- Red Caps: New Fairy Tales for Out of the Ordinary Readers by Steve Berman
A bit of magic, sometimes helpful, sometimes sinister, runs through each of these thirteen short stories, most previously published, that all feature a gay or lesbian protagonist. The degree of focus on sexual orientation varies as much as the stories themselves: Cecil’s struggle to define his desires without labeling himself brings queerness to the forefront as he debates the significance of names with a silky-voiced Tooth Fairy in “Persimmon, Teeth, and Boys.” Another set of boys are brought together by a matchmaking yearbook. Saul’s affection for guys, however, takes a backseat during his encounter with sibling vampires in “All Smiles,” while Amelia’s clandestine relationship with Stephanie is ultimately the least of her worries after an infected bite drives her insane in “A Calenture of the Jungle.” Tales volley in tone from sweet, hopeful, and occasionally humorous (the script for an off-Broadway musical detailing the homoeroticism in Moby Dick is particularly amusing) to chilling, as when an older babysitting brother loses his charges to a vengeful ghost. The final story, directly addressing the reader, blends magical realism with just a bit of fairy tale in a quest that takes “you” through the shady underbellies of everyday closets and ultimately turns into a powerful and poignant coming-out story. Several stories include people of color (mostly African Americans and Puerto Ricans) as [End Page 349] protagonists and/or love interests, along with nods to Jewish and Asian cultures, broadening the already inclusive reach of this collection. Stylish and compelling, this will find an audience with many a teen, gay, straight, or those that refuse to be labeled. Final art not seen.