In Every True Pleasure: LGBTQ Tales of North Carolina, Wilton Barnhardt curates a collection of stories highlighting the diversity of LGBTQ+ experience in North Carolina.
The first state press anthology to focus on the LGBTQ experience, Every True Pleasure showcases this myriad of narratives and the depth of LGBTQ life in the state. Professor of creative writing in NC State’s Master of Fine Arts program Wilton Barnhardt, in his introduction, emphasizes the importance of this anthology—something seen through the depth of the writing throughout the book.
In “Hejira,” David Sedaris tells the story of a young man whose father kicks him out of the house without ever giving a reason why; the young man assumes it is because of his unemployment, when instead it is over his sexuality. A poignant reflection on this moment, his mother sobs while she drives him to his sister’s, and the speaker wonders what they look like to outsiders.
Kelly Link’s “The Lesson” tells the story of Harper and Thanh, a gay couple attending their friend Fleur’s wedding while their surrogate Naomi stays at home pregnant with their baby. Naomi goes into labor early, and they both deal with being in a different place and not knowing how things are going to go. Despite their son being in the NICU for a considerable amount of time after, they learn that sometimes things are out of your control. In this beautifully written story, Link uses temporal shifts to further emphasize this worry they go through.
In Brian Blanchfield’s “On Peripersonal Space,” he explores a mother-son relationship through the idea of peripersonal space—“the entire volume of space within a person’s reach, or within a single conceivable momentary extension of his person,” writes Blanchfield. This relationship, already fraught with tension, is further complicated by the son revealing to her that he is gay, and this further complicates the existing tensions in the already strained relationship.
With numerous other pieces from writers including, but not limited to, Alyssa Wong, Zelda Lockhart and Emily Chavez, this collection truly tells the diverse stories of LGBTQ+ experience in North Carolina. An anthology of heartfelt and tender stories with something for everyone to take away from it, this book is a must-read for anyone interested in LGBTQ+ literature.
Every True Pleasure: LGBTQ Tales of North Carolina is one of our Spring Reading Picks.