This is not an anthology of stories. There is no carefully crafted rise and fall of conflict, no character development, no clever plot, or neat and tidy bow where everything is tied up at the end. This is, instead, an anthology of personal experiences, of what are sometimes painful and sometimes beautiful glimpses into the lives of the men and women who are sharing moments in their lives, moments of struggle, as well as triumph. These are not professional authors trying to evoke a feeling or impress with the beauty of their writing. Instead, Unmuted allows us to bear witness to and share in the humanity of those around us.
GenPRIDE is a nonprofit whose primary focus is on midlife and older LGBTQIA people, and this anthology was written by members of the group in an effort to strengthen their community and friendships. These are the moments and experiences that these fourteen people wished to share with the world, revealing parts of themselves that aren’t necessarily the best and most shining moments, but are among the truest. As such, it’s a hard anthology to review because the message is more important than the skillful narration and storytelling or grammatical correctness.
With such a diverse collection of experiences, ranging from surviving cancer to losing a mother to it, from a pair of stories dealing with addiction — from the viewpoint of the family, as well as the victim of the disease — to a meditation on the difference between being alone and being lonely, each offering will affect different readers in different ways. This will not be a book for everyone, and different readers will take away different things from the experience of reading it. Personally, I think this is a collection worth reading. I can’t say that I always enjoyed it, but I was affected by it.