by Matthew Haldeman-Time, contemporary (2007)
Lulu, $14.66, ISBN N/A
Guys In College is a compilation of stories of gay relationships revolving around - what else? - guys in college. These stories could also be found on the author's website for free, so this is clearly a souvenir for people who are a fan of Matthew Haldeman-Time's brand of short stories. The author is slowly branching out into commercial publication with his recent debut with Samhain Publishing and a recent foray into a gay anthology called Summer Flings, so I figure that it will be interesting to check out the author's earlier works.
I'm not going to go into detail about the seven stories here because, well, they are short. Many are just scenarios rather than stories, with the longest work here being the author's preview to his current ongoing series In This Land, which you'll have to subscribe at $1.99 a month at the author's website to read more. I may feel cheated were not for the fact that I did not pay a single cent, much less $14.66, for the electronic version of this book, heh. This book is, at the time of writing, available for free at Lulu.
The stories revolve around a gay college student who will sigh and stare longingly at the object of his affection until, lo, it turns out that the fellow reciprocates his affections and it's time to take off the clothes and party. Being short stories, there are nothing too deep or complicated, just a typical case of a handsome jock-type hunk falling for the nerdy charms of a sensitive fellow with either a scholarly or creative bent. I dare you to tell me that you have never read a story such as this before either in its straight or gay romantic escapist fantasy incarnation.
I have to admit, there is a very charming quality to these stories despite the familiar and even clichéd themes of these stories. After all, nursing a crush on someone from a distant is an universal human trait that we all have experienced at various stages in our lives and the author does a pretty good in capturing the experience. The awkwardness, even the pain, oh, how blue can these pretty boys be. I hate to say this, but a part of me can relate to these sensitive new age emo gay bois. In these stories, the infatuation always leads to a happy ending, hence their appeal.
If I actually paid $14.66 for this book, I'd most likely feel less magnanimous about this collection. The stories are, however charming they can be, not really anything too memorable or exceptional to be worth the bloated price. The price issue is not the author's fault, of course, as Lulu charges what it charges for its books and there is nothing that can be done about this situation by a self-published author who can't use pay-to-publish services for whatever reason. So yes, the best I can probably say about this charming little way to pass the time is that if you like reading gay romances, grab the free copy while it's available unless you are willing to pony up the money for a hard copy.
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