It’s amazing to consider that, one day, gay high school prom kings and queens may be the norm. Standing at the mid-point of history, when our queer baby brothers and sisters are still being bullied yet becoming a more recognized scholastic force, Steve Berman’s collection of new young adult fairy tales, Red Caps, hits at exactly the right moment. His stories contain proud, out college bound sophisticates whom still are fighting off the rigid strains of homophobia and the prescribed doctrines of public acceptance – all with a fantastical twist, of course.
With a release date of February 14th, 2014, many of Berman’s sweetly magical tales concern love. Love thwarted, love longed for and love, in its delicate first moments of adventure. You get the still relevant tales of youths fighting to free their significant others from the dangers of the closet (Only Lost Boys Are Found) and those fighting for breath within the sticky strings of monogamy (Bittersweet). Berman, also, perfectly nails the tentative nature of all emotional entanglements. No one ever quite escapes the nervous energy associated with a new crush or an unrequited obsession, making stories such as Most Likely and The Harvestbuck relatable to all.
Berman mixes all these common day realities with a sense of the punk (Red Caps is an indie band mentioned in several of the stories) fantastic, though. All Smiles power-blends the conventions of sexy hitchhiking bad-asses, back breaking reform school programs and mysterious clans of demon hunters into a bloody, hypnotic literature smoothie. Three on a Match suggests that tragedies like teen suicide and the strains of life-at-large can find a bit of relief in the imaginary and supposed magic.
Berman excels in smaller moments, as well. He writes of familial relations, particularly the interactions between siblings, with tart truth. Indeed, a late-point revelation about the lead character’s sister in Only Lost Boys Are Found is one of the most simple, yet poignant moments in the collection as a whole.
Funny, honest and mystically misty, Berman proves here, without a doubt, that the mysterious and the wonderful do exist in our everyday lives, making Red Caps an appropriate gift for funky kids of every age.
Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!
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