Thursday, August 16, 2018

Book Review: 'The Velvet Anthology' by Karin Kallmaker

California author Karin Kallmaker’s name shines brightly as the author of this book, but despite her impressive credential she is but one of the ten authors in his anthology. Karin has been exclusively devoted to lesbian fiction since the publication of her first novel in 1989. In addition to multiple Lambda Literary Awards, she has been featured as a Stonewall Library and Archives Distinguished Author. And impressive as these multiple honors are, the other nine authors whose works comprise this book are equally famous - MJ Williamz, Annette Mori, Cheryl Head, Cheyne Curry, Erica Abbott, Donna K Ford, Lee Lynch, Stefani Deoul, and Ann McMan.

Erica Abbott offers the Foreword for this anthology of stories by lesbian authors that brings a sense of mission and joy to the book’s stories: ‘Writers, editors and publishers create and deliver the books we read. Readers are the reason for the books; but an under-recognized and under-appreciated participant in the life of literature is the book reviewer. Reviewers provide what readers and authors both want: unbiased information to help readers decide where to spend their money and time. In the world of lesbian fiction, perhaps one of the hardest working and most reliable reviewers is Velvet Lounger, a delightful Brit with a wicked sense of humor and generous heart. This anthology was her brainchild. It is a benefit for the Golden Crown Literary Society Readers scholarship fund. GCLS is the organization devoted to promoting lesbian literature. The authors and everyone else associated with this project donated their time and talents for this worthy cause. What will you find here? A little bit of everything. Humor, romance, a bit of poetry. Many of these contributions pay homage to Velvet herself, others honor the lesbian literature she works to improve. So enjoy the works of some amazing writers and know that you are in your own way furthering the mission of GCLS.’

The stories focus on Velvet Lounger but spread her influence beyond her actual presence, too. And as the terrific stories close there is an acknowledgement from Velvet herself. ‘Where to start… and does anyone ever read these anyway? Chicken or egg? So Karin Kallmaker wrote a short for last year’s GCLS fundraising anthology, “Conference Call” from Bella Books, which had a character with a remarkable resemblance to VL dressed in the Frank’n’Furter costume from 2016 in DC. Chatting to the wickedly satirical Erica Abbot about having found fame (at last) she instantly said, “You need more – you need a Velvet Anthology” and so the idea was born to do a fundraiser for the GCLS Readers Scholarship Fund. Catching a pile of famous authors while drinking in the bar and asking them all at the same time is a great way to get co-operation. Hardly any arm twisting was needed. So a huge, ginormous and humongous shout out to everybody who has contributed and helped. Karin Kallmaker for the fame, and for writing another VL story. To Erica for the idea and for contributing both a story and the preface with her usual witty style. To Cheyne Curry, Stefani Deoul, Cheryl Head, Donna K Ford, Lee Lynch, Annette Mori and MJ Williamz – not least for NOT going there. To Ann McMan for contributing despite the “annus horriblis’ she has had since agreeing, and of course with heartfelt gratitude for the most beautiful jacket design ever – that alone is worth a donation.’ Terrific anthology by ten very gifted women. There is a story for everyone in this collection! Grady Harp, August 18

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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