Sunday, December 18, 2011

I Don't Remember Christmas

There's a song called "I Don't Remember Christmas" from the musical "Starting Here, Starting Now," but it's not really a Christmas song - it's an ironic/kinda bitter song about reminiscing about someone, and of course, an image of Christmas spent together.  I don't know why, but I started humming that song in my head after reading Remembering Christmas, which is an anthology of three short stories all about gay men dealing with the Holidays. Perhaps because the holidays brings out a lot of mixed emotions to a lot of people I know? Certainly all those mixed emotions are presented in these short stories. In Tom Mendicino's "Away In A Manger," we see a "man of a certain age" Manhattanite who comes face to face with a couple of things during the Holidays: a friend's mortality, his family's expectations of him, and of meeting a younger lover unexpectedly. I loved the beginning of the story, wherein Mr. Mendecino perfectly describes how city life is for a guppie, but when I started losing interest when the story started taking unexpected turns. Plus, I didn't really feel the rushed ending. I think I would have preferred if some things were left unanswered. I just posted my thoughts about Frank Politos twin sets of 80s novels and in his contribution here, "A Christmas to Remember," we get an update on the character Jack Paterno, now almost graduating from college, and in love with a straight guy - or is he really straight? Home for the holidays, he sees him at the local gay bar, and..well, you get the drift. The story is as riddled with early 90s reference as his novels are with 80s trivia, and it is sometimes hard to get through to the story because of that, but in this small dose, his writing is more effective. And I must confess it was good to reconnect with the character. And speaking of connections, Michael Salvatore's "Missed Connections" is about a 36 year old Bostonian who decides to go home to his parent's Arizona home for Christmas after being dumped by his partner. Stranded at the airport, he chances upon an old friend/flame, and unanswered questions get closure. This, for me, was easily the best story of the three. It had a great mix of moods, light when it needed to be, but still effectively thoughtful.  All in all, I think this isn't a bad collection, a great read to take your mind away from holiday family drama when you yourself are home for the Holidays. 


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