“I’m not different for the sake of being different, only for the desperate sake of being myself.” – Vivian Stanshall
Paul Alan Fahey offers two very different LGBT short stories in Boys Will Be Boys and The View from 16 Podwale Street, but there’s one thing they both have very much in common: they are both stories about what it means to be labeled “different” within a social order that won’t settle for anything less than uniformity and conformity.
The View from 16 Podwale Street is a story set against the backdrop of pre-World War II Poland, just as it’s beginning to appear imminent that Germany and her allies will become the aggressors in Hitler’s bid to dominate Europe. It’s the story of Elwira Malinowska and her companion/lover Raz Zielinska, and the dangers that may face the two women in the coming months and years, as with hindsight as our guide, the reader knows full well the unfathomable horrors suffered by the men, women, and children who didn’t fit into the basic scheme of the Nazi ideal.
This story is very much about the looming danger, but is also very much about how difficult it was for Elwira to accept that danger and all that it could mean for her country. It’s a story of the taboo of two women who are a loving and committed couple, but is also the story of Elwira’s affliction and what it might mean to her if Germany succeeds in its campaign to cleanse the world of people who were born imperfect in its estimation. It is a subdued and subtle story about fraud and fraudulent friendships and the way the tides turned neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend. And the way in which fate has a way of balancing those betrayals.
But perhaps best of all, it is a story that has a happy ending for Elwira and Raz, set in a time when there were no happy endings for many millions of people.
Buy The View from 16 Podwale Street here:
Boys Will Be Boys—especially teenage boys deep in the throes of discovering who they are and what they want—is the story of Phillip Noland, a freshman at St. Sebastian’s Catholic School for boys, a place where the rules don’t seem designed to help the students avoid Hell as much as they’re designed to prepare them for an inevitable trip there.
St. Sebastian’s, ca. 1958, was a place and a time about which, many decades later, Phillip can reminisce. It was a place where rules were specific (“At all times, keep your hands out of your pockets,” because pocket hockey is apparently a one-way road to perdition.), and the consequences of disregarding the rules were done at the students’ peril. It was also a place where Phillip was branded an outcast and bullied for being queer. It was a place where his first kiss happened with a boy, a boy known to the reader only as Smith, and a Jewish boy, no less. It was a place where a memory was born and forever imprinted on Phillip’s heart as something special, something much better to hold on to than all the others, because it was a memory of unconditional friendship and the memory of a common bond in a place Phillip knew he didn’t belong.
Boys Will Be Boys is a story of faith versus free will and, in some ways, at least from my perspective, is also a brief glimpse into the conflict between the literal interpretation of The Word and the truth of human nature and how Phillip took charge of his own choices.
If you like character driven and introspective stories that often read more like personal memoirs than short fiction, Paul Alan Fahey delivers it in both of these pieces.
About The Author: Paul Alan Fahey (1944-) created and edited Mindprints, an international literary journal for writers and artists with disabilities, at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, California. He retired in 2008. During his tenure, Mindprints made Writers Digest’s “Top 30 Short Story Markets” list for two consecutive years. His writing has appeared in Byline, Palo Alto Review, Long Story Short, African American Review, The MacGuffin, Thema, Gertrude, Kaleidoscope, and in several other literary journals and anthologies like A Cup of Comfort, Somewhere in Crime, My Mom is My Hero, and Writing on Walls. His monthly online column at Coffeehouse For Writers focused on writing advice.
Paul is a six-time winner of the Lillian Dean Writing Award for short stories and nonfiction at the California Central Coast Writer’s Conference. He is the author of THE VIEW FROM 16 PODWALE STREET, BOYS WILL BE BOYS, WHEN THE RIGHT ONE COMES ALONG, BOMBER’S MOON, and the soon to be released anthology of personal essays, THE OTHER MAN, from JMS BOOKS.