cover image Passing Strange

Passing Strange

Ellen Klages., $2.99 e-book (155p) ISBN 978-0-7653-8951-0

Klages (Portable Childhoods) draws a loving portrait of 1930s queer San Francisco in this deftly crafted tale of love, solidarity, and magic brought full circle. In the present day, Helen Young sells the last, lost work of famous pulp cover artist Haskel to an unethical art dealer who’s due for a comeuppance. Haskel was famous for art showing evocatively gruesome villains threatening lovely young ladies, but his last painting instead depicts the heroine of a romantic story. The narrative then goes back in time to cover the events leading up to Haskel’s final painting and abrupt career end, introducing a charming cast of queer women working as lawyers, singers, mathematicians, and witches. Emily, a newcomer to the group, crosses Haskel’s path by coincidence; the two fall into a whirlwind romance that ultimately requires the support and skills of all their friends to see through. Klages folds history and the modern world into a thoroughly satisfying novella that’s rich in detail, warm in regard, and clever in execution. (Jan.)