Tag Archives: Samuel R. Delany

Bread & Wine: An Erotic Tale of New York By Samuel R. Delany and Mia Wolff (Fantagraphic Books, 2013)

Continuing reading of short works by Samuel R. Delany, last night an autobiographical graphic novel recounting/imaging/ evoking Delany’s coming together with his life partner of more than 40 years, Dennis. Samuel (nicknamed Chips here) meets Dennis when he buys a book off him but realises he’s forgotten his money. Dennis gives him the book and asks him to bring the money when he can, which Chips does. The drama and difficulty, both in the situation and in its recounting, is that Dennis has been homeless for six years. As Chips and Dennis continue to meet on the street and feelings develop, Chips begins to ask friends if it’s wise to pursue this. I would have said no, but I suppose his friends are more open than I, encourage the affair and everything turns out alright, in spite of economic, social, and racial inequalities here told in their fullness but with great delicacy. The novel is a testament to Delany’s openness to love where one finds it and his sensitivity to the mental and economic precarity of others – an underlining of dignity and humanity – an ability to hear and understand what others feel even as they only half express it themselves. Delany’s text is interspersed with quotes from Hölderin’s BREAD & WINE, that sometimes underline, sometimes counterpoint. A life lived with courage, a courage also necessary to recount it, particularly in this form. Mia Wolff’s illustrations are an integral part of this storytelling, not only in the drawings themselves but in how they are composed throughout the book.

Neil Gaiman says, ‘it’s filthy and earthy and beautiful, like an orchid in a gutter; it tells you more than you wanted to know and makes you glad it did’. Couldn’t say it better myself.

José Arroyo

Big Joe by Samuel R. Delaney

A handsomely produced book I bought at Offprint 2022 from Inpatient Press, lavishly illustrated by Drake Carr and Sabrina Bockler. I hope the ugliness of the cover was a deliberate choice, as it is not representative of the marvellous drawings inside. It’s a shaggy, good-natured, kind-hearted book which I don’t know whether to categorise as political porn or as explicit utopian function. It’s probably both. A young vagabond hooks up with two older guys in a movie theatre, has such great sex with them that he follows them to the trailer park in the outskirts of town where they live; and joins their extended multi-racial inter-generational tight-knit community where they all have mutually pleasurable sex — in many positions and with generous portions of a variety of personalised kinks — with each other, singly and in various groupings, non-stop and explicitly conveyed. My first book by Samuel R. Delany and it won’t be my last.

José Arroyo