Review: 'Bridges', by Kyell Gold
FurPlanet Productions, Feb. 2010.
Trade paperback $9.95
(vii + 114 pages; at Amazon);
Kindle $7.99. Illustrated by Keovi.
This is a mature content book. Please ensure that you are of legal age to purchase this material in your state or region. (publisher's advisory)
This novella is the first in FurPlanet’s ”Cupcake” series of works that are too short to be novels, but are long enough to stand on their own. It is also the winner of the Ursa Major Award for the Best Anthropomorphic Short Fiction of 2010. Finally, it is the fourth of Gold’s “Forester Universe” stories, set in the same world as his Waterways, Out of Position, and Isolation Play.
And it is as X-rated as Gold’s previous “Forester” stories. Amir is a young fennec who has just moved to Gateway to finish his graduate studies at Pinewood College. He also wants to “finish growing up” by developing a permanent relationship (male) instead of the one-night stands that he has become used to in his home town. He hopes to find someone appropriate at The Foxed Page, a comfortable fox-frequented bookstore near the university.
If there had been more bookstores like this back home, he might not have – definitely would not have – spent so much time in bars there. So although he knew how to hit on a cute guy in a bar, he really had no idea how to approach someone in a bookstore. He just knew that the chances of meeting someone he’d want to get to know were way better here than at home, and better in a bookstore than in a bar. (pgs. 1-2)
So they are. Amir has been frequenting The Foxed Page enough to become a regular there, and he is about to give up when a red fox “who intrigued Amir more than any of the other patrons” comes over and starts hitting on him. Wow! The larger and older red fox, Hayward, is polished and sophisticated; almost too good to be true, especially after the slobs that Amir had gotten used to in his home town.
It still worried him that an obviously outgoing, confident fox would hit on a bookish fennec curled up on a couch in a bookstore. […] But Hayward was undeniably interested in him, and Amir was damn sure going to find out why. (pgs. 7-8)
Amir finds out when he gets to the Turkish restaurant to which Hay invites him, and finds Hay already there with another fox, Ruffin, “a tall swift fox […] from the community theater” (p. 8). Hay likes threesomes.
Hayward seemed perfectly happy telling even dirtier stories about Fin, and it was Fin who was more interested in Amir’s Habitat for the Homeless work. By the time the fragrant, spiced chicken arrived for the main course, Amir was having a little trouble remembering exactly who he was on the date with. (p. 9)
The first three chapters of Bridges are titled “November”, “November”, and “November”. They describe the same events from the sharply differing backgrounds and emotional viewpoints of firstly Amir, secondly Fin, and thirdly Hay. Then, just when you have become comfortable with the threesome and the scene, Bridges takes a completely unexpected turn. Two of them disappear permanently, two new major characters segue into view – Kinzi, a coyote, and Carmila, a wheelchair-bound arctic fox – and what you thought you knew about the third turns out to be only what he was willing to let hang out in public. It is easy to see why Bridges was voted the best anthro short fiction of 2010.
Er, I said that Bridges is as X-rated as Gold’s previous “Forester” stories. Actually, if they are X-rated, Bridges is XXX-rated. It was hard to find any parts of the first three chapters that are non-hardcore enough to quote. There certainly are in the final two chapters, where the story moves from nonstop gay sex into serious motivation, characterization, and the emotional residue from deceased and absent former lovers. There is still an overpowering erotic emphasis, but it makes clear that a true relationship is about much more than just the sex.
If an overemphasis on raw sex isn’t to your liking, too bad. Because you are missing a really good story.