Gay Zoo Day: Tales of Seeking and Discovery. Mike McClelland. Beautiful Dreamer Press, 2017. 274 pages.
Every now and then, I stumble upon a book I didn’t know I was looking for. Gay Zoo Day by Mike McClelland is one such book. Imminently satisfying, this debut collection of short stories is breathtaking in its warmth and scope.
Before becoming a writer, Mike McClelland worked as a gravedigger, wedding singer, antique salesman, and as a marketing strategy director for clients like Toyota, MillerCoors, and Buffalo Wild Wings.His stories resonate and much of that resonance, indeed the collection’s creative energy, stems from the plethora of settings McClelland deploys—space stations, London, Hong Kong, South Africa, etc.
The central characters in Gay Zoo Day: Tales of Seeking and Discovery are all searching for something more than what life has handed them. They trace their paths through landscapes of love, death, violence, ambition, and sex. Some seek deliberately, some stumble blindly, but all find more than what they were looking for. Each story takes a queer approach to a familiar genre: an adventure in space, a cowboy romance in Panama, a ghost story in upstate New York, a revenge drama in colonial Kenya. Gay Zoo Day uses the map of the world to explore the map of the heart.
McClelland’s work has appeared in a variety of anthologies and literary journals, and he frequently collaborates with his brother Casey, an abstract artist.