Not Here. Not Now.

Alex Jeffers. Lethe, $20 trade paper (354p) ISBN 978-1-59021-607-1
Jeffers’s second collection of short fiction (after 2012’s You Will Meet a Stranger Far from Home: Wonder Stories) draws from anthologies between 1991 and 2003 and is offered as a manifestation of the idea that successful fiction is both autobiographical and immanent. The imaginative, emotionally resonant worldbuilding is enhanced by the personal insight into Jeffers’s process of writing to an anthology’s specification, which he shares in each piece’s introduction. All 13 stories are erotic works about gay men; the stories include science fiction, supernatural fiction, a quasihistorical adventure in the library of Alexandria and among 11th-century Egyptian ghouls, and contemporary fiction set in a high school locker room. Jeffers populates these places with men imbued with deep feelings and graced with, if not happiness, fully lived lives with at least some hope. Jeffers tackles the challenge of creating a world that has lost its women, in which being gay is a consolatory blessing, with a perfect balance of fierce beauty and sorrowful heartsickness. Two semiautobiographical pieces, both inspired by Jeffers’s love of music, feel narcissistic by comparison. Readers who want their gay stories sweepingly romantic and grandly placed will find this collection emotionally satisfying as well as very hot. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/02/2018
Release date: 11/01/2016
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