Jackson, R (editor). “The Biggest Lover”, Lethe Press, 2016.
“The Biggest Lover” is new anthology of twenty-one stories about bears and cubs and is a very diverse read about one of the groups that makes the LGBT community so diverse. “Our LGBT community is as diverse as the bigger world and it should come as no surprise that there are men out there who are into cute little twinks or muscle bound paragons”. While each story stands on its own, they all share being well-written erotica. IO always have a bit of difficulty when I review anthologies or collections because I have to decide whether to l write about each selection or to review it as a whole so I usually wait until I sit down to write and let my thoughts lead me. What I did find the overall theme here to be one of love and acceptance for the bigger men out there. I do need to emphasize the word “erotic” because these stories are sexy and while I am not a chaser or a bear, I can certainly see why thee are those out there and it is about time that they have their say literarily.
Hank Edwards (whose writing I always enjoy) is a cat lover in his personal life (have a look at his Facebook page) uses a cat as a matchmaker in his sweet “Fur Ball”. “A Man of Substance” by Dale Chase is set at the turn of the century in San Francisco and is about an actor who is looking for what he refers to as a man of substance and he does not mean intellectually. The age of computers takes off in a story of Ben Bauchlein about a techie who knows a good deal more than the newest technology.
Jeff Mann who never disappoints introduces us to Jamie in his story “The Last Gift”. Jamie, in his own mind, thinks that he is over the hill, age-wise (he is 50 plus) and he figures his days for finding lust…er, love or passed. But then he meets a hot chubby bear cub while having breakfast one morning. This is followed by another of my favorite authors, Jack Fritscher who gives us a fascinating look at a father and son relationship. Most of you will get a jolt from “Bulk City Gym”. This was the first story by John Genest that I have read and I really enjoyed disliking the main character in “Temet Nosce”. Everyone knows a guy like Don.
Charles O.V. Lyons brings us a story about the end of a relationship in “Rainy Day” and Jay Neal’s “He’s Five One, He’s Beautiful, And He’s Mine” pulled me with the first sentence. It is well written and a fun read. “Filled” by Tom Farley is a story that I am quite sure that some readers will not like because of the subject matter but looking at the way it builds says something about constructing a short story. If you are into anal play, this is a story for you. Matthew Bright is a rising star at Lethe Press with two new anthologies. Here he gives us a story about looking back. He shows that it is possible to go home again after being away for a long time and meets the guy he has always wanted to know again in “Burning on the Edge of the World”. Another new writer for me is Landon Dixon. In “Hustler’s Endgame”, we meet a good-looking young hustler who puts in an appearance at a pharmaceutical convention where every eye is on him but especially Brent, a married man who is about to learn what man on man sex is all about.
In “Golden Walrus” by Jerry Rabushka, we meet a man who has been hiding from himself and then he meets an overweight guy at the gym who asks him to spot him and you can pretty well guess the rest. Jay Starre brings us “Dionysus Tamed”, a look at what went on between Zeus and Dionysus in ancient times and there is a bit of surprise here. Moving into the paranormal, we get Skye Eagleday’s “Coming in the Night” and this one may rattle you a bit. Yes Shane Allison is here with his own special erotica in “Heavy Set”. I do not think that I have to say anymore. Dan Jaffe is another favorite writer of mine and he gives us a story about Dirk who lives in a small town and is turned on by nipples.
“Tag Team” by Larry Faulkner is about a wrestling tag team and what goes on behind the scenes. In “The Story Next Door” by Karl Taggart, we meet Perry is dealing with life after his partner died because of a heart attack. He has published his first book (porn) and is okay with life but things change when new neighbors move in and start swimming naked. “Moby Dick” by William Holden might be considered a parody of Melville’s original but instead of a great white whale, we have a great white whale of a man. “Indivisible” by Dylan Thomas Good, another new writer for me, is about accepting oneself in something of a supernatural setting. Finally there is “A Slice of Pie” by ‘Nathan Burgoine and this is one that you will just have to read to find out what is happening in it.
For those who do not want to read short synopses, here is a list of the authors and story titles”
“Furball” by Hank Edwards
“A Man of Substance” by Dale Chase
“What the Hell?!” by Ben Bauchlein
“The Last Gift” by Jeff Mann
“Bulk City Gym (Boys to Men, Men to Giants)” by Jack Fritscher
“Temet Nosce” by John Genest
“Rainy Day” by Charles O V Lyons
“He’s Five-One, He’s Beautiful, and He’s Mine” by Jay Neal
“Filled” by Tom Farley
“Burning on the Edge of the World” by Matthew Bright
“Hustler’s Endgame” by Landon Dixon
“Golden Walrus” by Jerry Rabushka
“Dionysus Tamed” by Jay Starre
“Coming in the Night” by Skye Eagleday
“Heavy Set” by Shane Allison
“Tag Team” by Larry Faulkner
“The Nip Man” by Daniel M. Jaffe
“The Story Next Door” by Karl Taggart
“Moby Dick” by William Holden
“Indivisible” by Dylan Thomas Good
“A Slice of Pi” by ’Nathan Burgoine
If you have ever felt that you do not fit into the LGBT community, you need to read these stories and discover that there is a place for everyone. Kudos to editor R. Jackson.