In Briefly Told Lives, C. Bard Cole presents a wild panorama that sweeps from the urban gay ghetto to working class suburbia to the counter culture of punks and sex workers, a shockingly original view of lives lived on the edge of both straight society and the gay 'mainstream'. A broad tapestry in which conventional dividing lines begin to loose their fixed meaning, these characters spin their own master narratives, revealing lives rich in meaning and bought dearly through pain and compromise.
Intense and rewarding, Cole's debut collection exposes the complexities and contradictions of personal identity in a world devoid of grand truths and shared values. Briefly Told Lives is brash and insightful, bringing a very different, hidden world into the literary limelight.
Real Stories! Real People!
By Joseph J. Hanssen "Joe" - November 21, 2000
These are not your educated, well-bred, middle class gay people in these stories. These are real people who happened to be gay, or even straight. C. Bard Cole has written individual stories, about named individuals that are edgy, brash, and very insightful. The stories are about sex workers, punks, and characters from all different backgrounds which includes teens to rich college boys. I found this to be an intensely rewarding read because it was so different from the "normal" writing be put out there by the mainstream gay literary giants. This is a fresh and different type of writing. Each story was a brief history into the life of the character. This is a exciting debut for Cole and I really enjoyed this new author. The drawings and illustrations were an added bonus. If you want to read a book that it different and that will stir you try this one.
Briefly Told - but riveting
By E. Burnside - August 20, 2000
Bard Cole's short stories profiling the lives of young gay men is fascinating. It's impossible not to care about them, as in just a few pages, they come alive. Some are loveable, some hateful, but I wanted to know more...what shaped them, made them choose one course over another? Gayness aside, the varying approaches to life's problems runs the gamut. Many of the stories are illustrated with Cole's excellent drawings, and if you can, by visiting his website, wheedle a copy of the chapbook "Fag Sex in High School", you'll be glad you did. I hope this book will be the first of many.
Uneven but generally engaging
By klavierspiel "klavierspiel" - October 3, 2001
C. Bard Cole's laconic style limns a wide variety of gay characters in this collection of stories, from middle- and upper-class men, to denizens of the counterculture, to drug addicts and murderers. His ability to sketch a complete character in a few words is astonishing, and his deliberately documentary-like prose can make an unlikely interracial romance unexpectedly touching. Conversely, the tale of two teenage sex buddies who almost casually descend into murder and addiction chills to the bone when told this way. On the other hand, sometimes the flat style means the narratives remain--well, flat. Overall, there are enough engaging moments in this collection to keep one turning the pages, and the lesser tales are, if nothing else, short.