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The Touch of the Sea [Kindle Edition]

Steve Berman , Joel Lane , Jeff Mann , Nathan Burgoine , Chaz Brenchley , Alex Jeffers , Brandon Cracraft , Jonathan Harper , John Howard , Vincent Kovar
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

"The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace."
-- The Awakening by Kate Chopin

Greek myths held Oceanus to be a massive river surrounding the land. A Titan, son of sky and earth, he was depicted as a handsome, muscular man whose torso ended in a scaled tale. As the Olympians emerged, Oceanus retreated, his domain restricted to strange and dangerous shores, the realm of sailors' misfortunes and worries.

So, too, are the eleven tales within the pages of The Touch of the Sea: fantastical, at times eerie, with sightings of mermen, water spirits, and sea beasts (even the fabled "living island," the aspidochelone) as well as a smattering of pirates. What makes these stories memorable is that they define the masculinity of the sea, the taste of brine on another man's lips.

Become mates with such award-winning authors as Joel Lane and Jeff Mann -- seasoned storytellers 'Nathan Burgoine, Chaz Brenchley, and Alex Jeffers -- and a wide array of coxswains: Brandon Cracraft, Jonathan Harper, John Howard, Vincent Kovar, Matthew A. Merendo, Damon Shaw -- under the helm of editor Steve Berman.

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Editorial Reviews


Overall, the stories in The Touch of the Sea are well crafted and while all are entertaining, some tales are downright mesmerizing. They also fit this anthology perfectly so that by the time I finished reading, I could smell the sea salt and feel that sunshine. --Impression of a Reader

I've always been landlocked, never living in a place near the ocean. During a vacation to St. Maarten, however, I fell in love with the sea--its mysteries, its vastness, its beauty and legends--and will contrive to retire there by hook or crook. And reading this anthology only reinforced that notion.

The eleven stories that comprise The Touch of the Sea take full advantage of not only locations but the ocean's mysterious elements as well. Sea creatures abound, interacting with both humans and themselves, present and the past. A wonderful example of this is the leadoff story, 'Nathan Burgoine's excellent ''Time and Tide,'' a beautifully crafted tale of re-kindled love between the descendent of a river god and his old boyfriend, a naiad. Burgoine has a gift for bittersweet romance, and this is a lovely illustration.

Matthew A. Merendo's ''The Calm Tonight'' is a perfect follow-up, depicting the relationship between a merman who comes ashore to find a mate and the man he falls in love with. He knows women can be taken beneath the sea to mate, but doesn t even know if it s possible for two men. Fulfillment or loss? Choices must be made. Jonathan Harper's ''The Bloated Woman'' provides an interesting change-up as a woman s drowned body becomes an intriguing metaphor for a relationship between a writer and his married closet-case trick.

One of my favorite writers, Jeff Mann, turns in a fine performance with ''The Stone of Sacrifice,'' a deeply engaging tale about writer Ewan McDonald, researching a book in the Outer Hebrides as he falls in love with a mysterious man sacrified to the sea gods in an ancient ritual. Mann's gifts are in rare form here.

Damon Shaw and Joel Lane rock a pair of very poetic stories in ''Air Tears'' and ''The Grief of Seagulls,'' respectively, but no one does poetic fantasy better than Alex Jeffers, who hits one out of the park with ''Ban's Dream of the Sea,'' a lyrical yet accessible story about an ancient city and a lover beneath the sea. Jeffers' writing in so sharp and sensual you can almost smell the brine.

The only possible way to follow Jeffers is to go the opposite direction, and Brandon Cracraft's hilariously pointed monster movie mashup ''Night of the Sea Beast'' is more than up to the task. Think Ed Wood directing Creature of the Black Lagoon and youire almost there. Vincent Kovar takes us to what seems to be a post-apocalyptic world populated by thuggish quasi-pirate boys in ''Wave Boys'' and John Howard speaks for all who seek a different way of life in ''Out to Sea.'' It's Chaz Brenchley who has the last word, however, with a story of pirates and living islands in ''Keep the Aspidochelone Floating.''

The Touch of the Sea is a perfect anthology not a dud here full of the mystery and vastness that only the ocean can conjure. May we have a sequel, Mr. Berman? --Jerry Wheeler for Out in Print

About the Author

Steve Berman has visited two oceans and many lakes. While safe on dry land he has written a novel, Vintage, and edited over a dozen anthologies, including the two-time Lambda Literary Award finalist Wilde Stories, an annual series showcasing the finest gay speculative fiction of the prior year. He resides in southern New Jersey, which features a lot of coastline.

Product Details

  • File Size: 448 KB
  • Print Length: 196 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Lethe Press (May 9, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0080I54XM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #775,597 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Touch of the Sea July 5, 2013
Overall, I liked it, although there were a couple of stories that were a bit of an effort to stick with. I particularly enjoyed 'Nathan Burgoine's Time and Tide and Brandon Cracraft's 1950s B-Movie tribute, Night of the Sea Beast. My favourite tale by far, however, was Jeff Mann's The Stone of Sacrifice. The narrative, the backstory, the evocation of time and space are beautifully crafted. Mann definitely has an affinity with Scotland. I found Chaz Brenchley's Keep The Aspidochelone Floating an excellent swashbuckler of a pirate story, although I found the depiction of the hunting and slaughter of the whale distressing and difficult to stick with. Still, one's mans distress is another man's pleasure. Despite my disgust, these things happened (and still do) and better to write something that has such an impact than to write something that is forgotten within minutes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed (Sea) Bag August 20, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
All of these stories are quite well written. I could not argue otherwise. But for me, the common element in all of them, in addition to the sea, is that they are depressing or at least somewhat pessimistic. The best of the lot, easily, is "The Stone of Sacrifice" by Jeff Mann, the story that drew me to the collection. For 99 cents, the price is worth it, for this story alone. I also enjoyed "Night of the Sea Beast" and "Keep the Aspidochelone Floating." I nearly enjoyed several of the other stories, but I have to say that some stories: "Out to Sea," "Air Tears," and "The Bloated Woman" actively annoyed me for what I considered their pointlessness. But as long as the price remains 99 cents, I'd say buy it, if only for the story by Mann.
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The mystery and lure of the sea is the central emphasis in eleven short stories, by well-known gay authors such as Jeff Mann, Joel Lane, Alex Jeffers and Nathan Burgoine, as well as some newer voices in gay fiction. From mermen to pirates, from whaling to Greek myths, from sea monsters to “living islands,” and fighting adversity in the name of love, this anthology has something for pretty much everyone.

The style of writing varies with the author, and some are easier to get into than others. I only had to pass on finishing two of them, and enjoyed the rest to varying degrees. Probably my favorites were “The Bloated Woman” by Jonathan Harper and “Night of the Sea Beast” by Brandon Cracraft, both relative newcomers to the subgenre of speculative gay fiction. The “voices” of the sea can be as varied as the authors telling the tales. Interesting read. Three stars out of five.

- Bob Lind, Echo Magazine
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