Queer Books with Julie: Binge Reading
I have a confession to make. I succumbed to the Netflix binge watching phenomenon.
Most notably half a season of Orange is the New Black in two evenings and all five seasons of Breaking Bad in two weeks. Why do I feel this is worthy of confession?
Because television is a waste of valuable reading time.
I’m a binge reader not a binge watcher. But I’ve had a recent dry spell. I’m used to author crushes propelling me from one book to the next . . . like Diana Gabaldon and her Outlander series. Lydia Netzer and her Shine, Shine, Shine and newly released How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky (stay tuned for an upcoming review), or Anne Rice . . . anything she writes.
I’ve been lacking a significant author crush. And I’ve suffered as a result.
A friend, sensing my pain, suggested I try Christopher Rice to get me out of my doldrums. I have to admit I was leery of reading anything by the venerable Anne Rice’s son. I had this snobby idea that the offspring couldn’t be nearly as good as the parent; that his name was his ticket to popularity.
Mea culpa. I was wrong.
I should have listened to this friend. He knows I’m a self-proclaimed bisexual Girl Fag.1 He knew Christopher Rice and I would hit it off.
A gay author with gay characters, and thrilling psychological tension? I swoon.
Although Rice eschews the label “gay” author— on March 15, 2002 in Identity Theory he stated “that’s not what I do. I might be more open to that label if I hadn’t introduced ensemble casts of characters,”—he is gay and I do have a mighty crush, physically (see top image) and intellectually.
It all started where it should . . . with his first novel, the thriller A Density of Souls which, again from Identity Theory, “is as close to a gay book as you can get. It revolves around a character’s homosexuality, and others are described in terms of their reaction to one character’s sexuality.”
Soul’s reminded me of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History. I couldn’t put it down. As soon as I was finished, I called the aforementioned friend and begged him to lend me more. Next came Blind Fall the story of two men: A Marine and a gay man who must work together to seek revenge for the murder of a soldier they both loved—one as a war-time comrade, the other as lover.
I finished Blind Fall in two sittings.
Fortunately, the aforementioned friend’s partner brought a copy of The Snow Garden when we met for coffee. I stayed up all night to read Garden, the “spellbinding story of murder and sexual menace,” set on a well-to-do college campus with clandestine societies and dangerous secrets. In Rice’s Randall Stone, I found one of the most captivating and complex characters I’ve encountered.
Lest you were worried that I was soon going to run out of Christopher Rice reading material, I thought ahead. And so when I finished Garden, two more novels were waiting for me. I started (and stayed up way too late) reading A Moonlit Earth last night. The back cover promises a story of a young woman who must act to save her brother’s life and reputation when he is accused of being a terrorist.
I’m several chapters in and it is really good. When I am finished (perhaps today at lunch), I have a copy of Light Before Day waiting in my tote bag. That leaves The Heavens Rise, which I have on order.
Sorry, Netflix, our love affair is over. I have a new author crush. And so once again, I am a binge reader. I feel so much more comfortable in this skin. So, thank you Anne Rice for passing on your genes, and thank you to my friends for knowing just what I needed.
Footnote 1: I a woman who is intellectually and physically attracted to gay men
Julie Harthill Clayton is an out and proud bisexual with a passion for reading, writing . . . and NOT arithmetic. Her work has appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, the Internet Review of Books, Curve Magazine, Lambda Literary and more. She is working on her first novel - Two Tickets to Freedom - a semi-autobiographical queer coming-of-age tale. A paralegal by day, Julie spends her free time knitting, writing, and reading anything she can get her hands on. She lives in Richmond with her partner, local artist David Turner, and their mischievous and loving hunting dog, Max.
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