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January 12, 2012
Daniel McVay

(01-12-2012) -- Twenty years after the demise of Knights Press, author Daniel McVay's previously published comic novels (along with his fourth novel, which almost got published) have been reissued and are available on Amazon, plus several other online sources and from book distributors worldwide by way of CreateSpace.

The Baggy-Kneed Camel Blues, Fête and The Vanilla Kid were originally published in the mid-80s, all to rave reviews and good sales; The Legend of Jasper Kell was supposed to be the fourth, but the publisher went belly-up while it was still in production, so the novel never made it to the bookstores. Because it was in production, the book was considered"published" and, thus, went "out of print" along with the others. But, now, they're all back and ready to be read.

Although all the books were published as "Gay Novels," The Legend of Jasper Kell is the only one of the four McVay considers actually to be in the genre. "The first three stories are about everybody. They are comic novels dealing with the trials and tribulations of people whose lives have been interrupted by some upheaval or another, and it's all of their reactions that offer the absurdities necessary to have fun with the story; it has nothing to do with any character's gayness. The books are not about Being Gay. Jasper Kell, on the other hand, is very gay. It is about Being Gay. Hell, it's about Being a Gay Messiah!"

Gay-lit maven, Richard Labonte, had this to say about The Legend of Jasper Kell: "In each of his previous novels, McVay has worked wonderful originality and subversive humor into his stories of men wrestling with the demons of love, lust and self. This fourth book tops them all: it cocks a wry-spirited eyebrow at the stuff of which legends are made, weaving the accumulated wrinkles and wisdoms of the aged and the exuberant flexings and tumblings of the young into an uncommonly out-rageous and comfortingly readable saga."

The book blurb has this to say: "There were ten thousand of them (a Myriad) gathered out in the desert. They were waiting for the return Jasper Kell (A Vigil).They had somehow gotten the ideas that: Jasper Kell was born of the desert to a gay man; that he possessed a sense of Auravision; that he had cured his own blindness; and that he had brought a dead man back to life. Moreover, they thought he had become an eagle, and that he was going to fly down from the mountaintop to become their savior. Wherever did they get such ideas? Whoever would tell such stories? Joe Dixon. It all started back in I957, on that selfsame desert, on a night of shooting stars and Maria Callas....

Their story, combined with those of their friends, offers up a nostalgic (for some) and historical look at being all-out gay in West Hollywood in the 80s.

Daniel McVay again weaves fantasy and reality into a comic tale of human spirit and imagination, this time through the lives of an extraordinary young man-of-destiny and his myth-making gay "Auntie." The Legend of Jasper Kell is McVay's fourth novel, and easily his gayest, sexiest and most bizarre story yet."

About the other books:

The third novel, The Vanilla Kid, is McVay's most ambitious effort: a narrator's tour de force with play scripts, personal letters, poetry, a writer's check list (compare bucket list) and even one non-linear chapter, "balancing past and present, reality and pretense, madness and sanity, to tell the sometimes farcical and always serious story of a man whose first boyhood love has controlled his life for decades."

The blurb: "The Vanilla Kid was the only name any of us knew for him; and, at that time, the only name Kid knew for himself. He was one of the street people: those who had disappeared from another life and would disappear from this one, too." So begins the story.

Who he was before, and who he was after -- and how he sorted it (them!) all out -- is a witty and bizarre tale built on mind games pitting Identity versus Deception.

The Vanilla Kid is a labyrinth of wry twists and turns, a series of illusions which will challenge the reader to new insights -- all leading toward that enigma called Self. But even these supposedly lofty thoughts are offered up with an ever-present sense for the absurd."

Novel two, Fête: Beech Grove's Annual Founders Day Program, Art Festival and Summer Solstice Celebration, is the most heartwarming of the group. It's a multi-generational family saga without the weight of a tome. The story begins with a boy announcing to one and all that he is gay, but as McVay cautions: "This is not a coming-out story; it is, rather, a lifetime of family history erupting in all its absurd details, then correcting itself," and it's told with McVay's signature comic fiction style.

According to the back cover: "Eddie would have liked it better if her youngest son, Donny, had not been gay. At least he could have kept it a secret! So when Donny openly comes out at the only bar in town, her bar, Eddie goes on a rampage, making life miserable for everyone, turning the small resort village of Beech Grove and its annual Arts Festival upside down.

That she is part-owner of the bar would have caused enough problems between mother and son, but her attempts to make Donny into a respectable gay young man -- one who is courted properly and comes home from dates at a decent hour -- only make things worse.

Fête is a warm and amusing story of putting the pieces back together, of families learning to love each other. It is a story which will stay with you for a long time."

And, finally, McVay's virginal effort: The Baggy-Kneed Camel Blues. The critics said: "McVay is gifted with a comic writer's flair for quick wit and sharp repartee...a humorous and romantic romp...some of the funniest dialogue around...it has an abundance of delightful improbability...all the charm of an Auntie Mame tale." And the blurb: Tad wanders the cobble-stoned streets of Barcelona, confusing reality, fantasies, mind games and memories...until he meets Günter -- easily the most gorgeous Viking ever to set foot on Spanish soil. Their bizarre adventure is filled with camels, bicycles in the Moroccan desert, a hairy alchemist and sex on the edge of a cliff. Add to this a zany little redhead named Stacey and her crazy Gang, and you have some idea what it means to sing "The Baggy-Kneed Camel Blues!"

Each novel has its own Facebook page, including author's notes and excerpts. And all are now available on Kindle.

McVay has begun a new comic novel, titled Keegan, which he hopes to finish this spring. Although not a gay novel in the usual sense, the story does have a gay narrator. McVay wrote the blurb before starting the novel and hopes to live up to its promise:

"Keegan was a child of the Venice Beach Boardwalk The day I met him, I assumed he was a mime because he didn't speak. And the boardwalk is often overrun by mimes, so he fit right in. He wasn't a mime.

Keegan, I guessed, was probably homeless. Partly because he was extremely hairy -- scruffy like a terrier in need of a groomer. And partly because he was covered in crud -- to point of being crusty. Turns out, he was not homeless.

Keegan, somehow, got our "proper" little family to break out of our facades, thus freeing all the hidden angels and demons.

Keegan, obviously, could not be allowed to live."


Daniel McVay page


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