Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Smelly Books

If you’re an avid blog follower, you might’ve noticed I missed my post two weeks ago on olfactory pleasures. This fortnight’s theme is “What I’ve been reading”, but, honestly, I haven’t read much lately and so I don’t have enough to put together a post.

So… maybe I can combine the two topics somehow? Smush the two posts into one…?

Ah, let’s start with a controversial statement. Stir up some anger and whatnot. Maybe this’ll start a good old-fashioned argument here on OGAG.

Here it is… ready…?

I despise the smell of old books.

How do I know it’s a controversial statement?

I googled “I love the smell of old books” and got 1.2 million results. Then I googled “I hate the smell of old books” and got ten results.

Obviously, I’m in a minority.

Perhaps it’s because I have a scent sensitivity, and perhaps it’s because some old books smell like almonds and the smell of almonds is a particular trigger for my sensitivities. But it’s mostly just because old books smell gross. I start mouth-breathing if I’m reading an old book, struggling not to inhale its malodorous scent.

I also hate the feel of old books. Pages worn smooth with years of other people’s grimy, disgusting, oily fingers might appeal to romantics. For me, it makes my fingers itchy. When you go to the gym, you wipe down the equipment after using it, so that other people don’t have to deal with your sweat and B.O. But we don’t do the same for books — unfortunately.

No — old books aren’t my thing. New books are where it’s at.

But for those who love new books or ebooks, but also love the musty smell of old books. You can buy candles and scented products that smell like old books. Blech.

Count me out.

Cameron D. James is a writer of gay erotica and M/M erotic romance; his latest release is Dominating the Freshman. He is publisher at and co-founder of Deep Desires Press and a member of the Indie Erotica Collective. He lives in Canada, is always crushing on Starbucks baristas, and has two rescue cats. To learn more about Cameron, visit http://www.camerondjames.com.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

A Man's a Man, For All That

by Jean Roberta

[This photo shows "Ken Lisonbee" with companion Stella Harper, 1929]

“In the mid to late 1860s, a trans man who went by the name of George Green married Mary Biddle in Erie, Pennsylvania. . . It is unclear where George and Mary lived immediately following their Pennsylvania marriage, but at some point in the 1870s the couple moved to the rural countryside seventy miles outside of Raleigh, North Carolina. . . At some point between 1900 and 1902, the couple moved 140 miles to the north, to the small town of Ettrick, Virginia."

Why is all this noteworthy? Because "George Green" (born in England in 1833), who spent all his life doing farm labour in the United States, was found to be biologically female after his death in 1902.

Were the Greens' rural neighbours shocked and horrified? It seems not. Here is what George`s widow had to say, quoted in a Virginia newspaper: "He was the noblest soul that ever lived. He has worked so hard through his life, and has been all I had to cheer me. No man can say he ever wronged him. He was a Christian and I believe he is now with Christ."

Apparently, Green's funeral was held in a local Roman Catholic church, and he was buried in the Catholic cemetery in Petersburg, Virginia.

"This is just one of the historical stories of "passing" women, or trans men, in True Sex: The Lives of Trans Men at the Turn of the Twentieth Century (New York University Press, 2017) by Emily Skidmore, an Assistant Professor of History at Texas Tech University.

As Skidmore shows, most of these men (people?) lived in rural areas, not in urban communities where "queerness" might be less noticeable. Most of them married cisgendered women, and lived conventional lives as white male citizens. As the author shows, whiteness, hard work, and patriotism were all important components in their social acceptance in the American "heartland," even after their "true sex" had been revealed.

This book is one of a spate of recent studies that disputes what "Jack" Halberstam has called "metronormativity:" a widespread belief among students of "queer" history that before the Stonewall Riots of 1969 (in Greenwich Village, New York), LGBT individuals migrated to cities so they could live with any smidgen of safety.

The men (and this word seems much more accurate than "women") in Skidmore`s book lived far from any contemporary edgy, artsy, avant-garde communities, and most of them professed conservative values. For all practical purposes, they were male citizens. They ploughed fields, chopped wood, fought in wars, ran businesses, drank and smoked in saloons. And they voted in local and national elections before women were given the right to vote in 1920.

This is a fascinating book, and as the author explains in her introduction, the research was made possible by modern technology. She spent several years combing through digitized regional and national newspapers from about 1870 to 1940, and the thoroughness of her research wouldn`t have been possible while all this material only existed on yellowed paper.

For better or worse, this historical information throws a monkey wrench in the concept of a coherent "queer" community, "queer" identity, or "queer" history. Queerness has always come in a rainbow of colours.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Queers Rewrite the Script

by Jean Roberta

In September, a gay-male colleague (a talented and prolific fantasy writer himself) loaned me his copy of Queers Destroy Fantasy! Special Issue. It was produced as a paperback by Fantasy Magazine in December 2015 (Issue 59), and edited by Christopher Barzak. It includes short stories, a novel excerpt, non-fiction essays, author bios, and black-and-white fantasy art.

This drawing by Elizabeth Leggett, included in the art section of the anthology, was used by Lethe Press as the cover of Bitter Waters, a story collection by Chaz Brenchley.

The anthology is part of the “Destroy!” series, including Women Destroy Science Fiction! Women Destroy Fantasy! Women Destroy Horror! plus all the “Queers Destroy. . . “ titles.

Under the circumstances, I would have expected Queers Destroy Fantasy! to have a shortage of women characters (and/or authors) on grounds that women have their own series, but this is not the case. The first original story, “The Lily and the Horn” by Catherynne M. Valente, is set in a vaguely medieval world in which conflict is resolved not by knights with lances or soldiers with arrows but by women who are either experts in cooking with poisons or in detoxifying the victims of poisonous feasts.

Two young girls, who met in the Floregilium (school of botany), have never forgotten their mutual attraction, even though they were each chosen as the wife of a lord for their opposite talents: to kill with plants, or to heal with them. The narrator, a “lily,” has prepared a deadly feast to determine the outcome of a land dispute, and all the guests know what is at stake. The lily’s old friend, a “horn,” is there to heal her husband’s vassals and allies, if possible. The relationship between the two women, like the dishes on the table, is bittersweet.

In “The Lady’s Maid” by Carlea Holl-Jensen, a predatory noblewoman is able to wear the severed heads of the young women she has killed, see out of their eyes, and speak with their mouths. The “lady” keeps a collection of heads for different occasions, like a collection of hats. Her seemingly loyal maid, who stays with her after everyone else in the castle has run away, discovers how to control her mistress.

The predominance of women characters continues in the reprinted stories, including an ornate fable of the Mughal empire, “The Padishah Begum’s Reflections” by Shweta Narayan. Another reprint, “Down the Path of the Sun” by Nicola Griffith, is a heartbreaking story of survival and loss in a dystopian future.

In “The Sea Troll’s Daughter” by Caitlin R. Kiernan, a mortal woman dies while giving birth to the daughter of the sea troll (who probably raped her, but no one knows for sure), leaving a monstrous baby to survive with the help of a village witch. A foolhardy female bounty-hunter comes to town to kill the sea-troll for the non-existent fortune promised by the local village for any hero who could do that. Most of the mortals in this story are revealed to be fools, liars, and drunkards, but the bounty-hunter and the local barmaid have an affair of convenience, and the sea troll’s daughter—who lives alone in the unhospitable wilderness--gives them more help than they could reasonably expect.

Two noteworthy stories by male authors are “The Duchess and the Ghost” by Richard Bowes, which was reprinted later in an edition of Best Gay Stories, and “The Ledge” by Austin Bunn, in which a shipful of Spanish sailors, some time before 1492, actually sails to the edge of the world. The young narrator, who hopes his affair with an older man, Diego, will not be discovered and punished, is delighted to rescue his widowed mother from the “other side:”

“Your hands are folded across your chest and you stare away, at the ledge. You look precisely as I left you, your long black hair damp and loose against your back and your bare feet white as salt. Around me, the crew and the others race to trim the Elena’s sails in a westerly. The captain is missing and I am full of questions. Are you a dream? Is this a fever or worse? I’m afraid to speak. And so I sit alone, in the shade of the quarterdeck, and write."

Kai Ashante Wilson, author of “So Various, So Beautiful, So New,” is not identified by gender, even in the author interview in the non-fiction section. The excerpt from the novel, All the Birds in the Sky, is by Charlie Jane Anders, who seems to be male by birth, but I wouldn’t place any bets on how s/he identifies now.

Suffice it to say that all the material in this collection is worth reading. Each of these stories contains a universe that seems more enticing than this one.

P.S.: At the risk of hogging the spotlight, I will post again tomorrow. I'm reading a book of historical non-fiction about trans men (the author's term) in the United States, approximately 1875-1935. I promised to review this fascinating study for The Gay and Lesbian Review.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Well It Draineth Every Day

by Giselle Renarde

When I was in my final year of high school, one of my assignments for English class was to read a novel from the Canadian literary canon and give a one-on-one oral report about it.  I'm not sure why, but instead of presenting that report to my teacher, we students presented to the school librarian. I'd never met the woman before. To say we had little rapport would be a drastic understatement.

I was an overachiever and I got excellent grades. Most teachers liked me.  This woman clearly did not.  That, or she just wore that sour expression constantly and treated everyone like dirt. I don't know.  I don't know her life.

The book I read was The Diviners by Margaret Laurence. Do I remember anything about it? Nope! Not a thing. But I do remember my oral report.  I talked about drawing from the well of creativity. What do Diviners seek but water? They figure out where exactly to tap the earth so we'll hit pay dirt rather than come up dry.

Speaking of dry, that was the look the librarian gave me throughout my entire report. Her face basically said: "You have GOT to be kidding me with this New Age crap!" And the grade she gave me certainly reflected her lack of enthusiasm for my thoughts on Margaret Laurence's novel.

And, hey, maybe I did get it completely wrong. Hard to say. I tend to believe that most opinions about literary fiction are valid, and that our interpretations of literature actually say far more about us as readers than about the book itself.

I've been thinking about the artistic well a lot lately.  I've always believed that, if you're doing creative work, if you're constantly drawing from The Well, you've got to keep filling it non-stop.  That's why I start every morning by reading.

But books aren't the only way to fill The Well. They shouldn't be, if you ask me.  The Well can be filled with personal experiences, TV shows, music, movies, conversations with Grandma, Netflix, eavesdropping on people while riding the subway... the list goes on. I don't place literature in an elite category.  It's in there with all the other stuff.

These days... I'll be honest with you... there isn't enough media on the planet (or even on the internet) to fill that well.  I'm running on empty. All the time.  I haven't written a book since July.  And I'm a full-time author! That's BAD. That's really bad.  I'm only happy when I'm filling my face with media.  Washing dishes and listening to podcasts is pretty much my idea of heaven.

I've been feeling really isolated lately. Depression stuff.  You know how it is. But podcasts have helped me so much.  Having other people's voices in my ears is so intimate, and I feel like I have friends, but they're friends who put no pressure on me.  I don't have to do anything.  I can listen at my leisure.

If I feel this way, other people must as well.  I really wanted to reach out to all the isolated people like me, but in a way where I'm not intruding too much.  That's a big part of the reason I decided to launch my Audio Erotica Patreon.  I've written hundreds of stories over the past 10+ years, and I really love narration. I'm a trained actor and a bit of a ham, plus narration lets me get out of my own head and inhabit my character's skin for a while.


One of the big reasons I held off launching my Patreon for so long (nearly a year) was that I figured nobody would want to be my patron and then I'd just feel MORE depressed and rejected. But then I thought, "Hey, you! Stop all that negative self-talk! You're offering a quality product. There's no reason to believe your supporters won't jump at the chance to be your patron!"

Well, Depression was right. I launched my Patreon on October 1st and I still don't have a single patron. At launch, I even made my weekly audio erotica broadcasts available for only $1/month.  When nobody supported me I thought, "Hey, maybe I'm undervaluing my work" (my girlfriend always tells me that's one of my bad habits--undervaluing my work and myself), so I cranked it up to $1/week.

The reason I became less keen on writing new fiction was that, honestly, my books are not selling well enough to make it feel worthwhile. The last ebook I put out... I don't think it's sold a single copy.  I was really excited about creating audio erotica. I still want to be excited about recording it. But I really need for there to be someone on the other end.

Want to know something funny? My girlfriend is always really supportive and encouraging of my ideas, but when I told her about my Patreon plan she said, "Sure, test it out. And then if it doesn't work you'll know the demand isn't there, but it's always better to try."  She knew I was going to fall flat. I guess I did too.

But I also chastise other authors for giving up too easily, so maybe I should practice what I preach and be more patient.

As for The Well... will it ever be filled? I consume media for days on end and I never feel inspired to create. Is there a dowsing rod for creativity?  Is it money?  I've heard studies concluding that earning money from your art stifles creativity rather than encouraging it.  I don't know.  I think a little money could sure light a fire under my creative ass.


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Rabbit and Me

 Truth be told, I’m rediscovering Playboy magazine.

For men of my generation, we have seen Playboy travel an amazing arch of rise and decline.  Of revolution and chauvinism.  The magazine that defined hip, and revealed the mysteries of woman under the bed-covers of wide eyed boys, failed to survive the sexual revolution it created.  I predict that it will be extinct in a few more years at best.  There are already signs of decline in terms of contribution.  

For a modest fee, you can access the entire archive of Playboy from the ‘50s to the present at www.iplayboy.com.  And yes, whatever all, I really do read the articles. Many of my literary heroes and influences first saw the light of day in Playboy.  Writers like Ray Bradbury (“Fahrenheit 451”, now a staple in high school lit classes, first appeared in serial in Playboy), John Updike, Chuck Palahniuk, Norman Mailer, Joyce Carol Oates, Stephen King, Isaac Bashevis Singer and others got their first shot at the big time between the fulsome bosoms of the girls next door.   Playboy gave Lenny Bruce his last shot at respect, George Carlin and John Lennon and others had famous Playboy interviews.   George Lincoln Rockwell, leader of the American Nazi Party in the ‘60s, was interviewed by an obscure black writer named Alex Haley.  

 In the 60s and 70s the Playboy Clubs in Chicago and Los Angeles were the soul of chic.  They featured the best Jazz musicians and the edgiest comedians, including black comedians in the age of segregation, Bill Cosby and Dick Gregory.  They were genuinely the spear tip of progressive thinking and remained so through the years.   Playboy was yet, yes, misogynistic in its cartoons and jokes, and while celebrating women’s sexuality, and arguably helping to free it,  it also made fun of it.  This would prove unforgivable to feminists, but in the end Playboy was really sunk by the Internet.  

Online a guy could stealthily cruise pornography for free, sex displayed in every conceivable contortion, and some inconceivable ones.  I think it was this kind of pornography, rather than Playboy’s relatively softcore, that coarsened sex for a generation and may have encouraged misogyny in its modern forms and most lately in Presidential politics.  Things that would have sunk political careers instantly in the past are tame now.  This has also affected us here and what we do.

I’ve often felt that the commercial success of Fifty Shades of Grey and the cultural legitimizing of “mommy porn” took a lot of the fun out of what we do.  When I first began here many years ago, Lisabet admonished me to get a pen name and guard my identity carefully.  This was dangerous, transgressive stuff that could get you in a world of trouble.  We were the literary equivalent of punk rockers and for writers like Remittance Girl and Mike Kimera there was a defiant pride in their twisted craft.  They knew they were good.  And then our work came out into the daylight, it seemed somehow tame, or at least tamed.
I give Playboy two more years.  I don’t care what anybody says, I’m gonna miss the Bunny.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Beauty of Box Sets

This summer has been an epic one for collecting free books and cheap-as-chips box sets. My kindle is stuffed. Overflowing, and with good stuff too. I don’t know where to start.

It's a nice problem to have, I’m not complaining. 

The reasons for such an embarrassment of smutty literature richness are straightforward enough. We authors like to get our stuff out there, dangle our deliciousness before new and potentially admiring audiences, attract new readers who might buy something down the line. If that means selling a book dirt cheap or giving it away, we will. Business is business.

So, about those box sets…

It’s always good to be able to stick a New York Times best-selling author badge on your book covers, not to mention the warm glow provided by such an accolade. It’s a fact that as relatively small players in the publishing pond most of us can’t command the massive advertising budgets required to elevate our latest book to the lofty heights of NY Times or USA Today stardom. So, linking up with a ton of other writers to produce a box set is one way to go. Pack it with good novellas, ideally with a couple of big(ish) names in there, and sell it for 99 cents. Everyone involved promotes like mad, the pre-orders go through the roof, and lo and behold, come the glorious day of general release the set hits the lists. Everyone with a story in there gets a badge. Job done. If it actually makes any money, that’s a bonus. The point was to hit the list and gain new readers.

The one time I joined in one of these gigs (the Bound, Spanked and Loved anthology, for Valentine’s Day 2015) we managed to hit the NY Times list and the royalties were OK. I got back what it cost me to pay for the editing and my share of the promo. I was well pleased. And I love having that badge on my website, covers, anywhere I can stick it, really.

Two box sets have stood out for me this year. Here are my own top picks from the many on offer...

The first, Black Light: Valentine Roulette is a clever collection of linked stories set in a BDSM club. Independently published, this set pushed the boundaries rather a lot, which I appreciate. Stories included breath play, water sports, cell popping – areas often frowned on by mainstream publishers as too intense, dangerous maybe. I loved it, and the writing was pretty stellar too.

 Three hours. Four hard limits. Eight sexy stories.
              Are you brave enough to spin the wheel?

Get ready to explore some of your naughtiest desires while you celebrate Valentine’s Day with eight kinky stories from eight USA Today and international bestselling authors! Black Light is the most exclusive BDSM club in Washington, D.C. and for one night they’re changing the rules of play to entertain their members with a game of chance – Valentine Roulette. Challenge and adventure awaits as these sexy dominants spin to win their submissives, and the subs spin to choose how they will play. Their prize if they last the night? One free month at Black Light, and for some of our daring participants… even a chance at love.

My other favourite, Royally Mine, is a collection of 22 novellas all featuring ‘royal’ heroes. On occasion the link to royalty is somewhat tenuous, but I’m a forgiving reader if the story is good, and these are for the most part. I’ve sampled some new (to me) writers, which is always a bonus and enjoyed connecting with several of my existing favourites too. This one has kept me happy all summer and has a good few hours of sizzle left in it yet.

Powerful kings. Dirty-talking princes. Insatiable dukes.
They're ready to rule your heart.

Royally Mine is a collection of bad boy romances featuring HOT royal heroes, brought to you by twenty-two New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling authors. This deliciously naughty bundle of ALL-NEW standalone novellas stars panty-scorching kings, princes, and dukes who are used to being in command. Charge up your e-reader, clear your schedule, and put on your best tiara, because these royal bad boys are ready to conquer your heart while making you blush oh so hard.

Monday, October 9, 2017

So Many Books.... (#amreading #guiltypleasure #literature)

Book image

 By Lisabet Sarai

It’s rare than I am reading only a single book. I like to have several options available, depending on my mood —and whether the cheap tablet I use for e-reading has exhausted its battery or not. Right now, though, I seem to have taken this habit to extremes. As indicated by my Goodreads profile, I am currently in the midst of eight different books.

A quick survey will give you a feeling for the diversity of my reading tastes.

Erotica/Erotic Romance

Blindsided by KD Grace

This erotic novel, the sequel to her stunning paranormal tale In the Flesh, focuses on Susan Innes, a writer with the ability to change reality through her stories. In the previous book, Susan willingly became a vampire in order to imprison the demon who has possessed her within her eternal body, and thus save the life of her best friend. This choice binds her to her vampire maker, Alonso Darlington, as well as to Alonso’s lover Reese Chambers and delinquent angel Michael Weller. All these characters serve the interests Magda Gardner, the Gorgon – hence the series title, The Medusa Consortium.

As you may gather, the relationships in this tale are complicated—perhaps too complicated. What I love about KD Grace’s stories is her ability to convey unconventional visions of erotic connection. Officially, Reese is Alonso’s lover and Michael is Susan’s, but there are flows of erotic energy among all the characters, sometimes expressed physically and sometimes not. Susan is the hub of a compelling, arousing psychic polyamory.

I also like the unpredictability of KD’s books. She shares with her scribe Susan a sort of blind faith in her own authorial intuitions. Because she allows her tales to unfold without trying to force them in particular directions, her work is often surprising–though sometimes a bit chaotic.

The Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica 11 edited by Maxim Jakubowski

This book dates from way back in 2013. I have been reading (slowly) my author’s copy, dipping into the volume when I want something quick before bed.

Unfortunately, I’ve become rather jaded over the years. It’s a rare erotic story that really excites me, from either a literary or a sexual perspective.


The Dust that Falls from Dreams by Louis de Bernières 


I’ve read a number of books by this author, who may be best known for his novel Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. De Bernières has a compassionate but unflinching view of history, writing about ordinary people caught in the throes of war and social upheaval. The Dust that Falls from Dreams is a fine example, chronicling the impact of World War I on several English families. His descriptions of life in the trenches of France or the horrors of working as a nurse at a wartime hospital shrivel the heart and turn the stomach. Still, there’s a good deal of humor in this book, which in some ways makes the darkness of war stand out more clearly.

A warning about de Bernières: don’t expect all his characters to survive. This book has romantic subplots, but not every character gets a happy ending, even when well-deserved.

Mother of Pearl by Melinda Haynes

My husband picked this up at a used book sale. Aside from that fact that it was an Oprah Winfrey pick, I knew nothing about it. However, I’m really enjoying this rich, poetic novel about the quirky inhabitants, black and white, of a small Mississippi town in the fifties. The characters feel very real in their confusion, especially teenager Valuable Korner and her long time friend Jackson.

This is a book about race and prejudice, about family, about history, and about the magic that can be found in the land and in the human heart. An unexpected treasure!

After the Banquet by Yukio Mishima

Having been deeply impressed by Mishima’s astonishing book The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, I was looking forward to this novel, about an independent businesswoman who loses herself by falling in love. However, the book feels stiff and artificial to me, though the prose is artful and the imagery compelling. Perhaps this is a problem with the translation; one never knows, when reading a book originally composed in another language, whether a translation has faithfully captured the author’s intent. Another possible problem is my lack of knowledge about social structures in post-war Japan, which play an important role in the plot.

Guilty Pleasure

A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin

I don’t watch television, but I am totally hooked on the Game of Thrones books. I tend to ration myself, reading them only on long plane flights. They’re perfect for that situation: hundreds of pages, lots of action, fascinating characters, but not too taxing intellectually. I can appreciate them even when groggy with jet-lag!

On my recent trip to Europe, which included two twelve hour flights, I finished the first half of this volume, the last of the series that is currently available. Now I’m fighting to keep myself from picking it up and reading the rest. I know I should save the second half for my next international voyage, because I doubt the next book, The Winds of Winter will be out anytime soon.

Because I tend to read these novels with large time gaps between binges, I have some trouble remembering all the event details. However, it’s really the characters that keep me coming back. Rarely have I encountered such skill in weaving good and evil into the same individual. I also love the subtle but fascinating bits of magic, and the vividly portrayed differences between cultures and religions in the incredibly complex world Martin has created.

When I was a kid, I was a huge fan of J.R.R. Tolkien. I lived and breathed Middle Earth. I even wrote my high school senior thesis about it. Someone wrote that Martin’s world is Tolkien for adults. There’s definitely some truth to that statement.


Travels in Siam, Cambodia, Laos and Annan by Henri Mohout

Henri Mohout was one of the first Europeans to explore Southeast Asia. A naturalist and talented photographer, he undertook several expeditions in that region during the eighteen fifties. He is probably best known as the person who “discovered” the ruins of the ancient Cambodian empire of Angkor, which had been buried in the jungle for centuries.

This book was compiled from his diaries, written during those travels. Given my personal familiarity with the area, I was eager to read about his experiences. Unfortunately, it is a bit difficult to match his geography to the geography I know. Some names have changed, and in some cases, his chronicles are clearly in errornot surprising given the lack of maps and other reliable information.

Though Mohout was warmly entertained by local monarchs and chieftains throughout his journeys, he sometimes voices rather annoying, Euro-centric opinions about the peoples native to the region. Still, it’s fascinating to realize how difficult it was for him to travel through the forests and along the rivers in the thinly-populated area. He was obviously a courageous and (for his time) open-minded individual.

By the way, I downloaded this book from the Gutenberg Project, so I don’t have a cover. If you’re seeking some cheap (that is, free!) and often fascinating reading, check out the thousands of titles they have made available.

Humor and Language Practice

After I wrote the first draft of this post, I realized that I’m actually reading yet another book: a French pulp novel entitled Le Privé de Bangkok by Carlo Pickint. Before you get too impressed by this, understand that I’m really just muddling through, with significant help from my dictionary. 

Living as I do in a town frequented by international tourists, it’s common to find non-English books in the used bookstores. My DH, whose French is better than mine, started picking up trashy French spy novels for fun and practice. This is one of his acquisitions. It’s lively, wickedly funny, and fairly difficult for me, largely because of all the slang it uses (which doesn’t always appear in the dictionary). I’m particularly enjoying it because it’s set in Bangkok, familiar territory, and I recognize many of the author’s sly observations as very true.

Each session with this book, I can read only half a dozen pages. It will be a while before I’m finished!

By the way, this book is not on Amazon. Not even amazon.fr.

I find that somehow comforting.