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Second Thoughts: More Queer and Weird Stories by [Berman, Steve]
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Second Thoughts: More Queer and Weird Stories Kindle Edition


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Review

"Each of the stories that make up this book is accompanied by such an Author's Note in which Berman discusses the background and purpose of the piece. The tone is informal and the device effective, giving the reader a greater insight to the writer while enhancing the impact of the tale. Though Berman's style varies greatly throughout the 200 plus pages of this selection of stories, it is consistent in its quick pace, punchy dialogue and confident originality. No two stories are the same, but are linked in their fine marriage of reality and surrealism. This collection is excellent for readers of the lesser-found gay supernatural fiction, or anyone appreciative of twisted tales in their many forms." - Chroma "The stories are without exception well-wrought, fluent gems that reveal Berman's gift for taking absolutely unremarkable situations, little fragments of everyday life, or sometimes bits of popular apocrypha, and twisting them off their path into bizarre and surprising places." - Rambles.net

About the Author

Steve Berman has been a finalist for the Andre Norton (his novel Vintage), the Gaylactic Spectrum, the Golden Crown Literary, and the Lambda Literary Awards. He resides in southern New Jersey.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1485 KB
  • Print Length: 215 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Lethe Press (7 Aug. 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001E03354
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,153,930 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No Second Thoughts Here 29 Dec. 2013
By Anthony R. Cardno - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've been a fan of Steve Berman's fiction since reading his short novel VINTAGE, a love story involving living and ghostly gay teens. I read his collection TRYSTS a few years back. I somehow lost this collection in the shuffle of releases from Lethe Press in general and all of the multi-author anthologies Berman has edited in recent years and so placed it on my "TBR Challenge" List for 2013. I read it a few months ago, but then fell behind on writing my reviews, so here it finally is.

Unsurprisingly, I loved most of this collection. The stories are all speculative fiction of some kind (horror, fantasy, even a bit of SF). Almost all feature gay protagonists and antagonists, but the emotions they touch on and the life-moments they elicit are universal. Several take familiar stories and riff uniquely on them (for instance, "Bittersweet," which riffs on the story of the gingerbread man, and "Secrets of the Gwangi," which gives us a secret history of that great claymation dinosaur western "Valley of the Gwangi"). Only one, "Tearjerker," takes place in Berman's SF world The Fallen Area (visited previously in four of the stories in TRYSTS), a world I wish Berman would return to and develop more. "Tearjerker" is one of my favorite stories in the collection, alongside "Bittersweet," the disturbing "Well Wishing," which puts a different spin on the old trope of the lonely traveler who spends the night at a rural residence and is warned not to touch the farmer's daughter "or else," the longing-filled "Kinder," in which German brats infest a historical house and bedevil the live-in docent, and the playful-yet-dark "The High Cost for Tamarind," which takes place in an alternate London where the Fey thrive unseen among normal people.

There are thirteen stories listed in the TOC, but the book actually contains fourteen stories. Each piece of fiction is followed by an Author's Note, but even here Berman cannot resist tweaking the trope: the author's notes taken together tell a story with as solid a thru-line and building tension as any of the book's stories, adding a nice depth to an already full single-author collection.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great escapist read from uniquely imaginative and talented author! 28 Sept. 2008
By Bob Lind - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"Weird" is certainly the first word that comes to mind in describing this collection of thirteen of the author's extremely imaginative and diverse styled short stories, all with some sort of gay content. They range from futuristic tales (such as one set in a gay bar, frequented by gay men who are so obsessed with youth and trends that they resort to frequent plastic surgery to look just like the latest "hot" younger guy they see or hear about), to a unique Victorian-era mystery featuring an "Oliver!"-like waif. There are stories about a dead hustler's ghost accompanying his friend driving his remains to its final resting site, of a deadly troll on a mountain, of a lonely caretaker of an old house infested with furniture-eating children, and of the author's experimentation with heterosexuality while on trip to China with college classmates. Each story is followed by the author's explanatory epilogue, usually detailing where the idea came from (often experiences in his own life) and giving the reader additional perspective in reading the story, including several that were inspired by the author's unrequited love for a former straight roommate.

This is the first work I have read by this uniquely-talented author, who is apparently known for these types of stories, and it likely won't be the last. Great escapist reads, more intriguing than scary. Give it a full five stars out of five.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Second Thoughts by Steve Berman 30 Nov. 2008
By Elisa - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Starting to write my impression on this book, while still all the idea were storming in my brain, probably I realized one of the meaning of the title: Second Thoughts, since all the story in this anthology were previously published elsewhere and Steve Berman collected them and added his second thoughts on them, the author's note, that in a way, I read with more eagerness than the stories, since they told something more on the author, and his interrupted love story with a college roommate, Michael "Mike" Carte, to whom is also dedicated the book, using Catullo's poem "Odi et Amo".

Bittersweet: two very young boyfriends, one of the two is sadly ill and needs to have a serious surgery. The other one cheats on him during his absence, just a fling, but it's a way to loose all the tension he has on his too young shoulder. He is not the bad hero, he is only a 17 years old guy who, maybe for a time, wants to love as his age would let him.

On the Author's Note, Steve tells us as this story was inspired by a real guy he met once and as in the story, probably for that guy there was a happily ever after on his personal story, but not with Steve.

Secrets of the Gwangi: these are actually flashes of story with two couples and a man divided by time. Two lovers in the Old West, a director of some decades ago, and two stuntmen of the present. I would like to read more about the two lovers even if I think that there is not an happily ever after there.

On the Author's Note, Steve tells us of his first tentative sexual experience when he was still a child, and how it was a consequence of telling stories, quite right giving what he became after.

Kiss: this is the bittersweet tale of a guy who is in love with his roommate, but his can be only an unrequited love, since the other guy loves more and with too more people at the same time. I hoped for the guy in love to find something better, if he survives to his second kiss...

On the Author's Note, Steve tells us of his first crush and kiss, and one of the first time when he probably should have stopped to think and grasp the moment.

Always Listen to a Good Pair of Underwear: in this nice short story we meet for the first time Mike and young Steve, sharing an apartment as student, the place where Steve's love grew in strenght to probably never leave him after.

On the Author's Note, Steve presents us Mike, the man who will inspire him for so many story.

The High Cost for Tamarind: in an apocalyptic world two lovers are too young and tender to be together... I don't know but when you read about lover like that you know that they have no chance...

On the Author's Note, Steve tells us when he proudly sold his first story and how he presented it to Mike like a precious gift.

The Price of Glamour: this is a fantasy tale, probably the more light and joyous of the anthology, as you can expected when fey and faires are involved. A fairy and a changeling meet and tighten a relationship that for now is only a partnership but maybe in the future...

On the Author's Note, Steve tells us of his college experience, as he tried to socialize, but as, at the end, he cared only for Mike.

Tearjerker: truth be told, I didn't understand so well this story, other than it's really sad...

On the Author's Note, Steve tells us how he started to losing Mike way before he really lost him.

Well Wishing: a fantasy story about a salesman, a farmer, and his two sons, a boy and a girl. The salesman is more interested in the boy than in the girl, but he probably didn't do the right choice. Another story with a sad ending.

On the Author's Note, Steve tells us how it was hard to think to have really lost Mike and how he tried to replace him with another impossible love. Till they are far from him, it's easier to love them and to see them realize their dreams. One side note: who is the porn actor?

Caught by Skin: in a futuristic world where love is chemical and aseptic, someone realizes that maybe he is losing something when it's too late to grasp and hold him. But maybe there is hope to still have something real.

On the Author's Note, Steve plays.

A Rotten Obligation: an hustler is on the road to maintain a promise but he is derailed by love. Will he maintain the promise or will he finally seize his chance to happiness, burning all the bond with an horrible past?

On the Author's Note, Steve tells us his own personal hustler story, and as everyone who saw Pretty Woman, also him probably would like to find a Richard Gere for every Julia Roberts (male or female) out there on the street.

Hidden in Central Asia: a gay boy leaving country on a cultural trip, maybe thinks that so far from his real world, things could be different and he can really straighten himself. But what on vacation seems possible, in reality is impossible.

On the Author's Note, Steve tells us his own personal het story, and we also know as Mike was again Steve muse, being the lost boy on a dark night in Vintage. Mike with his repressed love and with his anger against life who didn't allow him to be what he would like to be. Mike so strong outside, and probably so scared of life inside.

Kinder: a man is so bound to the past that he probably can't see that he has a different future beside him. I didn't understand if, in the end, he seizes his chance.

On the Author's Note, Steve tells us as he always tries to save Mike.

A Troll on a Mountain with a Girl: in a fantasy world a man is chasing monsters... but maybe the reason why he is chasing them is not what you can expected.

On the Author's Note, Steve tells us why he is telling us stories...

This anthology is not accordingly to any standard a light anthology. And accordingly to me is not even something you can read one story detached of the others. It's a love declaration and like that you need to read it all together. Giving that the stories were originally published elsewhere and detached, it's also a confession on how the author probably pours all of him in his stories. Some of the stories I like a lot, some a bit less, but I absolutely love all the Author's Notes.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars inspired and highly original 14 Nov. 2008
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Second Thoughts is a collection of extremely imaginative, often paranormal short stories along with a group of affecting and very personal author notes which weave more of a connected, largely non-fictional account. There are some instances where the notes noticeably stray from the truth, and at least one moment may give the reader a shock while he or she tries to decide whether the author is retelling an actual event.

Some of the stories take place in well-described and exotic locations such as Tampico, Mongolia or Japan. (The story in Mongolia, a true one, is especially fascinating for the setting.) There are a lot of fairies and folklore characters populating many of the tales. There's also a futuristic story where everyone has frequent plastic surgery to fit the new trends, and an alternate reality story where Mexico had sided with Germany in WWI and took back Texas. Another wonderful moment involved meeting a character who was the caretaker of the absolute best museum of hats in all of Pennsylvania.

Berman used the word "dweomer" (dway-oh-mer), which, according to dictionary.com, is a magical aura. There is a dweomer of melancholy in this collection, largely because the author discusses a dead college roommate that he misses very much in many of the author notes. There's a motif of unrequited longing and loneliness. Many of the characters are trapped in some way - unable to leave a hotel or a farm or escape from a debt or a promise or a group of lookalike friends.

This is recommended, naturally, for fans of short stories and fans of speculative fiction. However, readers who enjoy intensely personal memoirs such as Alison Bechdel's Fun Home may also be captivated by this work.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Berman does it again with his 2nd incredible collection of Queer Speculative Fiction! 21 Nov. 2015
By Kyoske - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
I picked up "Second Thoughts" after reading and adoring "Trysts." Berman gives us more of what we are hungry for, namely queer short stories with a speculative fiction bend. To make matters EVEN more fascinating, Berman pulls back the curtain a bit by giving the reader a tiny snippet at the end telling them about the inspiration of the stories. These little windows in Berman make you want to meet him, if nothing else to just tell him "thank you" and possibly assure him that even with all the ghouls and ghosts in the world there are some angels out there too.

If you enjoyed Tysts you'll love this collection!
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