Now available a debut collection of short stories by William Sterling Walker

Lambda Literary Finalist!




$18, paperback

Also available in digital formats









Tales of New Orleans

stories by

William Sterling Walker

Desire: Tales of New Orleans, a debut collection of short fiction by William Sterling Walker, delves into the gay demimonde in New Orleans before the flood. Circles of friends and acquaintances — lawyers and supermarket clerks, drifters, painters and musicians, cabaret singers and writers—alternately dominate the landscape and fade into the background. However they identify themselves, they speak a common language—funny, sexy, pithy, sometimes bitchy, always on-target.

But perhaps the main character in the book is the city itself. A litany of place names evokes New Orleans’ visceral hold on these men; even when they are far away, the memory of the city haunts them. William Sterling Walker’s vividly imagined characters embody the unquenchable spirit of place that would go on to survive unimaginable natural disasters, both physical and personal. Like the city, they are unforgettable in their boldness and fascination.



About the author

William Sterling Walker’s stories have been anthologized in Best American Gay Fiction 2 and the Lambda Award–winning Fresh Men: New Voices in Gay Fiction, after first appearing in modern words, Harrington Gay Men’s Fiction Quarterly, and The James White Review. His nonfiction account of coming out appeared in the anthology Boys Like Us: Gay Writers Tell Their Coming Out Stories. He wrote the biographical entries on poet James Merrill and film director Douglas Sirk for The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives. He has written for many publications, including the Boston Book Review and Publisher’s Weekly. He holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing from Brooklyn College. A native of New Orleans, he now resides in Brooklyn, with his spouse, the artist Jeffrey Dreiblatt.


Praise for Desire by William Sterling Walker

“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

“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

“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

Desire is dreamy and affecting, stories of a New Orleans that was gone before Katrina ever got there. It's been a while since I've read a collection so well written, so intricately composed, with such beautiful and evocative descriptions of a time and a place.”

—Caroline Fraser, author of God’s Perfect Child and Rewilding the World: Dispatches from the Conservation Revolution

“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

“Full of vivid characters, Desire serves up a delicious slice of gay life in pre-Katrina New Orleans with plenty of nostalgia and heart, with stories as steamy and sassy as the city itself.”

Jameson Fitzpatrick, Next

“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

“Equal doses of wit, longing, poignancy, hope, seduction and loss, all woven together by this talented author. I give it a full five stars out of five.”
—Bob Lind, Echo Magazine

Desire is a guilty pleasure of a read, conversational and conspiratorial. It’s almost as if these people are welcoming you into their private chats, dishing out the latest neighborhood gossip about who picked up whom, whose ex is now someone else’s current.”

—Sandy Leonard, Lambda Literary

“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. 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.”
—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

“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, 


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