You know when you have one of those massive barrels of sweets – usually at Christmas over here in the UK. Quality Street’s the nation’s favourite and they have a great selection of sweets in them. Nut clusters, caramel cups, toffees, fudge etc etc.
And then Christmas is over, and you are left with a handful of sweets that no-one wants. Orange, Strawberry and COFFEE creams. BLEURGHK.
Now this is obviously only indicative of what my family like – I’m sure there are lots of people who love these flavours, but it does seem to be coffee that is the least favourite, if the brilliant Revels Roulette adverts are anything to go on.
And where am I going with this??? Well, as you probably know, or don't - I run a Gay Historical Review blog called "Speak Its Name and I have to review the books that I'm given, or are available. I don't have the luxury of saying "I don't like...." and pushing them back into the sweetie barrel, because that wouldn't be fair.
But I have found that I AM being unfair - and that about half the books I have to be reviewd are Westerns, and that's probably because I've been skipping the westerns in favour of other time eras. I hate to say it, but I’ve found that westerns are my coffee creams.
And I’m sorry about this. I don’t think there are more westerns written than any other gay historical — although, this might be the case, I’ve not done a fact-finding mission to find out — it’s just that, because I’m not mad on the genre, I tend to put them to one side and then I end up with a ton of them to do at once–which doesn’t do anything for my temper or the balance of the site.
I don’t know when I stopped being a fan of the western, either. I used to love them as a child and even went to the cinema to catch classics such as True Grit, and I was such a huge fan of Rawhide (Gil Favour for the win) but now I tend to avoid most of them, except for homoerotic goodness such as The Searchers. (Yes, really. If you don’t believe me, go and watch it again, John Wayne’s character is most certainly bisexual at the very least.)
The very worst western (for me) and one that will make me run screaming from the sofa is anything Mexican. Don’t ask me why. I like Mexico. I like Mexican food. I'm really fond of Speedy Gonzales. But give me a western set in Mexico and I bite the coffee cream in half and spit it out.
I like coffee to drink, and I LOVE strawberries and oranges so nothing really makes sense.
And my aversion to western gay fiction makes no sense either because there’s been a good few that I’ve really enjoyed. Mark Probst’s “The Filly” is a beautifully written restrained piece of fiction, Jamie Craig’s “Those Who Cherish” was highly enjoyable, and Kiernan Kelly’s “In Bear Country” duet of books have everything necessary for a reader, adventure, romance and a good historical feel.
So I don’t know why I’ve got this westernphobia. Perhaps it’s because for every good book, there’s three not so stellar with more cliches than tumbleweeds, but then that’s true of every kind of fiction really isn’t it?
Perhaps in future for reviews I’ll take a tip from the Russian Roulette advert and just pick a book blindfold and not allow myself to push the least favourites to the back of the drawer.
Is there any genre you find yourself avoiding? Is there any logical reason for it (unlike me!)
Erastes writes gay historicals, and her first book for Carina is "Muffled Drum" (set during the Austro Prussian War) out now. Her second will be "A Brush with Darkness"