Based on the first English-language Gay Novel, Live and Learn by Gothic author Francis Lathom, Fortune’s Lot is a retelling that brings the historically-significant but nearly-lost work back into the public eye.
Originally written as part of Lathom’s series of Gothic romances, which were extremely popular in his day, he gained notoriety (of a sort) when Jane Austen included one of earlier works, The Midnight Bell, in a list of “dreadful books” listed in Northanger Abbey.
Fortune’s Lot follows the roundabout adventures of a young man known only as the town barber’s nephew as he rises in fortune and power during England of the 1820s. Before Queen Victoria, before Charles Dickens, Lathom’s works hinted at same-sex relations, but due to the social climate of the time, he could not be more open about his own predilection. This retelling brings the same-sex aspects to the forefront, allowing the narrator to describe his feelings and thoughts as he learns to navigate Regency society.
I have completed the final draft of my latest book, a retelling of Bayard Taylor’s 1869 novel “Joseph and His Friend: A Pennsylvania Story.” If you are interested in being listed as a Reader or would like to provide a blurb, please let me know.
Joseph Asten is a 23-year-old farmer living in the Allegheny River Valley shortly after the Civil War. He knew his romantic feelings toward other men differed from most others. His plan to marry a woman who knew of his “dual nature” did not work out as well as he had hoped.
My best guess is that I will have print copies by the end of June.
At a recent reading, a fellow author suggested that I had invented a new genre: retelling of historically-significant books nearly lost to memory. With “Vanya Says, ‘Go!'” I attempted to rescue a groundbreaking work but revisiting and retelling the story. There was no reason why I could not do the same with other, similar books.
After some research, I decided upon my next project, a retelling of the “first American Gay novel,” Bayard Taylor’s “Joseph and His Friend: A Pennsylvania Story.” First published as a serial for “The Atlantic” in 1869, “Joseph” was an homage to Taylor’s poet friend, Fitz-Greene Halleck, who had recently died. The original attempted to tell a tale of “love stronger than brotherly love,” but because of the conservative moral climate at the time, much of the intimacy had to be hidden behind coded language and veiled phrases. I am attempting to tell the story more openly and with a more modern style.
I had the honor of reading at an event yesterday for the launch of Olga Zilberbourg’s book of short stories published in Moscow. As the topic was Russian-American literature, I spoke about and read from my book, “Vanya Says, ‘Go!'” because it was originally written in Russian and I retold it in English. The feedback was quite positive (although no one bought any books), and one of the other authors gave me some motivation to continue this new genre I seem to have created. The other readers read from their own works or favorites. A great afternoon!
You can view my reading of “Vanya Says, ‘Go!'” at Laurel Book Store by clicking this link: https://www.facebook.com/events/128351030989009/permalink/153688005121978/