Review: Gerard and Jacques Vol.01 & 02 by Fumi Yoshinaga

Blurb: The heroes of this story meet in a rather unlikely place – a brothel. Gerard, after deflowering the young aristocrat-turned-prostitute Jacques, pays to free him from his profession and spares him a life of selling his body to survive. Jacques shows up at Gerard’s door soon after, willing to work to repay his debt, not knowing that he would soon be tangled up in a web of romance with his new master.

Set in the years around the French Revolution, Gerard and Jacques is a story we’ve all seen before – Jacques is a young man sold into prostitution for whatever reason and comes across Gerard, a man who takes him away from all this (not before raping him, though; this is yaoi after all). “Unlikely” isn’t exactly a word I’d have used either, I’ve read so many books where brothels are involved.

Gerard wants to humiliate Jacques, to make him realise that he might as well be a whore, because he’s of no use—as an ex-aristocrat—for anything else. The boy surprises him by working hard around the house.

Jacques had my admiration for battling on with his chores, until it transpired that he’d learned to shoe horses after just being shown once. Hmmm. I’m not looking for a huge amount of realism in yaoi novels but this really annoyed me. I’m forced to admit that there are aspects of manga that I really don’t like, such as the cartoony faces of surprise like this—I know there’s probably a huge tradition behind this, and it’s what the readers like and expect, but as a grown adult who has jumped from childhood comics to graphic novels with an interim of many decades, I can’t acclimatise to it, and it pulls me from the more realistic drawings that the rest of the novel is drawn in.

I also don’t like the words to describe the actions. If the pictures are drawn well enough, and they are, I don’t need the words “JERK UP!” or “STARTLE!”to describe action.

There’s no real story here, though, in volume one. It’s a little plot, interspersed with backstory, mainly relating to Gerard who was married once.

I’m not enamoured of the homosexual image either – as expected Jacques, being the uke, is unwilling and resentful of his new master. He finds the advances distasteful but in secret he feels a sexual attraction growing – this is expected in the genre, I suppose. However as Gerard’s backstory emerges we find that he was pretty much hetero, but was “lured into m/f/m” by his “evil wife.” When the other man makes advances to Gerard on his own, Gerard rejects these advances calling them filthy.

The sex scenes are a little more explicit than I’ve seen in other yaoi-almost accurate cocks and such like.

There were interesting sections—discussions of politics, literature and philosophy – and I’d have liked a bit more politics and a bit more plot but then that’s probably just me.

Volume 02 was marginally more interesting, but rather repetitive and dull in parts, whole pages of just the same expression, or so it seemed to me, and the plot jumped all over the place which made it very confusing.

I did like the drawing in the main (apart from the aforementioned funny faces) the period clothes were beautifully done, although I’m no expert, and there were touches of humour that really made me smile but all in all the whole angst angst he raped me no no no no oh maybe angst maybe i love him angst angst thing just wasn’t for me. I just think I’m not a natural yaoi reader, I’m afraid.

Buy from publisher

The Queer Side of Museum Objects and writing competition

At the Victoria and Albert Museum – London.

Monday 17 November
11.00-13.00

Meeting Point at the Grand Entrance.

In association with UntoldLondon and Chroma: Queer Literary and Arts Journal, the V&A is hosting short lunchtime talk focussing on the queer side of the museum collection. Subjects will include the politics of the poster, fashion and identity and gay as lesbian visibility within the museum itself.

This talk has been organised as part of a workshop for entrants to ‘Write Queer London’ competition, a writing competition for everyone everywhere.

Competition entry and bookings must be made through UntoldLondon. For more information and to enter this competition, please visit http://www.untoldlondon.org.uk/news/ART61698.html or contact Sara Wajid on swajid@museumindocklands.org.uk

What does your queer London look like? And how does it compare with queer London of yesteryear? We’re looking for stories, non-fiction, and poems about queer London, past, present and future. Where do lovers meet? What are some of the delights and dangers of queer London? Tell us those untoldtold stories of clubbing and dating, cruising and marching, loving and breaking up. Bring an alternate queer history of London alive. What if Hadrian and Antinous had had a civil partnership in ancient Cheapside? Was there a thriving scene of African sailors and Indian lascars down at the docks in the 18th century? Take inspiration from museum collections as Marguerite Yourcenar did when she wrote her modern classic, Memoirs of Hadrian, after visiting the British Museum. Or don’t. Just make it up!

We want the pride and the prejudice, the sensible and the highly senseless. Don’t hold back! Delve into the past, imagine the future, tell it like it is.

See competition guidelines and details of how to enter here. (There’s no link – so I’m assuming you email the woman above with your entry – I’ve emailed her as to how you are supposed to pay the entry fee (which isp retty steep, and I’m not a fan of entry fees to begin with)

Stories and Non-fiction: no longer than 2500 words

Poems : no longer than 30 lines

Deadline: 8th January 2009

Prizes: £100 for winning story for each category (and £25 in book tokens from Gay is the Word bookshop)

Entry Fee: £5

Review: Blitz by Charlie Cochrane

Free Read

Adam Jackson feels frustrated that he isn’t doing more for the war effort; a liaison job with the War cabinet is hardly as glamorous as being in the forces. Nor is London, in the grip of the Blitz, the sort of place where a young man expects to find love, especially when your ideal partner isn’t a young lady.

Hugh Scarborough-a handsome decoder from the same department-is exactly what Adam’s looking for, but will the interest be returned? And what chance can any budding romance have against a background of air raids and huddling in shelters?

Review by Erastes

First of all – good cover. Not mad on the font of the title, and how difficult would it have been to stick a few anti-aircraft beams and barrrage balloons in the sky? But all in all FAR better than naked men having sex in front of the Houses of Parliament. Thumbs up.

The book has an excellent start – a great first line, first paragraph, which pulls you into the story immediately – tells you where you are, when you are, who’s thinking/talking with a bare minimum of fuss. This is a rare talent in my experience, you only need to read the Dear Author first page posts to see that.

A couple of things jarred me – mention of “Jonny-in-the-air” – which should have been “Johnny-head-in-air” from the poem “For Johnny” by John Pudney, written in 1941. I’m pathetic enough to have noticed this because the film “Way to the Stars” quotes it and it’s one of my favourite poems of all time, but no-one else will note this or indeed care – and it certainly doesn’t detract from the feel and atmosphere of this very touching and real-feeling story. The POV does waver from time to time, dropping out of 3rd person to omniescent and flicking back and forth between characters. There were a few -very few- editing issues I noticed but it was probably because I’m suffering from editing PTSD right now.

It’s a short piece – not quite 12 pages, but it manages everything a short story should do – beginning, (with backstory of both characters) middle, conflict (as to what every good gay historical should encompass – that of how two men will manage an affair at all) and a satisfying conclusion. That Cochrane manages this in 3000 words is a testament to her quiet and efficient style, making each word count, each phrase tell its own story. This is demonstrated most in the sex scene, where – Renault-like- she gives a feeling of real eroticism whilst saying almost nothing at all.

As a short story, it’s a nice read – as a free short story, it’s just about perfect. Don’t miss this one.

READ HERE

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