May 23, 2009–I am adding a page of reviews for short stories and anthologies. I love short stories and, speaking as an author, I think they are hard to do well. Harder than writing a book, at least for me. Often, as with “Proud is the Dancer” I will be reviewing only one story, not because I didn’t want to review the entire anthology,but because of time restraints and a p particular interest in that author or that story. I have found that anthologies are usually pretty equal in the quality of the stories within their covers. So here we go. When I get time I will try to transfer the existing short story reviews to this page.
Proud Is the Dancer
by Lee Benoit
Published by Phaze in the anthology Coming Together: At Last, Vol. One
Available in both print and e-book.
“Proud Is the Dancer” is the only story I have read from the anthology and so it’s the only one I will mention. I daresay the other stories as more than likely also very good.
This little gem of a story has an endearing opening line: “Feathers were not on Danny’s list.” Feathers? In the next sentence Danny has loaded up a shopping cart with multi-hued marabou, peacock, ostrich….feathers. Bags of them. And they’re a personal purchase obviously, since he pays for the rest of his shopping cart with a check from a GLBT center but he digs into his pocket for the cash to buy the feathers. I mean, how could I stop reading before I knew why a guy with the strong, Irish name of Danny bought bags of feathers? Even without knowing anything about him yet, I sense he really isn’t the feather type.
In such a short piece as this, it would be all too easy to spoil the story by telling too much. So instead of detailing any more about the story, I’ll tell you about the other main character who inhabits Danny’s world. He is Danny’s live-in lover, the exotically beautiful Cuban, a famous dancer in his lost homeland: Calyx.
The author uses an unusual construction for her story. It alternates between the sweetness of Danny’s love and concern for his tormented lover, and the nightmarish dreams and memories of living under the Castro regime, nightmares that never leave Calyx’s deep, dark eyes. It’s not an easy thing to shift like that in a short story, but Benoit does it well.
Danny has learned belatedly of Cal’s fame as a young dancer in Cuba, but he knows little of the details of the political world that he lived in because Calyx refuses to discuss the past. All Danny knows is that the nightmares bring Calyx awake at night in sweat-drenched terror. Danny wants more than anything else to cure Calyx’s fear, make the nightmares go away. He is sure he has found a way, and it hinges on the multi-colored feathers.
You will like this story. Promise.
A note about the series, from Lee Benoit: “This series is a charity effort,
with each volume benefiting a different cause. At Last’s two volumes
feature stories of interracial romance and benefit Amnesty International.
More information about the series:
From the publisher’s website:
“Phaze, in partnership with editor Alessia Brio, is proud to announce Coming Together: At Last, a collection of interracial erotic fiction which celebrates the diversity of desire. With an introduction by NYT Bestselling Author L.A. Banks!”