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Short Stories 365/151 | N.S. Beranek

“Mr. Gum the Creative Writing Teacher” by Rhy Hughes from Best Gay Stories 2009 by Lethe Press. Edited by Steve Berman.

The actual next story in this collection is “Henry and Jim” by J.M. Snyder, which I already reviewed as part of Best Gay Romance 2013 (Cleis Press). For that review, see Short Stories 365/28.

The last entry in this collection isn’t a traditional piece of fiction, it’s more of a humorous extended commentary, mainly on the art of creative writing. It’s important to know beforehand that it’s based on a Scottish series of books for children written by Andy Stanton. I was not familiar with these books, but found this helpful explanation on a WordPress blog called “Making Them Readers: if you want to teach children to think”. From that:

“They tell of a strange town called Lamonic Bibber in which the evil Mr. Gum tries to destroy the happiness of the towns folk with the friend of his friend the terrible butcher Billy William the Third. They are thwarted in their plans by a young girl called Polly and a man called Friday who has a habit of shouting, ‘The truth is a lemon meringue!’”

Armed with that understanding, it’s not difficult to find the humor being lobbed at various targets in this mock Mr. Gum story. I’m sure I don’t appreciate it as much as someone familiar with the original works, but I was able to see what the author intended and grasp some of the humor in it.