I’m rounding out my revisit of Strawberries and Other Erotic Fruits from Jerry L. Wheeler this week, with a short story that manages to be funny, bittersweet, a little dark, and ultimately triumphant and romantic all at the same damn time, which should make me jealous and bitter of Jerry’s talent, but instead left me grinning so I forgive him.
It’s a note I keep returning to when I talk about Strawberries, but it’s worth repeating: it’s rare to find a single author with such a variety of voices to share. If you’re a lover of short fiction, or of dark tales such as those of Poe, but also like a good laugh, some touching romance, or just want to read a wide variety of tone in a single collection, then pick up Strawberries. You’ll not regret it.
Make sure you get the revised edition (which has the gorgeous Inkspiral Design and Lammy Finalist for Gay Erotica logo) of this book, which boasts the four new tales, the last of which is “Discodemius.”
NB: Let’s talk “Discodemius.” Definitely a favourite of mine, and it was for a specific call, right?
JLW: I had written an erotic story about an angel for one of Todd Gregory’s anthologies [NB: Wings] and he wanted to do a second volume about demons featuring the same authors [NB: Raising Hell]. When I read the email, I happened to be listening to a reissue of the Rolling Stones’ “Some Girls,” and “Miss You,” their lone disco effort, was playing. The rest, as they say, is history.
NB: Poor Kevin.
JLW: Kevin tries to conjure up Azmodeus but gets a substitute demon instead, finding himself sent back to the Seventies with no money, no friends, and no clothes.
NB: It’s a striking story: it’s funny, but dark, and sexy, then bittersweet, but also it ends on such a romantic and triumphant note. Which is a lot for one story to do so well. I think that’s all on how you wrote Kevin.
JLW: Kevin’s a survivor. He finds an apartment, a boyfriend, and a purpose. But when the demon reappears and restores him to the correct time, Kevin loses everything. Or does he?
NB: You’re doing the movie trailer voice again. Also, this would be great as a movie. Someone get Hollywood on the line.
“Discodemius” also has at its core music and musicality (and sensuality about music) that I really, really loved. I don’t know many writers who can invest musicality into their prose, but Jerry is one of the best at it.
And there you have it. We’ve only talked about the four new stories in the collection, but I hope I’ve teased you enough into checking out the collection. Strawberries and Other Erotic Fruits is a fantastic sum of some really brilliant parts.
You can find Jerry online via Twitter, at his ongoing brilliant review blog Out in Print: Queer Book Reviews, and if you’re in need of a fantastic editor, definitely hit him up over at Write & Shine.