A few excerpts from reviews that Rough Cut has received:
From Amos Lassen, Amazon, GayWriters, and other sites:
The Florida We Do Not Know
Let me say in the first sentence of this review of “Rough Cut” that I do not know Vincent Diamond but I am in love with him because of the way he writes. This collection of short erotic stories literally took my breath away and that is hard to do as I am an avid reader and I consider myself a rather harsh critic (which I suppose comes from years of teaching college writing courses). I am not particularly fond of short stories–they, to me, are like anonymous sexual escapades; they satisfy short term but leave me empty an hour later. The characters, in both cases, never fully materialize and they are gone in too short a time. Whenever I read short stories I am predetermined to be dissatisfied but that did not happen here. This is probably because all of the stories in “Rough Cut” are connected and deal with the same characters who are now like friends of mine and I kind of feel like I would like to have them over for Thanksgiving or any other time.
I am new to reading Vincent Diamond so I had no idea of what to expect except for what I had read online. He writes about men that are men–three dimensional characters that are physically strong yet flawed and they have a vulnerability about them that makes them delicious. These are men who are above all else are men and who, in their own way, have loveable qualities. There is Byron in “Lions, Tigers and Snares” and “Cold Hands, Warm Hearts”. He is a government agent who works undercover and his relationship with Kendall is electric. Then there are Sandy and Tanner in “Fire” and “A Cold Night’s Sleep”. The two share emotional and physical damage and they also share an affection for each other that is both violent and loving. As they love wounds are healed and worries are put aside.
Diamond’s range is extraordinary and he writes about whatever he wants and from this I am able to ascertain that he has lived a life which has had few borders. He has experienced what many of us have not but even more than that, he can write about things with no apparent effort. I do not often give a great deal of praise to an author I have only read once but here is where I defer to what I see in Vincent Diamond’s prose. He is eloquent, he is erudite and he is damned erotic but without sacrificing any of the elements of style in writing. There is a lot of sex but when written well it is a pleasure to read. There is erotica that is little more than smut disguised as literature and there is Vincent Diamond who gives us literature with sex. Even more interesting is that the stories stay with you even after you close the book, something that does not usually happen when there is a lot of sex. I am not sure that Diamond will agree with my assessment but I won’t let that bother me as I attempt to find other pieces that he has written. If you know Vincent Diamond, tell him that if he ever gets to Little Rock that I am buying him dinner but he will have to tell me a good night story.
Reviewed By: Jean Roberta, Erotica Revealed, October 2008.
The central characters in Vincent Diamond’s stories are all men who are often attracted to each other despite cultural differences and emotional baggage. These are men with intense jobs as undercover cops, animal handlers, jockeys or firefighters. Some are honest employees of unethical bosses. Sexual attraction is an unexpected spark that complicates their lives, but it also gives them joy and hope.
In a clear, unadorned style, Diamond describes a world in which men are often pitted against other men, but the desire that can lead to understanding and even love is a saving grace. Several of these stories show lonely, wounded men responding almost against their wills to other men who are equally complicated.
In “A Cold Night’s Sleep,” Sandy is an ex-cop who lives alone as a Florida park ranger and draws pictures of wild birds. A stranger arrives at his door during a storm that has knocked out the electricity. Sandy offers him shelter for the night and a hot shower. The stranger accepts:
“Thanks, man, I am fuckin’ freezing.” Tanner tugged off his wet clothing with the casual aplomb of a man used to locker rooms and barracks.
The sight of Tanner grasped Sandy by the throat, as if it were a beast. He stepped back into the shadows for a moment, his gaze moving over Tanner’s body, fine as a sculpture in a museum.
The two men have every reason to distrust each other, but they both need sexual relief and they are both attracted to each other. They enjoy what they each believe to be a one-night stand, but in the morning, they find that they can’t go their separate ways and simply forget each other.
The author, like the characters themselves, seems reluctant to walk away after one hot scene. Several of these stories are in groups that follow the same characters through several phases of their relationships, creating the effect of novellas. “A Cold Night’s Sleep” is followed by “Fire,” in which Sandy and Tanner join a group of Fire Academy trainees to cope with a practice fire which gets out of control in the wilderness park where Sandy lives. The fire is a clear metaphor for the excitement of a new relationship…
…These stories include most of the conventions of the romance genre: the occasional presence of rivals and other saboteurs, injury and illness as catalysts that draw lovers together as one nurtures the other back to health, Romeo-and-Juliet lovers from different sides of the tracks or the law who are both in danger, attraction between innocent newbies and older men with secret sorrows. The conventions are handled so smoothly that they don’t conflict with the apparent realism of the plots.
The dialogue in these stories seems just right. It comes from men of action whose expressions of desire usually make up in sincerity what they lack in poetry. Here Steven the undercover cop must tell Conrad the raver what he wants in order to get it:
Conrad turned me in the chair so he could straddle my legs. He kissed my forehead, my cheeks, my nose.”Say it.”
“Your mouth on me. On my cock.”
“Mmm,” the moan eased into a throaty growl from him. He held my face with both hands, the way he’d just held Jason. His eyes were dark, his pupils huge. He thumbed my eyebrows and nose, gentle. “What else?”
My cock burned, ached. A wet splotch of my pre-seed oozed out of me. I grabbed him hard, my fingers digging into his ribs, pulling him down onto my lap, grinding against him. He was heavy—over two hundred pounds. There was something unsettling about the size of him, how he could hold me down, how he could control me through sheer weight and force.
Unsettling and arousing.
“What else?” he repeated.
“I want you to fuck me.” I said it too fast, afraid that I’d swallow the words if I didn’t ratchet them out before my brain reeled them back in.
The stories about cops, criminals, bystanders in the middle, and convicted prisoners show a side of life that is rarely covered this well outside of crime and mystery writing. One of the most moving stories in this collection is named “Shepherd” for the central character, a man who was convicted of killing the gang member who murdered his father and who is confronted in the joint with the question: “Wolf or sheep?” He decides that becoming a sexual predator is as unacceptable as becoming a victim, so he decides to be a “shepherd,” a protector of the “sheep.”
Another set of stories in this book deals with racehorses, the farm where they are bred and trained, and the men who train, ride and tend them as veterinary students. Here the author is still on firm footing, so to speak, in creating a particular atmosphere. An actual mating scene between a stallion and a mare reminds the human handlers (as well as the reader) of the sexual potential in every encounter between humans, as well as other members of the same species.
The last story in the book, “Irish Cream,” is a poignant tribute to a time before the Stonewall Riots, when sex between men had to be as furtive as other illegal activities. The narrator introduces himself: “I’m an old man now, one of the hard-core race crowd that hangs around at Tampa Bay Downs most mornings.” The narrator, whose surviving cronies all seem to be small-time crooks and ex-convicts, remembers meeting a handsome jockey named Liam, whose “voice was warm, with a lilt of Irish brogue in it.”
The chemistry between Liam and the narrator as a young man in the 1950s is so strong that a knowing look between them speaks louder than words. They check into a motel room under false names where they “did things that night I’d only seen on the pages of smut books.” They repeat the fun as often as they can, but make no promises.
The narrator has never forgotten Liam, although he has not seen him in years. The strength of his feelings after half a century shows that perhaps there is no such thing as casual sex between two men who understand each other.
Vincent Diamond has a knack for telling the stories of men who would probably laugh at the notion of writing about their sexual relationships. Whether or not you are into “rough trade,” this world is well worth a visit.
Two thumbs up!
From Edge Boston by Ken Tasho, July 28, 2008.
Despite its ironic title, Vincent Diamond’s Rough Cut, a collection of erotic gay short stories, has more in common with a romance novel than with your typical collection of gay erotica. This is the selling point of what could have been an otherwise stale and tepid anthology.
Diamond’s characters in these 16 stories are flawed, masculine, and sometimes allegedly straight. They are men that long for sex, but also long for love — mostly of the unrequited kind. Most stories take place in the heat of Florida, giving the reader a feeling of scorching lust. Diamond’s description of the sex act puts one right in the action. Even so, the author could have upped the ante ever so slightly.
The two best characters in Rough Cut are Conrad and Steven, who appear in four of the tales. Steven has always slept with women and Conrad is his first homosexual attraction. How Diamond deals with their relationship is a fine example of his talent for storytelling. Most of the tales in this collection segue into others and feature the same men, another good thing about Rough Cut.
In this day and age of instant gay sex and ubiquitous DVD’s depicting same,”Rough Cut” is a welcome return of gay erotica in print.
From Coffee Time Romance, by Cherokee.
… Rough Cut is loaded with in-depth stories and rich dialogue. Each tale surrounds the characters, bringing them into real situations, not only outside the home, but behind closed doors as well. Bryon, Kendall, Conrad, Sandy, Steven, and Tanner take the reader on an incredible journey as their love lives ignite. Every time I tried to put the book down, to take a break, the stories screamed for me to turn the pages. From handcuffs, to being locked away in a freezer, to riding on horses, each one generates a fusion of heat. These men bring on limitless excitement, thrills and infatuation. Vincent Diamond creates stories that show the depth of his concern and passion. While he touches upon things that may be considered forbidden to some, he does it with style and grace.
From Reviews by Jesse Wave, June, 2008.
Rating: ***** (out of 5)
This eclectic collection of stories is aimed at the connoisseur of the m/m reading public. Being my first experience with Vincent Diamond’s books I didn’t know what to expect and the stories included in this collection gave me a great appreciation of his work and his writing. Most of the background is set in Florida where Mr. Diamond lives and you can feel the sultry, hot, humid heat and air almost like a slow drumbeat in the background.
Every protagonist in his stories would be considered by most to be a man’s man – physically strong, sometimes flawed, at times vulnerable and always three dimensional. Almost all of the stories are told in two and three segments making for a much richer experience with the characters that is not typically afforded the reader of short stories. The author makes no apologies for his characters and at times the writing is almost ‘in your face’ because the stories are of people in situations that are harsh and uncompromising. What I’ll try to do in this review of ROUGH CUT: VINCENT DIAMOND COLLECTED is give the reader a sense of the stories without being a spoiler…
The other stories – SHEPHERD, BRUISED, BACK IN THE SADDLE, HORSING AROUND and IRISH CREAM are all excellent but space will not permit me to expand on them. What impressed me the most is the incredible writing style of Vincent Diamond and the wide range of subjects explored in the book which demonstrates his experience, skill and eloquent voice. Mr. Diamond does not avoid any topic in this book and goes boldly where most authors do not tread. He tackles previously taboo topics and many of the stories are about making choices. From a paroled prisoner in a liaison with a former police officer to an investigator at a big cat reserve getting ‘jiggy’ with his potential mark, to another officer deep undercover in more ways than one with his target and loving it, this book explores the seamy and sensual sides of the Sunshine State.
Fans of Mr. Diamond’s work and first time readers will love this book and I have no hesitation giving it 5 stars.