REVIEW: Light (‘Nathan Burgoine)

downloadEncapsulate the book in one sentence?

“I refuse to become the gay superhero known as Disco.”

Intriguing, tell me more.

Kieran is a bit psychic, a bit psychokinetic, and a lot gay. There’s a right-wing religious nut attacked Pride events, and Kieran’s not having any of that. Kieran really loves Pride.

Personal Choice, Book-Pot, Re-read…?

Personal choice. Bold Strokes sent me it to review about ::mumble:: years ago and I sorta forgot. Since then I’ve read a whole bunch of short fiction by Burgoine and become a fan. (I cannot rave enough about Psychometry of Snow.) I suspect the key to his fiction is in the restorative power of hairy men and cake, and I approve of that. Anyways, I figured it was about damn time I read Light.

What genre would you say it is?

Technically it’s a superhero origin story. It’d be quite easy to compare this to Perry Moore’s Hero because we’re pretty light on queer superhero stories to pick from, but the similarities are only superficial. Hero is all about adolescent rites and spandex costumes; Light is somewhere between paranormal adventure and gay romance. With some leather sexiness.

Did you finish it? Did it work for you?

Read it in two days! And yes, it really did work for me. Burgoine has an undisputeable talent for writing light, funny and sweet that doesn’t merge into meaningless fluff, and the book is nicely balanced between the romance and the telekinetic-superhero plot stuff so neither feel like window-dressing for the other. The dialogue is witty, the central relationship entertaining and believable, and the underlying menace of the religiously-motivated hate does hold quite poignant weight. Plus, bonus points for a novel that completely captures what I love about Pride events (i.e. community, belonging and inclusivity.)

What surprises did it hold – if any?

I’m all for coming-of-age and coming-out stories, but it was surprisingly refreshing to read something where the main character was 100% okay with being gay, and so was his family. Not in an unrealistic shiny-happy-people way either, just different things to worry about. It was also much funnier than I expected. (That sounds like a back-handed compliment but isn’t. Back-handed I mean. It is a compliment.)

What scene will stay with you? What character will stay with you?

There are a few slivers of scenes of the young Kieran with his mother. Superhero origin stories are pretty brimming with dead parents, but Light makes the glimpses of this we get delicate and sad, and they are still moments in amongst the fast rush of the rest of the book that really sets off the whole thing.

Give me a good quote:

Never gives me the time of day, and this twink gets his attention? Typical.
I bristled. I am not a twink. I have black hair, and there’s scruff on my chest, and quite frankly, twinks don’t have thighs or calves like mine. So there. I glared at the bar guy, who had no idea we were having an argument and didn’t seem to care that I was winning.

What do you mean, bad reviews?

I like reading bad reviews of books I like. A few complaints from goodreads:
– “Why’d it have to be fade-to-black sex.” I wouldn’t have complained either way, but I quite liked the sexy bit in the middle. There is such a thing as an overdose of cock, you know.
– “Stereotype fag-hag ‘hey-bitch’ friendship with female character.” I have many female friends. Some of the friendships are in that vein. Stereotypes do actually exist! There was a multitude of non-stereotypical characters to offset.
– “He gave up his secret identity a bit quick to a guy he’d only just met.” Got me on that one, to be fair. I didn’t really mind. Given there’s an in-the-closet parallel going on here, it kinda fit for him to be out-and-proud.
– “That apostrophe in ‘Nathan is ridiculous.” How about the other 80,000 words in the book though? (Oh, he didn’t like those either.)
– “It’s clearly the first in a series.” Good point. WHERE’S MY SEQUEL?

Is it available today?

Bold Strokes Books. Online in all the usual venues, and I’ve spotted it in a couple of indie bookstores in the UK; can’t speak for the rest of the world but your local indie will be able to order it.

Soundtrack of choice: 

I went with Aquarius by Digital Daggers.

Miscellaneous thoughts:

– There should be a sequel called Shade in which Pride defends drag queens from a supervillain.

– A while back I did some design noodling based on the book, over here.

(The review format is stolen and adapted from lifeonmagrs.)


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