Huddle is out this coming Monday. I want to do something here that I didn’t quite do in my introduction. I want to tell you a little bit about these stories, why I believed they were the best, and—woah— how I suddenly found myself editing an M/M anthology. Here’s something I do say in my introduction: Huddle was meant to be queer—across-the-fucking-board queer. I mean, Huddle is queer, but it features only male characters. This came as a surprise, since I received an equal amount of other queer stories, but the five that fill Huddle were the ones that completely blew my mind—for their sultriness, their darkness, their ability to tell a compelling story and make me hot in my seat. Huddle is erotica, but, like many of Go Deeper Press’ releases, it’s literary, too. It’s everything I love in a story collection.
And it starts off strong, with “Game Set Match” by Dario Dalla Lasta. My God, I will never forget Trace Petrucco and his bright Pumas or Jeremy King and his Italian-sausage-sized cock. These two characters are so alive on the page, I swear I could smell them (Jeremy especially, since he’s the sweaty tennis player, who, you know, sort of reminded me of Pete Sampras). Or maybe it was the smell of locker room? For what it’s worth, I imagine Trace to smell like creamsicles: fruity. Anyway, Dario made me love both these guys in completely different ways and for completely different reasons. This takes masterful talent, I swear it.
Next is Benji Bright and “Free Run.” Okay, I love Benji Bright. In fact, I love Benji Bright so much, I interviewed him. He submitted this story, and I was, like, “Yes! BENJI BRIGHT!” I realized that, if I didn’t like the story, I’d have to reject it, but I don’t think Benji Bright can write a bad story. This is his natural gift: writing beautiful and vivid erotica that makes you feel like you’re part of the scenery (in this case, I was hiding behind a bush, watching what that lucky devil of a narrator was watching). There are moments in “Free Run” that feel silent and still—the narrator’s careful eye on his two running teammates in the woods—and it’s breathtaking, its longing and loneliness.
Remember this name: Theophilia St. Claire. “Punishment” is Theophilia’s story and, my God, if you can actually get the image of a young football stud (Brett Roff’s his name and he’s got wing tattoos on his back, which makes him, as far as I’m concerned, a sex angel) who’s allowed only to put his hands on the shower head, please email me. “Punishment” is Huddle’s wank story. I don’t think I’ve seen competition done like this before, and at the hands of the most perverse coach to have ever walked a high school football field. If you like your stories hard and raw and sexy as hell, head straight to “Punishment.”
Tamsin Flowers’ narrative in “Lucky Mascot” reminded me at first of Bret Easton Ellis. This was the deal winner. There’s something, you know, a little Less Than Zero about it: a kid of some privilege; previous history with drug use; confident, but bored and wanting to be elsewhere, anywhere, than where he is—until he takes a walk and stumbles upon the superstar pitcher, who’s up too late for someone with a important game the next day. So, Jed, the narrator, and Dick (that’s right—Pitcher Dick Gunnison) negotiate a way to ease all nerves and get the potential MLB candidate off to dreamland. It’s glorious how quickly they move to the solution that ends in release and relaxation for them both.
I fell in love with Christopher Stoddard’s character Christian from “Football Head” around Page 1. I think that most of us who realized we were queer at a very young age can probably identify with Christian in some ways: He’s vulnerable, a little eager to please, desperate to be loved and accepted for who he is. I imagine him small—a little goth, a little punk rock—especially when compared to JT, the hotshot quarterback from Bridgeport Prep, who warms only to Christian when he’s had too many and his bedroom door is closed. I love this story and its darkness, its realness, the way it makes me feel for Christian now as a much old queer girl. I want to buy him a sundae, tell him “It gets better”—all the stuff you want to do for kids who get their hearts broken after being strong enough to put them out there to begin with.
So, this is Huddle. I love it like the fluffiest, best-behaved dog I’ve never owned, like the child I’ll never have, like the dripping-hot steamfest that it is. Huddle is exactly what I wanted it to be, despite the narrow focus I hadn’t imagined. I would fight for it—that’s how much it means to me. But for you? I just want it to make you smile. Here’s to hoping.
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