Year of a Hundred books – #65 Wine For A Shotgun

Wine For A ShotgunWine For A Shotgun – Marty McConnell

5/5

I’ve never written a review of a poetry anthology before, so it’s difficult to know how to start. Marty McConnell is my favourite contemporary poet, so when I finally discovered she was finally publishing an anthology, I was quite excited, even more so when it turns out that she was also releasing it as an audiobook, which is the format I experienced Wine for a Shotgun in. (Unfortunately I discovered that the audiobook actually doesn’t include all the poems from the anthology, which is a pity, but I’m still counting this as a whole book).
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Year of a Hundred books – #53 Tales of the City

Tales of the CityTales of the City – Armistead Maupin

3/5

Set in the mid-1970s Tales of the City chronicles the lives of a handful of San Franciscans over a number of months, exploring their relationships with each other, their families and their own identities. It’s fairly easy to read, and, as long as you’re not too close-minded to be bothered by reading about mild drugs use and homosexuality, enjoyable enough. But that’s about the best you can say of it.

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Year of a Hundred books – #3 – OMG Queer

OMG QueerOMG Queer – Various
2/5

It’s difficult to review anthologies of various author’s works, because there’s often such a variety in terms of quality and execution between the pieces. The plus side, as a reader, is that if there’s a story you don’t like, you can just move on to the next one. There weren’t many pieces in this collection that I felt it necessary to skip, but it did become a bit of a chore reading some of them as time went on.

I think, perhaps, my issue is that I was expecting something the book never actually offered. As the blurbs says,  “these stories, imagined and told by youth across America, provide a snapshot of queerness at the dawn of the new millennium.” The key word in this is “youth”, and unfortunately most of the stories are either coming out narratives or discussions of the difficulties of being LGBTQ as a teenager. Which is fine, there’s nothing wrong with this in theory, but this meant that their stories had to work quite hard to distinguish themselves from each other, which very few manage. Then again, some do, and it’s generally the ones that are more than just Gay/Lesbian themes. Brenna Harvey’s Jelson, for example, is easily the best story in the collection, with a slightly fantastical take on transgender identity and relationships. Chili Powder by Anna Meadows is more about cultural differences and immigration, and only uses homosexuality as the specific example of culture clash. That said, there’s also the highly disappointing There was a knocking on the door by Andrew Arslan, in which the narrator comes out to his Islamic father. It’s bad on every level, from its straw-man “he’s only liberal when it’s easy” father, to the frankly appalling dialogue and the unsympathetic narrator, and is easily the worst story in the book.

I think the collection would work better for me if I were an adolescent in need of narratives to relate to, and there’s nothing really particularly wrong with (most of) the pieces collected here, but as it stands, the minimal amounts of really original story-telling really hurts the book when being marketed to a wider audience