The Rest of Us
by Guy Mark Foster
Tincture/Lethe Press. 180 pages, $15.
by Luis Negrón (translated by Suzanne Jill Levine)
Seven Stories Press. 96 pages, $13.95
TWO recently published short story collections—one written by an African-American professor, the other by a Puerto Rican author—provide unique perspectives into the lives of queer minorities in the United States.
Guy Mark Foster, who teaches English at Bowdoin College in southern Maine, offers seventeen well-crafted pieces in The Rest of Us, analyzing with a sharp eye and a controlled style the broken lives of black characters struggling with issues of identity in a country marked by racial tension and homophobia. Foster does not avoid controversial topics, tackling head on issues such as interracial relationships in the gay community, abuse within black families, and the AIDS epidemic. The opening story, “Boy,” is a scathing portrayal of abuse as a father gives a series of commands to his son: “bend way the fuck over to better take a stiff one up the ass; this is how a black man takes a stiff one up the ass; this is how a black man takes a stiff one up the ass from a white man—watch me.” In “A Type of Vampirism,” Bernard, the narrator, struggles with his choice of a white lover as he lusts after the black character Calvin, “that young tribesman sent to deliver me back after all.” This motif is revisited in “Between Us,” in which a character named Mark writes a letter to “M” explaining that, despite their intense love, they could not remain together, because, as a white person, M could not provide the “safety” a black lover could.