William Sterling Walker writes with wisdom and compassion. His vividly imagined characters seem to embody the ravenous spirit of the city they inhabit. These stories are intelligent and real. They are vibrant and written with carefully chosen words to evoke a mood, and also to touch something deep in the soul of the reader.
Alan Chin, A Passage to Now
There are places that exude an atmosphere of casual sensuality that can be felt, smelled, and tasted. The residents of such places absorb the atmosphere like sponges until they become part of the place and the place becomes part of them. The City of New Orleans is such a place. In his collection of loosely related short stories, Desire: Tales of New Orleans, William Sterling Walker captures the essence of this city until, with its strong presence and influence, New Orleans takes center stage and breaths life into each and every character. Walker's beautiful integration of music -- classical, jazz, 80s pop -- and art adds to the overall sense of time and place, capturing moments, depth of feeling, and often creating the illusion of a written snapshot suspended in time.
The word desire, as in the title of the book, usually brings to mind sexual want or hunger. Humans, however, desire much more from each other than the physical and Walker incorporates both in his stories. He breathes life into his stories through his characters, the friendships they share, their loves, losses, needs and desires. Moments, events, conversations, assignations, paralyzing fear, pain and regret, all become connected through friendships and hookups in a pre-Katrina gay community that learned early about tragic loss while experiencing the plague years.
Hilcia Suarez, Impressions ... of a Reader
The stories in William Sterling Walker's Desire: Tales of New Orleans convey a dreamlike stasis that's perfectly attuned to the place they portray. Even as the Crescent City beckons visitors seeking fresh seductions, it remains stubbornly anchored in the passing sea of time. Eras, memories, and fantasies collapse into one another here, blurring around the edges. Walker's prose has an uncanny, fly-on-the-wall quality — It often feels like he's observing and documenting real people in real time, rather than crafting characters and manipulating them through plots.
Jim Gladstone, Passport Magazine
“A wonderful book. Walker’s characters are very real and he writes of them from his heart and he imbues his stories with sophistication that is truly a New Orleans characteristic.”
Amos Lassen, Reviews by Amos Lassen
“This compilation of short stories stands to prove that gay men are not always the exuberant, funloving queens portrayed on TV. Each story looks at how New Orleans has played into the characters’ identities, how the city has shaped them, how it has sucked them in.”
Katie Abate, Edge
From the A&P on Royal Street and Wise's cafeteria to the Odd Fellows Rest cemetery, you'll find unforgettable scenes in these stories, all beautifully written and touching on the theme of "'Vous devriez quitter tant que la chose est possible.' Leave while you're able." By the end you'll know what Fortunate is talking at when she says, "'I do know what it means, to miss New Orleans.'" This is a fantastic debut collection.
Caroline Fraser, author of God’s Perfect Child and Rewilding the World: Dispatches from the Conservation Revolution
“William Sterling Walker is a wonderful writer, fluent, warm, intelligent and real. His stories about gay life in New Orleans are firmly rooted in place, and all his characters, gay and straight, are observed with a wise heart and a deep soul.”
Christopher Bram, author of Eminent Outlaws
“Desire is a sensuous, nostalgic, and evocative collection of stories set in sultry New Orleans before that dreamy dream got washed away.”
Valerie Martin, winner of the Orange Prize for Property
“This beautiful collection is not so much a set of stories as an intricate song cycle, one that arranges and rearranges recurrent fragments of memory and sensation—light, fragrance, and music—like the tesserae of a mosaic, the shifting patterns converging into a haunting panorama of the life of our ecstatic, fated generation of gay men.”
Mark Merlis, author of American Studies and An Arrow’s Flight
“These are stories that ask to be lived in—gorgeous, moody, sophisticated—not unlike the vividly conjured New Orleans that William Sterling Walker’s haunted characters inhabit, flee from, inevitably return to. Walker is a brilliant guide through the labyrinth of this city and these seething lives, fluent in the mutually reinforcing tropes of desire and regret.”
Paul Russell, author of The Unreal Life of Sergey Nabokov
“William Sterling Walker’s Desire feels to me like a welcome heir to Ethan Mordden's classic Buddies—picking up perhaps where he left off and setting us down amid the lives, loves, and sexual adventures of a community of gay men in New Orleans. These stories are alternately poignant and seductive, and the structure is elegant and deceptively casual—they build in force until you feel like they belong to you, or you to them.”
Alexander Chee, author of Edinburgh