Informed by a poet’s sense of language and an outsider’s idiosyncratic perception of place, “Postcards from Heartthrob Town” offers creative considerations of queer travel. These nineteen short stories illustrate the dislocation of the heart and the hunger of the erotic body as it transits through varied frontiers. A cryptic encounter with a healer in Oaxaca, Mexico; a series of sensual exchanges with a provocative stranger in Vienna, Austria; a spiritual pilgrimage to the top of Mount Brandon in Ireland; these are just three of the stops discovered on Wozek’s most recent itinerary.

Winner of a 2008 Eric Hoffer Book Award: "Notable Distinction" in the category of "Memoir."

Nominated for a 2007 Lambda Literary Award for Men's Fiction.

Selected for the Haworth Press "Out in the World" Travel Literature Series for 2006.

 

 

Michael T. Luongo - senior editor of "Haworth Press 'Out in the World' Travel Literature Series" 
"Wozek’s themes of shifting identity and wanderlust reveal the connections fused between men from one part of the world with those of another. How those idiosyncratic places and people impact the traveler’s sense of self is well detailed in each of Wozek’s stories in this book. Wozek’s storytelling is as skillful and emotional as good poetry, with particulars in each story your heart will choose to linger on . . . Delving into this intense and well-crafted work is to embark on a memorable and sensuous journey.
"

 

Mitzi Szereto - editor of "The Erotic Travel Tales Series"
"Wozek writes with a poet's flair, taking his readers to places both evocative and erotic. His is truly one of the most compelling and original voices working in gay literature and travel memoir today."

 

Matthew Link - travel editor and journalist
"By weaving fictional stories with true ones, Wozek aptly highlights the mythological nature of place—how the silent backdrops of our lives act as stages that endure longer than we do. With a clear-cut voice and vision, he paints with watercolors the isolation travelers invariably encounter on their journey, and the sweet alienation which gay protagonists have always known. Perhaps the path of accepting ourselves as queer is parallel, after all, to the path of accepting the world as a whole."

 

Jim Tushinski - author of "Van Allen's Ecstasy"
"Gerard Wozek's 'Postcards' is a fascinating collection of stories that capture the excitement, sensuality, longing, and melancholy of travel—and of life and love as well. His prose is evocative and his descriptions have the clarity and romance one feels when seeing a fabled, foreign city for the first time."

 

Dr. Thomas Lawrence Long - editor of "Harrington Gay Men's Fiction Quarterly"
"The narratives in Gerard Wozek’s 'Postcards from Heartthrob Town' concern aliens in an alien landscape. Even those stories set within the family home disclose a pervasive alienation: a child from parents, a son from a father, a young man from his family history or from his religious tradition. The theme is universal, and so will appeal to a wide audience, but Wozek’s tales remind us of its particular significance to queer writers and readers in a tradition stretching back to Aristophanes’ myth recounted in Plato’s Symposium (in which we seek our separated other half) all the way ahead to E.M. Forster’s aphorism, 'Only connect.' We are alienated from each other because we are alienated from ourselves. Like the pithy, sometimes cryptic,missives one finds in stacks at a flea market, these 'postcards' convey an ironic message: 'This place is here, wish you were beautiful.'"

 

Aldo Alvarez- author of "Interesting Monsters"
"Gerard Wozek's work glows with a tenderness and understanding for human relationships that's made a life-long fan out of me."

 

Jim Provenzano - author of "PINS"
"In 'Postcards from Heartthrob Town: A Gay Man's Travel Tales,' Gerard Wozek crosses continents in a journey of discovery. Poetically detailed and strikingly personal, each story offers a unique setting, and an array of enchanting men encountered and seduced along his journeys; a casual Southern charm of a model-turned radical faerie, a sultry German violinist, an alluring curandero healer of Oaxaca. Whether winding through trails in Sitges, cruising parks in Berlin, or sipping a perfect borscht in a Krakow cafe, Wozek's adventures carry a sense of longing that any experienced traveler will recognize. But his tales also offer a warning; while the loss of one's wallet or sense of direction may be a common problem, a greater threat is that of a heartache that knows no borders."

 

Sean Meriwether - editor of "Velvet Mafia"
"Gerard Wozek poignantly captures the ache of wanderlust in a gay man’s heart. His genuine characters explore the geography of men and the landscapes they inhabit. He delivers vivid snapshots illustrating the erotic lure of travel and our own evolving Eros, showing how these transitory experiences can influence and shape our lives. Wozek takes the reader through the thrill of pursuit, the climax of capture, and the introspection of potential loves lost."

 

Review of Postcards from Heartthrob Town at it appears in "Books to Watch Out For, The Gay Men's Edition: Volume 3, Number 5, August, 2006:"
"Wozek's snippets from a restless writer's memory, and the effortless short stories he spins with such grace from those memories, span the generous possibilities of a fine gay imagination. Some of these tales tingle with erotic potential and sexual satisfaction. Some are essential queer travelogues, fusing personality and place with an assured imagination. Some shout out the glory and the wonder of an innate gay spirituality. Each of them offers the reader the seductive opportunity of joining with the author on the journey, as universal as it is personal, into a questing queer man's uncharted emotions and emerging character."

--Richard Labonte  

 

Review of Postcards from Heartthrob Town (a portion) as it appears in "Eureka Pride: November, 2006 Literary Pride Edition:"
"The details he presents are amazing, the combination of memoir and short fiction makes for a great read. . .Each story gives us a chance for self-reflection and introspection as we probe the need to belong to a larger community."

--Amos Lassen  

 

Review of Postcards from Heartthrob Town at it appears in "Edge Magazine: January, 2007:"
"Letters of Gay Transit: The glossy male pecs on the cover of Gerard Wozek’s 'Postcards from Heartthrob Town' might sell the book, but cheap thrill buyers beware, despite its cover, this is hardly fleshy pulp fiction. It is almost laughable that the buff torso of this collection of adventure stories, autobiographical and fictional, will sell his book. The power of Wozek’s prose is stunning right out of the gate with ’Tenderness Among Wolves’ about an adolescent boy’s private world and his tangled feelings for his father and lust for his older cousin Leigh. Wozek builds the narrator’s psyche from the outside in with strong imagery and period descriptions making the interior narrative all the more vivid. The boy’s private world of the narrator’s GI Joes (which he has turned into gays in the military), his love for Karen Carpenter, Harry Houdini and a wounded wolf collide poetically and describe his secret passion for Leigh--and his loathing and desire of a violently masculine world. The poetic life of this story was breathtaking in the emotional avalanche of its coda. The title story 'Postcards from Heartthrob Town' set us on a cross-country journey of closet sensibilities that are woven into Americana. Louis sits in the backseat of the car and admires his dad’s physique and manner. He fantasizes by writing postcards to himself from Brando and Sal Mineo. His private world is suddenly changed when he and his dad almost drown in the waters off of a town without pity called Heartthrob. Wozek gets us out of the complexities of growing up gay with worldly adventures such as 'Paris Angels' a pilgrimage/transcontinental blind date with the narrator wondering if he has done "all that was necessary before passing through the gates of this city?’ to "lose myself in this overwrought myth." In 'My Polka Kings' Wozek throws us into the middle of diary entrées of a traveler embarking from Budapest. His journal to an unknown partner who is gone with no explanation (dead, divorced or disappeared) and he is travelin’ light, writing about Hashish and the anniversary of the Hungarian revolution 'I find myself with my arms linked around the shoulders of total strangers.' The diarist’s remembrance of listening to the 'Polka Kings' with his mother on the radio has him seeking that childhood magic in Poland and instead of living with lost memories, he seeks the music that still lives. In 'Reuben Ran' an 18-year old immigrant in the suburbs runs with the ’wolf boys’ and was the first on his block to have multiple piercing and delved into homosexual sex as acts of rebellion. He also draws pictures of seascapes in Havana and Leningrad in 1917 so seductive that 'they make others want to go there' his friend Mario tells him. And like Reuben’s artwork, Wozek’s stories take us there- Ireland, Vienna, Paris--In ’Francois at the Toilette’ where a man passes up the Louvre for other activities, Germany ’Smoke follows beauty’ where two musicians cruise around Berlin as one friend realizes his unrequited love for his slutty friend Franz who nonetheless brings him to primal ecstasy with his violin playing. Wozek’s humor extends to the mystical in 'Kissing the Buddha' "Get me out of this Zen garden" it begins. In 'Arcana' a man reads the tarot of a lover lost to AIDS to revisit their life real and cosmic together. In Italy 'This Man is an Island', lovers Olin and Lowell recalibrate their relationship in the Mediterranean sun. In the Tennessee brush in ’Ephebus’ a couple of radical queers reclaim their senses of the earth past camp. Wozek’s stories of travels to far off lands with such transporting, economic style is reminiscent of Hemingway. And he also crosses borderless sexual and emotional terrains with the balls of Dennis Cooper. Yet his whispering virile voice is erotic without prurience, sensual without cliché and always emotionally true. Tired of eating your heart out on Brokeback Mountain, Wozek takes us around the world with faerie tales full of volcanic allegory and realism, with a few layovers in some cities of busted up gay dreams."

--Lewis Whittington  

 

Review of Postcards from Heartthrob Town at it appears in "San Francisco Bay Times: February, 2007 'Bookmarks' Book Review Column:"
"These effortless short stories and engaging travel essays, spun from the memories of a restless writer whose life is in the grip of wanderlust, add up to a marvelous fusion of personality and place. Some tales tingle with erotic potential and sexual satisfaction: in the Paris of 'Francois at the Toilette,' Wozek savors sex amidst the urinals, and in 'Pulse Points' he cruises the 'honey-brown' young men loitering in a Spanish park. Some tales are informative queer travelogues: in 'My Polka Kings,' he captures the ambience of the medieval city of Krakow, Poland; in 'Brujo,' he is seized by mescal and the healing magic of Oaxaca, Mexico. Some tales shout out the glory of an innate gay spirituality: in 'Ephebus,' for example, he leaves Chicago, a city of concrete, to bay at the moon with radical faerie revelers on lavender-scented Tennessee land. Written with a poet's flair, Wozek's work embraces the romance, the melancholy, and the wonder of wandering the physical landscapes of the world and the inner landscapes of emotion."

--Richard Labonte  

 

Review of Postcards from Heartthrob Town at it appears in "The Guide--Gay Travel, Entertainment, Politics and Sex: February, 2007:"
"On Fairy Wings. Paying homage to travel writing's queer roots: Contemporary travel writing--essentially a literary product of the Victorian era--comes in two forms: the intrusive and the imaginative. The former was once omnipresent, but today is little-read. Like the three-volume memoirs of generals and military men decried by Lytton Strachey in Eminent Victorians, much such writing came off as turgid, blustering tracts. In their attempts to maintain and consolidate a crumbling empire, British explorers thumped their way through Africa, India, and the Middle East, bringing a repressive Christianity as well as English colonialism to benighted peoples. Reading a work now such as David Livingstone's Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa is simultaneously boring, scary, and oddly amusing. For the imaginative strain of Victorian travel writing, a debt is owed mainly to women and homosexuals. British women explorers such as Lady Hester Stanhope (who wrote a travelogue as well as a memoir) and Isabella Lucy Bird (whose 1891 Journeys in Persia and Kurdistan was for years a standard text) displayed far more empathetic accounts of non-English peoples than their heterosexual male contemporaries. These were women who broke gender barriers and brought a new way of looking at the world. The travel diaries of Richard Burton are, in turn, quite a different matter. Of course, the people and cultures he encountered were what fascinated him, rather than the idea of making them more European. His 1865 Wit and Wisdom from West Africa demonstrated early on that promoting Britishness was low on his list of priorities. Married but clearly homo, Burton was interested in stiffness beyond the traditional British upper lip. His translation of the Kama Sutra and Perfumed Garden-- Indian and Arabic sex manuals-- testify to that, as does his The Sotadic Zone, a historical and anthropological accounting of same-sex fucking. Luckily, today's travel writing is more influenced by Hester Stanhope and Richard Burton than by David Livingstone. And, no surprise, some of the best travel writing is still being done by sexual and gender outsiders. Is it any surprise that James Morris-- later, Jan Morris-- is one of the best-selling travel writers of the past half-century? Or that Bruce Chatwin was such a popular chronicler of his journeys? In this vein is Gerard Wozek's Postcards from Heartthrob Town-- a funny, sexy, and at times moving series of adventures, travel memoirs, and fictional sketches that manages to be both a great read and terrific social commentary. Like his deviant Victorian predecessors, Wozek has a fine understanding of his own place in the world and how the imagination is as important as trains and planes in traveling long distances. The opening chapter, 'Tenderness of the Wolves,' begins: 'I invent the world from inside my playhouse. My G.I. Joes have never left home or been to war. I have buried their jeep ranger in a gopher hole along with their tiny bayonets, combat helmets, and grenades. They wear long skirts fashioned from wheat stalks and field grass. They dangle on wires when I want them to fly. They practice the Kama Sutra on one another in secret.' But Wozek moves out of his playhouse-- and his childhood-- to begin to roam the world. The bulk of Postcards is comprised of travel stories-- from Germany, Japan, Oaxaca, Vienna, Budapest, Casablanca, Ireland-- many of which involve some form of sexual adventure and all of which create a wonderful, vibrant sense of time and place. Wozek finds the thread binding locale, fantasy, and desire: 'I don't know why all of the beautiful men in Berlin seem to linger near the Fairy Tale Fountain at the entrance to Friedrichshain Park, but this neo-Baroque structure made up of characters from Grimm's stories seems to be whispering to amorous strangers from everywhere in Europe to connect.' The narrative spins in different directions and ends with a meditation on the nature of love and desire as Wozek remembers the pain of the heroine in Lucia di Lammermoor as he jerks off watching his traveling-companion/platonic-partner have sex with another man. It's a moving scene-- more Richard Burton than Hester Stanhope-- bridging the eros of travel with the excitement of sex. Much of Postcards from Heartthrob Town is a meditation less on what it means to travel and more about the notion-- always illusory here-- of home. What does home mean? How do we define it? Why do some of us want to leave it so often? This queer-- in every sense--series of travel adventures resonates with, even mimics, its Victorian roots. Richard Burton, Hester Stanhope, Isabella Bird all left England because they would not abide by its repressive rules, its confining restrictions. In Postcards, Wozek-- and many of his friends, partners, and traveling acquaintances move and explore for the same reasons. Desire is often abroad and waiting to be chased. Sometimes hot, frequently tender, the desires in Postcards are well worth pursuing."

--Michael Bronski  

 

Review of Postcards from Heartthrob Town as it appears in "GLT: Gay and Lesbian Times: February, 2007:"
"Postcards from Heartthrob Town is a blend of fiction and memoir. Nineteen stories come to the conclusion that the shortest trek to self discovery lies on the roads taken while traveling. Poet Gerard Wozek illustrates each story with lyrical beauty, while at the same time making sure each essay is dripping with the emotional resonance of stepping outside of oneself while on sojourn."

--Tim Parks  

 

Review of Postcards from Heartthrob Town at it appears in "Brokenwhole: February, 2007:"
"Postcards from Heartthrob Town (is) an elegant collection of travel essays. . .Gerard Wozek has traveled both alone, and in company with a bewildering assortment of lovers and friends or in-betweens, and writes frequently on how the practice of travel is not necessarily about the destination; it's more about confronting your own notions about yourself and your companions."

--Keith Adams  

Click for more here

close window