This Ain't Tales of the City 

Kevin Killian's Spreadeagle Is an Ambitious Novel of Gay Life

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A running gag in Kevin Killian's Spreadeagle is that a main character, a novelist who writes popular books about a gay couple in San Francisco, is frequently confused with Armistead Maupin, much to his irritation and dismay. Killian's novel itself could borrow a title from the spoofy pornographers who made This Ain't Star Trek: Try This Ain't Tales of the City. Spreadeagle isn't all about sex, per se, but sex does seem to pop up every couple of pages, as Killian follows the personal and professional lives of a handful of gay men in San Francisco, from the aforementioned author and his boyfriend, to the young stripper who comes to share their home. Some of the sex is hot and interesting, and some of it is as of little consequence as any rote sex act between a long-married couple. And all the while, the low anxiety left in the wake of the AIDS epidemic thrums through the pages. Part Two of the book jumps to a small, meth-addled desert town, homing in on a con man who makes his money peddling phony AIDS remedies to the sick and desperate. It's a large, ambitious novel, two decades in the making, and Publication Studio ushers it into the world with appropriate fanfare: Forget the Pearl Room, Killian's reading at Embers. He's joined by Dodie Bellamy, reading from her novel the buddhist, which describes the end of Bellamy's affair with a Buddhist teacher.

Killian's novel marks the second title in a new imprint from Portland-based print-on-demand house Publication Studio. Publication Studio co-founder Matthew Stadler describes the new Fellow Travelers series as "a kind of homage to the old Olympia Press Travellers Companion series," which distributed English-language versions of such banned books as Lolita and Naked Lunch in the 1950s. The imprint promises to publish work that might otherwise be deemed unmarketable; its launch is another step in the growth of Publication Studio, which opened its initial storefront in Portland in 2009 and now counts six locations in North America, with branches set to open in Los Angeles and France. And there's another local angle to the Fellow Travelers line: The imprint launched with the debut novel of longtime Portland musician and zine author sts, perhaps best known as the drummer for the Lookers and Cadallaca in the 1990s, as well as her work at the Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls. Her novel Golden Brothers is available now at any Publication Studio location, one copy at a time.

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