Outside a hospital in Ottawa, a heartbeat returns long enough for a good-bye. Downtown, a man steps into shadows of the past to help those who have died find their way free from their memories. In Niagara, an icewine vintage is flavored with the truth of what happened on a dark evening of betrayal. In British Columbia, the snow itself can speak to someone who knows how to listen.
The past echoes through these queer tales—sometimes soft enough to grant a second chance at love, and other times loud enough to damn a killer—never without leaving those who’ve heard it unchanged.
Of Echoes Born is the first short story collection from Lambda Literary Award finalist ’Nathan Burgoine.
Burgoine (Light) assembles 12 queer supernatural tales, several of which interlock, for his inconsistent first collection. The best tales could easily stand alone; these include "The Finish," about an aging vintner whose erotic dalliance with a deaf young man named Dennis gets complicated, and "Struck," in which beleaguered bookstore clerk Chris meets Lightning Todd, who predicts his future wealth and romance. A pair of stories set in "the Village," a gay neighborhood, feature appealing characters and romances and could be components of a fine Tales of the City like novel. But several entries, such as "Time and Tide" and "A Psychometry of Snow," are too underdeveloped, and readers never get invested in wanting the male protagonists to couple up. Color is a theme throughout the book: chapter interludes offer pretentious observations about color and emotion, and it factors into "Negative Space," in which a man has visions of people right before they die, and "There & Then," about a teenager who can see people's auras. Burgoine's anthology has some appeal but is too much of a mixed bag to really satisfy.