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Are Two Heads Better Than One?

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Two brothers, two sexualities, one body

ABeierle
Andrew W.M. Beierle

By Angel Curtis, Neil Ellis Orts, and Troy Carrington

Developing a fully integrated personality as a gay adult can be a struggle. It can be even harder if the person is a twin and the other sibling is straight. First Person Plural (Kensington Books) presents us with such a situation—twin brothers with differing sexual orientations, each with his own mind, spirit, and heart. One big twist: The brothers are dicephalus, inhabiting one body with two heads.

Owen and Porter are “mainstreamed” by their parents at an early age. The boys not only suffer the usual adolescent angst, they do so without having true peers. They sort out issues of how time is spent, privacy, and who provides the hand job each night. They grow up, finish school, and begin a successful career as part of a band called Janus. Sex is hovering in the distance, but is never really a problem—groupies don’t count.

FirstPersonPorter meets a woman aptly named Faith, falls in love, and gets married. Following long-standing practices between the brothers, the relationship works. Owen falls in love, begins a gay relationship with Faith’s brother, yet must end it to save Porter’s marriage.   Slowly but surely, Porter’s wife demands more and more of Owen’s life. Owen begins another relationship, full of joy and truly great sex. Faith realizes that when one brother has sex, the other is a de facto participant. Deeply disturbed by the lack of conventional boundaries, Faith sets up a situation where both brothers stand to lose their loves, their lives, and their sense of self.

Author Andrew W.M. Beierle deals with issues around coming out, family, identity, and self-determination, which makes First Person Plural not only a magnificent story, but a morality tale about tolerance, love, and loyalty.

FaithHealerThe Faith Healer of Olive Avenue
Manuel Munoz
Algonquin (www.algonquin.com)
A gay man is left with the child his deceased partner adopted. Two cousins, as close as siblings, face the mistakes a family repeats. A father tries to understand how he drove his son to suicide. Each story in this collection stands alone, but cities, streets, and people reappear throughout, creating a multilayered portrait of a Mexican American community in California. Beautiful, heartbreaking, hopeful, and honest. — Review: Neil Ellis Orts

Taking Woodstock
Elliot Tiber with Tom Monte
Square One Publishers (www.squareonepublishers.com)
This memoir is a breezy, easy read of the author’s firsthand experience with two cultural touchstones: the Stonewall riots and Woodstock. Early chapters describing his first experiences in New York City’s gay underground are a little heavy on gratuitous name dropping, but once we’re past that, the excitement of the music festival fairly pulls the reader through the rest of the book. A fascinating piece of history told with a great sense of humor. — Review: N.O.

NAlexander13:55 Eastern Standard Time
Nick Alexander
BIGfib Books (www.bigfib.com)
13:55 Eastern Standard Time proves once and for all that six degrees of separation has become a cliché. Here, in a series of stories trying and failing to emulate the rarely-a-happy-ending style of T.C. Boyle, the writer bludgeons us with the “we are all interconnected” message. Yawn. I couldn’t even connect with the gay characters. This one is best left on the shelf. — Review: A.C.

Selfish & Perverse
Bob Smith

Carroll & Graf (www.avalonpub.com)
Nelson Kunker is trapped in his job as the script supervisor on Aftertaste, the low-rated late-night sketch TV show that he compares to the Loch Ness monster: “Everyone’s heard of us but sightings are rare.” His life in L.A. has come to a halt because he’s unable to finish the novel he’s writing, he doesn’t have a boyfriend, and at the pivotal age of 34 has reached the juncture where he has to decide whether he’s really talented or just gay. Comedian Bob Smith’s new book is, according to author Armistead Maupin, “a thoroughly seductive and satisfying read.” — Preview: Troy Carrington  

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