THE COLLECTION: SHORT FICTION FROM THE TRANSGENDER VANGUARD TOM LEGER AND RILEY MACLEOD, ED.
I’m not picky about most things. In fact, I probably have a reputation for being ANTI-picky.
This is not hyperbole. I’ve eaten sardines from the dollar store. Twice.
I am; however, very picky about fiction, because I’m careful about what kind of made up characters I let into my emotional life, since I haven’t always been so discerning about the real-life ones I’ve opened up to.
And ever since that unfortunate seventh grade incident with the Norton’s Anthology of English Literature (for the record, tractors and 800 page books don’t mix) any written work that could conceivably be labeled “a tome” makes me decidedly uneasy.
So even though I’ve been excited about Topside Press and very excited about The Collection, I was still afraid of it. Just a little.
Because of my irrational fear, I didn’t pick the book up until way too late on a weeknight. And I have this to say to editors Leger and MacLeod and their transgender vanguard: Thanks a heap. I didn’t need to be awake for those important meetings the next day anyway.
It started innocently. I’d read one story, begin to give a shit about the main character and think “I’ll just read one more.”
Then I’d read another story, find the setting fascinating and think “Okay just one more.”
And then I’d read the next piece and think “Hmmm, I wonder if those two are going to work it out” and this continued until the Brooklyn sunrise was peeking through my window and my cat was annoyed with me for never having turned out the light.
I’ll admit, I had some favorites. Casey Plett’s Other Women, in which the protagonist shudders through not only part of a Winnipeg winter but also a whole lot of prayers and the recitation of at least one Bible verse was charming in its chronicling of the complexity of even the most simple of relationships. M Robin Cook’s Birthrights demonstrates that, in the hands of a talented writer, dialogue can be simultaneously stark and warm. You can’t help but cheer for both Tony and Rose in Alice Doyle’s Two Girls, even if you’re not sure you should be cheering for them together. And after the 90s, I would have thought nothing could ever get me to read an account, fictional or not, of any support group meeting in any LGBT community center, ever. But the realistic juxtaposition of the snide and earnest dialogue in Elliott Deline’s Dean and Teddy alternately made me laugh and wince and kept me reading until the end of the story which—and this was probably inevitable– involved a shared cigarette after the meeting.
The beauty of these stories is that they weren’t all beautiful. Or all funny. Or all scary. Or all anything for that matter. The only thing the stories have in common is that they are character driven fiction that is lively, well-written, thoughtfully crafted, and beautifully edited throughout.
One last thing Topside. It maybe be true that you kept me up all night, but don’t think for one minute that I am truly satisfied. The Collection may be ground-breaking, but it’s also an exceptional read. I hope you’ve got plans for The Collection 2013 because there’s no way this can be anything less an annual event.
THE COLLECTION’s official release date is October 16th. You can direct order a copy here.