Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Books of Summer: 'Monarch Season' by Mario Lopez Cordero

When looking through new releases on my publisher's website, I came across a title that looked like the summer's most promising beach read: "Monarch Season," by Mario Lopez Cordero.

Devin Santos has a boyfriend in finance, a magazine-worthy beach house, and a closet full of Purple Label—never mind that he’s as jaded as a foo dog and self-medicates with enough pot to numb an elephant. Though he can measure success in cobblestone abs, Italian linen sheets, and a gallery’s-worth of contemporary art, something’s still missing. The cracks are starting to show in his relationship with domineering I-banker Charlie Doherty, and no amount of chalky Venetian plaster can obscure them. When a neighborhood admirer appears alongside his best friend Jude at the Pines ferry terminal, the former magazine editor is at first unimpressed. But Frank Duma is confident, clever, and shameless in his pursuit of Devin. The stormy, cat-and-mouse friendship that develops begins to unravel a life built on the premise that image is everything, and forces Devin to re-examine what it truly means to have it all. 
"A brisk, breezy beach read... Mario L√≥pez-Cordero doesn't rely on sex alone to keep readers engaged. His snappy dialogue and detailed descriptions... are compelling enough."—Instinct magazine 
After learning he was a fellow New Yorker -- and former Arizonan -- and Cronkite School of Journalism grad, I contacted Mario to ask him about his Southwestern roots and to find out what inspired him to write this book:

Tell me about your Arizona background. I see you also went to j-school at Arizona State:

Yeah, I'm from Nogales, actually. Was born and raised there, when it still felt like a really small town and you could go back and forth across the border with very little ease (in high school, we used to go across on our lunch break and sometimes get soused before coming back). I went to ASU, took a job in St. Thomas after graduation, hated it, and ended up in New York six months later. Growing up, I couldn't get out of Arizona fast enough, but now I go back there and love it. The landscape is so soothing to me—so much sky and light and air. (And silence.) It's like the opposite of New York City in a good way.

Tell us about your new book:

It's my first novel. I started writing "Monarch Season" because I wanted to read something at the beach that was fizzy but smart—a summer book I wouldn't have to feel guilty about. Of course I quickly learned that Fire Island was an ideal lens through which to examine certain aspects of contemporary gay culture: money and class, image and identity, love and the fitful, stop-gap arrangements that sometimes stand in for it. It's a setting charged with myth and legend — joyful and elegiac all at once, at times beautiful and at times grotesque, but ultimately like no other place on earth."

Congrats, Mario. Get your copy of "Monarch Season" HERE.

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