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Margins of Tolerance Paperback – May 30, 2012

4.9 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Eric Sasson received his M.A. in Creative Writing from New York University. In the past few years he's received scholarships from and attended the Aspen, Sewanee, Key West, Squaw Valley and Southampton writers' conferences, as well as the Summer Literary Seminar in St. Petersburg, Russia, for which he was a competition finalist. His story "Floating" was named a finalist for the Robert Olen Butler prize. Other stories have appeared in The Nashville Review, BLOOM, The Puritan, Liquid Imagination, Alligator Juniper, Trans, The Ledge, MARY magazine and The 2nd Hand. He's honored to have been awarded a 2010 residency fellowship to the Anderson Center in Minnesota, where he completed an edit of his first novel. He lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 228 pages
  • Publisher: Livingston Press (May 30, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1604890940
  • ISBN-13: 978-1604890945
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.8 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,747,442 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Don't let the cover fool you. This short story collection isn't just about about gay sex in hotel rooms. It's about complex characters (UFO abductees, orthodox Jews, gay suburban couples, closeted mommy's boys) and complex relationships (making love work, letting it end, getting on with the neighbors, ambiguous interactions with strangers). There's humor, there's sadness, and there's even a happy ending or two. Oh yeah, and if you're looking for it, there's also some gay sex in hotel rooms.
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Format: Paperback
It's something to find a brilliant new writer out there in the ever-growing published mass of Indies. It's another thing to know the writer's work from the past and be able to experience a voice that has grown wider and deeper and uniquely "his," just like the characters on the pages of Margins of Tolerance.

Here are some of the notes I jotted down as I read:

Damn, this makes me think twice about the guy jammed up against me on the plane out of Hartsfield.

I'll bet a cool part time job would be as a hotel clerk in a foreign country, at least for a week.

I could call this a road map to a gay man's life, with highlighted routes... and asterisks to mark the things you REALLY shouldn't miss long the way, or I could just say this book is filled with great writing and unforgettable characters.

I felt that uncomfortable squirm in That Perfect Poison, and The World Needs Every Body. It's the squirm you feel when the narrator's "going there," whether you're ready or not, when you don't like the outcome, but you can't change it. I think that is a brilliant skill.

As is the way Sasson let me in secret travel techniques and the crap regarding travel that we all love to hate. He mixed it with a multi-cultural experience. that left me feeling wiser having read these stories, bubbe.

There were stories that I didn't want to end, like Floating, and one that felt like a major motion picture, the title story, Margins of Tolerance.

I could not love The Coming Revolution more, unless I could have it read to me again, by Sasson himself, as I reclined on a velvet chaise lounge in Idaho with a large glass of Pinot Noir in one hand and a Gauloise in the other.

To synopsize.
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Format: Paperback
Sometimes I get jealous of my gay writer friends. I think that compared to me at least, they have such a rich life - filled with things that I can never experience since my sexual orientation is NEVER called into question, never outlawed, and mostly never prosecuted. They have this whole world of things they can draw from to write about which I simply... lack.

Then I think about the things they have to put up with which make their lives so full and rich, and I decide I'm not so jealous after all.

Now, I don't know if my friend Eric Sasson has been to all the places his characters visit in his short story collection Margins of Tolerance - although I know he's well traveled. But if he's been to even HALF of them, then I'm jealous once again, and not of his experience as a gay man, but of his experience as a world traveler. I've been a LOT of places, but now that I have two school-aged kids, I don't get to go to far away places so much anymore.

What Eric has done with Margins of Tolerance is brilliant. He's taken those two things I'm jealous about - his experience as a gay man and his experience as a traveler - and combined them into a rich and varied commentary on things which transcend ALL experience.

Two common threads run through each of the stories contained in this volume: the first is that every protagonist is a gay male. (I think that's obvious from the things I've implied so far.) But if these stories focused solely on what it's like to be gay, then I think it would be easy to dismiss Eric as a writer who's found a comfortable niche - something to fall back on and rely on and repeat.
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Format: Hardcover
One is drawn to Sasson's stories as an unacknowledged participant in a kinky sex game, a voyeur torn between intrigue and uneasiness. "Body and Mind" explores a couple's attempts to revive their sex life through hooking up via an Iphone app. "Cruising" has one of my favorite lines: "Life is too short not to be ridiculous. Which is why I have sex in the steam room." And yet, in the same story, we have: "Are we not, all of us, nothing but tiny patches in the infinite quilt of time, different but essential parts of the fabric?" This story and others in the collection find some unimaginable balance between erotica and literary fiction.

"Inner Eye" is a deeply affecting story about a man traveling in Brazil without his partner. This story highlights one of Sasson's strengths in jarring the reader so that they feel as lost in the cultural/language barriers as the protagonist. Losing one's wallet on a trip abroad is a situation that everyone can imagine with deep horror but using it as metaphor for an unraveling relationship makes it even more chilling. The title story comes near the end of this collection and tackles big subjects such as coming to terms with homoerotic stirrings in one's early teens and how those who are marginalized decide whether to wage war against the status quo or succumb to it. But this story doesn't become moralizing under the weight of all that baggage. Instead, Sasson gives us rich, complicated characters that resist stereotypes. This collection doesn't present us with the pretty, sanitized version of complex social and interpersonal issues. This isn't the "margins" but rather the "serrated edges" of tolerance. Gay, straight, or anywhere in between, read this book and be prepared to feel uncomfortable, aroused, and awed by Sasson's meticulous prose.
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