Review: Vintage: A Ghost Story

by Steve Berman

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Also on this website:

Toby Johnson's books:

GAY SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness

GAY PERSPECTIVE: Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe

SECRET MATTER: updated, revised & expanded edition from Lethe Press with Afterword by Mark Jordan

GETTING LIFE IN PERSPECTIVE: A romance novel set in the 1980s and the 1890s.

THE FOURTH QUILL, a novel about attitudinal healing and the problem of evil

TWO SPIRITS: A Story of Life with the Navajo, a collaboration with Walter L. Williams

CHARMED LIVES: Spinning Straw into Gold: Reclaiming Our Queer Spirituality Through Story


About ordering

Books on Gay Spirituality:

White Crane Gay Spirituality Series

  Articles and Excerpts:

Read Toby's review of Samuel Avery's The Dimensional Structure of Consciousness

Funny Coincidence: "Aliens Settle in San Francisco"

The Simple Answer to the Gay Marriage Debate

Why gay people should NOT Marry

Wedding Cake Liberation

Gay Marriage in Texas

What's ironic

Shame on the American People

The "highest form of love"

Second March on Washington

A Bifurcation of Gay Spirituality

 The cause of homosexuality

The origins of homophobia

Q&A about Jungian ideas in gay consciousness

What is homosexuality?

What is Gay Spirituality?

My three messages

What Jesus said about Gay Rights

Queering religion

Common Experiences Unique to Gay Men

Is there a "uniquely gay perspective"?

The purpose of homosexuality

The Reincarnation of Edward Carpenter

The Gay Succession

Interview on the Nature of Homosexuality

What the Bible Says about Homosexuality

Mesosexual Ideal for Straight Men

Varieties of Gay Spirituality

Waves of Gay Liberation Activity

Why Gay Spirituality: Spirituality as Artistic Medium

Easton Mountain Retreat Center

Andrew Harvey & Spiritual Activism

The Gay Spirituality Summit in May 2004 and the  "Statement of Spirituality"

"It's Always About You"

The myth of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara

Joseph Campbell's description of Avalokiteshvara

Avalokiteshvara at the Baths.

You're Not A Wave

Joseph Campbell Talks about Aging

What is Enlightenment?

What is reincarnation?

How many lifetimes in an ego?

Emptiness & Religious Ideas

Experiencing experiencing experiencing

Going into the Light

Meditations for a Funeral

Meditation Practice

The way to get to heaven

Buddha's father was right

Advice to Travelers to India & Nepal

The Danda Nata & goddess Kalika

Nate Berkus is a bodhisattva

John Boswell was Immanuel Kant

The Two Loves

Curious Bodies

What Toby Johnson Believes

The Joseph Campbell Connection

Campbell & The Pre/Trans Fallacy

The Nature of Religion

What's true about Religion

Being Gay is a Blessing

Drawing Long Straws

Freedom of Religion

The Gay Agenda

Gay Saintliness

Gay Spiritual Functions

The subtle workings of the spirit in gay men's lives.

The Sinfulness of Homosexuality

Proposal for a study of gay nondualism

Priestly Sexuality

 "The Evolution of Gay Identity"

"St. John of the Cross &
the Dark Night of the Soul."

 Eckhart's Eye

Let Me Tell You a Secret

Religious Articulations of the Secret

The Collective Unconscious

Driving as Spiritual Practice


Historicity as Myth


No Stealing

Next Step in Evolution

The New Myth

The Moulting of the Holy Ghost

Gaia is a Bodhisattva

The Hero's Journey as archetype

Marian Doctrines: Immaculate Conception & Assumption

Teenage Prostitution and the Nature of Evil

Allah Hu: "God is present here"
Adam and Steve

The Life is in the Blood

Gay retirement and the "freelance monastery"

Seeing with Different Eyes

The mystical experience at the Servites'  Castle in Riverside

The Great Dance according to C.S.Lewis

The Techniques Of The World Saviors

Part 1: Brer Rabbit and the Tar-Baby
Part 2:
The Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara
Part 3:
Jesus and the Resurrection
Part 4:
A Course in Miracles

The Secret of the Clear Light

Understanding the Clear Light

Mobius Strip

Finding Your Tiger Face

How Gay Souls Get Reincarnated

In honor of Sir Arthur C Clarke

Karellen was a homosexual

About Alien Abduction

What are you looking for in a gay science fiction novel?

The D.A.F.O.D.I.L. Alliance

More about Gay Mental Health

Psych Tech Training

The Rainbow Flag

Ideas for gay mythic stories

Kip and Toby, Activists

Toby's friend and nicknamesake Toby Marotta.

Harry Hay, Founder of the gay movement

About Hay and The New Myth

About Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, the first man to really "come out"

About Michael Talbot, gay mystic

About Fr. Bernard Lynch

About Richard Baltzell

About Guy Mannheimer

About David Weyrauch

About Dennis Paddie

About Ask the Fire

About Arthur Evans

About Christopher Larkin

About Sterling Houston

About Michael Stevens

Our friend Tom Nash

Book Reviews

Be Done on Earth by Howard E. Cook

Pay Me What I'm Worth by Souldancer

The Way Out by Christopher L  Nutter
The Gay Disciple by John Henson

Art That Dares by Kittredge Cherry

Coming Out, Coming Home by Kennth A. Burr

Extinguishing the Light by B. Alan Bourgeois

Over Coffee: A conversation For Gay Partnership & Conservative Faith by D.a. Thompson

Dark Knowledge by Kenneth Low

Janet Planet by Eleanor Lerman

The Kairos by Paul E. Hartman

Wrestling with Jesus by D.K.Maylor

Kali Rising by Rudolph Ballentine

The Missing Myth by Gilles Herrada

The Secret of the Second Coming by Howard E. Cook

The Scar Letters: A Novel by Richard Alther

The Future is Queer by Labonte & Schimel

Missing Mary by Charlene Spretnak

Gay Spirituality 101 by Joe Perez

Cut Hand: A Nineteeth Century Love Story on the American Frontier by Mark Wildyr

Radiomen by Eleanor Lerman

Nights at Rizzoli by Felice Picano

The Key to Unlocking the Closet Door by Chelsea Griffo

The Door of the Heart by Diana Finfrock Farrar

Occam’s Razor by David Duncan

Grace and Demion by Mel White

Gay Men and The New Way Forward by Raymond L. Rigoglioso

The Dimensional Stucture of Consciousness by Samuel Avery

The Manly Pursuit of Desire and Love by Perry Brass

Love Together: Longtime Male Couples on Healthy Intimacy and Communication by Tim Clausen

War Between Materialism and Spiritual by Jean-Michel Bitar

The Serpent's Gift: Gnostic Reflections on the Study of Religion by Jeffrey J. Kripal

Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion
by Jeffrey J. Kripal

The Invitation to Love by Darren Pierre

Brain, Consciousness, and God: A Lonerganian Integration by Daniel A Helminiak

A Walk with Four Spiritual Guides by Andrew Harvey

Can Christians Be Saved? by Stephenson & Rhodes

The Lost Secrets of the Ancient Mystery Schools by Stephenson & Rhodes

Keys to Spiritual Being by Adrian Ravarour

In Walt We Trust by John Marsh

Solomon's Tantric Song by Rollan McCleary

A Special Illumination by Rollan McCleary

Aelred's Sin by Lawrence Scott

Fruit Basket by Payam Ghassemlou

Internal Landscapes by John Ollom

Princes & Pumpkins by David Hatfield Sparks

Blood of the Goddess by William Schindler

Sanctity & Male Desire by Donald Boisvert

Roads of Excess, Palaces of Wisdom by Jeffrey Kripal

Evolving Dharma by Jay Michaelson

Jesus in Salome's Lot by Brett W. Gillette

The Man Who Loved Birds by Fenton Johnson

The Vatican Murders by Lucien Gregoire

"Sex Camp" by Brian McNaught

Out & About with Brewer & Berg
Episode One: Searching for a New Mythology

The Soul Beneath the Skin by David Nimmons

Out on Holy Ground by Donald Boisvert

The Revolutionary Psychology of Gay-Centeredness by Mitch Walker

Out There by Perry Brass

The Crucifixion of Hyacinth by Geoff Puterbaugh

The Silence of Sodom by Mark D Jordan

It's Never About What It's About by Krandall Kraus and Paul Borja

ReCREATIONS, edited by Catherine Lake

Gospel: A Novel by WIlton Barnhard

Keeping Faith: A Skeptic’s Journey by Fenton Johnson

Dating the Greek Gods by Brad Gooch

Telling Truths in Church by Mark D. Jordan

The Substance of God by Perry Brass

The Tomcat Chronicles by Jack Nichols

10 Smart Things Gay Men Can Do to Improve Their Lives by Joe Kort

Jesus and the Shamanic Tradition of Same Sex Love by Will Roscoe

The Third Appearance by Walter Starcke

The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight by Thom Hartmann

Surviving and Thriving After a Life-Threatening Diagnosis by Bev Hall

Men, Homosexuality, and the Gods by Ronald Long

Queering Creole Spiritual Traditions by Randy Conner & David Sparks

An Interview with Randy Conner

Pain, Sex and Time by Gerald Heard

Sex and the Sacred by Daniel Helminiak

Blessing Same-Sex Unions by Mark Jordan

Rising Up by Joe Perez

That Undeniable Longing by Mark Tedesco

Vintage: A Ghost Story by Steve Berman

Scissors, Paper, Rock by Fenton Johnson

 And a Little History about White Crane

Vintage: A Ghost Story

by  Steve Berman

Lethe Press

trade paperback, 208 pages, $13.00

March 2008


Available from in hard and soft cover and for Kindle

Vintage: A Ghost Story

5 stars

This review appeared in White Crane Journal #74, Fall 2006
Steve Berman
    Steve Berman, author of Vintage, has become an integral member of the White Crane family in the past year. In addition to being a writer, Berman is also an activist in gay genre publishing and a very competent editor. My own writing has benefited significantly from his literary astuteness and advice.

In order to publish a collection of his own short stories, Trysts: A Triskaidecollection of Queer and Weird Stories, in 2000, riding the wave of the Internet and state-of-the-art desktop publishing, Berman established Lethe Press out of his discovery of how desktop publishing has created a new kind of publishing industry, one built on literary experimentation through print-on-demand technology, not big-money investing in blockbuster pop hits.

Berman also saw a mission in keeping gay classics in print and available to gay booksellers and the internet connected public. Because my book GAY SPIRITUALITY was one of the first such books Lethe selected to save from oblivion when Alyson, though a gay-owned company, declared it “out-of-print” in spite of its winning a Lammy, I forged a connection with Steve Berman. Gay spirituality titles were especially likely to be declared O.P. after a short life because they appeal to a limited audience. And, of course, part of the whole enterprise of the Gay Spirituality Movement is to keep alive gay wisdom in order to validate and redeem our hidden history. So Lethe Press’s mission made great sense. And Steve Berman’s facility with state-of-the-art publishing made him a logical partner. He knew how to do it and he had established business relationships with distributors and booksellers across the country. White Crane’s current editors, Bo Young and Dan Vera, have now concretized that connection in forming White Crane Books as an imprint of Lethe Press. In every issue of White Crane Journal now readers will likely find a full page ad for White Crane Books and Lethe Press titles.

This past year has been pretty successful for Berman. Together with the White Crane staff he’s brought out several new White Crane Books titles, including the Lammy-nominated Charmed Lives: Gay Spirit in Storytelling which he and I co-edited, ALL: A James Broughton Reader, and, as a Lethe Press title, my collaboration with Walter L. Williams about Native American conceptions of homosexuality, Two Spirits: A Story of Life With the Navajo. AND Steve Berman had his own supernatural thriller Vintage published by Harrington Park Press [and then since republished by Lethe].

Vintage is “a smart and stylish work of contemporary gay fantasy with a gothic twist,” the back cover advertises. As the subtitle reveals, it is a ghost story. In some ways, the novel follows the accepted conventions of the ghost story: an unhappy soul haunts a section of highway not realizing that he is dead and so causes problems for the living, the plot of the novel is how the ghost is allowed to rest. But Berman’s added a neat twist—actually two twists. The first is that the main characters who experience the haunting and then try to do something to help the ghost are modern day goth teenagers with a penchant for dressing outlandishly in black (with maybe a little mascara for effect), drinking and drugging with reckless abandon, and driving their parents crazy. The novel is told in the first person of one of these teenagers; Berman has got the jargon and voice down pat to introduce the reader to this goth Holden Caufield with a cellphone and taste for ecstasy and peppermint schnapps.

The second twist is that the main character is gay; he’s living with a liberal-minded aunt because his uptight parents told him to leave when his homosexuality was made embarrassingly public. He’s got a job working in a retro fashions and used clothing store and made friends with several teenage girls, including a young lesbian couple, who frequent the store looking for goth costumery. And the ghost that’s haunting the highway on the outskirts of town was himself a teenager of the 1950s who died mysteriously after his own homosexuality was made embarrassingly public—maybe he was murdered; maybe by the guy he was in love with; maybe in an act of homophobia.
There are twists and turns in the plot. The resolution is delightfully satisfying. Even the ghost is happy by the end and can go to his rest. And the teenagers turn their goth fascinations toward adulthood.

The most interesting and well-written section of the story revolves around the protagonist’s infatuation with the ghost—and the ghost’s with him. It’s not giving away too much to reveal that the ghost died longing for love and conflicted about his sexuality and so when the goth teenager shows up dealing with the same issues, a strange relationship develops. The description of their lovemaking is both arousing and exciting and creepy and, literally, chilling. For the ghost’s affections turn out to suck the life and warmth out of the living boy and he has to struggle against his own conflicts with growing up gay to avoid following the ghost into icy death.

Vintage: A Ghost Story isn’t exactly a White Crane Book of gay wisdom. But it certainly plays on the gay interest with consciousness on the margins. It’s a fast read, entertaining, and just delightfully chilling. The reader too will be happy, warmed up, and satisfied when the steaming hot peppermint-flavored cocoa is served at the end—and gay love saves the day.

Reviewed by Toby Johnson, author of Gay Spirituality: Gay Identity and the Transformation of Human Consciousness, The Myth of the Great Secret: An Appreciation of Joseph Campbell and other novels and books


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Toby Johnson, PhD is author of eight books: three non-fiction books that apply the wisdom of his teacher and "wise old man," Joseph Campbell to modern-day social and religious problems, three gay genre novels that dramatize spiritual issues at the heart of gay identity, and two books on gay men's spiritualities and the mystical experience of homosexuality. In addition to the novels featured elsewhere in this web site, Johnson is author of IN SEARCH OF GOD IN THE SEXUAL UNDERWORLD and THE MYTH OF THE GREAT SECRET (Revised edition): AN APPRECIATION OF JOSEPH CAMPBELL.

Johnson's Lammy Award winning book GAY SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness was published in 2000. His Lammy-nominated book  GAY PERSPECTIVE: Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe was published by Alyson in 2003. Both books are available now from Lethe Press.

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