REVIEW: “The Tale of the Costume Maker” by Steve Carr

Review of Steve Carr, “The Tale of the Costume Maker”, in Steve Berman, ed., Wilde Stories 2017: The Year’s Best Gay Speculative Fiction (Lethe Press, 2017): 1-10 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

In the normal light of day, in this room with light streaming through the window, the costume maker is exceedingly handsome. His pale face is as clear as an unpainted porcelain figurine. He resembles Montgomery Clift or Paul Newman or Louis Jordan or none of them, or all of them all at once. His eyes react slowly to the light, as if he is waking from a dream — a dream of lazy, ethereal lovemaking.

This story was a strange one…it started off beautiful, with lovely words and lovely images, but then we are suddenly observers to a scene which should have been private — or rather, which should never have happened at all, because the costume maker did not ask for it, did not consent to it.

This is the first story in the anthology, but I’m glad it’s not the first that I read, for I think it might have put me off. I am increasingly uncomfortable with and intolerant of non-consensual sexual encounters in fiction, even when they play an important role in the story (and sometimes, precisely when they play such a role). If you share my sentiments, then you might wish to skip this story.

(First published in SickLitMag 2016).