Tuesday, 8 March 2016


Author: Jonathan Harper
Publisher: Lethe Press
Genre: Gay Fiction
ISBN: 978-1-59021-296-7
Reviewed By: Sandra Scholes

Of the nine short stories here, Harper has had five published in magazines and anthologies. This stands as Harper's début collection showcasing his talent, at least that is what it seems once a glance is passed along the authors who have given him advanced praise for Daydreamers. If, like me some readers would prefer to flip around the book before devoting time to reading any one story at first, taking in the titles and the art that comes with them on the left hand side is a pleasure, especially when the artist of the flowers is Pierre-Joseph Redoute, a famous Flemish painter and botanist from the Southern Netherlands. 

As the title suggests, everyone in Harper's stories is a daydreamer, regardless of what they do for a living. Their private life, or the trappings of supposed success, some characters loathe their normal existence, preferring to embellish the truth rather than speak it. A perfect example of this is the first story, Repossession where Amber wears an eye-patch after an accident, tells others a different story of how she got it, one where she is exotic and adventurous.

Nature has August who works at Paradise Lost tattoo parlour with co-owner Libby among others, Libby being the only one who treats him well. August is teased but wants more than anything to be included in their games, however extreme. His sense of belonging comes later at the end when it leaves the reader pondering whether what happened before was in fact a daydream.

In The Cake is a Lie, a pastry chef lives with Louis, a successful guy with a job that pays well enough for them to live in the suburbs. While Louis is away, his lover Dreams of having his own business making cakes and other treats for eager customers, but mourns his own private life which is filled with disappointment. Louis acts as though he's not interested in his lover; a common theme in gay novels, and his blasé attitude is of detriment as here Louis has lost interest and goes somewhere else. In this case, Louis is brushed aside for Briar, the sort he daydreams of being interested in him, and for a moment, he is. While Louis is away, he revels in his daydreams, his own fantasies, but it's only at the end where he tells the truth about his friends, his lover and what his future might be.

Costume Dramas paints a picture of a couple who are living with each other, but lead separate lives. One is social while the other only spends his time with his sister for Period Piece Mondays. The rest of his time he is alone, desperately needing to spend time with his husband. Under the original title, The Rental Unit, Ron gets in Wayne, who takes up space in their converted garage with disastrous results Ron's husband hopes are one day they will get things back the way they were, but he, like the others is just daydreaming.

Daydreamers is a début collection of unheard lives, and needful affection that have become estranged, yet some have the potential to fulfil their destinies and find answers to life and what meaning it has for them. What in an instant separates this form any run of the mill novel is the cover. A bearded Adonis is colourfully shirtless for all to see, the lettering covered in glitter weaves around him, his beard covered in flowering blooms, multicoloured and attractive. Illustrated by Nguyen Thanh Nhan, it jumps out at the reader, much like the stories here.