Love Hard by D. Travers Scott
For the first time, the best pieces of D. Travers Scott’s celebrated short fiction from the past twenty years are gathered together. Love Hard collects work originally appearing in award-winning anthologies, underground queer ‘zines, erotica magazines, and live performance, along with new stories never before published. Together, they offer the first comprehensive overview of Scott’s ongoing explorations of masculinity, sexuality, cities, family, love, and the power of writing. All stories are newly revised for this collection.
Perhaps I live under a rock, but I wasn’t familiar with Scott’s short stories before picking up this collection. I choose it due to the publisher, Queer Mojo/Rebel Satori, which always publishes thought provoking, evocative, and usually hard hitting work. This particular collection of stories is no different. The stories range from sweet, almost tender to brutal and mind bending. The concept of love is intermingled with desire, anger, fear, passion, and sensuality all woven together with a mastery of language and nuance that shines well above many other offerings. The city settings come alive in each story with delight and intense impact as no subject is taboo or off limits for Scott.
The collection is best read in parts, randomly pick a story, any story and indulge rather than gorging too much, too soon. The visual and sensual overload will lessen the impression and evocative imagery. Many of the stories have intriguing titles and stories to match. Several stand out as brutal and difficult to read, with the concept of a happy ending left entirely to the imagination of the reader. While others offer whimsy and humor, a bite of interest and glimpse of something addicting.
It’s hard to pick and choose amongst the offerings as every reader will find something for their taste. In the space of 31 short stories, there is no shortage of variation. Perhaps the immediately engaging and eye catching story of Gas Works Park will entice readers with its emotion. Or the hilarious and almost ranting of Everclear, about both the band and the grain alcohol will strike a similar cord in some. Those familiar with cities will definitely relate to the story in Little Armenia, while fans of LA may sympathize with the slightly chilly King of the Universe.
My personal favorites were easily the stories that didn’t try as hard as others but the ease of narration and ideas leapt off the page. The delightful Pedestal with a pair of ex-lovers comparing gay bars while the comparison to their relationship is too close to the surface should not be missed. Also, the fascinating and touching story of Yidland is both sad and slight haunting. The chilling Palladium leaves a lasting and brutal impression with its hard hitting writing and desperate yearning. I can’t forget to mention Where Hearts Were Entertaining June, which is simply fabulous if dark. Yet the collection ends sweetly with hope in Catafalque.
If anything, I simply urge readers to pick up this phenomenal collection. Some of the stories are better than others but the imagination, emotion, and use of prose is sure to intrigue and entice. Considering the number of stories offered and I can count in low single digits the offerings which were less well written or less provocative, this collection is a must have. The stories are not always easy to read but that makes them worth the effort.
Get it HERE!