick R. Reed, who has written a wonderfully chilling horror tale called The Blue Moon Cafe (Amber Quill Press, 2009). Not only will this little gem chill your heart, but it will make it beat a bit faster due to its highly romantic elements. And it doesn’t stop there. This is not the romance of unfulfilled desire, where lovers just seem to miss the opportunity to connect over and over, but it does have a sexual tension that will keep you wanting to intercede. It is a highly erotic tale as well. That being said, the sexual elements serve to enhance the work, and never overshadow the super story that is being told.
The place is Seattle, the time is the present, and something horrific is happening to gay men. It is August, and the moon is full. The first character we meet has no name, but it doesn’t take us long to find out that it is not a man. We experience a stalking and a brutal murder through the eyes of a killer on the prowl. This is decidedly creepy. As the scene ends, we are psyched for what will follow. What is it? Could it be a werewolf?
The next character we meet is Thad Matthews, an unemployed gay man, who after a day of mundane chores, decides to get out and try a new restaurant, a place called the Blue Moon Cafe. This handsome, ginger haired guy is also unattached, so going out also means being every ready for that elusive chance encounter with another man. I guess we all know what that's like.
Soon after entering the restaurant, he meets Sam, an intriguingly seductive man who is dark, hairy, and, exceedingly handsome. They meet, they flirt, and they have sex (all in good time by the way). Nothing is hurried here, as this is where a wonderful romance takes hold.
Everything should be perfect, but it’s not. Sam is reluctant to commit. Thad is hurt but determined to give Sam his space. We meet another character named Jared, and now we have the makings of a interesting love triangle. Yummy stuff, right?
As the mystery develops, the brutal murders continue to happen. The beast has been seen, and one of the people who sees him is Jared! It doesn’t take long for us to start to wonder, along with Thad, if there is some connection between Sam and the murders? Sam and his family disappear during the full moon, and that is when the killings take place. Even though we sense what is happening, we are really never sure.
As with any good horror story, we are carefully lead along, and we become detectives trying to solve the mystery. The plot twists and turns in such a way as to keep us off guard After all, isn't that what we love about horror stories? The added bonus here is the love story. It is a wonderful one, as well as hot. No wonder Thad has a hard time trying to let Sam go.
What Reed possesses is a true gift for writing a good story that keeps you fully involved. He writes very well, and it is obvious that his way with words and images has not only made him successful in this medium, but will keep you coming back for more. If this is your first Rick Reed book, or one that you've been waiting for, don't miss it.
Moving now to his Tales from the Sexual Underground (mlspress, 2010), we really have an opportunity to experience Rick Reed at his literary best. His prose is smooth, his images precise, and his sense of humor, even when the topic is hardly funny, is refreshing and well placed.
These “tales” come from a weekly column which appeared in a weekly entertainment magazine in Chicago called Nightspots. As he says in his intro to the collection, “I wanted to write about people who were not just out, but out there, people who lived their sexual lives in ways most of us could only imagine…” He is true to his word.
Most of the sections are short, and cover things like: Cyber Infidelity, Craigslist, The Truths and Myths about being a Slut, and several segments about the dynamics of being HIV positive. Depending on your bent, as well as your sense of humor, this collection will keep you reading just to see what’s going to happen next. There are serious moments, but mostly everything is told in a witty gay style that will have you laughing more than not. Although this is a departure from his usual fare, these stories give a terrific insight into the world of an author, and to the gay world in general., especially in Chicago. I recommend it highly.
Listen to my conversation with the author, Rick R Reed, called "the Stephen King of Gay Horror". Just click the link below.
Next week I will be talking about best-selling Lambda Literary and Golden Crown award-winner KG MacGregor and her new book, Photograph's of Claudia.
Until next time, happy reading.