BOOK REVIEW – Fadeout by Joseph Hansen

This 1970 noir-style detective story titillates with an engrossing story and a queer protagonist.

Joseph Hansen was a famous poet and novelist from the ’50s until his death in 2004. I had never heard of him, which honestly is strange as a gay dude living in tinsel town. He was part of the first Gay Pride Parade in Hollywood and was notable in the community.


Fadeout is the first in a series of 12 books in the Dave Brandstetter mysteries, which now, of course, I’m going to have to buy all of immediately. I loved this book, and I can’t wait to read the rest.


Our protagonist is an insurance detective working for his father’s insurance company. He is a gruff and dutiful mid-40’s who also happens to be unabashedly homosexual. The story opens with a car accident and a missing body. Brandstetter’s company doesn’t want to have to pay the 150k life insurance policy on the man in the car because, well, his body is missing. Did he wash up in the sink somewhere unseen, or is there something more sinister going on? Of course, sinister! Everyone has secrets, and everyone seems to know the missing wannabe writer and mayoral candidate Fox Olsen. Brandstetter uses his skills of people reading and offering cigarettes to get down to the bottom of it.


Throughout the book, we’re given glimpses of Brandstetter’s life, and this is where I read with my mouth open. I’m ecstatic that Hansen could write this, a hard-boiled mystery, with an openly queer protagonist who doesn’t hide who he is. He has the typical drinks and cigs, gay flings, lesbian besties, and a penchant for dark young men. Throughout the story, you can see people around him use words like fag, flit, and queer without Brandstetter batting an eye. He watches them go about their homophobic rants without feeling the need to tell them who he is, even though a few throughout the story peg him pretty quick. He does the job, and the job is what matters. The story runs parallel with troubles in Brandstetter’s own life which gives you a good feeling of who he is.


At times there were too many characters introduced in a short time that I had trouble keeping track of who was who and how they were all related. However, it was still a fun mystery to unravel.

Rating: 4.5/5

Jojo Rabbit Review

So excited that I was able to see the premiere showing of Jojo Rabbit at TIFF tonight!

This was another of Taika at his best. Taking him back to his bittersweet indie roots, his storytelling and humanity shows through at every moment. A story of a 10 year old nazi youth in full swing of his country’s ideology indoctrination, he starts his journey with his invisible best friend Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi himself) going off to Hitler Youth camp. His mother is a wild and endearing woman with a playful attitude during this horrible time of war. The movie starts off hilariously, but it takes a little bit of time to allow yourself to feel okay laughing at this side of the german war and this little boy who wants nothing more than to do right by his fuhrer. After a terrible (and hilariously acted) accident, and the discovery that his mother is hiding a young Jewish girl in their attic, his ideals are turned upside down to the thoughts on the war he has grown up with. It’s a simple message delivered in a way that tells you what you already know. Facism is bad. It’s a story that Taika tells us needs to be told over and over again, because people easily turn a blind eye to the horrors of humankind, but heart and love can prevail. Roman Griffin Davis and Thomasin McKenzie are a great pair and carry the film with warmth and wonderful comedic scenes, but it’s Scarlett Johansson who leaves us with the memory of what it means to be on the right side of humanity, and to take life as it comes and teach your children what you can, when you can. Even surrounded by well-known and substantial actors, these two children stand out and bring the movie’s warm embrace. Taika is never afraid to lead with a joke, but he always takes the time to bring his message of humanity home by hanging on the sad moments of life too, not jumping over life’s tragedies to get to the next one-liner. He balances the good with the bad perfectly, leaving you walking away with a warm feeling in your belly.

Hugo Award Finalists 2019!

If you need a new list of books to read this summer, get on these before the awards in August!

Which have you read? Who do you think is going to win for Best Novel?

Best Novel

The Calculating Stars, by Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)

Record of a Spaceborn Few, by Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton / Harper Voyager)

Revenant Gun, by Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris)

Space Opera, by Catherynne M. Valente (Saga)

Spinning Silver, by Naomi Novik (Del Rey / Macmillan)

Trail of Lightning, by Rebecca Roanhorse (Saga)

 

Click here to see the rest of the categories and nominees!

Queer up the classics

A FUN IDEA: Our favorite classic authors are our favorites for a reason, but because of the times there was a severe lack of gay characters and storylines. Taking your favorite authors from the golden age of sci-fi (from Asimov to Zebrowski), tell us your favorite story and explain in the comments how you’d “queer” it up!

– Idea from Queer Sci Fi!

Tell Me Your Favorites

Beneath Ceaseless Skies – click

Check out one I really enjoy, Beneath Ceaseless Skies. They have so many stories, many of them fantasy and second world based, and have been around for a decade. A large selection of their stories also come as podcasts to listen to!

Do you have any other lists of websites like this one? I’d love to see your favorites!

Spiders

Just a little Halloween inspired prose for October.

SPIDERS

Do I live among the spiders,

or do the spiders live with me?

I am not entirely sure,

Will you help make it clearer to me?

Humble in living, crude in thought,
I make the most of what I haven’t been taught.
I am the man in my castle, king of my hill,
but the spiders sit above me, hiding their will.
Night comes again and I slink into bed,
reminiscing and planning for a few days ahead.
From their webs they come down, crawling in droves,
but my eyes cannot see, for I am dreaming of groves.
They descend and tickle my skin with their legs,
my body jumps, shaking the bed from its pegs.
Jolted I wake, feeling and reaching to fight,
but the spiders have scurried off, giggling in the night.
It’s only the bites they leave, oozing and blue,
that makes me realize what I am to do.
Tis your webs of deceit, and your sharp little teeth,
that wrap around my soul and puncture my meat.
I shall wait silent in the night, looking for thine,
evil fucking spiders, your sins are now mine.
Do I live among the spiders,
or do the spiders live with me?
I’m still not entirely sure,
but killing you was curing to me.

Notes from the Tree #1

NotesFromTheTree_01

“Excerpts from the D’zalara, found scrolls from the Lozon Mine, Lelara.”

“The Tree knows the nature of what things are,

and not of what man wants them to be.

For not all things seen are shown.” – King Ghishet

“Notes from the Tree” are a collection of found excerpts from the scrolls of D’zalara, from my upcoming science fiction novel “Two Planets.”