Reviewed by Liam Anthony
A transgressive short story collection that takes the reader on a journey away from the heteronormative landscape
You’re Pretty Gay by Drew Pisarra is a wholly original collection of short stories. Like Pisarra’s poetry, this book is deeply invested in Queer life: it is liberating, at times eye-opening, and always visceral.
The collection begins with “Fickle,” which has echoes of Drew Pisarra’s poetic influence through its hypnotic repetition and undeniable rhythm. Part story, part meditation, this piece is an excellent way to introduce the reader to Pisarra’s unique writing style and creative prose.
Many of the stories begin with a reference to childhood, or a place that appears normal, almost idyllic. The author dismantles a hackneyed setting into something more clandestine and flirts with surrealism at times. “Future Story” ruminates on the notion of gender and body enhancement: “Where’s the virtue in virtual reality?”
In “A total knockout,” the story begins with a comedic perspective of how we date in the 21st century. “20 somethings, 30 somethings, and 40 somethings meet after having seen a torso, an ass, or silhouette.” The story looks at the idea of a blind date before the narrator takes us on some surreal erotic ride in which a disappointing blind date allows him to discover something far more interesting.
In “Dating Games: Silver Edition” a similar theme is echoed. The stories are split into sections. The beginnings are all punctuated with a place, normally a bar or on one occasion, a museum. The writer is erudite and incredibly diligent in conveying Queer sexual experiences. Pisarra fuses erotica, comedy, and romance with wit to land on something that LGBTQ+ readers will appreciate. It feels honest and genuinely lived.
A standout piece in the collection is “Granny.” It deviates from the common themes in the book and looks at family dynamics; in particular, the one we share with our siblings. Pisarra’s poetic ability is often three-dimensional. In this story, smell is used as a powerful, multi-sensorial mechanism to make the reader feel as though they are with these characters. It focuses on the death of Granny and on memory. The author’s description makes it read like a scene from television, sandwiched between Six Feet Under and Fleabag. It is both inappropriately funny and beautifully cinematic.
You’re Pretty Gay only affirms that Pisarra is as strong a prose stylist as a poet. His perspective of Queer life feels objective and ours, yet part of another world. Treating sexuality as something living in us all, an energy that ought not to be diluted. After reading this work, I feel both seen and accepted. Pisarra combines the banal with the spectacular, constantly surprising his reader with infinite possibilities and anything but the status quo.
Publisher: Chaffinch Press
Genre: Short Fiction / LGBTQ+
Print Length: 90 pages
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