eredien: Dancing Dragon (dragon)
2016-03-17 06:37 pm

[Book Review] Ceili by Moriah Gemel

[NB: I'm friends with Moriah IRL.]

Today's my birthday, and I've spent most of it thinking about words or lost in words--as fine a way as one could wish to spend one's birthday, really, if you're me.

One of the things I read today was Moriah Gemel's brand-new novel by Interlude Press, which goes by the title of Ceili.

It's a very fast read at a tad under 200 pages, and has only a little bit in common with her prior novel Load the Dice (namely, the loving and lush descriptions of the characters, a romance between two men, and depiction of some consensual sex).

The plot, in a sketch, with as few spoliers as possible: Devon Caelin has never quite fit in in the world. When he wanders into a bar populated by, run by, and visible only to Fae one damp LA night, he learns that he is a changeling--a fae child, raised by humans. This book is his exploration of himself, his newfound magic, and his budding relationship with the elven Lord, Eldan, who runs the place.

This book's strength lies in the relationships drawn between its characters. Each person--even the bit players like the boto (Amazonian River Dolphin) Cristiano--feels drawn as if the author sat down with them multiple times to interviews over pizza and the best kind of beer.

If there is a flaw in this book, I think it's that the delicious twist--which I will not spoil here, and have not seen in other books in the last-fae-in-the-city genre, which is a trope this book fits squarely into--comes almost too late. I sure hope there will be a sequel exploring the last-chapter decisions of the main characters.
eredien: Dancing Dragon (Default)
2015-01-12 03:02 pm

Happy 2015!

Last year's resolution: move back to Boston. Accomplished! At times it seemed to be a terrifying and/or impossible goal, but I've made it and have been in the greater Boston area since September 2014.

This year's resolutions: continue to write more. Continue to lose weight without beating myself up about how, or feeling like I'm not progressing 'fast' enough. Keep in better touch with friends and important people in my life. Get a full-time position I like.

General life updates:

Partnerships - Have learned a lot about myself and what I need from partnerships and living situations this year. Still with B. and A., who are still both great partners, but am no longer contemplating moving in or raising kids with B. Their life and mine don't mesh well in some really important-to-me ways; I need to make a commitment to a partner who wants to live with me and with whom I can live, and I just can't live with B. for various reasons. T. continues to make my life awesomer; we're planning a visit for sometime in March. He's really helped me clarify some things I do want out of my relationships, through just being there for me. I am not sure where my relationship with E. is heading. We really still care about each other, but I worry about her a lot and don't get to talk to her as often as I'd like. Gender Book Group at Christopher's is still going strong and it's great to see old friends each month, and get some reading done every once in a while on topics that really matter to me and the inside of my head.

Friendships & Volunteering - I got involved in the burner community, mostly through A. and T., this past year. It's reminded me how much I really like camping, and it's made me go hiking out in the community parks behind my house a lot more this fall. I've been getting to know some good people. I'm also going to start volunteering at the Watertown makerspace, pending a background check--really excited to be learning a lot more hands-on skills, like welding, with friends old and new.

Learning Stuff - besides the welding, I used my last job to teach myself a lot about new HTML and CSS standards, and am excited to see how much better my programming skills are than they were a year ago. I successfully programmed my first responsive CSS design from scratch ovr the last few months and feel accomplished. Other things I've been doing more of include: sculpture, sewing, and cooking. Lots of Japanese food. 

Music - We listen to a lot of different music at one of my workplaces; after being almost totally music-free for several years, I'm slowly getting into new music again thanks to that. 

Work/Education - I have two part-time jobs. I like both of them very much; I get to use skillsets I've been honing, and that's almost as good as using my degree. I like my coworkers, and I like my bosses. I've been thinking about going back to school again, now that I can once more both read and retain material (unlike my foray into Tufts classes in 2009). I'm going to look into local options, and also options in Canada; I wouldn't mind resettling there for a bit.

Fandom - I'm hoping to see many of you at Readercon and even possibly Arisia this year; I also hope to attend a bit of Anthro New England. Getting back to my roots. I've started watching Star Trek (TNG) with my roommates when we're having lazy nights, which is at least once a week...I'm really enjoying it.

Gaming - still trying to beat level 34 of Shadow Dragon for the DS; when I get frustrated with that I've been playing a copy of Kirby Mass Attack, which is fun and almost but not quite mindless. Hoping I can finish up Okami and Epic Mickey 1 in 2015. Oh, and I've been programming a tiny little game with Twine. Got involved in a great RPG with old internet pals earlier in 2014 and hoping I can now pick it back up since my work schedule just changed this week and I don't have to get up as early each morning. 

Spirituality - I dabbled in Judaism this last year. It's not *not* for me, but I'm not sure if it is *for* me. Still staying far away from organized Christianity. Taking more time to myself to meditate and think before opening my mouth. Noticing that having two shelves of carefully curated books is enough for me to feel surrounded by books, and comforted by their physical presence in my life again. Dealing a lot with the unaddressed overtones of hoarding in my immediate family.

Self-Image/Health - I think I'm gorgeous, and it shows in the care I take of myself. I got the "alternative lifestyles haircut," as T. has dubbed it, a week or so ago and feel so happy in my body sometimes it makes me glow. I've been assembling a team of good <strike>Pokemon</strike> doctors here in Boston, and found that getting gatekept into taking care of my reproductive health and rights is an amazing feeling. Still annoyed there are gatekeepers, but if I've got to have them...

Pets: Oolong and Tokai are happy and healthy.

And that's 2015 so far.
eredien: Dancing Dragon (Default)
2014-09-22 08:30 am
Entry tags:

[Poem] Publication News!

 My sestina, "Love in Graduate School," is now published in Issue #1 of Liminality Magazine! It's a double-issue chock-full of other amazing poems and some great artwork, so please give it a read! 
eredien: Dancing Dragon (Default)
2014-06-25 09:12 pm
Entry tags:

[Poem] Good Sestina News!

Remember that sestina I finished in January? Well, it's going to be published by a new magazine! More details forthcoming. 
eredien: Dancing Dragon (Default)
2014-02-12 05:24 pm
Entry tags:

"Breathing Machine: Growing up in the Digital Age," by Leigh Alexander

Did you live through the endless summer? Do you remember the sound of a furtive modem connecting at midnight? A voice synthesizer module spurting out unmodulated vowel sounds one after the other until they all blended into a string of soothing white noise? Was your first email address--like mine--iterated by a new number each time you got a free AOL disk, because subscribing to dialup was too expensive? 

If you did, you will feel a lovely shock of recognition of the early days of the internet as a limitless, yet strangely limited, social space, within this book.

But it's not just about that. 

I plan to give a copy of this book to people who grow up and can't understand what it was like before Amazon Prime could deliver you anything you wanted in two days; before most people had internet but after most people had seen their first web address and knew it had something to do with computers; back when reading a WIRED article about a cyberpunk-inspired company-sponsored rave in the early days of Silicon Valley made me go home and teach myself to program in HTML for a summer.

I want to give a copy of this book to my parents--my mom who loved King's Quest but couldn't follow onto the byways of the internet; my dad who still can't differentiate between "Google" and "a web browser;" who must've worried and wondered almost as endlessly as I did about the dynamics of a place where I could be good friends with people I've met twice in my life; where I co-wrote novellas with someone on the opposite coast until someone ignored the little sign I put on the phone and disconnected me--but who worried about it without the firsthand knowledge of its possibilities and little oubliettes of esoteric digital knowledge.

Most of this book is a personal memoir; the last few chapters go into a much-needed, deeply felt argument for the return of serendipity to the increasingly commercialized and self-promoting internet.

eredien: Dancing Dragon (Default)
2014-01-23 08:40 pm

I finished a sestina!

I finished a sestina.
It took me about six years but as I realized earlier, "that's one more sestina than most people write in their lives."
I do not know if it is any good or not.
I am looking for people to critique it.
If you are interested please contact me here. 
eredien: Dancing Dragon (Default)
2014-01-05 08:58 am

Happy 2014!

...and it is, in fact, happy.

Hanging out on the bed this morning with my fuzzybutt little cat Oolong, I took some time to reflect on my 2013 and 2014 so far, which have been truly astoundingly happy.

I've been writing again (yay, keeping resolutions in advance!). Some long-overdue correspondence to people I care about, some WWIA (the fey novel). It helped, I found, to change up the viewpoint characters and let someone else speak for Chapter 4. Not sure if I'm going to keep it or not--gods is Tam-tam disturbing, but then again he's out of his head--but definitely a good exercise. I feel healthy as a writer--reading things that inspire me, making lists of poems I definitely need to read more of. And, actually, y'know, writing regularly. For the first time in a long, long time.

Did some martial arts over New Year's, which just confirmed that's where it's at for me in terms of exercise and spirituality.

I've been traveling. Went to a lovely burning-man-inspired party for New Year's with A., successfully turned what could have been poly problems into poly opportunities, saw three of my favorite movies (documentary: "Rivers & Tides," anime: "Mindgame" and "Spring & Chaos"), learned some new things about myself, spent some good time with somebody new I like (T.). More traveling scheduled for summer, specifically July, of this year--can't decide if I am doing Firefly and Readercon, or Firefly and a friend's wedding in CO. Is anyone else going to BMC reunion? I honestly don't want to go if my friends won't be there.

My relationship with myself seems healthier than it's been in a long time. Had a dream a few weeks ago about resentment over a close friend's losing weight that really stuck with me, and am turning that resentment into resolve--I want to wear all my genderqueer shiny outfits. Got a new piercing ()--feel like I am that much closer to looking like the person I am. Am super-comfortable with my body now, due in part to how I've been prioritizing self-care and due in part to some New Year's experiences, and how I'm presenting, even at work, which can be problematic at times. Modern medicine is a frigging miracle. I am not really suffering from SAD this winter for the first time in about a decade.

Work is good. I got a hug and thank you from my boss, and that was really great. I flower under praise, especially because I know I am doing praiseworthy work. Still looking for jobs in the greater Boston area...

....speaking of which, I have made it my goal to move back to MA in 2015. I may not move directly back to Boston proper, but if all works out as I hope it will, that will be because I might be moving in with B. near the Berkshires. A three-hour drive into Boston, and having to deal with the headaches of a car, are small problems if they mean that I only have to drive three hours to see all my chosen-family and friends--the people who matter most to me. I've been driving six or more. It honestly depends on where I get a job. 

A recap of my relationships, for those playing along at home: B. I've known them for over a decade, but our relationship feels both old and familiar and new and deep. They are so joyful and beautiful and playful and giving and just plain good for me that I've recently been contemplating co-parenting a kid with them. A., who continues to be a sexy brilliant mad scientist, hiking partner, and pet. He is my stalwart. Five years has been so deep, and so fast. E., who I am experiencing all kinds of NRE with even though she's on the other side of the country. She continues to wake me up to gender, to spirituality, and to being authentically unafraid to live a complex life. T., a Canadian man <insert Canadian partner joke here>, who I am looking forward to seeing again this summer...
eredien: Dancing Dragon (Default)
2013-12-19 07:49 am

2014 Resolutions, 2013 Resolutions Recap

2014 Resolutions, early this year.

Save Money to Move: Now that I have a job, I can start saving money again. I've got a life I want to live--travel, good food, books, plans for a home with people I love--and I've got to get away from where I am now, which is unacceptable. Goal: move back to Boston in 2015. <strike>set up direct deposit to bank accounts</strike> and otherwise touch my money as little as possible in 2014.

Exercise, the way I Love: I don't have to spend money on a gym membership I hardly use, sitting there and struggling with body image. I can just start doing tai chi again at home. Better mental (and physical) balance, and it's free. My mother can stuff her reservations about 'unwomanly' martial arts. Goal:enjoy what I do to lose weight and reduce body dysphoria. Exercise an hour a day.

Pay attention to My Creative Life: I thought I'd lost the desire to write. It was hibernating. I love welcoming challenging creative endeavor back into my life. I have a novel, a sestina, and at least three short stories clamoring for completion. Goal: 100 words a day. Don't get overwhelmed; just work at it. The words will add up.

Now, a progress report from 2013:
Goal: Get on a medication that works for my bipolar depression and keep taking it. (This is already started; just have to discuss my med choice w/therapist and start taking it). Result: success. I feel awful that I couldn't do this earlier and hurt a lot of people in my life, but I literally wasn't in a space where I could do this, earlier. I can hold down a job again, and do well at it. My therapist and I agreed that I'm done with routine therapy. Medications and therapy, and my determination to get well, even thought it was born from a deep sadness, helped save my life.

Goal: Eat fewer processed grains. "Less white flour, more wheat flour." See what that does. Result: mixed. I've been eating less pasta and refined grains; more quinoa, oats, and whole grains. It wasn't life-changing, but I've now got a habit of eating a little more fiber now. I'm going to call this a win.

Goal: Secret resolution: try new sex thing. This particular thing did not happen, but I am working on it, and my three loving partners, as well as my astounding group of friends, have made 2013 a wonderful year for me in so many more ways than I can count. I'm grateful to you all.
eredien: Dancing Dragon (Default)
2013-12-10 09:55 pm

[Poem] Voyager I

Voyager I
to R., R., and L.

Like me,
does its work
in silence
and with time.

Pure ellipticals of
shifting bodies
break down
so far out here
into something
new and strange.
We're all past just that now.

What you have engraved
on my heart
is your heart
your voice
your self to share

I owe any future
I may meet
the best I remember
of you
the ones that set me here

in this moment
where my own momentum
carries me
no one's ever seen before.

eredien: Dancing Dragon (Default)
2013-11-27 07:31 am


Therapy & Mental Health: yesterday, my therapist and I both agreed that I am pretty much done with therapy for right now. I feel happier and way more confident in my life and have mechanisms in place to deal with the bad stuff. It doesn't seem like I was in therapy for more than three years, but it's a different kind of work than I was thinking it was when I went into it, so the time-dilation makes a little bit of sense to me. I am really proud. I still have problems (see below) but I can deal with them in a reasonable manner. I am still taking meds for PCOS and bipolar disorder, which seem to be working really, extraordinarily well.

Home life: my parents are transphobes, my mother explicitly told me that she wants me to settle down with a man or a 'real woman'. Going to have a talk about this with my mother. On other hand, mother does not have cancer again, so that's good.

Creativity: I have gone into my winter creativity phase, which mostly means writing poetry, reading long involved novels, drawing, and sewing (as opposed to my summer phase, which is writing longer works of fiction, reading short stories, gardening, and website design). I am really happy with where I am at in my sewing; it looks more professional every day. Also when I move back to the Boston area I am planning on trying to do my maskmaking/puppeteering internship again.

Fitness/body image: this is slowly progressing. I am going to a weekly meeting that is helping. I have decided that I would rather lose weight and see what that does to my breasts and shape than get top surgery; I don't think I want it anymore and I figure if I do later the procedure will still be there.

Work: I got promoted from intern to part-timer, which means more responsibility and not being paid under the table. Yay for daily structure.

Relationships & Friendships: Long distance relationships with my friends and partners still suck, but I have kind of gotten used to it. I try to see people when I can, which also involves being able to say 'I can't see this person right now' when I can't. My life is much better for the way I now manage relationships that are important to me instead of letting my relationships manage my moods. I had a fantastic minivacation where I got to see A., B., and E. this past weekend and managed to break through some of my remaining psychosexual fears in a big way, which was incredibly rewarding. Things with R and R' are slowly, slowly coming back to a level of friendship I haven't felt from them in years, which is also fantastic. The support of I. through all this has been steadfast not to mention hilarious. I feel really amazed and grateful to have such incredible people in my life.

Food: the biggest change in my life this year has been my deciding two things: I can be veg* at home if I'm not vocal about it--no one will miss me eating cheese or meat if I don't make a big deal out of it--and that I want to start fishing. I went fishing this summer and really found it incredibly relaxing, though I caught close to nothing. I've decided that I will eat what I catch if I can, which is consistent with my overall food philosophy of taking personal responsibility for the things I eat and trying to grow or kill as much of it myself as possible. Next possible food project: keeping rescue chickens?

Moving plans: progressing apace with my bank account (did I mention I'm grateful for my job)? I may move to Boston and commute to Western MA to see B., I may move to Western MA with B. and commute to the semi-Boston area to see A. Still looking for Boston jobs, especially in editing or writing. Really where I live depends on what kind of job I get and what my plans with B. solidify into. We are thinking of getting some kind of cohousing--a shared duplex, or possibly nearby apartments.

Travel: Belgium in 2015 with A. I also actually have a price on my dream trip to Russia/Mongolia/China/Japan and am saving up for that.

Religion/God: I am impressed with the new pope even though I currently consider myself agnostic. I went to Jewish services for the first time last week and really enjoyed all the singing and debate of theology even though I don't believe in the efficacy of prayer as such. Chi work both with and without my partners is going well. Saving up for martial arts again even though my mother considers them unwomanly (another thing to talk with her about).
eredien: Dancing Dragon (Default)
2013-08-05 06:04 pm
Entry tags:

Saving vs. Engendering Life: An Argument Rethought

While reading the Atlantic after dinner--specifically, the article "What Interracial and Gay Couples Know about Passing," by Angela Onwuachi-Willig, about racial and gender passing in the past and present--I came across the old same-sex-marriage-opponents' claim, that straight partnerships may make life and queer partnerships don't, so therefore straight sex should be privileged by the state by granting it the special civil/religious status of marriage.

I don't know about other people, but my various queer partnerships (and I have to say that I
 believe all of them are queer in some way, because I'm in them and I'm queer!) have certainly been one of the things that not only made my life continue, but made it worth living, especially during the times when I was depressed. Isn't saving a life just as much a miracle as engendering one? The rescue doesn't have to be dramatic or instant, but isn't less real for all that.

Has anyone else seen this take on that argument? I haven't and wonder if it's out there. I think it deserves to be.

eredien: Dancing Dragon (Default)
2013-06-08 09:40 pm

Sponsor me in the Clarion Write-a-Thon!

As you probably know, writing is one of the most important things in my life. This summer, I've decided to dedicate six weeks to it by joining a write-a-thon. A write-a-thon is somewhat like a walk-a-thon; but instead of walking, I'll be writing. Instead of lining up pledges per mile, I'm asking for pledges per 2500 words. My ultimate goal, besides finishing the first draft of my first novel, is to raise at least $20 so I may join a write-a-thon online critique group, all of which are mentored by a Clarion Workshop instructor or graduate.

The Write-a-Thon has been hosted annually for the past few years by the Clarion Foundation, a wonderful organization that provides funding for the highly respected Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer's Workshop at UCSD.

This year's Write-a-thon focuses more than ever on helping writers write by teaming us up with fellow authors and Clarion mentors so we can share critiques, ideas, encouragement and good writing. It's the same approach they've used successfully for years in the workshop, and I know it will provide me with just the kind of push I need to finish the project I've chosen, my fantasy novel-in-progress, "Woman Wreathed in Amber."

I generally describe WWIA as "the fey novel," since it's set in faerie and many of the characters are fey or other mythical creatures--but it's much more than that. It's about the gradual breakdown of a place called home, even if it's a home you hate; it's about blurring the lines between love and duty; it's about fonts and the complexity of warring desires and what it means to be moral when you're not mortal. And I haven't even gotten to the part about Baba Yaga. (Please read a short excerpt at my Write-a-Thon page,

For those of you who've read the first few chapters in draft and have been wanting me to finish this for the last decade: please help me to do so and support a wonderful cause at the same time. I'm 31; it's time I got serious about my writing career by finishing this thing and making it publication-ready. I know I can do it, but I'd love to do it with a critique group specalizing in SF/F and for an organization I'd love to attend personally someday soon.

Plus it's all for a literally fantastic cause. Clarion is the oldest writing program of its kind, and it is highly respected. Many of the greatest figures in science fiction and fantasy honed their skills and launched careers there. Check it out on the web at Writing programs across the nation are under tremendous financial pressure and Clarion is no exception. The Write-a-Thon's success is vital to the workshop's continued existence. Last year it raised over $24,000!

I hope you'll help out by going to my writer page at and sponsoring my writing. Every contribution that comes through will show on my page and will drive me to do more and better, while also helping out future writers.

Thank you in advance! Please check back often to see how I'm doing and what I've written.
eredien: Dancing Dragon (Default)
2013-04-02 10:47 am

Of course I'm a pro at nouns; I majored in English

So for those of you I didn't catch when I was in Boston: my preferred pronoun is now "they." I will also answer to "she," as it does not yet appear to have passed its possible expiration date; it might not have one.

This has been something I've been thinking about for a long time and decided to deal with this year. I do not like the multiplicity of "they" in terms of hard-won integration of my furry/IRL self, but I need it, gender-wise, in terms of all of me.

I appreciate your cooperation.
eredien: Dancing Dragon (Default)
2013-04-02 10:45 am
Entry tags:

UFMB: Un*ing my Bedroom

So for the past year or so my bedroom was a mess. There was a bunch of sewing stuff in one corner that wasn't getting used at all, and wasn't getting put away, which was reminding me that I liked to sew but also that I had nowhere to do it everytime I opened my door. I went away to a sunny place for a solid month, and when I got back I was ashamed to be living in such grossness. It stayed like this for the better part of February while I got treatment for my newly diagnosed mental health issue (bipolar disorder) and then came the day I had enough spoons and I said, "I am going to clean all the things! I can't concentrate or make stuff with this going on."

The sewing pile area that was is now a new home for my pet lizard, whose cage is way cleaner than before and between my desk and dresser I have a sewing table. Where I can actually, and have actually, sewn things to wear since I cleaned.

There was a milk crate of files and a bunch of bills and paperwork that got shoved somewhere -- under my window, on top of my desk--instead of me going through my writing, health insurance stuff, medical records, and other paperwork, and filing away what I needed and shredding what I didn't.

Now it's a new file cabinet, organized so I can pay bills, find my art and writing projects current and past, and file everything away properly in the future (thanks to "Home Filing Made Easy" by Martin & Martin for a USEFUL filing system! My taxes are done!)

My desk was a nest of cables and junk that depressed me all the time I sat at it.

Now it's a clean space where I can work and not stress out. The remaining items are projects I am currently working on and need very close to hand. Bonus: filing cabinet top now functions as cat window perch.

My bed...didn't have a bottom fitted sheet on it. I had been sleeping on the futon mattress for about a year.

Now it's a place where I curl up at night and fall asleep in a cozy pillow nest.

My dresser was full of too much stuff that needed to be elsewhere.

Now it's a space where I get ready for the day and express my crazy eclectic decorating style and have a safe place for my great-grandmother's antique Chinese Imperial Scholar lamp.

My chair and ottoman were divorced. One was my bedside table and covered with junk. One was around the corner, and also covered with junk. I never sat on it.

My chair and ottoman are now getting it on. The top part of the ottoman is still covered with books I am actively reading or stuff I do before I fall asleep at night (DS, apple remote for music) but I can put my feet up or sit to put my shoes on. My chair is clean. I sit there to read or my cat sits there to help me read.

I vaccumed. I dusted. I used a magic eraser to take the scuzz off the new filing cabinet. It took about a day a week, for the better part of a month, to get to this state, and one nearly solid day of 20/10s at the very end for the last drawer of the filing cabinet, which I did NOT want to clean out. But my breaks for Kirby on the Wii helped me get through it and the results are totally awesome.

Thanks UFYH! Now to try and tackle the Family Hall Closet of Doom.

This took about a month working about 4 hours every week.
eredien: Dancing Dragon (Default)
2013-02-20 05:55 pm

2013 Resolutions

Ok, I know it's late, but there's only three this year:

Get on a medication that works for my bipolar depression and keep taking it. (This is already started; just have to discuss my med choice w/therapist and start taking it).

Eat fewer processed grains. "Less white flour, more wheat flour." See what that does.

Secret resolution: try new sex thing.
eredien: Dancing Dragon (Default)
2013-01-17 12:42 pm

Tell the Wolves I'm Home, by Carol Rifka Brunt

[I'm trying out Dreamwidth's crossposting feature; if you're getting errors on either LJ or DW please let me know.]

The many books which I find to read often change me. The few books which find me to read them change the me who I am.

Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt, is such a book.

Detailed summaries are everywhere, so I'll only touch on the plot: in the late 80's, the main character is fifteen, and her favorite uncle--a gay man semi-closeted by the kind of silent family agreement that with time becomes a silent family dispute--dies of AIDS. The grief in this book is large, and real, with the quality of startling mundanity that real grief has.

The other characters in the book feeling the fact of the uncle's absence from their lives is what creates the character of the uncle, or more accurately the character of the uncle's absence, for the reader. The book's prose and the characters' emotions are the tools that Brunt gives the reader to feel around for the edges of the hole, the space--once filled, and now empty--in the structure of the story. One miracle of this book is that this whole writing structure is totally unforced, almost invisible, effortless and agentless as heartbreak. A second miracle in prose: this theme of negative space is explored literally in the book by the device of a painting, and that doesn't feel forced either: having the metaphor made concrete in the book seems the most natural of devices, evolving solely from the characters' interests, memories, and conversations.

This theme of negative space is, of course, a metaphor for the secret surrounding AIDS and the family's individual secrets surrounding the larger, half-spoken truth of the uncle's life with his longtime partner before his death. Wolves doesn't shy away from using that metaphor with precision and great sensitivity--and even better, eventually drops all metaphor when confronted with such human, impossible, life-changing, grief as AIDS. The grief in this book is gloriously, purposefully, deliberately angry, made political by personal necessity, and so, so valuable for that: the fact that it evokes the political and moral climate surrounding American queer people in the late 80's and early 90's, and the way that it does so, made me remember watching Philadelphia as a closeted 14 year old and realizing at the time that it was considered an act of award-winning cultural daring for famous people with thousands of dollars and corporate backing to act out love in the way I actually loved, or to act out dying in the way I understood that people like me were probably going to die.

I can't imagine what it would have been like to read this book as a straight person, or even as a younger LGBTQ person (as fascinated as I would be by hearing those perspectives), because the angry grief this book contains made me more happy to be myself and be no one else. Even though I was personally done feeling apologetic, guilty, homophobic, or self-hating about coming out and being out as a queer person, I didn't even know that I still felt apologetic, guilty, homophobic, and self-hating over having closeted myself in the first place. Wolves' finely detailed examination of personal, historical, and cultural grief surrounding the AIDS epidemic allowed me to see myself, my choices, and my unhappiness with those choices in context. I'm able, finally, to show compassion to the closeted queer girl I was half a lifetime ago, am amazed that I have such a capacity for compassion and love, and feel thrilled that it's necessary to continue to show myself such compassion.

Wolves, being built around death and secrets, may seem depressing. But this novel is a truly amazing coming to terms with the necessity of life's eventual end and the loss of loved ones, via the recognition that there is so much joy, color, love, art, capacity for self-exploration, and forgiveness bursting out of a merely fictional loss that it gives one immense amounts of hope for the nonfiction of life.

Please, please read this book; I'd love to discuss it with you, my friends.