I recently published a compilation of my fab
columns (*read an interview with Bellini about his book here)
. When the shipment arrived, I took some copies over to Glad Day Bookshop, which had kindly agreed to sell them. When I got there, store manager Scott Dagostino (who was my associate editor at fab
at one point) showed me a new display case he had created to highlight the works of local writers. It was full! I had no idea so many people in Toronto’s queer community were busy writing books.
Of course, I was flattered to be in such good company. Other titles on the shelf include Sky Gilbert’s two new books, The Mommiad
and Come Back
, as well as Sub Rosa
, by Amber Dawn; Greg Kearney’s Pretty
; Leanna Brodie’s The Book of Esther
; Brian Francis’s Fruit
; Basement of Wolves
, by Daniel Allen Cox; Matthew J Trafford’s The Divinity Gene
; Farzana Doctor’s Six Metres of Pavement
, by Kirk DeMatas; Liz Bugg’s Oranges and Lemons
; Gordon Stewart Anderson’s The Toronto You Are Leaving
; Vivek Shraya’s God Loves Hair
; and Trans(per)forming Nina Arsenault
. What a library!
The one book by a local author that wasn’t on the shelf was Jeffrey Round’s new gay mystery novel, Lake on the Mountain
. Despite his Toronto pedigree, Dagostino explained to me that Round’s book is more appropriately found in the gay mystery section of Glad Day. Aside from his two excellent novels A Cage of Bones
and The Honey Locust
, Round has previously published two other fun, campy mysteries: The P’town Murders
and Death in Key West
. With this new series, Round gets serious. “I think of it as literary noir,” he told me.
Lake on the Mountain
involves Dan Sharp, a Toronto missing-persons investigator who is dating a total asshole. They go to a wedding together and the reception is on a boat. It’s all fun until someone falls overboard, unleashing the mystery of the long-since-vanished father of the groom. Dan also has a young son and a gay best friend named Donny. Their scenes together are the most honest and realistic, and the whole book is very authentic. It helps that Round has three law enforcement officials in his family to assist with the details. Lake on the Mountain
is literally a page turner — I devoured it in two days.
Round is sensitive to the difference between his literary work and his mysteries. “I was speaking at a conference in New Orleans, getting a lot of questions about the writing process, so I compared Key West
, which was quick to write, to Honey Locust
, which took years. I said it’s faster to write a mystery because the formula is easier. Then I heard this deep inhale from across the room and this one old man stood up. ‘Where is this famous formula to be found? Can I buy it in a store?’ he barked. So I just said, ‘Walgreens, second shelf to the left.’” The next Dan Sharp mystery is due in January.
If it’s a real-life mystery you’re interested in, try Marilyn at Rainbow’s End
, by Darwin Porter, a riveting piece of investigative reporting about the death of Marilyn Monroe. Because she was such a mess, it’s always been easy to believe that it was a suicide. But she had fucked a lot of famous people and kept a little red diary. Porter believes that Marilyn was assassinated by six mobsters, hired by Sam Giancana, who injected her with a mixture of liquid Nembutal, chloral hydrate and water directly through the rectum, so as to leave no trace. Afterward, Porter writes, producer Arthur Jacobs staged the scene to look like a suicide while Peter Lawford dug around and found the diary, which was sealed and shipped to the Justice Department. Beyond juicy.
With all these mysteries and great local writers, summer reading has never been more fun. For even more fun, you can always skim through the pages of my book — The Fab Columns
— to see if you’re mentioned in it.