Mykola Dementiuk is a rare breed of author, a deliberate throwback to the pulp fiction era of the sixties and seventies. In setting his stories within the urban jungle of his youth, back before the term 'gay rights' was coined, he shares with the reader an honest and unflinching recollection of his past and the people within it.
His stories are deliberately rough around the edges, peopled with characters who are as average as they are unsavoury. At times, those characters can make for an unsettling read, but there's also a redeeming quality to Mick's stories that sheds a hopeful light upon even the darkest alleys and dirtiest doorways.
Kisser: A Masculine Femininity is one of his strongest stories yet, filled with more hope, love, and human emotion than any other to date. It's also his least sexual story, although it is (ironically) his most sensual. It's the story of an aimless, sexually confused young man, drawn to other men by the promise of human intimacy. It all begins with a kiss in the park, a tender yet hungry embrace of lips and tongue that sparks something inside him. He questions it, rails against it, and adamantly denies being one of those faggots . . . yet he cannot escape the fact that there is something undeniably 'queer' about himself.
Inspired by that first kiss, he sets out into the gay village in search of his kisser. A little window shopping leads him to the apartment of a complete stranger, but he quickly flees, not interested in a meaningless sexual exchange. By the end of the tale, he's not only discovered a second, better kisser, but a fondness for being called Missy . . . for surrounding himself in feminine perfumes . . . and for being treated tenderly and lovingly by an impotent old man.
It's a remarkably sweet tale, and one I absolutely did not expect from Mick. Well-written, old-fashioned in its romance, and even rather poignant, Kisser is a story that I suspect will draw a lot of new readers into his world.
[Reviewed by Sally]