Gay Dwarves review online

August 24, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

My review of Anne Fleming’s second story collection, Gay Dwarves of America is up at the National Post‘s website. Perhaps surprisingly, the book’s title is not even the best thing about it.

Fleming is at her best in stories that are much more familiar or conventional (if one may use that word non-pejoratively in a critical context).

“Unicycle Boys,” for instance, is a straightforward tale of a teenaged girl who accompanies a misfit to his high-school prom, much to the disdain of her popular ex-boyfriend. Fleming nicely captures the awkwardness and pathos of being an outsider in a milieu that prizes conformity above all. Even the story’s narrator, who claims to disavow cliques of any kind, must align herself to a group that is defined by its outsider status: “What group did we think we belonged to? Hard to remember. Smart girls with sharp wits, girls who argued with teachers, who questioned authority, who mouthed off but got good marks, girls who thought themselves worldly. Girls who scorned membership in a group.” The decision to have the story narrated by an adult looking back on her adolescence also provides a useful ironic distance, adding a layer of pathos to the story’s conclusion.

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