City life is cluttered and high-density but anonymous. The characters in Only in the City are surrounded by strangers, anxious about making a connection with another person, physically crowded but emotionally isolated, even from themselves.
And so, when they find that connection–emotional, romantic, sexual–it’s explosive. Add a dose of the fantastic–sometimes even the supernatural–and you get the stories in this anthology: powerful and electric in the way of desperate connections, but also unique to their settings. Some of these cities are ancient and magical, others are gritty and futuristic, while still others are familiar to us in the here and now. Each city pulses with life, but it is that constant beat that wears down our protagonists. These characters have been hardened, cracked, and sometimes broken, and it’s often not until they’re presented with something they’ve never dreamed of that they realize what they’ve been missing.
In “As Far as I Can See,” a New Orleans man has discovered exactly how easy it is to slide into anonymity and loneliness in the city. He passes through his surroundings solitary and unseen, but what happens when he meets someone who is, literally, unseen? In “Camille/Leon,” a prostitute has a unique talent: she can shift genders at will. This has allowed her to make a terrific living, but it’s forced her to split herself in two. Can she ever realize the whole of herself in a society that tears people apart?
Drug cartels, sentient forests, dueling mages, and earthbound angels: each of these stories reaches for the fantastic, even as it stays grounded in the familiar feel of urban life.
All the protagonists of these stories have lost something of themselves in the erosion of city life, but each of them will find something unexpected or precious through the erotic connections they make, whether fleeting or forever, that could only happen in the city.
Excerpt from So Far As I Can See
By Eric Del Carlo
The blear of daylight drew me home. I had gin for blood this morning, and had started the transfusing late last night, very late, at three or four a.m. venturing, restless, unsleeping, unwilling to just lie and lie in bed. Why sleep, when the Quarter won’t, when the madcap drinking laws don’t close the bars, ever?
Thin light, not even sunup, but enough to spook away the muggers. Summer’s humidity was coming, starting earlier every year, readying to deep-fry bruised and brazen New Orleans yet again. For now, though, it was a pleasant warmth, an easy semi-heat, and staggering through it I reached the stone steps that climbed to my house’s front door. I’d hit more than one bar, engaged in murky talk with sidelong elbows and shoulders, saying nothing, hearing nothing, just boozy blather all around. Out there for what? Looking for meaning, for a coherent thought? Hoping to get my cock sucked in some dark corner?