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Revisitation: Men on Men: Best New Gay Fiction (1986)

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Background I have begun a project to read all eight volumes of the Men on Men  series of anthologies published between 1986 and 2000. (I hope also to read various other such anthologies — for instance, there were three [I think?] Women on Women  anthologies from 1990-1996, the His: Brilliant New Fiction by Gay Writers  and Hers: Brilliant New Fiction by Lesbian Writers  series, etc. — but I am not a fast reader, so need to take this one step at a time.)  I am interested in looking at queer short fiction in the last two decades of the 20th century, for a variety of reasons. The first reason is recuperative: a lot has been forgotten because of changes in the publishing industry, changes in society, the inevitable effects of time, and the fact that a significant proportion of these writers died early in their careers because of AIDS. That links to another reason for this reading: curiosity about how much of this material holds up, either as historical artifact or aesthetic achievement (or

Conversation on a Story: "A Suicide Gun"

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A few days ago, I put a previously-unpublished story up on my website, "A Suicide Gun" , and gave a little bit of background here . Somewhat to my surprise, a number of people read the story immediately and then asked questions. (I'm not being disingenuous about the surprise — it's not just a somewhat off-putting story, but it's also pretty long. I certainly hoped some people would read it, but I didn't expect anybody to get to it quickly.) The questions led me to think again about the story and what it's doing, and they also got me thinking more generally about how and why we read stories, and about the aesthetics of short fiction. Thinking that some of those ideas might be helpful, interesting, provocative, or at least of passing interest to a few people, I decided to write up some of the questions and my responses in a kind of interview. Note, given the subject matter here:  If you are in crisis, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline a

A Story: "A Suicide Gun"

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Back in the summer of 2019 (a few decades ago), I wrote the first draft of a story inspired by perhaps the most gruesome element of my childhood: the guns people brought to my father's shop for cleaning after they had been used in a suicide. In conversation with a friend some time before, I had mentioned these "suicide guns", which so haunted my father (not a man given to haunting), and my friend said that was quite a nice title for a story. I thought he was right about that, and for a few years kept it in the back of my head until I could think of some characters and situations that seemed to fit. And so I offer you: "A Suicide Gun" . (Perhaps needless to say with a title like that, but: every content warning.) I wrestled with the story for quite some time, sent it out to various publishers, received polite rejections. After a few rounds, I decided to stop sending it out and save it, as my enthusiasm for making the rounds of the litmags is not what it once was