Foolish Hearts: New Gay Fiction
Edited by Timothy J. Lambert and R. D. Cochrane
Cleis Press. 232 pages, $15.95
THE STORIES in Foolish Hearts remind us that the short story was once a mainstream art form for ordinary folks to read and enjoy. Most of these stories are gay romances that end either happily or poignantly and, for the most part, don’t spend much time in the bedroom. Husbands are tempted but choose to be faithful; boyfriends realize that the great love they have always searched for is sleeping right next to them. Change the gender of a character or two, and these stories could have appeared in mid-20th-century women’s magazines, sandwiched between handbag pictorials and gossip. This is not meant as a criticism. Many stories now acknowledged to be masterpieces were first published in Vogue, Mademoiselle, and Harper’s Bazaar by writers like Truman Capote, Shirley Jackson, and Dorothy Parker. Still, most of stories in these magazines were competent romances, not meant as more than light entertainment.
Thus it would be wrong to criticize the stories in Foolish Hearts for a lack of depth, as most have few literary pretensions beyond entertainment.