Monthly Archives: December 2013

Matthew Rettenmund, Blind Items: a (Love) Story

2014-01-17 001Title: Blind Items: a (Love) Story

Author: Matthew Rettenmund

Publication Information: New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2000, c1998

ISBN: 0-312-26295-7 (978-0312-2629-52)

Library of Congress Classification: PS3568.E774

Library of Congress Subject Headings:
Gay men—New York (State)—New York—Fiction
Authors—New York (State)—New York—Fiction
Gay authors—New York (State)—New York—Fiction
Motion picture actors and actresses—United States—Fiction
Gay motion picture actors and actresses—United States—Fiction

This book was hard to put down. I really liked it.

The protagonist is David Greer, a 32-year-old gay man living in Manhattan and working at a pornography publisher as an editor and writer. He doesn’t like his job, and wants to do “real” writing, but finds his confidence lagging. He is friends with Warren Junior, a gay gossip columnist who writes stories about the stars in the closet, but always using code. His other best friend is Carol Terry, a straight woman who he once made out with when drunk.

David meets the up-and-coming Alan Dillinger, the hot star of the moment who is on the TV-ratings topper Lifesavers (think Baywatch). They meet at a Lifesavers promotion party; the only reason David and Carol can go is because Warren gives David his invitation. David discovers Alan is a closet queen, but none-the-less embarks on a relationship with him. David, out and proud, finds dealing with Alan’s secretive sexual orientation troubling, but Alan assures him that he intends to come out—someday. When that day is, and if Alan comes out or is outed, becomes a theme running throughout the rest of the book.

It’s amazing how much has changed since 1998, when this book was written—15 years ago. There are more out stars, but there are still so many in the closet. Same-sex marriage is now recognized in double-digit state numbers, something that was only beginning in 1998.

Chapters vary perspective and, it turns out, time. David’s chapters are told in the first-person; the rest are told from third person. Anyone who reads about John Dewey, a socially-backward and withdrawn teenager, will probably figure out who he turns out to be, but I didn’t and was surprised by the end of the book.

Maybe the reason I liked this book so much is because the characters were real.

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Look What’s in the Warner Library!

Warner Library serves Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow. Visit your own local library and see what gems you can unearth.

Zombie Ate My Cupcake (2013-11-22 001)Title: A Zombie Ate My Cupcake!: 25 Delicious Cupcake Recipes

Author: Lily Vanilli [AKA Lily Jones]; starring Paul Parker

Publication Information: London, New York: Cico Books, 2010

ISBN: 978-1908862068

Library of Congress Classification: TX771

Dewey Decimal Classification: 641

Library of Congress Subject Headings:
Cupcakes
Cake decorating
Halloween cooking

This is a little book with a lot of recipes for cupcakes—cupcakes for the dead! Seriously, it’s got some interesting ideas on making and decorating cupcakes with a spooky theme.

There are some clever cupcake recipes in here. The Blood-Stained Brains (p. 47) looked like an actual human brain, and the Bleeding Hearts (p. 53) actually looked like real hearts. (No Valentine’s Day-shaped hearts here.) The Devil’s Food Cupcake (p. 57) was clever: it had horns sticking out on either side!

I really liked the Rainbow Cupcakes (p. 49 & 51), which were colorful and could be used for any parties needing a little color. The Day of the Dead Skull Cupcakes (p. 8 and cover) were really nice. They looked like the stylized, decorated skulls used in the Day of the Dead celebrations. These skulls are everywhere, and not just limited to the Day of the Dead. Recently I’ve seen one as an ornament for a tree, which I was tempted to buy.

I’m one of those people who love looking at photos of food and the ingredients, so the color pictures of the various cupcakes and their recipes got me thinking. I would try and substitute some of the ingredients used in the decorations. Marzipan is used in some of the decorating. For example, Sweeny Todd’s Surprise, which looked like a pie only with a finger sticking out. That finger was made of marzipan.

I’ve never understood marzipan. I know that it’s used in decorating, and it allows for some very interesting creations, but it either has no taste or tastes bad. If eating it isn’t going to be pleasurable, what’s the point of using it on a cupcake or cake? Sorry, in my book aesthetics are always sacrificed for yumminess.

The Black Roses Cupcakes (p. 36) had the roses made out of gum paste. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted gum paste, but I was wondering if roses made of buttercream icing would work just as well? Experimenting, at least for me, is part of the fun.

Books like this spark creativity, which is always a good thing.

Matt Zachary, A Life for Nicholas

(2013-11-15 003)TitleA Life for Nicholas

Author: Matt Zachary

Publication Information: Porterlance Books, c2013

ISBN: 978-148-208-225-8

Library of Congress Classification: PS3626.A6526

Library of Congress Subject Headings:
Foster children–Fiction
Orphans–Fiction
Child abuse–Fiction
Child welfare–Effect of managed care on–Fiction

I liked this book. An easy read–if reading about a child alone in a system that just passes him from one home to another without any real concern is easy to read. At least there was no sexual abuse. That would have been too much.

Nicholas is fourteen. He remembers his mother, but his father he has no memories. He’s told that he was a drunk who abandoned Nicholas and his mother, who died shortly after. So he is now passed from home to home. He’s living in a large home with a bunch of other foster children. The two oldest children are twins and they terrorize the rest of them, including Nicholas. That is, until one day a new kid a year older than Nicholas and just as big as the twins moves in. They make friends and he protects Nicholas.

An altercation at school caused by others causes the state to pull Nicholas from the home and put him into another one. The wife is nice and supportive, but she is married to a drunk, violent man who terrorizes Nicholas, who when threatened pees himself. Nicholas is eventually taken to yet another home. Though Nicholas’ experience here is much more positive, he experiences a major loss that helps shape him for the next book.

Nicholas resembles a tennis ball, being hit back and forth, here and there. No one cares about Nicholas or watching out for him. Moving him from house to house has a devastating effect on his psyche. It’s understandable why Nicholas is withdrawn and quiet. He is the main character through three novels. He is also discovering his sexuality, which by the third book he is gay and living with another guy.

The writing flows pretty well; the language is not stilted. Will I read the next book? Definitely. I want to find out what happens to Nicholas. Will he have a happy life, or end up broken and battered, the survivor of a broken system?