The Gay Men's Edition
Volume 3 Number 2
By Richard Labonte
Interviews, Opinions, Lists: The All-Lammy Edition
This being Books To Watch Out For/Gay Men’s Edition, with a particularly
literate readership, I can’t imagine that every subscriber hasn’t already
read each of the five 2005 finalists in the two main gay men’s fiction categories.
In case not, think of this as the Entertainment Weekly Oscar-roundup
equivalent of getting you all ready for the Lambda Literary Awards in May
– I’ve assembled snippets of (and in some cases entire) interviews with all
but one of the authors of the finalist titles, to provide some flavor of the
thinking that went into the various books in both catgories.
For Gay Men’s Fiction Debut: excerpts from Alistair McCartney
on Mack Friedman’s Setting the Lawn on Fire, Felicia Sullivan on Vestal
McIntyre’s You Are Not The One, and Huriyah Magazine online on Sulayman
X’s Bilal’s Bread, and an interview from Richard McCann’s website
about Mother of Sorrows; alas, no one seems to have interviewed Barry
McCrea about his memorable and original novel, The First Verse.
And in the Gay Fiction category: www.denniscooper.net
on Dennis Cooper and The Sluts, Jameson Currier on Harlan Greene’s
The German Officer’s Boy (from Velvet Mafia), an excerpt from
Stephen Vinder on Aaron Hamburger’s Faith for Beginners, an interview
from Thorn Kief Hillsbery’s website about What We Do Is Secret, and
an excerpt of an interview/review by the late Patrick Giles on Keith McDermott’s
The list of Lammy finalists does matter – to authors of course: the validation
of peers and the recognition of others are both wonderful; to publishers,
some of whom take a chance on the books that make it to the final five, and
who are ever looking for any kind of publicity that might goose sales; and
even to readers, eager for guidance on what to read.
The moan has been that the “Gay Publishing Boom” went bust a few years ago,
but the reality – except, it must be said, for lesbian writers and mainstream
houses - is that the quality of queer books is as good as it ever was, that
every year sees work by a number of new whippersnapper writers (young and
older), and that, as the publishing world turns, new publishers and imprints
emerge. Five years ago, who had heard (as founts for queer lit) of the University
of Wisconsin’s Terrace Books imprint (two nominations), Soft Skull Press (three
nominations), Bold Strokes Books (five nominations) or Suspect Thoughts Press
(six nominations); and Carroll & Graf (seven nominations) was around, but
without a discernable queer line.
To be sure, older queer presses are finalists – Alyson Books (five
nominations) and Cleis Press and Bella Books (three nominations each) are
represented, as they have been for a while; mainstream publishers like St.
Martin’s, Houghton Mifflin, Beacon, Random House, Harcourt,
Kensington and others got about 25 of the 100 nominations; and assorted university
presses got 10 or so. Canadian publishers are well represented, which is nice
(hey: I live in Canada) – Tundra, Raincoast, Arsenal Pulp, Talon Books. And
it’s encouraging that there are several of what might be called one-person
publishers with nominations this year: Redbone Press, West Beach Books, Annabessacook
Farm, GLB Publishers, Seventh Window. Nice. There’s even what’s essentially
a self-published book this year – W. Randy Haynes’ Cajun Snuff from
Publish America, a nomination noted on the site’s home page (www.publishamerica.com). The wealth was
After the interviews: my own list of the books I wish had been nominated
in the gay fiction and other categories, and some commentary on the nomination
process itself. It’s been a turbulent few months for the Lambda Literary Foundation
and the Lambda Literary Awards, but from the perspective of my involvement
with the nomination/finalist process this year (and for more than 15 years
previous), executive director Charles Flowers has pulled things together with
overworked aplomb and grace after the Lambda Foundation board’s decision last
year to, essentially, start over again with the direction the Foundation was
taking and with the Lambda Book Report itself. I missed working this
year with former executive director Jim Marks, former LBR editor Lisa
Moore, and Jonathan Harper, who for a couple of years pulled the Lammy nomination
process together with unfailing efficiency and courtesy. But what’s important
is that the institution – a crucial part of the LGBTQ literary scene – survives.
On a personal note: it’s been about three months since my last installment
of BTWOF/GM. My excuse, with apologies, is a bout with some nasty staph
stuff. Really nasty. In short, hospitals are the last place I ever again want
to go in order to get well. If there is a next time, I only hope that surgeons
wash their hands really, really, well before coming anywhere near me...and,
next year, I hope to bring you my own interviews with the queer boy finalists
for the Lambda Literary Awards.
Gay Men's Fiction Debut: The Finalists
From an interview by Alistair McCartney in The Advocate:
Setting the Lawn on Fire by Mack Friedman (Wisconsin)
Alistair McCartney: I haven’t read a novel in a long time that gets
so beautifully, as yours does, at the mystery of adolescent queer desire,
its strange magic, and how that follows us into adulthood. The novel dwells
on and goes deeply into that mystery through the main character, Ivan. What
is it about the space that draws you as a writer? How did you access that
as a writer?
Mack Friedman: A wise old leather daddy once told me something
very funny and true: ‘Every first novel is a puberty novel,’ he
said. And he twirled his handlebar mustache (silver, with a dash
of nicotine gold), and told me about his latest Viagra weekend with
an old flame and a new slave. And I’ll bet the look in his eyes
was the same one he had 60 years ago after he jerked off with his
best friend for the first time. You could see this youthful vigor
and amusement brimming just inside, excitable and heroic and proud.
That’s the space that draws me. But I’m also fascinated by the thin
line between prostitution and love, honor and desecration, consent
and abuse, youth and adulthood. How we grow up, why we get into
rough situations, and how we get out of them. The confusion, the
terror, and above all, the overwhelming desire, the resilience.
I think that glittering broken-down alleyway of adolescence is every
gay man’s past, including my own. It was helpful to me as a writer
to mine my own back alleys. When I was a kid I kept a meticulous
journal of my jerk-off fantasies. I found it a few years ago cleaning
stuff from my parents’ house. This book is, in a sense, a compendium
of my boyhood desires, filtered by 10 years of adulthood and a damn
good editor named Raphael Kadushin.
Mother of Sorrows by Richard McCann (Pantheon)
An interview from the author’s website:
Q: According to the press materials, you worked on Mother of Sorrows
for seventeen years. Can you speak about the making of the book and why it
took so long to write?
A: As a character in a Grace Paley story says, "There's a long
time in me between knowing and telling." But of course that’s not the
only reason the book took a long time. In the graduate workshops in fiction
writing that I teach, I sometimes ask my students, as a way of prompting them
to write about things that they find difficult, "What's the story inside
you that feels the hardest to tell?" And that's what I kept asking myself
as I worked on Mother of Sorrows. As a result, I often needed time
to work out my material in ways that were not only structural but also deeply
personal. The first time I showed my editor what passed for a draft of this
book — really a jumble of scenes, with some plot points sticking out here and
there — it was far longer than it is now. It took me a long time to admit that
this book was at heart a difficult love story between a mother and her son.
I should add that while I was working on Mother of Sorrows
I was also stopped at several points by what I'll call Life itself. In May
1996, for instance, I underwent a liver transplant after waiting thirteen
months for a donor organ. As one might imagine, this wasn't time dedicated
to writing. For a long time, I was busy dying, and then I was busy with the
work of being resurrected.
Q: You describe Mother of Sorrows as being “deeply personal.”
What is this book about for you?
A: For me, this is a book about the experience of multiple losses
and what it feels like to be at least a provisional survivor. That’s what
ties the book together, starting with the father’s death, when the narrator
is eleven, and then going forward toward the present, with yet more losses
Q: In some ways, Mother of Sorrows might be seen as being as
much about the relationship between two brothers as being “a difficult love
story between a mother and her son.” Which of these stories came first?
A: Without question, what came first was the story of the mother and
her son — the younger son, who worshipfully imagines her as “Our Mother of the
Late Movies and the Cigarettes,” “Our Mother of the Sighs and Heartaches,”
“Our Mother of Sudden Anger,” “Our Mother of Sudden Apology.” This was the
story I knew I was going to have to write if I was ever going to come to grips
with the relationship I’d had with my own mother. In fact, this book began
with the writing of “My Mother’s Clothes: The School of Beauty and Shame,”
which was the first story I ever published and which appeared in The Atlantic
Monthly. It wasn’t until I was almost finished with the book, during the
writing of “My Brother in the Basement,” that I came to see that it was also
about two brothers — Cain and Abel, that’s how I thought of it — perhaps because
I’d never before been able to write about my own real brother, who died suddenly
when he was in his thirties.
Q: To what extent is Mother of Sorrows autobiographical?
A: Like the narrator, I grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland, in a post-World
War II subdivision of identical brick houses with picture windows, each house
tethered to a small lot. My father, like the narrator's, died when I was eleven.
And like the narrator, I grew up with a mother who was enormously mesmerizing,
at least to me, and whose complicated inner life seemed far more real to me
than my own. But Mother of Sorrows isn't reality — it's an homage to
reality instead. Although it has its roots in the autobiographical, it is
in the end a work of fiction, derived from the complicated interaction of
memory and imagination, fact and invention. That is to say: I sometimes drew
from life, but I also omitted stuff and made stuff up.
Q: Do you see the Mother of Sorrows as a novel, as some people
have described it, or as a collection of interwoven stories?
A: I don’t always have a definitive answer to that question. I know
that many of those who have read Mother of Sorrows regard it as being
unquestionably a novel — and they do so for good reason, given that the book
has a single narrator and spans nearly three decades in the life of an American
family. And I sometimes see it as a novel, too, although I more often regard
it as ten interwoven stories that fit together — like a mosaic, I imagine — to
form a larger story that has the scope and (I hope) the cumulative power of
a novel. In any case, that’s how I wrote it, piece by piece. In the end, however,
I think a reader can perceive it in whichever way he or she wishes. What matters
to me is not whether people read it as a novel or as a collection of interwoven
stories but rather that they find that the individual stories are speaking
to each other and gathering force as they go forward, revealing the sorts
of things that can be known about characters’ lives only if you see them across
time. For me, the livelier question — at least while I was working on it — was
whether it would turn out to be a work of fiction or a memoir. It sometimes
reads like a memoir, I think, in that the narrator’s retrospective examination
of his life often has what strikes me as a kind of confessional urgency.
Q: How would you describe the book’s structure, given that it is not arranged
solely in a strict chronology?
A: This is a book about lives that are not just being lived but also remembered — for
this reason, I didn’t want a strict chronology. After all, memory itself is
hardly chronological. Rather than simply tell a story straight through, I
wanted to look quite closely at some particularly large and defining events
in a family’s life — in the few years immediately following the father’s sudden
death, to be specific — and then to explore the aftershocks of grief that keep
going forward for almost thirty years. Before turning to fiction, I should
note, I wrote and published only poetry for some years, and, as a writer who
was trained first as a poet, I find myself drawn over and over to the fitting
together of fragments to make something larger. For me, writing is largely
a slow process of distillation.
Q: How would you feel about your book being shelved in the gay fiction
section of a bookstore? Do you see yourself as a “gay writer”?
A: Of course the bookstore section marked “Gay & Lesbian” helps some
readers find the books they’re looking for; but I suspect it also keeps other
readers — readers of general literary fiction, for instance — from finding books
they too would connect with and love. I’d hate to think of some of the writers
I’ve loved best — such as Whitman and Proust, for instance, not to mention Tennessee
Williams and Yukio Mishima — as being consigned forever to a nook marked “Gay
& Lesbian,” as if their works were only of limited interest. As for me: I’m
a writer of literary fiction, and I therefore imagine my work as belonging
on a shelf with other writers of literary fiction, whether they are straight,
like Tobias Wolff or Alice McDermott or Marilynne Robinson, or whether they
are gay, like Michael Cunningham or Alan Hollinghurst. My gay characters,
like my straight characters, live in regular worlds that are filled with all
sorts of people, just as we all do. Certainly being a gay man has affected
my life and work; but so has my deep love of the works of Eugene O’Neill,
say, as well as those of Tillie Olsen and Joan Didion. In fact, I sometimes
think of Mother of Sorrows as my own version of A Long Day’s Journey
Into Night — although in a subdivision, with the brothers wearing Davy Crockett
coonskin caps. But to be serious: for the most part, I find the term “gay
writer” reductive. I say this not out of shame but rather out of loyalty to
our great human complexity and to our vast human interconnectedness. Isn’t
that part of the vast project of literature — to imagine our lives and the lives
of others as fully and completely as we are able?
(©2005 by Richard McCann)
Wesley Gibson interviews McCann — listen here:
Read it here:
First Verse by Barry McCrea
“Literary parlor games are transformed into occult activity in Barry
McCrea’s first novel,” says Travis Jepperson in this NY Press
(Carroll & Graf)
You Are Not the Only One by Vestal McIntyre (Carroll & Graf)
From Felicia Sullivan’s interview in Small Spiral Notebook, Fall
Felicia Sullivan: In You Are Not the One, families and the
complex relationships that families have with some of your characters (notably
in “Disability” and “Nightwalking”) either serve as a dysfunctional backdrop
or nagging point of reference, an entity in which your characters seek escape
or sometimes reconciliation: can you perhaps elaborate on what role family
plays in your work?
Vestal McIntyre: Families are difficult to write about, mainly because
you have to differentiate between members of a group who are not the main
character. That’s why none of my characters have families as big as mine.
I’m the youngest of seven children. To try to portray so many characters in
so small a space as a story seems impossibly reductive – I’m just not a good
enough writer yet. The closest I come is the three siblings in “Nightwalking.”
It’s funny that you point out – rightly – that in these stories the characters’
families are usually nagging and dysfunctional, when my own family is neither.
Well, maybe a little nagging. But, growing up, I was much happier at home
than at school, and my family was the one thing that I didn’t fantasize escaping...anyway,
in my life, family is very important. I wouldn’t be a writer if I hadn’t watched
my older brothers and sister grow up.”
The full interview:
From the book, the story “Octo”:
Bilal's Bread by Sulayman X (Alyson)
From an interview on huriyahmag.com:
Q: What would you like the readers to know about your book?
Sulayman X: I'd like readers to know that Bilal's
Bread is a story about one boy coming to terms with his life — his sexuality,
the domestic violence in his family, his life as an immigrant. I've tried
to represent different points of view fairly — conservative Muslims, liberal
Muslims, the American form of Islam as compared to a form of Islam taught
in the Islamic world. Every gay Muslim, male or female, has had to
come to terms with who they are, with how it affects their family, with how
Islamic teachings need to be understood. This is just a story about how one
boy did that.
Q: When it comes to any form of abuse, many Muslims are rather in denial
about its existence in our communities. Do you think it is going to be even
harder for them to swallow a homosexual incestual abuse?
A: It was a hard story to write, but it was based, in part, on some
of the stories I've read and emails I've received concerning the way Muslim
boys treat their younger brothers, or how they find a small, defenseless kid
in the neighborhood to take out their sexual frustrations on — it's all just
a reaction to forced separation of the sexes. Everyone's in denial about everything
when it comes to sex, at least as far as the Muslim world is concerned. Nobody
wants to talk about it, admit the truth. If you keep males and females constantly
separated, older guys are going to find any way they can to relieve sexual
tensions. I don't know how Muslims will react to my novel. I hope they can
see that Bilal is a human being, not a statistic, that what he experiences
is real, that sexual double standards exist and are harmful, that domestic
violence exists and is harmful.
Q: What is next for you?
A: My next project is about a hustler/money boy who gets taken in
by a Muslim family and slowly begins to change his ways. It's a much more
hopeful and positive book.
The full interview:
Huriyah: A Queer Muslim Magazine:
Sulayman X’s Queer Jihad Magazine:
The author's "Confessions":
Gay Men's Fiction: The Finalists
From an interview with Cooper on www.denniscooper.net,
and how he didn’t think the limited-edition Void Press book would find an
American publisher; it did: Carroll & Graf.
The Sluts by Dennis Cooper (Carroll & Graf)
DC.N: The writing is different.
DC: I was going for the kind of horny everyman rhetoric you see on
X-rated gay message boards and escort reviews and so on. The art in my writing
is definitely there, but it's more internalized. The writing in The Sluts
feels more casual, even though I worked really hard to get it to that point.
It's blabbier writing, but the blab is as tight as I could get it. Still,
it's my longest novel by far, just over three hundred pages.
DC.N: Why did you decide to publish it in a limited edition?
DC: Happenstance. I offered it to Grove Press, but they didn't want
it. They wanted God Jr. instead. My agent told me that basically no
one in the US would publish The Sluts. He said the climate in publishing
was too conservative...”
DC.N: It's definitely the most X-rated of your books.
DC: Yeah, pretty relentlessly so. I'm really interested in the language
of pornography, and this was the most I've ever gotten to work with it.
The full interview, excerpts from the book, and sites Cooper browsed while
Introduction to an interview with Cooper by Justin Taylor in Bookslut:
“When I had the chance to talk with Dennis Cooper recently, I was surprised
at how laid back he was. Not that I expected him to embody his writing, but
I think that I had been subconsciously expecting someone... intense, and maybe
creepy. Instead, I found him to be engaging, entirely unassuming, and very
kind. He seemed as interested in asking me questions about myself as in discussing
his own work. We talked about his writing, how the publishing industry has
changed over the years, and a host of other things. If there was one way in
which he fit the stereotype of his literature, it was that he got most excited
when the talk turned to music.”
German Officer's Boy by Harlan Greene (Wisconsin)
The Boy Who Started A War: An Interview with Harlan Greene by Jameson
Currier, from Velvet Mafia 17:
Currier writes: On November 7, 1938, Herschel Grynszpan, a young Jewish
man living illegally in Paris, walked into the German embassy and shot Ernst
vom Rath, a German diplomat. The assassination triggered Kristallnacht, the
organized Nazi pogrom against the Jewish community inside the boundaries of the
Third Reich and was the symbolic beginning of the Holocaust. Many historians
have speculated that the young Grynszpan had intended to shoot the ambassador,
Count Johannes Welczek, but according to author Harlan Greene in his new novel,
The German Officer’s Boy, the shooting was the accidental result of
the seventeen-year-old Grynszpan’s affair with the older, twenty-nine-year-old
German officer. Earlier this year I spoke with Greene, whose prior works include
two historical novels about gay life in Charleston (Why We Never Danced
the Charleston and What the Dead Remember) and an admirable shelf
of nonfiction books on Southern history.
Jim Currier: Where did you first hear or read that Herschel might
have been gay?
Harlan Greene: I had been seeing it in footnotes of books for a long
time. Because my parents were Holocaust survivors, I was always reading about
the Holocaust. I first noticed the reference in the mid-1980s in a book by
Frank Rector called The Nazi Extermination of Homosexuals and, to be
frank, I didn’t believe it. I thought someone was trying to write gay history
into everything. Over time, it seemed something more credible to me.
JC: Why did you decide to novelize this story?
HG: I have published nonfiction and I really believe in the integrity
of nonfiction — I published a biography of a minor South Carolina writer and
that took seven years to write and that was also from having access to his
voluminous correspondence — he lived in a Victorian house and kept every little
bit of correspondence he’d ever written. But to do something where I didn’t
know the original language and would have to rely on foreign travel to do
it correctly was beyond my ken. I’m not an academic. I don’t have summers
off. And that’s not my field. I realized I wanted to do something with it
and it seemed to me, long after I embarked on the novel, that I probably did
take the right turn because there were very few facts out there.
Currier writes: In the novel, Greene has the affair between Grynszpan and vom Rath begin
the summer of 1938 and continue until November, when Herschel, whose papers
were not in order, was about to be deported from France. Greene’s vivid, complex
novel follows Herschel’s imprisonment in France and his subsequent time at
the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, and it is a masterful weaving of deception,
twists, cover-ups, politics, and public relations ploys during Herschel’s
confinement. Throughout the novel, Greene intersperses many historical facts
and documents, including the press release from the physicians whom Hitler
sent to Paris to examine Grynszpan, Joseph Goebbels’s speech in Munich the
night before Kristallnacht, the radio address of American journalist Dorothy
Thompson, and the postcards from the Grynszpan family.
JC: What sort of ‘artistic license’ did you use in creating this
story as a novel?
HG: Herschel’s imprisonment in Sachsenhausen — that’s fact. The
things that I invented were Herschel’s family background and his angst — that’s
made out of whole cloth and there is a lot of foreshortening of the time,
particularly after Germany invaded France. Herschel’s first attorneys — they’re
based on truth — I only had their names. The way I got their personalities was
when Vincent de Moro Giafferi supplanted them, they sued, saying that Herschel
was their client. Some of the money raised for Herschel’s defense was paid
off to those attorneys.
JC: Was Herschel really a ‘rent boy’ while he was in Paris?
HG: The character of Dothan [Herschel’s procurer in the novel]
is whole cloth. Some of the specific books on Kristallnacht would talk about
the claim of Herschel being gay, and it was hypothesizing on the historians’
part to say he wasn’t — Herschel lived in a part of town that was notorious
for boy prostitutes. These historians didn’t even realize what they were saying,
so they gave me that suggestion. There were many famous rent boy cases at
JC: Was it difficult to find a publisher for the novel?
HG: My agent started trying to send it out in 1996. And it’s certainly
gone through permutations since then. One major publisher accepted it and
then the big wigs threatened to fire the editor. My agent kept saying he’d
never seen anything like it. I was just assuming it was for the salability
of it — that they were assuming it was box office poison. There was a verbal
contract, which they had to rescind. People liked it, people hated it, people
didn’t do it. My agent was very persistent. Then I read an article in Lambda
Book Report on the University of Wisconsin Press and saw that they did
gay and Holocaust works, so that seemed to be a pretty good fit for this.
Currier continues: Harlan Greene’s parents, Sam and Regina Greene, survived the Holocaust in
Russian work camps during World War II. They were married in June 1939 shortly
before war broke out. After the war, his parents moved to Charleston, where
his mother had an aunt and a first cousin. Greene, born in 1953, was raised
in Charleston where he now lives with his partner, Jonathan Ray. Greene began
writing The German Officer’s Boy in the late 1980s when he lived in Chapel
Hill, North Carolina, where his companion at the time, Olin Jolley, was starting
his residency in psychiatry at the University of North Carolina. In October
of that year, Jolley was diagnosed with AIDS.
JC: Your own life has been a remarkable journey. How did your
background play out while starting to write this novel?
HG: I started working on this novel right when Olin was diagnosed
with AIDS. Ironically, it was on Yom Kippur of 1989 that he basically went
into the hospital and almost died. He subsequently lived seven years. I think
that’s one thing that launched me into this novel — and I’m certainly not comparing
my experiences with Olin being sick with Holocaust experiences — but what struck
me in those first few months when Olin got sick and we weren’t telling his
parents — was that I was leading something of a double life, pretending everything
was fine but there was this devastating experience that I was going through.
It struck me that this might be what someone felt who was passing at the time — a
Jew pretending not to be Jewish pretending not to be going through a tragedy.
Olin’s experience made me read a lot more stuff into Holocaust works and appreciate
my parents experience more.
(Reprinted with permission, Jameson
J.S. Hall discusses the book’s fact and fiction:
Faith for Beginners by Aaron Hamburger (Random House)
From a NextBook interview by Stephen Vinder:
Vinder writes: Faith for Beginners, his first novel,
finds Hamburger looking to Israel, where Jeremy, a college student still recovering
from a near-fatal combination of Xanax and vodka, falls in love with a half-Muslim,
half-Christian Palestinian, while his mother cheats on her cancer-stricken
husband with a rabbi.
Stephen Vinder: What is your connection with the character of Jeremy?
Aaron Hamburger: A lot of times when I tell people the plot, the first
thing they say is, "Oh, did you have a problem with drugs, and then visit
Israel with your mother?" Which is pretty far from who I am. I've never
smoked a cigarette in my life — I can't stand smoking — and I would never pierce
my nose with a safety pin or dye my hair green or any of those things. So
I'm always interested in people who are very performative and public, and
have no boundaries and no shame. Or maybe they do, but express it in an outward
way. I was just interested in getting into the head of someone who
doesn't approach things the same way that I would. The one thing I think in
which we are similar is that we both came from more religious backgrounds,
and were both turned off by religion in our adolescent years.
What We Do Is Secret by Thorn Kief Hillsbery (Villard)
Excerpts from an interview on
Q: How well did you know Darby Crash?
A: I met Darby at this scummy Hollywood drive-in, Arthur J’s. I was
drawn to him more by the vibe he had than his notoriety or whatever. He was
spooky and bratty and weirdly sensitive all at once with these flashes of
intensity that weren't so much dark as shadowy. He wasn't all that street-smart
and even the way he pretended to be was more or less a joke that he knew everybody
was on to. At least everybody at Arthur J's. I spent time with Darby alone
and with him and other kids who made that corner homebase till it was turned
into a strip-mall. Highland and Santa Monica, northside. I went out to his
mom's place in West L.A. once and saw all the Bowie paraphernalia in his room
there. Spent the night. I never would have said that I knew him really well,
but when you read these interviews with his former bandmates saying they didn't
figure out Darby liked boys till a year after he died you have to wonder how
well anyone knew him.
Q: As in well enough to write about him?
A: I find it interesting that few people have. The published writing
that's come out of the L.A. punk scene so far has been skewed pretty heavily
towards oral history, scenesters reminiscing into microphones. Not much in
the way of literary interpretation, or using the scene as a point of creative
Q: Did that influence you to write fiction instead of a memoir?
A: I never considered writing a memoir. That would bore me. This is
way more fun. It's all one night from dusk to dawn and there's always something
crazy going on. Zero let up. You can taste the anticipation for what comes
next. Real life isn't like that. And the L.A. punk scene wasn't like that by
the time I got into it. The Masque was gone and hardcore conformity loomed
ahead. People weren't so original anymore. By compressing everything into
a few hours in the lives of a tight little group of punks who were
original I felt I could convey the high-voltage feeling that made the scene
fresh and exciting in the first place.
Q: How many characters besides Darby are based on real people?
A: Fifty-four or fifty-five! I was shocked when we did the legal review
and counted them up. But mostly those are cameo roles, minor characters doing
minor things. Phranc is the major exception to that in the here-and-now of
the book. Remember, it's six months after Darby died, so he just appears in
flashbacks. The four main punk characters — Rockets, Siouxsie, Squid, Blitzer — are
fictional. The other two main characters, Tim and David, aren't punks. They're
based on two guys I knew even before I met Darby.
Q: Did they really drive a van filled with popcorn and cosmetics from
Minnesota to the Coca-Cola Museum in Atlanta?
A: No, actually they drove farther, all the way from Oregon. I don't
think I'm capable of making that up. I lack that kind of imagination.
Q: So what you're writing is what one reviewer called "semi-autobiographical,"
fiction based on fact?
A: Up to a point. I especially didn't want to misrepresent Darby Crash,
so all the direct quotes attributed to him are things he's on the record saying,
except when I inserted the narrator’s name as one of the people he mentions
to Rodney during an interview on KROQ. I was careful with others, too. Kickboy,
for example. He's dead, so I could have written whatever I wanted, same as
with Darby. But to me the story gains a lot of resonance from being grounded
in real incidents in real places populated by real people. To a lot of kids
just discovering the music and the history behind it, that era seems mythical
already, so I don't see much point in piling on more. As for autobiography,
it's definitely more autobiographical than War Boy. But at the end
of the night it's still a made-up story. I'm not Rockets.
Q: What made you decide to write about that time?
A: A friend of mine from back in the day told me I should. It's that
simple. It was Pat Gerkin, who fronted a band called the Jerkin' Gerkins.
He'd read War Boy and wrote to say he liked it, but when was I going
to write about the early L.A. punk scene? It wasn’t till I was deep into writing
the novel that I realized he’d said “when,” not “if.” Others had asked me
before, but Pat was the first one who treated it as a foregone conclusion.
In hindsight that seems significant to me.
Q: The novel contrasts Darby Crash with Phranc in terms of their public
self-identification as queer people and their success at influencing their
audience. In the end, it's Phranc who rescues Rockets from the destructive
influence of Darby. Did you plan that from the very beginning?
A: All I knew was that the book would end at dawn on the pier. And
I knew the last line. So I knew that Rockets would make a choice, but the
influences in making it are something that came out in the course of the writing.
And Phranc doesn't actually rescue Rockets; he rescues himself. That's an
important distinction. She could intervene more forcefully, but she's smart
enough to show him she cares about him, instead of just telling him. She shows
it by believing in him. And that's the best way there is.
Q: You can write freely about Darby by name because he’s dead?
A: I don't think that has much to do with it. Darby was a public figure
and the work is clearly labeled fiction. The story is actually set on one
night a few months after he checked out, so everything with Darby in it takes
the form of flashbacks in the minds of his friends. All the direct quotes
I attribute to him are things he's on the record saying. It's not just Darby,
either. I have Phranc at the Starwood, doing that song "Take Off Your
Swastikas," just the way it went down. Cameos by all sorts of scenesters.
Hellin Killer, Henley, Gerber, Donny Rose. Bands like the Skulls and the Screamers.
Q: On the subject of explanations, Darby Crash killed himself with
a heroin overdose. One of your fictional characters says that a possible reason
was that he liked boys and was afraid the hardcore macho kids from the beaches
might come after him if word got out. Is that your theory?
A: I put that in because some people say that, but if you want a sexual
explanation I think Gerber's is better. Because Darby didn't just like boys,
he liked young boys. And she thinks he looked at this older chickenhawk guy
we all knew named Tar, a real scumbag, and saw himself like that in another
fifteen or twenty years, and it was just too depressing. It is true that Darby
hated Tar. Absolutely. Pathologically. Memorably. But I personally think if
anything’s to blame, it’s bad drugs and creepy company.
(Reprinted with permission, Thorn
The full interview, including comments on Hillsbery’s first novel, War
Boy, and about life after punk:
Acqua Calda by Keith McDermott (Carroll & Graf)
From an interview by Patrick Giles:
The actor's life was the one for Keith McDermott. Having starred by his early
twenties in Broadway's Equus opposite Richard Burton, he was unquestionably
of the moment. "I was very ambitious. I had to be, to get the kind of
roles I got," McDermott admits. The theater runs throughout Acqua
Calda, his debut novel, in which a middle-aged actor suffering from AIDS
finds renewal after he joins a theater production rehearsing in Sicily. McDermott's
jump from stage to page is a combination of artistic progression and adjustment
to a changing job market. "I'd always been a book junkie," he says,
"and I was getting less acting work. Writing was a natural world to get
into." During the mid-1970s, McDermott lived with author Edmund White,
one of a few authors then breaking the culture's silence over gay stories
and issues. It was an exciting moment for gays in New York City, and McDermott
found himself at its epicenter. Years later the AIDS crisis would force him
to take stock: "I was spending so much time at deathbeds that acting
became a little less real for me." Yet the life he once led still fascinates
him. "Actually, the level of honesty you need to bring to acting is the
same one that writing demands," muses McDermott. "Although this
book is very close to my life, I never for a minute thought I was writing
anything but fiction."
Patrick Giles died last year, of cancer, a few months after this short
interview/review appeared in May 2005. I met Patrick while he was working
in the 1990s at A Different Light Bookstore in NYC/Chelsea, and when I’d come
to town from San Francisco, where I ran ADL/SF, we’d spend hours chatting
about books. He loved good writing, and I’m sorry he never wrote the novel
he often talked about – he wrote so well about writers and writing, and for
a big man was awfully nimble as he walked the New York store’s aisles avidly
handselling books he loved to customers who came to depend on his perceptive
Friends from his many worlds – gay lit, opera, baseball, and more – wrote
about him lovingly in the weeks after his death, at a remembrance website,
those recalling his goodness is Kirk Read, author of How I Learned to
Snap, who met Patrick at the bookstore.
Walt Loves the Bearcat. And So Do I...
Back in December, BTWOF publisher Carol Seajay asked me to send her
a favorite or two from 2005, for her Lesbian Edition year-end
installment. In my medicated stupor, I forgot – duh – that she was asking
about my favorite lesbian title (probably Ali Liebegott’s The Beautifully
Worthless). My wrong-gender choice was Walt Loves the Bearcat,
by Randy Boyd (West Beach Books, $24.95, paper), which is a Lammy finalist
in the Romance category. Here’s what I sent her:
“At 720 small-type pages, it's decidedly a reading commitment - an
epic love story, written with (as I wrote in my review for Book Marks) ‘a
roller-coaster brio and a magical intensity that demand - and deserve - the
reader's perseverance.’ Boyd's three previous novels (Uprising!, Bridge
Across the Ocean, The Devil Inside) all flirted with the pith of
this one: yearning for one true love. In parallel stories that intertwine
with energetic creativity, Boyd writes about a black college cheerleader who
has grown up to be a writer, and who has fantasized for years about a golden-haired
college quarterback whose picture he spotted in a game program; 21 years later,
the black gay man and the twice-divorced straight man - his football career
cut short by an injury - finally meet. In another universe, both are gay,
the football career resumes after a spiritual healing, and the young men are
in love for life - 'a madcap whirl, too good to be true but blessedly
real.' Why do I like it so much? The plot is original, the writing is
inventive, the romance is majestic, and the novel's structure is ferociously
And here’s an interview with Boyd, from his website, about how much of him
is in the book...
"Randy Boyd has been a cheerleader, a football player, and a long-term
AIDS survivor. Recently, he talked about how those life experiences shaped
his latest novel, Walt Loves the Bearcat."
Q: You’ve said you survived AIDS for over 20 years in order to create
this book. Can you elaborate?
A: In 1985, in the span of a few weeks, I graduated UCLA, developed
night sweats, and Rock Hudson announced to the world he had AIDS, making those
three little letters a household name. They hadn’t even identified HIV, but
the scientists on television knew night sweats were an early symptom. That’s
how I found out I had this deadly new disease. I was 23. Life expectancy was
12-18 months. There was no hope whatsoever.
I often ask myself: why am I still alive? Why me and why not the
guy sitting next to me in the doctor’s office 10 years ago, 15 years ago,
20 years ago? You can analyze it to death, literally, but it really boils
down to being like a home spared in a tornado when most of the neighborhood
is blown away. It’s impossible to say definitively what has kept my body alive,
but I do know the things that have kept my spirit alive. One of those is Walt
Loves the Bearcat. For over 20 years, I’ve known I was going to write
this book someday. As far as I can see, it’s the reason I’m still here, to
finally share my deepest dreams with the world.
Q: What are those deepest dreams?
A: Two beautiful boys, happily in love for eternity, having fun playing
the games of life.
Q: Like you, the Marcus character is in his 40s, HIV-positive and
a former UCLA cheerleader. Just how deep do the similarities go?
A: Oh, he’s a whole other guy, just some handsome, studly black man
I dreamt up (laughs). At the heart of Walt Loves the Bearcat is a lifelong
romance between a college quarterback and cheerleader, so yeah, their whacky
college adventures are definitely inspired by my days as a drunken rowdy frat
Q: What was fraternity life like for the drunken rowdy frat boy cheerleader?
A: I was the only black guy in a white frat. I played straight and
assumed everybody played along. The first week I was a pledge, somebody relayed
a joke about my dick size (without ever seeing my dick) and from then on,
I was known as Tripod. Everything seemed to be about my Big Black Dick before
anyone knew whether or not I even had one. And, no, that wasn’t very fun (laughs).
Q: You played straight yet you were a college cheerleader?
A: Crazy, huh? In retrospect, why did I bother? There’s a line in
the book: At some point, 110% of the population will question your sexuality
because you once were and always will be: a male cheerleader.
Q: Any real-life Walts for the real-life cheerleader?
A: No, but back in the day, there was one UCLA player I shared an
unspoken attraction with, but then again, maybe it was all in my mind. If
he's out there, I'd sure love to hear from him and get his take.
Q: This book has its share of whacky and fantastical adventures, from
the “mascot stunt” that leads to the whole Bearcat phenomenon, to stadiums
turning into aerial transports, to all kinds of twists and turns that can
only be described as “cosmic.” Do you have a favorite shocking twist or magical
A: Probably the very last football game or a certain spaceship blast
off, but to say more would be giving away too much. And I love what’s revealed
near the end of a chapter called “Story Meeting,” but that’s all I can say.
Can you tell I’m a tease?
Q: Walt Loves the Bearcat deals extensively with the serious
issues of race in society and homosexuality in sports, oftentimes within the
context of the fantastical adventures. Was it your intention to mix the elements?
A: Isn’t that the way life works? One minute you’re enchanted by something
mysterious, the next, you’re perplexed by something beyond your grasp?
Q: The quarterback becomes the first superstar athlete to admit his
love for another man while in the prime of his career, causing a mass reaction
around the globe. Do you see that happening in this world anytime soon?
A: Will a superstar athlete come out anytime soon? Soon, as in the
lifetime of many alive today, yes. Definitely. I hope Walt Loves the Bearcat
helps light the way as an example of how not to focus on the worst-case
scenario, rather, the best-case scenario. In life in general.
Q: Is that what you call Dream the Better Dream in the book?
A: Exactly. In the late 80s, I was at an AIDS information meeting
and a speaker said something mostly unheard of in those days: "You're
not guaranteed to die of AIDS." The room lightened and lifted, as if
he had instilled a new dream in all our minds, as if for the first time, we
were given an alternative to dwelling on our worst nightmares. As one character
in Walt Loves the Bearcat states: life doesn’t have to be your worst
dreams come true. Why not make life your best dreams come true? So much of
the book is about the power of dreams and how that energy propels us forward
or backwards in life, depending on which way you wanna go.
Q: There’s also a surprising number of references to God in Walt
Loves the Bearcat.
A:Surprising to whom? We seem to have this unspoken agreement
in society that only certain types of people can express themselves when it
comes to their belief in God. Last I checked, no one person or group had an
exclusive on sharing what God means to them. This novel follows 21 years of
life, and then some. That means the good, the bad, and the God. I wouldn’t
be true to the characters or myself, if I didn’t talk about God.
Q: With character names like Reggie Snowman, Evil Announcer Guy, Black
Coach, Hail Larry, and the ER Wife — not to mention some of the playful word
games in the book — it’s easy at times to picture the inner child at the author’s
A: Oh, yes. Sometimes I let the little black boy inside my soul have
his run of the place and my keyboard. After all, Walt Loves the Bearcat
is his deepest dream.
(©2005 by Randy Boyd)
Processing the Lambda Literary Awards
As I mentioned at the top of this edition of The Gay Men’s Edition, I’ve
been involved in some form or other of the “finalist committee”
of the Lambda Literary Awards almost from the beginning. That’s
the group that narrows several hundred nominees down to five finalists
in each category. For several years, the process was conducted by
mail: we sent our “top fives” to whoever at the Lambda Book Report/Lambda
Literary Foundation was coordinating things, they added up numbers,
and produced the finalists. Last year, for the first time, committee
members “met” in conference calls for a vigorous back-and-forth,
give-and-take, a system that introduced both accountability and
“transparency” – that word – into the process; the same system was
employed this year, though with fewer people taking part. I wrote
about the very beginning (the 400 or so books that were nominated
by publishers and others) and the very end (the list of finalists)
of the process in the Lammy special edition of BTWOF that was distributed
in February... to refresh your memories on both the “long list”
of 400 nominees, and the finalists, go:
Here, I want to fill in the middle part: first, listed below are my “top
fives” (and sometimes a couple more) in all but one of the categories. (I
don’t rank books in Erotica, a category introduced several years ago, nor
do I take part in the phone conferences, because I edit the Best Gay Erotica
series for Cleis Press, with that obvious conflict.) After that comes the
aggregated list of top five choices by the members of the committee (Carol
Seajay, Cecilia Martin of Oscar Wilde Bookshop, Kris Kleindienst of Left Bank
Books, Philip Rafshoon of Outwrite Bookstore, Michael Bronski, and myself).
Choosing just five books in many of the categories was no easy task,
for me or for the other members of the finalist committee. There really are
a lot of good books being published, and some wonderful books didn’t garner
enough consensus to make the cut. Certainly not all of my particular choices
for best books made it into the rank of finalists. The following listing is
as I sent it to Charles Flowers, who coordinated the discussions but didn’t
weigh in or vote. I’ve italicized the books I liked that became finalists,
though some made it in categories other than where I listed them – as the
discussion went on, it became obvious, for example, that Ali Liebegott’s The
Beautifully Worthless was as much novel as poetry, and that there were
far too many worthy nonfiction candidates than the single category of “LGBT
Studies” could honor, which shifted the Dennis Altman book on Gore Vidal from
Belles Lettres to Nonfiction, for example, and which put Kate Clinton’s What
the L in humor....
My Top Fives and Some Likes...
Everything I Have is Blue (Ricketts); Lesbian Pulp Fiction
(Forrest); Fresh Men 2 (Weise); Outside the Lines (Hennessy); Bullets &
American Ghosts (Plante); Gore Vidal's America (Altman); My One-Night
Stand With Cancer (Noyes); Quicksands (Bedford); Let's Shut Out
the World (Bentley)
But I'm also happy with...
Luncheonette (Sorrentino); The Tricky Part (Moran); The Commitment (Savage);
Nasty (Doonan); Attack of the Man-Eating Lotus Blossoms (Chin); Loose Ends
...a rich category!
Wild Girls (Souhami); February House (Tippins); The Fabulous
Sylvester (Gamson); Nothing is True Everything is Permitted (Geiger);
Edge of Midnight (Mann)
CHILDREN / YOUNG ADULT
A Really Nice Prom Mess (Sloan); And Tango Makes Three (Parnell
& Richardson); Totally Joe (Howe); The Order of the Poison Oak (Hartinger);
Absolutely Positively Not (La Rochelle)
DEBUT FICTION / Gay
The First Verse (McCrae); Mother of Sorrows (McCann); You
Are Not the One (McIntyre); Choir Boy (Anders); Setting the Lawn on
DEBUT FICTION / Lesbian
Crashing America (Noyes); Clearcut (Shengold); In Too Deep
Of the rest I've read, not a one impressed me much...
EROTICA – no vote, obviously, but...
Six Positions (Quan), Tangled Sheets (Ford), Boy in the Middle (Califia),
Out of Control (Wharton & Phillips), and Rode Hard, Put Away Wet (Green
& Valencia) are really good, in that order...
The Sluts (Cooper); Faith for Beginners (Hamburger); What
We Do is Secret (Hillsbery); Back Where He Started (Quinn); They Change
the Subject (Martin)
...but I’m just as happy with ‘You Can Say You Knew Me When’ (Soehnlein) or
‘How’s Your Romance?’ (Mordden)
The Woman Who Loved War (Brownrigg); Babyji (Dawesa); With or Without
You (Sanders); Lighthousekeeping (Winterson); Wild Dogs
‘Above the Thunder’ (Manfredi) I like a lot, but the queer characters are
guys; ‘Loose End’ (Coyote) I like a lot, but I think it's nonfiction.
Invasion of the Dykes to Watch Out For (Bechdel); The Underminer (Albo
& Heffernan); Gay Haiku (Derfner); Juicy Mother (Camper); Revenge
of the Paste Eater (Peck)
I think ‘101 Must-See Movies for Gay Men’ (Duralde) could fit in here...
and certainly What the L! (Clinton)
Why I Hate Abercrombie & Fitch (McBride); Queer Wars (Robinson);
Words To Our Now (Glave); Love's Rites (Vanita); Turn the Beat
MYSTERY / Gay
One of These Things Is Not Like the Others (Scott); The
Paper Mirror (Grey); The Actor's Guide to Greed (Copp); Tapas on
the Ramblas (Bidulka); Light Before Day (Rice)
MYSTERY / Lesbian
The Iron Girl (Hart); Women of Mystery (Forrest); Have Gun
We'll Travel (Lake); Son of a Gun (Lordon); Justice Served (Radclyffe)
POETRY / Gay
Crush (Siken); Stardust (Bidart); Directions to the Beach of the Dead
(Bianco); For Dust Thou Art (Liu); Sugar (Pousson)
POETRY / Lesbian
The Beautifully Worthless (Liebegott); Rapture (Duffy); Where the
Apple Falls (Bashir); Life Mask (Kay); Directed by Desire
Just Like That (Kallmaker); Walt Loves the Bearcat (Boyd);
Force of Nature (Baldwin); Tides of Passion (Braund); The Price
of Temptation (Pearon)
‘Third & Heaven’ (Johnson) and ‘Hot Sauce’ (Pomfret & Whittier) from gay
fiction and ‘Scrub Match’ (Eisele) and ‘The Unborn Spouse Situation’ (Rauscher)
from debut gay fiction are all romancey, though their publishers nominated
SF / HORROR / FANTASY
Daughters of an Emerald Dusk (Forrest); The Temple at Landfall
(Fletcher); Shapers of Darkness (Coe); No Sister of Mine
(G’Fellers); Protector of the Treader (Brooke)
The Path of the Green Man (Ford); Fumbling Towards Divinity
(Hickman); Que(e)rying Evangelism (diNovo); I Am This One
Walking Beside Me: Meditations of an HIV Positive Gay Man (Gephardt);
The Seven Sisters of the Pleiades (Andrews)
Choirboy (Anders); Just Add Hormones (Kailey); The
Riddle of Gender (Radacille); In a Queer Time and Place (Halberstam);
Alice in Genderland (Novic)
Those are the books I liked, though I’m still second-guessing myself. In
gay fiction/gay debut alone, I liked Bart Yates’ The Bishop Boys. I
liked The Wild Creatures: Stories by Sam D’Allesandro, edited by Kevin
Killian. I liked With Angels and Furies, by John Sam Jones. I liked
How to Name a Hurricane, by Rane Arroyo. I liked A Year of Two Summers,
by Shaun Levin. I liked Three Fortunes in One Cookie, by Cochrane Lambert.
I liked The Unborn Spouse Situation, by Matt Rauscher...all for different
reasons, and with different audiences in mind.
The Top Fives, Compiled Edition
When it came to choosing the finalists, we worked with the compilation, listed
below, of ‘top fives’ from the finalist committee members; in addition,
though not folded into that list, we had on hand suggestions and
thoughtful opinions from three outside specialists: Susan Stryker
for Transgender, Drewey Wayne Gunn (The Gay Male Sleuth in Print
and Film, Scarecrow, 2005) for Gay Men’s Mystery, and Nan Cinnater
for Lesbian Mystery – a system that worked really well, and which
I imagine will be expanded next year, coupling the overview of a
panel of booksellers and reviewers with the specific insights of
individuals who really know a given book category.
That’s one reason the “top five” in the compiled list weren’t automatically
the five finalists in each category. The other, primary, reason is that the
six of us, like any good awards committee, argued thoughtfully towards consensus.
We didn’t ever agree from the start, but the end result was achieved thoughtfully
and with respect for each other. Really.
So, for the record: here’s the list (raw, in the form it was distributed
to the Finalist Committee) that was the basis for more than six hours of phone
conferences over two days, out of which came the 2005 Lambda Literary Award Finalists.
That’s how the sausage was made – and it’s pretty fine sausage... and, as you
read this, more than 70 judges are choosing the winners in each of the 20 categories.
Lammy 2006 Finalist Process, as of February 25, 2006
4 Bullets and Butterflies ed.
4 Lesbian Pulp Fiction
3 Everything I Have is Blue ed.
3 Fresh Men 2 ed. Holleran,
2 Red Light
2 Queer Stories for Boys ed.
1 52 Pickup
1 Outside the Lines Hennessey
1 Women of Mystery ed.
1 Lesbian Communities Rothblum,
1 Ultimate Gay Erotica 2006 ed. Grant
1 Ultimate Lesbian Erotica 2006 ed. Foster
3 The Tricky Part
3 Quicksands: A Memoir Sybille
3 Tab Hunter Confidential Tab
2 My One Night Stand with Cancer Tania Katan
2 The Commitment Dan
1 Gentleman Callers Michael
1 Diary of a Drag Queen Daniel
1 American Ghosts David
1 Gore Vidal’s America Dennis Altman
1 Attack of the Man-Eating Lotus
1 Let’s Shut Out the World Kevin
1 Wild Girls (if not Bio)
1 Things No Longer There Susan Krieger
(if not Bio)
1 Beyond Recall: Mary Meigs ed. Lise
Weil (if not Bio)
1 Breakfast with Tiffany Ed
1 When I Knew
1 Stretching My Mind Edward
5 February House Sherrill
4 The Fabulous Sylvester Joshua
2 Wild Girls (if not BL)
2 Superstar in a Housedress Craig
2 The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson Bob Hofler
1 Things No Longer There Susan Krieger
(if not Bio)
1 Beyond Recall: Mary Meigs ed. Lise
Weil (if not Bio)
1 Quicksands (if not BL) Sybille
1 Center Square (Paul Lynde)
Wilson & Florenski
1 Tales from the Levee (fiction, but submitted in
1 Gay and Lesbian Theatrical Legacy ed. Billy J. Harbin,
1 The Man Who Knew Too Much David Leavitt
1 Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted John
1 Edge of Midnight (Schlesinger) William
1 Katherine Hepburn Robert
Children/Young Adult (Bronski-no selections)
4 And Tango Makes Three Richardson
3 Totally Joe
3 Rainbow Road Alex
2 A Really Nice Prom Mess Brian Sloan
2 Order of the Poison Oak Brent
1 Antonio’s Card/La Tarjeta de Antonio Rigoberto
1 Absolutely Positively Not
David La Rochelle
1 Manstealing for Fat Girls Michelle
1 Swimming in the Monsoon Sea Shyam Selvadurai
1 You’re Different & That’s Super Carson
Debut Fiction (Gay)
4 Choir Boy
4 Setting the Lawn on Fire
3 Mother of Sorrows
2 The First Verse
2 You are Not the One
2 Boys in the Brownstone
1 Late and Soon
1 Deliver me from Nowhere
1 Bilal’s Bread
1 Potato Queen
1 Down for Whatever
1 A Really Nice Prom Mess
Debut Fiction (Lesbian) (Bronski, Rafshoon-no selections)
3 Crashing America
2 Manstealing for Fat Girls
1 In Too Deep
1 The Next World
Erotica (Labonte-no selections)
3 Best Gay Erotica 2006
3 Best Lesbian Erotica 2006
3 Rode Hard Put Away Wet
2 Close Contact
2 With a Rough Tongue
1 Boy in the Middle
1 Erotic Interludes 2
1 Six Positions
1 Tangled Sheets
1 Hot Lesbian Erotica
Fiction (Gay) (Seajay-no selections)
3 The Sluts
2 Faith for Beginners
2 Acqua Calda
2 All American Boy
1 How's Your Romance?
1 Wild Creatures
1 German Officer's Boy
1 House is Not a Home
1 You Can Say You Knew Me When
1 What We Do is Secret
1 Back Where He Started
1 They Change the Subject
1 Mother of Sorrows
1 Sex Camp
2 Celebrating Hotchclaw
2 With or Without You
2 The Woman Who Loved War
2 Beautiful Inez
1 Wild Dogs
1 Gotta Find Me an Angel
1 Five Books of Moses Lapinsky
1 Daughters of an Emerald Dusk
1 Loose End
5 Invasion of Dykes to Watch Out For
4 Revenge of the Paste Eaters
3 Juicy Mother
3 What the L ? (pub put in Nonfiction)
3 Don't Get too Comfortable
3 The Underminer
2 Gay Haiku
1 Legend of Bushistotle
3 What the L? (Humor?)
2 Why I Hate Abercombie and Fitch Dwight
2 Black Queer Studies Johnson & Henderson
2 Blessing Same Sex Unions
2 Love’s Rite (India)
2 Harvard’s Secret Court
2 Beyond the Down Low
1 Impossible Desires
1 Zest for Life (Lesbian Menopause) Jennifer Kelly
1 Raising Boys without Men
1 Women Together/Women Apart Tirza
1 Sodom on the Thames
1 Business, Not Politics
1 Tweakers (Crystal Meth)
1 The Velvet Rage
1 Queer Wars
1 Words to Our Now (essays)
1 Turn the Beat Around (Disco History)
1 Queer London
1 101 Movies
Mystery (Gay) (Seajay-no selections)
3 One of These Things is Not like the Others
3 Light Before Day
3 Actors Guide to Greed
2 Desert Summer
2 Tapas on the Ramblas
2 Paper Mirror
1 Scene Stealer
Mystery (Lesbian) (Bronski-no selections)
3 Women of Mystery
3 Iron Girl
3 Justice Served
2 Hostage to Murder
2 Son of a Gun
1 Desert Blood
1 Darkness Descending
1 Grave Silence
1 Mouth of Babes
1 Have Gun We’ll Travel
1 Kookaburra Gambit
1 Finding Mrs. Wright
1 Hunter’s Way
1 In Too Deep
4 For Dust Thou Art
3 School of the Arts
1 Love Life
1 After Hours
1 The Insatiable Palm
1 Bullets & Butterflies (also in Anthology)
1 Directions to the Beach . . .
1 Book of Faces
5 Directed by Desire
4 New and Selected Vol. 2 Mary
3 Where the Apple Falls Samiya
3 Life Mask
Carol Ann Duffy
2 The Beautifully Worthless Ali
2 Jane: A Murder
1 Queer Street
1 Watercolor Women/Opaque Men Ana Castillo
1 Collected Poems
1 Eye of Water
Amber Flora Lewis
Romance (Bronski-no selections)
3 Tides of Passion
3 Artist’s Dream
3 Just Like That
2 Price of Temptation M.J.Pearson
2 Midnight Rain
2 Walt Loves the Bearcat Randy
2 Distant Shores, Silent Thunder Radclyffe
2 Honor Reclaimed Radclyffe
2 Force of Nature
1 Poppy’s Return
1 Millionaire of Love
SF / Horror / Fantasy
3 Temple Landfall
2 Daughters of an Emerald Dusk Katherine
2 Shapers of Darkness David
2 No Sister of Mine
ed. Bella Books
2 Walt Loves the Bearcat Randy
2 Walls of Westernfort Jane
2 Protector of the Treader Gun
1 One of These Things Is Not Like... D. Travers
Spirituality (Seajay-no selections)
3 Qu(e)ering Evangelism Cheri
3 Path of the Green Man Michael
2 Fumbling Toward Divinity Craig
2 I Am the One Walking Beside Me Daniel Gebhardt
1 Talking About Homosexuality Oliveto,
Turney, & West
1 When Heroes Love Susan Ackerman
1 For Another Flock Jeffrey
1 Seven Sisters of the Pleiades Munya Andrews
4 Just Add Hormones Matt
3 In a Queer Time and Place Judith
3 Choir Boy Charlie Anders
3 Deliver Me from Nowhere Tennessee Jones
2 The Riddle of Gender Deborah Rudacille
2 Boy in the Middle Patrick Califia
1 Ladies or Gentlemen Jean-Louis Ginibre
1 Alice in Genderland Richard Novic
The Queer Awards Season Is Upon Us: The ALA and Publishing Triangle Awards
The queer awards season started back in January, when the American Library
Association Stonewall Book Committee announced its winners (though the awards,
now in their 35th year, won’t be presented until June): Abha Dawesar, author
of Babyji (Anchor Books), receives the Barbara Gittings Book Award
in Literature, and Joshua Gamson, author of The Fabulous Sylvester: the
Legend, the Music, the ‘70s in San Francisco (Henry Holt and Co.), receives
the Israel Fishman Book Award for Nonfiction.
The 2006 Stonewall honor books (that is to say, the runners-up) in literature
· Acqua Calda by Keith McDermott (Carroll & Graf)
· The First Verse by Barry McCrea (Carroll & Graf)
· Mother of Sorrows by Richard McCann (Pantheon)
· The Wild Creatures: Collected Stories of Sam D’Allesandro edited
by Kevin Killian (Suspect Thoughts)
And the 2006 Stonewall honor books in nonfiction are:
· My One Night Stand with Cancer by Tania Katan (Alyson)
· Queer London: Perils and Pleasures in the Sexual Metropolis, 1918-1957
by Matt Houlbrook (Univ. of Chicago)
· The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde by Neil McKenna (Basic Books)
· The Tragedy of Today’s Gays by Larry Kramer (Tarcher/Penguin)
The two ALA winners are both Lammy finalists, as are three of the four ALA
fiction runners-up (The Wild Creatures didn’t make the Lammy list)
and one of the ALA nonfiction finalists (My One-Night Stand With Cancer
made the Lammy list).
And the finalists in the Publishing Triangle’s nonfiction, fiction, and poetry
categories, announced March 24, are:
The Randy Shilts Award for Gay Nonfiction
Thomas Glave, Words to Our Now (University of Minnesota Press)
Neil McKenna, The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde (Basic Books)
Martin Moran, The Tricky Part (Beacon Press)
The Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Nonfiction
Tania Katan, My One-Night Stand with Cancer (Alyson Books)
Gretchen Legler, On the Ice (Milkweed Editions)
Diana Souhami, Wild Girls (St. Martin’s Press)
The Thom Gunn Award for Gay Male Poetry
Frank Bidart, Star Dust (Farrar Straus Giroux)
Peter Covino, Cut Off the Ears of Winter (New Issues)
Richard Siken, Crush (Yale University Press)
The Audre Lorde Award for Lesbian Poetry
Djuna Barnes, Collected Poems with Notes Toward the Memoirs (University
of Wisconsin Press)
June Jordan, Directed by Desire (Copper Canyon)
Jane Miller, A Palace of Pearls (Copper Canyon)
The Ferro-Grumley Award for Fiction: Women
Brenda Brooks, Gotta Find Me an Angel (Raincoast Books)
Ivan E. Coyote, Loose End (Arsenal Pulp Press)
Patricia Grossman, Brian in Three Seasons (Permanent Press)
The Ferro-Grumley Awards for Fiction: Men
Darren Greer, Still Life With June (Cormorant Books)
Barry McCrea, The First Verse (Carroll & Graf)
Douglas A. Martin, Branwell (Soft Skull Press)
The Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction
Charlie Anders, Choir Boy (Soft Skull Press)
Mack Friedman, Setting the Lawn on Fire (University of Wisconsin
Katia Noyes, Crashing America (Alyson Books)
Again, some overlap with the Lammys – Noyes, Friedman, and Anders for debut
fiction, McCrea in the gay fiction category, Jordan in lesbian poetry, Siken
in gay poetry, and Souhami and Noyes – and, again, many differences. Which
is not a bad thing – there are enough good books to go around. More than 100
titles were nominated for the assorted PT prizes, which will be passed out
Thursday, May 11, 2006, at the New School University in New York City. For
information on the ceremony – the organization’s 17th, and on how the Triangle’s
fundraising for an awards endowment is doing: www.publishingtriangle.org.