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Desire: Tales of New Orleans Paperback – November 1, 2012

4.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"William Sterling Walker is a wonderful writer, fluent, warm, intelligent and real. His stories about gay life in New Orleans are firmly rooted in place, and all his characters, gay and straight, are observed with a wise heart and a deep soul."
--Christopher Bram, author of Eminent Outlaws

"Desire is a sensuous, nostalgic, and evocative collection of stories set in sultry New Orleans before that dreamy dream got washed away."
--Valerie Martin, winner of the Orange Prize for Property

"These are stories that ask to be lived in--gorgeous, moody, sophisticated--not unlike the vividly conjured New Orleans that William Sterling Walker's haunted characters inhabit, flee from, inevitably return to. Walker is a brilliant guide through the labyrinth of this city and these seething lives, fluent in the mutually reinforcing tropes of desire and regret."
--Paul Russell, author of The Unreal Life of Sergey Nabokov

"This beautiful collection is not so much a set of stories as an intricate song cycle, one that arranges and rearranges recurrent fragments of memory and sensation--light, fragrance, and music--like the tesserae of a mosaic, the shifting patterns converging into a haunting panorama of the life of our ecstatic, fated generation of gay men."
--Mark Merlis, author of American Studies and An Arrow's Flight

"Desire is dreamy and affecting, stories of a New Orleans that was gone before Katrina ever got there. It's been a while since I've read a collection so well written, so intricately composed, with such beautiful and evocative descriptions of a time and a place."
--Caroline Fraser, author of God's Perfect Child and Rewilding the World: Dispatches from the Conservation Revolution

About the Author

William Sterling Walker's stories have been anthologized in Best American Gay Fiction 2 and the Lambda Award-winning Fresh Men: New Voices in Gay Fiction, after first appearing in modern words, Harrington Gay Men's Fiction Quarterly and The James White Review. His nonfiction account of coming out appeared in the anthology Boys Like Us: Gay Writers Tell Their Coming Out Stories. He wrote the biographical entries on poet James Merrill and film director Douglas Sirk for The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives. He has written for many publications, including the Boston Book Review and Publisher's Weekly. He holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing from Brooklyn College. A native of New Orleans, he now resides in Brooklyn, with his spouse, the artist Jeffrey Dreiblatt.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 186 pages
  • Publisher: Chelsea Station Editions (November 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1937627020
  • ISBN-13: 978-1937627027
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,885,521 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Pull up an adult beverage or a cup of Cafe du Monde and encounter some extraordinary characters in these tales from the French Quarter and beyond: Roscoe, Butler, Styborski, Remy, Bernard Percy, and Fortunate Champagne. This is a New Orleans before Katrina, steeped in the smoke of Viceroys and the vices of those who haven't quite broken the spell of living "in a cultural backwater." And what a backwater it is--hot, humid, hilarious, melancholy, sensual. From the A&P on Royal Street and Wise's cafeteria to the Odd Fellows Rest cemetery, you'll find unforgettable scenes in these stories, all beautifully written and touching on the theme of "'Vous devriez quitter tant que la chose est possible.' Leave while you're able." By the end you'll know what Fortunate is talking at when she says, "'I do know what it means, to miss New Orleans.'" This is a fantastic debut collection.
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A good assortment of short stories about New Orleans or people from New Orleans. Good gay literature over all. I think that I can sum it up by that famous line from Forest Gump, "Life is like a box of chocolates". Some that really held my interest and others that didnt. Very accurate in that the places that he names actually do or did exist.
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Format: Paperback
Over the years, there are many gay stories that have been based in New Orleans, and for good reason. It is a unique city, with a highly diverse population which tends to embrace differences, forgive misdeeds and does what is necessary to live to one's potential. These factors are all present in this anthology of nine short stories by the author, dealing with New Orleans, before Hurricane Katrina's devastation.

Though none of the stories are dependent on any other, there are some common themes and situations, and some of the characters referenced may seem to coincide. While all are about men from New Orleans, some gay and some not, two of the stories actually take place in New York City, with characters that clearly miss their original roots. The stories feature a variety of blue collar and white collar individuals, including some on the fringes of society, in any city. There are equal doses of wit, longing, poignancy, hope, seduction and loss, all woven together by this talented author. I give it a full five stars out of five.

- Bob Lind, Echo Magazine
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Format: Kindle Edition
There are places that exude an atmosphere of casual sensuality that can be felt, smelled, and tasted. The residents of such places absorb the atmosphere like sponges until they become part of the place and the place becomes part of them. The City of New Orleans is such a place. In his collection of loosely related short stories, Desire: Tales of New Orleans, William Sterling Walker captures the essence of this city until, with its strong presence and influence, New Orleans takes center stage and breaths life into each and every character. Walker's beautiful integration of music -- classical, jazz, 80's pop -- and art adds to the overall sense of time and place, capturing moments, depth of feeling, and often creating the illusion of a written snapshot suspended in time.

The word desire, as in the title of the book, usually brings to mind sexual want or hunger. Humans, however, desire much more from each other than the physical and Walker incorporates both in his stories. He breathes life into his stories through his characters, the friendships they share, their loves, losses, needs and desires. Moments, events, conversations, assignations, paralyzing fear, pain and regret, all become connected through friendships and hookups in a pre-Katrina gay community that learned early about tragic loss while experiencing the plague years.

I know I will reread this book for a couple of reasons. Throughout the time it took me to read it, and after, I fell asleep in New Orleans thinking about the characters and woke up the next day in New Orleans still communing with them. But, most importantly, this is a book that strongly reminded me of the "why" behind my love for short stories. Highly recommended.
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