Performative Anxieties

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Stella Maris and Other Key West Stories
by Michael Carroll
Turtle Point Press. 288 pages, $17.

 

THIS NEW COLLECTION of short stories by Michael Carroll, Stella Maris and Other Key West Stories, features many generic conventions of the summer beach read. There’s the glamorous setting with emphasis on landscapes where “canals were like twisted ways of water and mangrove.” Many of the characters travel throughout the world, rent out bungalows, and live lives of leisure. The narrator in “The Leisure Classless” describes himself as “an accomplished guest” who “can expense what I want to … and rent a car and see the harbor, the nature preserves, go to restaurants.” There are sensual descriptions of the human body and exuberant celebrations of various sexual acts, as when Carroll explores the thrill of two men enjoying each other’s bodies while being watched by a voyeur in the opening story, “Sugar and Gold.” Dale, one of the story’s characters, finishes rimming a young man which “had given him wood, not a lot but enough sap to make the branch grow.”

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 Dan Calhoun is the author of Safe Sex, a collection of short stories.

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