Kate Evans' For The May Queen
My friend Kate Evans' is celebrating the publication of her first novel, For The May Queen, which is out now from Vanilla Heart Publishing. I had the honor of reading the novel while she was still sending it out to presses, hoping one day someone would take a chance on it. Well, the day has come. I think I read the novel in about two sittings. It's brisk, the dialogue crackles with realism and, as I said in the blurb, Kate has created a meticulous sense of time and place for the setting and characters. Here's the synopsis:
It’s 1981 and 17-year-old Norma Rogers' parents drop her off at the college dorms. Soon, Norma finds herself drunk and nearly naked with three strangers. The strip poker event is the first of many experiences that prompt Norma to question who she is—and who she wants to be. Norma's relationships with an array of characters induce her to grapple with society's messages about women, sex, and freedom. These characters include Jack, her aloof on-again, off-again boyfriend; Goat, her antsy dorm neighbor; Liz Chan, a pot-smoking sorority girl; Benny Moss, a nerdy guy who has a thing for Liz; and Paul Fellows, Benny's roommate, whom Norma calls “Chuck” because he reminds her of Charlie Brown. Chuck, a witty aficionado of old films, plays a pivotal role in Norma's discoveries about life's possibilities, as does Norma's roommate Stacy—a beautiful, kind, and somewhat mysterious blonde. Many tumultuous events take Norma through an array of troubles, pleasures, and thrills: from drug use and ominous encounters with strangers, to rowdy parties and road trips, to queer coming-out surprises. In the midst of these incidents—which are peppered with 1970's and 1980's pop cultural references—Norma reflects on her desire for freedom (sexual and otherwise). Reinforcing these themes are the intermittent appearances of her middle-class parents and her sister, as well as her best friend from high school whose life in a small town—as she prepares for her upcoming wedding—is poles apart from Norma’s. Ultimately Norma comes to see that there are many ways to live and love.
If you're in Atlanta, come and meet Kate at the Atlanta Queer Literary Festival. She's a keynote speaker along with Mark Doty on Oct. 15. And buy this book!