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Little Reef and Other Storiesby Michael Carroll
Synopses & Reviews
Jonathan Ascher, an acclaimed 1960s radical writer and cultural hero, has been dead for thirty years.
When a would-be biographer approaches Ascher’s widow Martha, she delves for the first time into her husband’s papers and all the secrets that come tumbling out of them. She finds journals that begin as a wisecracking chronicle of life at the fringes of the New York literary scene, then recount Ascher’s sexual adventures in the pre-Stonewall gay underground and the social upheavals that led to his famous book “JD.” As Martha reads on, she finds herself in a long-distance conversation with her dead husband, fighting with him again about their rocky marriage and learning about the unseen tragedy in her own apartment that ended with the destruction of their son, Mickey. Mickey comes to life in the space between Jonathan and Martha’s conflicting portraits of him, while Martha and the biographer tangle over the continued relevance of Jonathan’s politics and his unfulfilled vision of a nation remade. Martha learns about herself, finally, through her confrontation with a man who will not let her go, even in death.
Mark Merlis’s JD is a brilliant and harrowing view of a half century of the American experiment, acted out on a small stage by three people who cannot find a way—neither sex nor touch nor words—to speak their love for one another.
Little Reef and Other Stories is a collection of stories that dramatize the lives of contemporary gay men, their families, and especially the women who become important in their lives.
Thirty years after Jonathan Ascher’s death, Martha finally opens her husband’s journals and discovers his secret affairs with men as well as his all-absorbing passion for their deceased son, Mickey. Through the dysfunctional marriage between Martha and Jonathan Ascher as well as the story of Mickey’s untimely death, Mark Merlis shows readers a vivid picture of a family who cannot find a way through sex or touch or words to speak their love for one another.
Little Reef and Other Stories announces the arrival of an original voice in literature. From Key West to Maine, Michael Carrolls debut collection of stories depicts the lives of characters who are no longer provincial but are not yet cosmopolitan. These women and their gay male friends are B-listers” of a new, ironic, media-soaked culture. They live in a rich but increasingly divided America, a weirdly paradoxical country increasingly accepting of gay marriage but still marked by prejudice, religious strictures, and swaths of poverty and hopelessness. Carroll shows us people stunned by the shock of the now, who have forgotten their pasts and cant envision a future.
About the Author
Michael Carroll is a writer whose work has appeared in Boulevard, Ontario Review, Southwest Review, The Yale Review, Open City, and Animal Shelter. He lives in New York.
Table of Contents
Part One: After Dallas
From the Desk of . . . Hunter B. Gwathmey
Part Two: After Memphis
What Our Readers Are Saying
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