Edited by Allison Fradkin, $13; New Town. Writers Press; 136 pages
This edition of the annual Off the Rocks anthology did not fail to live up to its standard of high-quality queer literature. The collection is emblazoned with poetry and prose written to depict "what a difference gay makes," ( introduction ). The stories encapsulate many different walks of queer life that range in orientation, gender identity, ability, health status and so on.
Among the most captivating of the prose was a story by Johnny Townsend illustrating two Mormon missionaries who break the rules of their teachings to spend more time with one another. Another is a story by Evelyn Deshane about two possibly trans* or genderqueer youth who are best friends, but may see one another as more than just friends. Additionally, this anthology includes everything from hopeful love stories like these, to tragic endings cast by disease, to existential analyses of what it means to be queer.
Several Chicago writers were included in the anthology: Barry Frauman, Chuck Kramer, Denise Roma and James Vining, alongside 20 other authors. The anthology includes authors throughout the United Staes including Los Angeles, New York City and New Orleans, among others.
It seems that the message this collection aims to present is in lieu of some dark experiences faced by some in the queer community"Their stories are the very definition of gay: honest and straightforward, visible but not risible, resolute when others are dissolute," ( introduction ).
Indeed, the stories are powerful and allows the reader to get a glimpse of important moments that defined the lives of the queer writers, highlighting the differences and similarities in experience. This insight captivates the audience, giving just enough of the story to lend the reader understanding and sympathy while knowing there's more to the story.
The benefit to an anthology like this is that this glimpse one gets into the lives of many illustrates the complexity of queer lives. With an approximately even amount of poetry and prose and stories that force reflection, makes this anthology a good bedside companion to read through the week( s ); leaving time for digestion and contemplation.
Purchase at lulu.com/shop/newtown-writers/off-the-rocks-volume-18/paperback/product-21974646.html.