Collected together for the first time in one volume, Short Stories 1988 – 1991, are the twenty-nine stories Stan Leventhal included in a tiny herd of elephants and Candy Holidays.
The first collection are stories about male relationships and span many literary styles including romance, fantasy, western and erotica. Some are funny, others are serious, but all invariably “playful”. There are clear autobiographical elements, as in much of the author’s work. Several stories are about writers and the writing process (as life intrudes); “Schoolmarm” is set in the old west when a substitute school teacher meets his cowboy; “The Crystal Storm” offers us a lonely Warrior King, whose eyes “flash like jewels on fire”, as he interrogates a handsome visitor, “unarmed and definitely not hostile”. The longer pieces flesh out characters in clandestine meetings with lovers that end in a gift, or a group of tight-knit friends growing into adults at college … there’s even a vampire tale.
The second diverse, entertaining set of tales also cover several genres. In “Candy Holidays”, two lovers break up, live apart, and then come back together again, the narrative catching glimpses, of them at Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter. “Razorback” is a dark futuristic tale about surviving in a burnt-out city in which all order has withered and chaos reigns. In “Oasis Motel” a young man on a business trip in Los Angeles finally breaks through the sexual barrier that has contained him all his life. “Seder” is the story of a gay Jewish man’s attempt to reconcile his spirituality with his sexuality.
Both collections reflect issues confronting the lives of queer people in America in the late twentieth century. This new omnibus edition features a foreword by Sarah Schulman, close friend of Leventhal and author of numerous works of fiction and social history.
“Stan was a literary activist who always gave to, built and endorsed literature and writers. On this Sunday morning, all these years later, I can still see Stan in his apartment window on Christopher Street, next door to the Stonewall Inn, overlooking Sheridan Square as he typed away.” – Michele Karlsberg
“Stan Leventhal was wonderful company: warm, honest, curious, engaging, and human. Mountain Climbing in Sheridan Square is the next best thing to hanging out with him.” – Christopher Bram
“Stan Leventhal’s vision is clear and undaunted. For all of its somber chiaroscuro, it challenges us to see the world through new eyes and to revel in its author’s ability to translate life into art, pain into understanding.” – Michael Bronski