Okay so I thought DEAD COLLECTIONS was pretty good. Like, I read it, and immediately thought of a friend of mine who works in museum collections and ran and told them to read it. As one does, when excited about a book. But also, I myself do not work in museums.
I am trans, or something almost like it, and felt a resonance with the musing, twisty exploration of gender and attraction, of how we are perceived, of writing ourselves as characters and then re-writing and re-re-writing. It's an interesting conversation. This book is quite monologue-y, quite internal. Which isn't necessarily bad--it creates a lot of emotionality, certainly.
The part that sticks with me, the most interesting scene, is the scene post-hookup, post-blood drinking, when Sol goes to a vampire support group for help sorting out his feelings about how he is behaving with his new lover, and the vampires see that he has drunk human blood live from the vein and they toss him out. One of them actually attacks Sol, because he is so furious at a vampire who is endangering a human being by drinking from her.
The interesting thing about this scene isn't that Sol gets vampire-bashed, or rejected by a group that could have been his community if he conformed to their standards of behavior, but that the aggressive vampire is clearly morally right. Vampirism in DEAD COLLECTIONS is a very dangerous illness, that usually kills sufferers within a matter of months, maybe a few years. It's passed via bodily fluids, meaning sexual contact is a huge risk of infection. And Sol was careless with a person he's thinking he loves. He deserves the ass-kicking.
Dead Collections doesn't present this with softness, but also doesn't present it with grittiness. It is what it is. Sol is guilty but not dramatic about it. It's the part of the book I keep thinking about, because of how difficult it is to balance on that narrow thread between not guilty and so guilty its useless. Sol recognizes his mistakes. He exists in a space where he will probably make the same mistake again, because of who he is. Is this what it means to discover and embody masculinity? Hell if I know.