The Body and Its Dangers and Other Stories (Stonewall Inn Editions) - Allen Barnett i read a lot of queer books in college. this is possibly due to the fact that i'm a queer. and so this is one of those queer books. it is one of the better ones.

for some reason or another i gravitated towards those books that seemed to have loads of sex - anonymous and otherwise. maybe it was the sexy covers. maybe it is due to my innately shallow nature. sadly, most of those tales of Gay World Adventures ended up being both tedious and pretentious.

there is pretension in this collection, there's no denying it. and there's the anonymous sex too, of course, yawn. but the stories of The Body and Its Dangers go beyond that, into a place with depth and warmth and sadness and understandable fears and genuine pain and the building of families and real human relationships and lots & lots of compassion. i love compassion in literature! it is not something that i normally gravitate towards, but i really appreciate it when i find it. Barnett paints his characters as flawed, sometimes petty, sometimes ugly on the inside, but always human. he was a humane writer. even better, the collection doesn't always exist within the insular gay community and includes many characters ouside of Gay World. stories about breast cancer and pregnancy! i remember being both surprised and impressed at what felt like Barnett's insistence in painting a whole world rather than simply a slice of one.