What happens when identical issues of shame and self-denial are picked up by different authors in different times?
James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room is a classic of American queer literature. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is a recent queer lit success. Their protagonists struggle with the same issues: shame and self-denial. Yet the direction their stories take, the atmosphere woven around them, are complete opposites. Reading these books, I had the feeling the similarities and differences were intentional on Saenz’s part. At the very least, there is one recurrent metaphor in his book that compares – and contrasts – with a passage in Giovanni’s Room: the image of the loved one associated to a fragile bird.
Title: Every Heart A Doorway (novelette, 2016 winner of the Nebula Award for Best Novella) Author: Seanan McGuire Review by: Captain Clo Verdict: imaginative worldbuilding, unimaginative plot, stilted writing in random places.
I’ve first hear about this book around the time it was nominated for the Nebula Award, since the book also features an asexual female protagonist and a transexual male side character. That said, simply having LGBT characters does not a good book make, and for all that this novelette is definitely enjoyable, it didn’t convince me. But if you:
are looking for a fairytale-styled fantasy with an asexual protagonist (which is, let’s face it, extremely rare)
like the idea of a trans boy as love interest/charming prince
Title: The Apprenticeship Of Big Toe P Author: Rieko Matsuura Review by: Captain Clo Verdict: surreal, definitely different, wtf-inducing, a must. 4 stars Trigger warning for: rape, sexual abuse
The set-up of this book is simply amazing. A normal, average, straight (but not for long…) woman wakes up one day to find that her big toe has transformed into a fully functional penis. The surreal, unexplained change sets into motion a journey of self-discovery that inevitably involves a lot of strange sexual adventures. It sounds like the set-up for a bawdy novel filled with gratuitous sex scenes… which The Apprenticeship Of Big Toe P isn’t. It’s surreal and elegant, and definitely not for easily-scandalized minds.
If you’re looking for:
surreal, semi-magical realism fiction
an unconventional journey of queer self-discovery and sexual awakening