The Gay Men's Edition
Volume 4 Number 2
By Richard Labonte
Subscribers to Books To Watch
Out For's Gay Men’s Edition have been patient through a couple of transitions.
By Labor Day (or, as we say up here in Canada, Labour Day) I'll be resettled
from Eastern Ontario, my home for the past several years, to small Bowen Island,
reached by ferry from Vancouver, British Columbia.
What this means is: another
change of address.
For post office shipments: Richard Labonté/BTWOF
PO Box HP 24
Bowen Island, BC
V0N 1G0 Canada
- or -
For courier shipments: Richard Labonté/BTWOF
1806 Howe Road
Bowen Island, BC
V0N 1G0 Canada
Email remains: email@example.com.
Books sent to my former McDonald's
Corners or my even more former Perth addresses will be forwarded until Sept.
Part two of my assessment
of self-published books will appear in the next edition of BTWOF/GME; in this
issue: how to misread book sales figures; reviews of five novels, four memoirs/biographies,
three academic titles, two poetry books, and one anthology about fags and
their, excuse the retro term, hags; a roundup of books to watch out for from
queer publishers; a guest review from Tom Cardamone; some Internet bits; two
worthy plugs, a bestseller list; and a couple of letters.
"Gay Books a Bust" Story: It's a Bust
There was a truly silly story
in a recent issue of the Washington Blade, which worked from the premise,
as the headline touted, that "Gay Books are a Bust - Hyped Tomes Failing To
So much is wrong with that
headline. Gay books aren't a bust - gay presses are still in business. Several
of the books cited by the author of the article, Katherine Volin, aren't even
"gay" - certainly not Mary Cheney's defensive autobiography, or the whiny
book by the wife of former New Jersey governor James McGreevey, Dina Matos
McGreevey; a book on taste and style co-written by Tim Gunn, the fussy fashion
maven from TV's Project Runway might be of interest to some queers
- but it's not a gay book. And the headline itself is not even grammatical:
it would make more sense - but still be inaccurate - to write, "Hype Fails
to Drive Tomes' Sales." And "tomes" is such a prissy word...
Volin's take is that because
the books she mentions haven't sold in the tens of thousands, they're failures.
For the record, from a sidebar to her story, here are the figures she cites
to "prove" her thesis: Man in the Middle by John Amaechi, print run
30,000, copies sold 9,000; Now It's My Turn by Mary Cheney, print run
not available, copies sold 9,000; Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins
by Rupert Everett, print run not available, copies sold 14,000; Include
Me Out by Farley Granger and Robert Calhoun, print run not available,
copies sold 3,000...
More: A Guide to Quality,
Taste and Style by Tim Gunn and Kate Moloney, print run not available,
copies sold 15,000; Tab Hunter Confidential by Tab Hunter and Eddie
Muller, print run not available, copies sold 6,000; I Had to Say Something
by Mike Jones with Sam Gallegos, print run 40,000, copies sold 1,000; Here's
What We'll Say by Reichen Lehmkuhl, print run not available, copies sold,
And more: Silent Partner
by Dina Matos McGreevey, print run 85,000, copies sold 19,000; The
Confession by James McGreevey, print run not available, copies sold, 38,000;
La Dolce Musto by Michael Musto, print run not available, copies sold:
1,000; There's Nothing in This Book That I Meant to Say by Paula Poundstone,
print run 80,000, copies sold 8,000; Alone in the Trenches by Esera
Tualo and John Rosengren, print run not available, copies sold 3,000.
Fascinating to read - insider
info book info is a treat for people fascinated by publishing. But. The source
for these sales figures (not the publishers; they don't give them out)? "Nielsen
BookScan, which does not include sales figures from Wal-Mart, Sam's Club,
food and drug outlets, or specialty stores," says a note at the bottom
of the sidebar.
yeah: does not include sales figures from SPECIALTY STORES! Where
would a sensible person suppose that a hefty (albeit shrinking,
because of Internet sales) portion of gay book sales might happen?
How about Outwrite, Giovanni's Room, A Different Light, Lambda Rising,
Oscar Wilde, and dozens more small independents, some queer and
some queer friendly, that welcome queer readers and nurture queer
books and whose sales aren't scanned by BookScan.
And there's one fact that
Volin doesn't consider. Six thousand copies isn't bad for a gay celebrity
book that doesn't have another hook. Former NBA player Amaechi's sales aren't
bad, and the rule of thumb is that BookScan at best captures
75 percent of a book's sales; his tell-all has probably sold more than 8,000
copies, and almost certainly all to gay readers, with a few die-hard basketball
fans in the mix. And the Tab Hunter bio, which was probably available at the
Wal-Marts and Costcos of the world, likely sold closer to 10,000 copies than
6,000. Not bad for a book all about being a questioning gay boy, a closeted
gay man, and a quietly out elder. The truth is, hardcover books that sell
in the mid to high four figures have turned a profit, found an audience, and
will have an afterlife in trade paper - a reality the article never considers.
That irksome headline is based
mostly on two titles that are highlighted. Here's what the writer says about
the first book: "Now It's My Turn, which promised details of Cheney's
behind-the-scenes experience working on election campaigns for her father,
Dick Cheney, marked the first acquisition for a new Simon & Schuster imprint,"
writes Volin. "It was aggressively marketed, with the author appearing on
CNN's Larry King Live, and came with a reported $1 million advance
for Mary Cheney. Despite the blitz and best-laid plans, the book sold only
9,000 copies, according to Nielsen BookScan." Well, duh. Lesbians weren't
going to buy it, since Cheney's not much of a dyke. And the right-wingers
weren't going to buy it (that S&S imprint is for conservative titles)
- because Cheney's a dyke. So who cares if it wasn't a bestseller! And why
conflate its poor sales as a sign that all "gay celebrity" books are tanking.
The second title held up as
an example of the "gay book bust"? Mike Jones's book about his three
years of paid trysting with Ted Haggard. "Gay books, particularly memoirs
or sensationalist works (I Had to Say Something by Mike Jones, the
prostitute who allegedly had sex with disgraced pastor Ted Haggard, leaps
to mind) get a lot of play in the gay and mainstream media, but don't always
perform well," writes Volin. Duh again. At the time the Blade article
was published (the paper dated July 27; the article, charitably, is based
on figures from mid-July) the Seven Stories Press book had been on sale for...
less than a month. Sure, its sales might top out at a few thousand. Point
one: that's not terrible for a gay book. Point two: it's odd to accuse a book
available for just a few weeks of contributing to that darned "gay book bust."
Articles about gay publishing
are few and far between, and raw numbers are always fascinating. But thin
research and apples-and-oranges extrapolations aren't of much use. Here's
the full article, best read with some grains of salt:
Five Very Different Novels
My Side of the Story, by Will Davis, Bloomsbury, $14.95,
The prose-style tics of this, like, coming-out story may well, like,
drive older readers, like, crazy.
But the charms of Davis's hilarious novel - about a rebelliously
precocious sixteen-year-old gay British boy's tempestuous family
life and fumbling sexual entanglements - more than compensate for
its obsessive use of "like" (which is, after all, how
a lot of teens speak). Jarold - called Jaz by his best friend Al
(a straight girl) - is slick enough to slip into gay clubs in his
search for romance, or at least sex, even though he's underage.
He finally scores - but the man who picks him up is horrified to
learn how young he is. Jaz is equally horrified when he encounters
one of his teachers, a particularly stern fellow, at a gay bar,
even more so when it turns out his teacher is dating the male therapist
Jaz's parents take him to when they decide his sexuality must be
controlled. Most young adult coming-of-age novels, no matter how
sincere, are pretty rote. This one, the debut of an author still
in his twenties, is a wiseass pleasure.
"Am I a Gay Writer," muses Davis:
"Why I've Got to Plug My Book":
"Gay Men: Literary Heroines in Disguise?":
by Thomas Mallon, Pantheon, $25, 9780375423482.
Offbeat American history, with mere hints of homosexuality, has
long been novelist Mallon's fictional playground. His 2004 novel,
Bandbox, was a hilarious homage to 1920s magazine publishing,
with attendant fops; 1996's Dewey Defeats Truman, with
a benignly effeminate
male teacher as a minor character, was set in presidential candidate
Thomas Dewey's Michigan hometown during the 1948 election. But
Mallon finally makes his own queerness clear in this seventh novel,
noting in his acknowledgment that he is "venturing further
into my own life's fundamentals." Fellow Travelers
is about the fraught and feverish romance between a mid-level
State Department careerist and a young, guilt-ridden Catholic
man at the height of reactionary U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy's
most frantic and furious anti-Communist, anti-fairy witch hunts.
Their affair is doomed by the older man's ambitions and the younger
man's self-doubts, but Mallon's account of closeted trysts in
the midst of homophobic hysteria, and his evocative depiction
of crass, backstabbing Washington politics, grandly fictionalizes
an important slice of factual gay history.
Drop...Dead: The DJ Murders, by Tonne Serah, Southern Tier Editions,
Circuit boyz, underground klubs, Azian fags - this wicked romp
through San Francisco's ferociously hip party scene challenges
but all those z's do add extra zip to a campy contemporary mystery.
Deejays are dropping dead - literally, from their overhead booth
onto the sweaty kidz, or kids, on Klub Galaxy's dance floor below.
The process of ferreting out "whodunit," amusing if not always
logical, involves drug enforcement agents doing drugs, a transgender
cop investigating the city's sleazy mayor, imperious drag queens,
and Joey De Vera - nice Filipino boy by day, tweaked-up scenester
by night. The novel's genesis was a series of weekly e-mails to
the author's real-life fellow club-goers, so most chapters are
just two or three pages, a format that speeds the plot right along;
sixteen color illustrations are an ingenious addition. And though
the surface story is engagingly frothy, Serah - himself a club
kid - has serious things to say about unsafe sex, harm reduction,
the hypocrisy of the war on drugs, and - most interestingly -
the queer lives of young Asian men.
Looking for Heroes, by Patricia Grossman, the Permanent Press,
$18 paper, 9781579621490.
Grossman, whose previous novel Brian in Two Seasons won
the gay-fiction Ferro-Grumley Award, sets her sights here on suburban
Long Island angst and a sexless marriage
in drift. Gerald and Emma are moping through midlife crises, unable
to connect sexually or emotionally. Emma, fired from her job as
a social worker, is administering her dead artist father's wealthy
estate, while Gerald finds release through trysts with a compassionate
call girl. Neither is happy that their eighteen-year-old son,
Aaron, motorcycles into Manhattan to sleep with a male fashion
model, after his first boyfriend - a much older man - moved out
of their basement. Subplots involving Gerald's racist septuagenarian
father and Emma's wild-child lesbian sister add spice to the story,
most of which is set in 1998. Jump ahead a few years: Emma and
Gerald are divorced, but their son, now twenty-four and with a
new lover, is the father of a baby girl born to a surrogate mother
- a contemporary coda that brings the queer content of this quiet
novel about life's discontents nicely to the forefront.
Jesus in Love, by Kittredge Cherry, AndroGyne Press, $18.95
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John have told the story already: this
guy in first-century Palestine went around healing the lepers,
hassling the money changers, feeding
the multitudes with a loaf here and a fish there, and spending
forty inspirational days alone in the desert, before gathering
around himself - or Himself - a flock of disciples. This theologically
innovative novel's spin? Jesus was a man of fluid sexual appetites,
aroused by John the Baptist's wiry muscles, getting off with a
multi-gendered Holy Spirit, and getting down with a hot Mary Magdalene.
Cherry's jaunty re-imagining of the story of Jesus casts him as
a mystical erotic adventurer in the years before his crucifixion
- nothing like the neutered historical Christ of fundamentalist
lore. Other novelists have tinkered with the Biblical depiction
of Christ: in Gore Vidal's Live from Gogoltha, he's a 400-pound
man with a stereotypically homo-suggestive lisp. This gay-sensitive
story about the Christian big boy's explicit queer incarnation
is a winsome affirmation of erotic love's sacred potential. Coming
next: At the Cross, the sequel.
More about the book: www.jesusinlove.org/about.php.
Cherry is also editor
of Art That Dares: Gay Jesus, Woman Christ, and More,
(AndroGyne Press, $38.95 paper, 9781933993294) a collection of
eleven differing, artistic, and quite queer depictions of Christ,
from F. Douglas Blanchard's twenty-four-panel gay vision of the
Passion to Swedish Ohlson Wallin's photos of Jesus with contemporary
LGBT people to the "notorious faggot painting" Becky Jayne Harrelson.
Each author's depiction is accompanied by text that provides context
for the image. Praise for the book:
"I approached Art That Dares with trepidation
because my fundamentalist upbringing had instilled in me a distaste for explicitly
sexual images or unconventional depictions of the deity. But Kittredge Cherry's
wise, tender, and learned commentary calmed my fears and enabled me to behold
the stunning beauty of these depictions of Jesus - as gay, as black, as the
horned god, as a woman - and of his mother in a rapturous female partnership.
Some of the images called forth tears too deep for words. This is an amazing,
disconcerting, and sacred book, to be experienced again and yet again: a treasure,"
said Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, author of Transgender Journeys and
And: "Art That Dares is a stunning, artistically
haunting, spiritually revolutionary, provocatively honest book that is a fresh
alternative to deadened religiosity. I give thanks for its passionate creativity,"
said the Rev. Canon Malcolm Boyd, poet, Episcopal priest, gay elder,
author of Are You Running with Me, Jesus?
To see some of the images: www.jesusinlove.org/art-that-dares.php.
Four Stylish Queer Memoirs
The Grand Surprise: The Journals of Leo Lerman, edited by
Stephen Pascal, Alfred A. Knopf, $37.50, 9781400044399.
For more than fifty years, Leo Lerman collected notable boldface
names the way some people collect colorful butterflies. Edward
Albee, Woody Allen, W. H. Auden, Maria Callas, Truman Capote, Noel
Coward...Tina Turner, John Updike, Carl Van Vechten, Tennessee Williams,
Franco Zeffirelli: he wrote about these celebrities, and hundreds
more, for Vogue, Vanity Fair, Mademoiselle,
or Harper's Bazaar. He befriended everyone who was anyone,
and they came to his weekly salons and regular parties, first in
the one-bedroom walk-up and then in the more expansive apartment
he shared for decades with his lover, artist Gray Foy. After Lerman's
death in 1994, long-time assistant Pascal discovered hundreds of
notebooks squirreled away in desk drawers and stored boxes. Together
with dozens of letters and scraps of a memoir never finished, he
has shaped Lerman's gossipy late-night jottings and astute morning-after
reflections into a Forrest Gump box of irresistible anecdotal bonbons
about New York's cultural demimonde, Lerman’s gay circle of friends,
and his years as Conde Nast editorial director, when epochs of glitter
and glam revolved around him.
The Worlds of Lincoln
Kirstein, by Martin Duberman, Alfred A. Knopf, $37.50,
Not so many decades ago, a long-overdue biography of a complex
figure like dance impresario and ballet visionary Lincoln Kirstein
might well have glossed over how very homosexual he really was.
not the case with this impressive - even gripping - exercise in
cultural reclamation. Though Kirstein was married for more than
fifty years, he started sleeping with his peers at Harvard in
the 1920s, and well into his sixties was surrounding himself with
pretty young men. Duberman digs deeply, and compassionately, into
his subject's queer core, illuminating how Kirstein's sexuality
- he was "no slouch at sexual slumming" - shaped his impact on
American arts, from the New York City Ballet to Lincoln Center.
Dance fans will delight in Duberman's astute, unsparing critical
summation of his bitchy, brilliant subject's relationship with
dance choreographer George Balanchine - though even the most enthusiastic
dance devotee might be overwhelmed by some of the minutiae the
author includes. And anyone interested in Manhattan's gay demimonde
will have great fun connecting the homosexual dots.
Brian Howard: Portrait of a Failure, by Marie-Jaqueline
Lancaster, Green Candy Press, $15, 9781931160506.
As this "portrait of a failure" makes clear, the man Evelyn Waugh
once described as "mad, bad, and dangerous to know" well deserved
his lack of a literary reputation. Surviving mainly off money
doled out by his mother,
he lived for years as a stylish vagabond, camping out in the homes
of friends across Europe. He yearned for a man to share his days
with, but two long romances were fraught with trauma. When he
got around to it, he penned some of the most dazzling literary
criticism in British letters. But this life story - first published
in 1968, written by a friend who met him in the 1940s - makes
clear why he was dubbed one of Britain's Bright Young People.
More a pastiche than a formal biography, the rich portrait includes
snippets of his reviews, excerpts from his letters, and remembrances
by dozens of friends and contemporaries who both adored his style
and deplored his substance. He was flamboyantly queer decades
before gay liberation, as this delectable remembrance attests.
More on the flamboyant failure:
Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins, by Rupert Everett, Warner
Books, $25.99, 9780446579636.
Such a charming bitchy queen, this Rupert fellow, who's on a first-name
basis with everybody from Warren and Sharon (Beatty and Stone)
to Sean and Julia (Penn and Roberts), and dishes them all with
brash but usually affectionate brio in this hyperkinetic showbiz
tell-all. He knows a couple of one-name wonders too, most particularly
Madonna; he met the superstar he affectionately refers to as Madge
back before she traveled with a retinue, and gleefully shares
the highs and lows of their tempestuous friendship. Anecdotes
about the making of their disastrous movie, The Next Best Thing,
include the time an aged John Schlesinger fell asleep while directing
a scene. Everett, a teenage hustler before he became an actor,
has no shortage of tales to tell about the men he romanced (or
at least had sex with). He's had women, too, including Bob Geldof's
one-time wife Paula Yates, a relationship embellished by his description
of the Live Aid impresario's rather majestic endowment, seen but
apparently not touched. Such juicy revelations pop up regularly
in this vastly entertaining and amusingly preening autobiography.
Author info, excerpts:
Three Accessible Academics
Writing Desire: Sixty Years of Gay Autobiography, by Bertram
J. Cohler. University of Wisconsin Press, $24.95 paper, 9780299222048.
The queer writing genre that's become almost as ubiquitous as erotica
anthologies or lesbian mysteries is the homosexual
memoir. No surprise then that there's now a sometimes stuffy but
generally engaging analysis of ten autobiographies chronicling gay
lives across five decades. Cohler distills the high points of each
writer's experience, then neatly knits their stories together to
craft an insightful study of how queer lives - and their place in
society - have evolved. For the record (and every one of their books
ought to be read in full): Martin Duberman and Alan Helms are the
writers assessed who were born in the 30s; Andrew Tobias and Arnie
Kantrowitz, in the 40s; Tim Miller and Mark Doty, in the 50s; Marc
Adams and Daniel Mendelsohn, in the 60s; and, representing the 70s
and the 80s, Kirk Read and a blogger - not the author of a book
- who calls himself BrYaN. Through Cohler's erudite assessment of
their lives, the personal really is political.
You're a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School,
by C. J. Pascoe. University of California Press, 240 pages, $19.95
For eighteen months, Pascoe prowled the halls of "River High,"
a racially diverse working-class high school somewhere in California.
With the permission of school officials, she listened in on conversations,
sat in on classes, scouted out tomboys and cheerleaders, went
events and dance rehearsals, and interviewed macho athletes and
the school's few "out" gay boys. The result of her ethnographic
fieldwork is an incisive assessment of teenage masculinity, gender
conformity, and sexual confusion - and a revealing examination
of the rampant but not surprising homophobic teasing to which
gay students (or indeed anyone considered uncool) are subjected.
Pascoe considers why hormonal schoolboys use "fag" as an all-purpose
epithet, and through her interviews learns how the real fags -
and the dykes and transgender students, too - cope with such pervasive
homophobia. Her analysis is academic but accessible; the book
is most lively when she quotes students at length. Transcriptions
of their boasts, their fears, their triumphs, and their desires
- cocky straights and cowed gays alike - illuminate the intricacy
of surviving adolescence in a hostile environment.
Pascoe blogs about her book:
Proust in Love, by William C. Carter, Yale University Press,
For the big picture on Proust, there's no better book than Carter's
own recent biography, Marcel Proust: A Life. But for the
homosexual skinny, he's now written about Proust in love - or,
more to the point, and with just a couple of exceptions, about
Proust in an ongoing condition of unrequited lust for straight
men and unsatisfying liaisons with chauffeurs, tradesmen, and
others from the servant class. Carter doesn't claim definitively
that the conflicted author of In Search of Lost Time was
exclusively gay in his romantic longings, sexual proclivities,
and suffocating love. But this highbrow-gossipy biography leans
strongly that way: the author's sense is that Proust, who lived
in fear of public exposure as a queer - he even fought a duel
to defend his honor - used flirtation with beautiful women to
deflect suspicion. It helps to have read In Search to catch
all of Carter's scholarly allusions, but there's enough historical
dish here to both titillate and educate the "I've-been-meaning-to-get-to-it"
Two Celebrations of Poetry
The Album That Changed My Life, by Jeffery Conway, Cold
Calm Press, $14.95, 9780978650100.
The title poem in this hybrid collection of accessible poetry and
prose - a paean to the New Wave music that liberated a queer boy's
soul - is a delightful distillation of Conway's concerns: it's sexy,
melancholy, witty, nostalgic, and intimate. Poems in the first section
boys and their tattoos, the poverty of poets, time spent on Fire
Island, and memories of HIV and death; those in the closing section
offer intimate autobiographical glimpses. Between them is "Starstruck,"
a twenty-page prose remembrance of dozens of Conway's encounters,
mostly as a bartender and a cater-waiter, with a galaxy of celebrities.
He snatches Lauren Bacall's snot-soaked and lipstick-stained tissue
for a souvenir, cruises a "hunky" but unrecognized Alec Baldwin,
purloins a pair of Gregory Hines's underwear when he's changing
into his caterer clothes, and swipes extra shrimp for his poetry
professor - Allen Ginsberg - when Ginsberg shows up at a party Conway
is working. The vignettes are a pithy pleasure, mini-essays with
the same casual depth as the poems that bookend them.
Read an excerpt:
Anthology of Canada's Gay Male Poets, edited by John
Barton and Billeh Nickerson. Arsenal Pulp Press, $21.95 paper,
It's probably safe to say that, of the fifty-seven queer poets
collected in this authoritative anthology, the names of fewer
than a dozen will be recognized by any but the most fervent poetry
readers beyond Canada's borders. Among
those who might be known: the late Edward A. Lacey, published
by and a translator for Gay Sunshine Press, and Brion Gysin, a
Beat compatriot of William Burroughs; and the still-living Ian
Young, a pioneer of Canada's gay publishing scene; bill bissett,
whose experimental style has foreign followers; and George Stanley,
who was born American and consorted poetically in San Francisco
with the likes of Robert Duncan and Jack Spicer before moving
to Canada in 1971. Younger writers with a body of recognizable
work include erotic and literary fiction author Andy Quan; playwright,
performer, and novelist Sky Gilbert; filmmaker Ian Iqbal Rashid;
and David Watmough, author of eleven semi-autobiographical novels.
As for the rest? They may be unknown outside Canada, but their
presence in this volume provides solid proof that the country
has a substantial queer poetic canon all its own.
Read an excerpt (pdf):
One Offbeat Antho About Fags & Hags
Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys: True Tales of Love, Lust, and Friendship
Between Straight Women and Gay Men, edited by Melissa de la Cruz
and Tom Dolby, Dutton Books, $24.95, 9780525950172.
The fact of "fag hags" is a hoary homosexual cliché with a vaunted
history, even though the term itself may have fallen into a grumpy
"politically incorrect" disfavor. But smart editing
by Dolby and de la Cruz, a fag and a hag respectively for more than
a decade, and good writing both by ladies with gay friends and by
gays with lady friends, nicely trump correctness and cliché. Some
essays merely skim the topic of gal-gay friendships: Gigi Levangie
Grazer (wife of movie producer Brian) writes about a fey waiter
she didn't really know well but misses since his death, and Dolby's
own candid entry is about a woman psychic who doesn't seem to have
had any particular affinity for homos. Others, such as the contribution
from Barneys New York creative director Simon Doonan, are old school
giggly about the phenomenon. But most of the contributors - equitably
including thirteen women and fifteen men - write with engaging depth
and much humor about the instinctive, emotional, and sometimes sexual
bonds between straight women and gay men.
Author info: www.tomdolby.com.
Author info: www.melissa-delacruz.com.
Books To Watch Out For: New Titles Spring, Fall, & Winter
Sometimes I quote publisher catalogue copy, sometimes I quote a review I've written
for another outlet, sometimes I "quote" from someone else's review;
and if I've read a book and can heartily recommend it, I've given
the title from one (*) to five (*****) stars.
Like Son, by Felicia Luna Lemus, $14.95, 9781933354217
(now out): New York, 1990s Los Angeles, and 1940s Mexico City,
Like Son is the not-so-simple story of a father, a son,
and the love-blindness shared between them. Meet Frank Cruz: a
post-punk, sardonic, thirty-year-old who unwittingly inherits
his dead father's legacy. Born a bouncing baby girl named Francisca
to parents tangled in a doomed love affair, Frank grows up in
both the poorest barrios and poshest hills of Southern California.
A defiant loner, Frank leaves home at the age of eighteen for
the big city, but instead is sucked back into helping his estranged
and blind father navigate an untimely death.
Publisher info: www.akashicbooks.com.
Arsenal Pulp Press
***The View from Here: Conversations with
Gay and Lesbian Filmmakers, by Matthew Hays, $22.95 paperback,
Filmmakers profiled include: John Waters (Pink
Flamingos; Hairspray), Pedro Almodovar (Volver; Bad Education),
Gus Van Sant (My Own Private Idaho; Good Will Hunting), John Cameron
Mitchell (Hedwig & the Angry Inch; Shortbus), Don Roos (The
Opposite of Sex; Happy Endings), Randal Kleiser (Grease), Don Mancini
(the Chucky films), Kenneth Anger, Gregg Araki, Lea Pool, Wakefield Poole,
Monika Treut, Rosa von Praunheim, and Canadian filmmakers such as John Greyson,
Bruce LaBruce, Robert Lepage, Patricia Rozema, David Secter, Lynne Fernie,
and Aerlyn Weissman.
Comin' At Ya: The Homoerotic
3-D Photographs of Denny Denfield by David L. Chapman and Thomas
Waugh, $27.95, 9781551522258
(Oct.): "An amazing collection of full-color,
sexually explicit 3-D photographs of men taken in the early 1950s by Denny
Denfield, an amateur physique photographer in California who worked as an
accountant for the U.S. Army. Denfield's photographs, never distributed publicly
given their illegality at the time, display a skill, wit, and daring rarely
Flights of Angels: My Life with the Angels of Light, by
Adrian Brooks, $24.95, 9781551522319 (Oct.): "The Angels of
Light were more than a seminal performance troupe in the 1970s;
growing out of
the equally legendary Cockettes in San Francisco, the Angels were
a way of life, putting on trashy, fantastical fairy tales come
to life in a city and an era that was in the blissful throes of
early gay liberation. Brooks was a pivotal member, author of many
shows, and appeared in almost all of the productions from late
1974 to 1980. Featuring more than fifty full-color photographs
by Daniel Nicoletta, a freelance photographer who worked in Harvey
Milk's camera store in San Francisco in the 1970s, Flights
of Angels is a remarkable, elegiac ode to queer life and culture
The Dictionary of Homophobia: A
Global History of Gay & Lesbian Experience, edited
by Louis-Georges Tin, translated by Marek Redburn, $39.95 paperback,
9781551522296 (Nov.): "Based on the work of seventy researchers
in fifteen countries, The Dictionary of Homophobia is a
mammoth, encyclopedic book that documents the history of homosexuality,
and various cultural responses to it, in all regions of the world:
a masterful, engaged, and wholly relevant study that traces the
political and social emancipation of a culture."
First Person Queer: Who We Are (So Far), edited by Richard
Labonté & Lawrence Schimel, $17.95, 9781551522272 (Nov.):
"In this amazing, wide-ranging anthology of non-fiction essays,
write intimate and honest first-person accounts of queer (gay/lesbian/bisexual/trans)
experience: from coming out to "passing" as straight, to the devastation
of meth addiction, to growing old to living proud. These are the
stories of contemporary queer life - and by definition, are funny,
sad, hopeful, and truthful. Representing a diversity of genders,
ages, races, and orientations, and edited by two acclaimed writers
and anthologists (who between them have written or edited almost
100 books), First Person Queer depicts the diversity, the
complexity, and the excitement of contemporary GLBTQ life." Well,
yeah, I've read it - I co-edited it - but giving this book stars
would be presumptuous...
*****The Carnivorous Lamb, by Augustin Gomez-Arcos, $16.95,
9781551522302 (Dec.): The Little Sisters Classic series brings
great gay (and lesbian) books back into print for a new generation
of readers. When this 1970s Spanish-set (but written in French)
classic appeared in English translation in 1984, it was a quick
word-of-mouth bestseller; it's a wickedly satirical allegory narrated
by a thirteen-year-old boy growing up gay under the oppressive
1950s regime of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco.
Publisher info: www.arsenalpulp.com.
***I Must Confess: Celebrity Tells All, by Rupert
Smith, $14.95, 9781573442893 (Sept.): Marc
LeJeune has had a remarkable career in the entertainment business.
Despite the carping of critics, cruel twists of fate, and the
treachery of former friends who were blind to his exceptional
dramatic and musical talents, he has remained true to his unique
artistic vision. From his early days as the face of Swinging London,
to the late 1960s avant garde theater scene, through the sexually
liberated cinema of the 1970s, to his current status as a much-loved
household name and TV favorite, he comes out and tells all in
this, his own astonishing story - a stinging satire of tell-all
showbiz memoirs starring a self-deluded gay icon, reprinted from
the 1998 British edition.
Best Lesbian Bondage Erotica,
edited by Tristan Taormino, $14.95, 9781573442879 (Sept.): It's (k)not
hard to guess what this collection is all about...
Healing Sex: A Mind-Body Approach to Healing
Sexual Trauma, by Staci Hines, $25.95 paper, 9781573442930 (Oct.):
The first encouraging, sex-positive guide for all women survivors of sexual
assault - heterosexual, bisexual, lesbian, coupled, and single - who want
to reclaim their sex lives.
Another Love, by Erzsebet Galgoczi,
$14.95, 9781573442985 (Oct.): Lieutenant Marosi of the Hungarian border
patrol has found the body of Eva Szalánczky, an old school friend whom he
has secretly been in love with for many years. Eva was a lesbian, an outspoken
critic of the communist regime, and a journalist whose stories were too hot
to publish in the dangerous 1950s. Determined to find out the truth about
her death, Marosi requests leave and heads for Budapest. As Marosi pieces
together Eva's life, Another Love becomes more than a mystery about
one woman, but a courageous, compassionate attempt to understand the political
mystery of post-War Eastern Europe.
Where the Boys Are: Urban Gay
Erotica, edited by Richard Labonté, $14.95, 9781573442909
(Oct.): Earlier this year, Cleis published another anthology
I assembled, Country Boys; this one is a sort-of sequel,
stories about what happens when out queer meets the big city.
Contributors are: Rachel Kramer Bussell, Kemble Scott, Sam J.
Miller, Jameson Currier, Lee Houck, Erastes, Jeff Mann, Douglas
A. Martin, Alana Noel Voth, Simon Sheppard, Alpha Martial, Dale
Chase, Zeke Mangold, and Ted Cornwell.
Opening Up: Creating and Sustaining Open
Relationships, by Tristan Taormino, $16.95, 9781573441954 (Nov.):
Monogamy is not the only option for creating loving, lasting relationships.
Many people prefer relationships that include some form of polyamory, but
lack practical information on making non-monogamy work in the real world.
Woven throughout the book are interviews with real people in polyamorous relationships
who candidly share their struggles, fears, hopes, and successes.
Best Lesbian Erotica 2008, edited
by Tristan Taormino, $14.95, 9781573443005 (Nov.): The series continues.
Best Gay Erotica 2008, edited
by Richard Labonté, selected and introduced by Emanuel Xavier, $14.95, 9781573443012
(Nov.): The series continues.
Best Gay Romance 2008, edited
by, um, Richard Labonté, $14.95, 9781573443043 (Dec.): The softer side
Publisher info: www.cleispress.com.
Bottle Rocket Hearts, by Zoe Whitall, $19.95
paperback, 9781897151068 (now out): Welcome to Montreal in
the months before the 1995 referendum. Riot
Grrl gets bought out and mass marketed as the Spice Girls, and
gays are gaining some legitimacy, but the queers are rioting against
assimilation, cocktail AIDS drugs are starting to work, and the
city walls on either side of the Main are spray-painted with the
words YES or NO; revolution seems possible when you're eighteen,
like Eve, pining to get out of her parent's house and find a girl
who wants to kiss her back. She meets Della - mysterious, defiantly
non-monogamous, an avid separatist, and ten years older. Answering
an ad for a roommate at the gay bookstore, Eve meets a new family
of friends - Seven, homo-core sweetheart who defies all clichés,
and Rachael, type-A activist and motivated poet.
Other Men’s Sons, by Michael Rowe, $18 paperback, 9781897151013
Profiles of the coming-out story of Playgirl magazine's
30th anniversary centerfold, Scott Merritt; Philip Ing, creative director
of the legendary MAC Cosmetics AIDS fundraiser, Fashion Cares; interviews
with diverse trailblazers, from openly gay horror superstar Clive Barker,
to firebrand minister and gay rights activist the Reverend Brent Hawkes; personal
essays that cover a range of subjects including the power of erotica, the
beauty of men, the real reason for gay marriage, and the importance of the
chosen family; the collection concludes with a powerful autobiographical essay,
"My Life as a Girl," a meditation on the author's unique childhood.
And Beauty Answers: The Life of Frances Loring and Florence Wyle,
by Elspeth Cameron, $36.95, 9781897151136 (Sept.): All but
forgotten, Frances Loring and Florence Wyle were major forces
in establishing Canadian sculpture and the style of Canadian national
monuments. They met in 1906 at the Chicago Art Institute, where
Florence was a teacher and Frances a student. Immediately forming
a connection that would endure the rest of their lives, they moved
together in 1910 to a studio in bohemian Greenwich Village, before
relocating to the more conservative city of Toronto. Cameron reexamines
their careers, from early days struggling to be recognized in
a man’s profession, to final days in separate rooms of a nursing
home. Whatever the full extent of their relationship, the "Girls"
continue to be defined as much by the bond they shared as by the
works they created.
Green Candy Press
***Sex by the Book: Gay Men's Tales of Lit & Lust,
edited by Kevin
Bentley, $15, 9781931160520 (Sept.): "Bars and chat rooms?
Forget it. Colleges, libraries, and bookstores are the real hotbeds
of hooking up. Many men find their first affirmation of gay sexuality
on an obscure shelf at the campus library, so it's only natural
that they return to bookish spots for further research. The original
memoirs and stories in Sex by the Book treat books and
sex as two equally vital, interlocking obsessions." Includes a
short essay by me. Even so, the three stars are deserved.
Hard Boys, by Harry Bush,
$35 paperback, 9781931160544 (Nov.):
Harry Bush's drawings for magazines
such as Physique Pictorial, Mr. Sun, Touch, Drummer,
and Stroke combined masterful technique, exceptionally well-endowed
subjects, and a wicked sense of humor that made his work extremely popular.
Despite long periods of self-imposed retirement and a fear of being outed
that led him to destroy much of his own work, the reclusive artist's drawings
were as recognized and recognizable as those of Tom of Finland throughout
the 1960s and 1970s. Hard Boys examines the life and work of this brilliant,
mysterious, and paradoxical gay artist.
Publisher info: www.greencandypress.com.
Secret Edge, by Robin Reardon, $15, 9780758219275 (now
out): Reading catalogue copy between the lines suggests that
this is a woman-authored YA coming-out queer novel, about a 16-year-old
high school runner and his crushes on the boys among whom he lopes
- a loner until his crush on a boy named Raj blossoms into something
more. A delightful read, adding new charm to a familiar genre.
-*Naked: The Life and
Pornography of Michael Lucas, by Corey Taylor, $15,
9780758217509 (now out): Must the bad acting in porn films
be mimicked by bad writing about porn stars (and in this case,
a producer and director)? Veering wildly between panting sycophancy
and surprisingly bitter bits, this is an autobiography only a
true devotee of video erotica could find at all meritorious. (That's
minus one star, by the way.)
**Fingerprints and Facelifts: An
L.A. Dolls Mystery, by Rick Copp, $23, 9780758209627
(now out): "Full of retro-fab fun, this smokin' first in a
new series from Copp (The Actor's Guide to Greed) introduces
the L.A. Dolls, three gutsy (and still very hot) retired female
PIs. For seven years in the '80s, the Dolls made Charlie's Angels
look like mere pussycats," exulted Publishers Weekly. Disbelief
must occasionally be suspended, but this is indeed much fun, with
gay guys backing up the exploits of the motherly gals reunited
when it seems their children are in harm’s way.
**Every Dark Desire, by Fiona
Zedde, $14, 9780758217387 (now out): Two stars for sizzling: "Brutal.
Unrelenting. Lusty. Savage. This isn't a book for the queasy reader. Zedde
takes the standard fare of vampirism - sucking blood, superhuman strength,
eternal life, shunning the sun - and intensifies it multifold," I wrote in
a syndicated review.
***Full Circle, by Michael Thomas
Ford, $15, 9780758210586 (Aug.):
Now in paper; from my PW review
of the hardcover: "The characters' many brushes with homosexual history -
Harvey Milk trolling for votes in gay bars, the debut of Armistead Maupin's
Tales of the City as a daily newspaper column, the unfurling of the
first Rainbow Flag, the sexual energy of early ACT UP meetings - will resonate
with gay readers, and serve as a mini-history lesson for any straight readers
who might come across..." this sensual book.
***Lois Lenz, Lesbian Secretary,
by Monica Nolan, $14, 9780758214225 (Aug.): A coup for this screwball
comic novel: it was named Entertainment Weekly’s pick of the week in
early August. In a recent review, I wrote: "The 1950s. Virginal young women.
Small-town values. Repressed deviant desires. Big-city temptations. No, it's
not lurid new fiction from lesbian pulp pioneers like Ann Bannon or Paula
Christian - though Nolan's campy novel is an exhilarating homage to their
lusty novels of yore."
***Changing Tides, by
Michael Thomas Ford, $24, 9780758210593 (Sept.): Ben Ransome
is a repressed Marine biologist who knows a lot about sea slugs
- but not much about people, including the angry daughter dumped
on him one summer, or about bereft Steinbeck scholar Hudson James,
come to Monterey to research the possibility that John Steinbeck
and his best buddy, marine researcher Doc Ricketts, were lovers.
Ford weaves literary and scientific fact through queer fiction
to craft a warm, imaginative romance.
*****First Person Plural, by
Andrew W.M. Beierle, $15, 9780758219701 (Sept.):
"One twin, Porter, is
an athletic extrovert and straight. The other, Owen, is an intellectual introvert
and gay," I wrote in a recent review. "They are as emotionally different as
brothers can be - and, for better and often worse, inseparable from birth.
That's because they're conjoined - born with two distinct (and eventually
incredibly handsome) heads atop one shared (and eventually eye-fetchingly
well-built) body.... From start to finish, this is a wholly original and wildly
imaginative achievement, a unique exploration of the profound intricacies
of human anatomy, and human love." One of the best reads of my year so far.
****When You Don't See Me, by Timothy James Beck, $15, 9780758216861
(Oct.): This one is fresh in my mind: I read it yesterday,
as I write these "forthcoming" notes. Here's what
emailed to one of the four co-authors about the novel, which is
set in post-9/11 New York, and is about a nineteen-year-old fag
striking out on his own: "I sat in a quiet, small-town park today,
beside a chortling, clean river, with birds swooping around me,
and read a galley of When You Don't See Me, [which is]
set in a bustling and grimy and chastened NYC. It took me out
of my world and into its world quite nicely. Transported me, you
might say. Very much enjoyed the experience. The book wasn't as
peppy or frothy (both positive adjectives!) as previous "Becks,"
and I enjoyed that difference too. And the cover. Very pick-me-up-and-read-me-sexy,
which is useful."
***When the Stars Come Out,
by Rob Byrnes, $15, 9780758213242 (Nov.): Paper edition of a "sly charmer"
about closeted politicians, the price paid by those who come out, and how
not easy it can be to fall, and stay, in love.
Frat Boy Wants It, by Todd Gregory, $15, 9780758217196
(Dec.): "At eighteen, Jeff Morgan is the quintessential all-American
boy - blond, blue-eyed, and a star jock at his small Kansas high
school. Enrolling at California State University-Polk, Jeff plans
to become a writer. He also hopes that the macho nature of fraternity
life will help him get over his lifelong attraction to other men.
The reality couldn't be more different... pseudonymous erotic
fiction from an author whose sizzling mysteries are set in New
Right Side of the Wrong Bed, by
Frederick Smith, $15, 9780758219268 (Dec.): Kenny is a black
man who's made it: he's got a great house, and a great job, and
a great car (a silver BMW), and a great lover - until his hunky
firefighter partner steps out on him after seven years, with a
woman. Enter bar right: Jeremy Lopez, twenty-one, baggy jeans
and plenty of bling, a club kid who won't take no for an answer.
Fresh urban romance from the author of last year's Down for
Suspect Thought Press
The little press that grew: its imprints now include She Devil Press,
Three Roads Press, Reverse Rapture Books, and Suspect Tots Books... some publication
dates are approximate.
The Forgotten Ones, by Douglas Ferguson, $16.95,
978976341161 (Apr.): Calling
all gods! The Great God Convention is on once more - this time
there's word of a second coming. But nobody wants Jesus or his
gal pal Mary Magdalene around. Watch the old gang assemble in
Vancouver and see the cosmic sparks fly… Those invited include
the African Orishas, the Norse Aesir, the Faerie Folk, the Greek
Pantheon, and the Native-American Animal Elders (after all, Vancouver
is in their neck of the woods). Those not invited (but planning
to crash the party): Lucifer and his gang of angels, the CEO and
Board of Patriarchy, Inc. Why? Jesus and Mary are indeed preparing
for the Second Coming. But this time, they're going to get it
right. (Reverse Rapture)
Wetting the Appetite: The Collected Erotic Fiction of Blake C. Aarens,
9780977158249 (Apr.): "...explores the inner and outer reaches
of sexuality from within the fertile imagination of an African
American woman who survived horrific childhood sexual abuse to
reclaim both her own desire and the desire she witnesses all around
her... a literate sexual smorgasbord, with something for everyone
between its pages. Anonymous straight sex bumps up against the
first encounter between two men who will invariably become lovers,
while dykes on bikes give way to a graphic fantasy of star fucking.
The Rapture for Big Sinners: 66+6 Things to Do Before and
After the Righteous Lift Off, scribbled and
doodled by Ian Philips, 9780978902322 (May): Philips has impish
fun with the belief by Biblical literalists that when Jesus comes
back to life among us, the faithful will be transported to Heaven,
leaving all of us sinners behind to die horrid deaths...or leaving
a nicer world for the rest of us; Philips tells us "where the
Righteous are most concentrated so you can be sure to cash in
on free housing"; dissects the Left Behind series of novels, and
explores the Book of Revelations. (Reverse Rapture Books)
For Lack of a Better Word, by Thea Hillman, $16.95, 9780977158201
(June): Memoir is redefined in a series of diary-like prose entries probing
sex, gender, family, and community. (Suspect Thoughts)
Dying for a Change, by Sean Reynolds, $16.95, 9780978902315
(July): Dead drag queen, hot Chicago summer, pre-Stonewall 1965…all the
elements for a mad-romp lesbian murder mystery featuring Henrietta Wild Cherry.
Invert(e): flagrantly queer culture, politics,
sex, and dish #1, edited by Greg Wharton & Ian
Philips, $12.95, 9780978902339 (Aug.): Conversations among
filmmakers, artists, authors, and activists, opinionated essays,
assorted cutting-edge artwork, poetry, and memoir, all focused
queerly on popular culture, politics, and sex. (Suspect Thoughts)
Corridors of Nostalgia: Poetry, by Cheryl Clarke, $12.95,
9780978902308 (Sept.): Clarke's first volume of poetry since 1993, "with
her characteristic deprecating and self-deprecating vigor... drives the reader
over the landscape of remembrances and losses: from the loss of pubic hair
("bald woman") to the loss of life in the World Trade Center disaster
in New York City on September 11, 2001 ("Urban Epitaphs"). (Suspect
TransForming Community, edited by Michelle
Tea, $16.95, 9780978902346 (Oct.): First-person narratives articulating
how the queer community has been transformed by the emergence of transsexual
and transgender visibility and empowerment. (Suspect Thoughts)
10,000 Dresses, story by Marcus Ewert, illustrations by
Rex Ray, $14.95, 9780978902384 (Nov.): For beginning readers, a 32-page
picture book about Bailey, a transgendered young girl who every night dreams
about magical dresses crafted from crystals, flowers, and windows through
which to glimpse the world. (Suspect Tots)
Men With Their Hands, by
Raymond Luczak, $16.95, 9780978902360 (Dec.): The winner
of Project QueerLit’s 2006 debut fiction contest tells the story
of a gay deaf man's life from 1975 to 2002 as he navigates the
challenge of being a minority within a minority before finding
love with an older deaf gay man with stories to tell of time,
and men, passed. (Suspect Thoughts)
Publisher info: www.suspectthoughts.com.
University of Pittsburgh Press
Morgana, by Reginald Shepherd, $14, 9780822959519 (now
out): "...mingles personal experience, history, mythology,
politics, and natural science to explore the relationships of
conception and perception, the self finding its way through a
physical and social world not of its own making, but changing
the world by its presence."
After the Fall: Poems Old and New, by Edward Field, $14,
9780822959809 (Oct.): "After the Fall refers to the twin towers,
and is gay poet Field's ode to the events that transpired thereafter - the
war in Iraq and the attack on civil rights in America - as well as his own
personal struggles over the indignities of aging."
University of Wisconsin Press
the Lawn on Fire, by Mack Friedman, $17.95, 9780299213442
(Sept.): The paper edition of Friedman's mesmerizing debut
novel about a young man's coming-of-age through childhood, adolescence,
and young manhood as a fishery worker, an artist, and a hustler.
Won the Publishing Triangle's Edmund White award for debut fiction;
Friedman "has discovered the magic link between libido and humanity,"
says Bruce Benderson.
Bandit: A Walk Across Corsica, by Brian Bouldrey, $26.95,
9780299223205 (Oct.): "Part travelogue, part memoir, and part
lampoon…an impressionistic view…of a stunningly beautiful landscape"
from the editor of Best American Gay Fiction and author
of the novel The Boom Economy: Bouldrey and a friend spent
two weeks walking across the island, and this is his infectiously
& Isolation and Other Essays, by Bruce Benderson,
$24.95, 9780299223144 (Nov.): Eccentric street people, Latin
American literary geniuses, a tranny performer, subcultures rarely
explored and the rise of the Internet: the first American collection
of essays by the prize-winning author of The Romanian: Story
of an Obsession.
Coming next edition: the many, many books of Haworth Press' several imprints,
what's coming from Alyson Books, and a few other publishers...
Signing in Bars, a Book Club's Demise, Up with Bi's
"Barnes & Noble wouldn't
take him. Borders wouldn't take him. But DJ's Bar and Grill, which proclaims
itself Colorado Springs' 'best, fun gay bar,' welcomed Mike Jones for a book
signing Sunday afternoon," according to a newspaper account of an appearance
by the muscular masseur who brought down fundamentalist preacher Ted Haggard,
who was based in Colorado Springs. The town"s one independent bookstore, Poor
Richard"s Bookstore, also declined to host an event for the book, I Had
to Say Something: The Art of Ted Haggard's Fall. "Jones said he views
the refusals as evidence local stores are controlled by religious groups,"
according to the news story. "Under the neon glow of Coors Light and Blue
Moon beer signs, Jones’ presence drew a small, low-key crowd":
Stephen Fraser likes three gay books for August, in a roundup for AfterElton:
comic Bob Smith's comic novel with a romantic twist, Selfish and Perverse;
Michael Thomas Ford's "assured" and frankly sexual new novel, Changing
Tides, and Gwen Cooper's Diary of a South Beach Party Girl, a novel
about a self-confessed fag hag's party-hard burnout:
Canadian radio broadcaster Bill Richardson cries over Maupin's Tales of
the City coda, Michael Tolliver Lives; cavils that it really, really,
really isn't "gay literature" and ought not be slurred as such; and hints
that there's a book eight in the series after all, even if Armistead was denying
pre-publication that this book was a sequel to the six-volumes Tales:
Craig Young assesses the demise of InsightOut Book Club for AfterElton, with
Ed Hermance, founder of Giovanni's Room in Philadelphia, chiming in that the
dead book club was bad for gay bookstore business, and good riddance:
Zack Rosen found the queer spirit fiction anthology Charmed Lives: Gay
Spirit and Storytelling kind of "schmaltzy... Gone are the oversexed party-boys,
traded instead for a portrait of the gay man as a hippy-dippy victim of fate":
Heather Cassell quite likes The Bisexual's
Guide to the Universe: Quips, Tips, and Lists for Those Who Go Both Ways,
by Nicole Kristal and Mike Szymanski, from Alyson Books. "A user-friendly
guide, the Bisexual's Guide to the Universe takes a joy ride fully
equipped into the bi community. Kristal and Szymanski use their keen, politically
incorrect senses of humor to slice and dice what it means to be bi in a straight
and gay world, bringing everyone gay, straight, queer, and questioning along
for the adventure. Packed with un-Cosmo-like quizzes, celebrity quotes
about their bi ways, and lists such as 'You're probably bisexual if,' star
bi's, and bi wannabes, it's a wild, side-splitting ride through the bisexual
world, which happens to be straight and queer, but definitely not narrow":
Sarah Schulman is interviewed about her new play,
an adaptation of the Isaac Bashevis Singer novel, Enemies, A
Love Story, and has this to say about the depiction of queers
in her art:
"I've been frustrated because a lot of what
I've written about AIDS or gay and lesbian characters has been very hard
to get produced. In a way, I'm using this play as code. I began to realize
that when you have a group of people who are despised, like gay people, or
Jewish people, or black people, and then they have an extraordinary trauma
on top of the usual trauma, the way the dominant culture can deal with representing
it is to make them noble, pure, clean, and innocent. So the fact that something
bad happens to them is really sad. In that way, you end up with these desexualized
gay male characters who are not angry and not in any political movement, and
are abandoned and then you feel empathy for them. These types of stories are
based on a Christian paradigm that suffering makes you better. But actually,
suffering makes you worse. People who were victimized were real people before
their victimization. They were complex, some of them were nasty or did bad
things. They were filled with contradictions."
Clifford Chase's fabulous novel Winkie
has been out for a while now, but it's worth highlighting again; Bookslut
Doug Ireland chides Brian Whitaker, author of
Unspeakable Love: Gay and Lesbian Life in the Middle East (University
of California Press) for failing to mention queer Arab writers - though he
likes the book's political scrutiny.
"But the burgeoning fictional lesbian and gay
literature written in French by Mediterranean Arab writers from former French
colonies - who cannot publish in their own countries in Arabic - gets only
a sentence. The talented Moroccan Rachid O, whose novels have won critical
acclaim, is mentioned but not discussed; and not even mentioned at all are
such interesting writers on gay themes as Algerian Aniss A., Egyptian Sonallah
Ibrahim, Moroccans Kasim Nasseri and Bahaa Trebelsi, or Tunisian Eyet-Chékib
YA for the Siouxsie & the Banshees Crowd
Vintage: A Ghost Story, by Steve Berman, Southern Tier Editions,
Review by Tom Cardamone
I am unsure what constitutes a YA novel these days; I've seen reviews
and articles pointing towards some very adult themes, more so than
what was available in my now very extinct adolescence. So I decided
not to care and simply picked up Steve Berman's Vintage: A Ghost
Story and began reading it on the train like any other book.
was immediately thrilled that it was set in New Jersey. By that
I mean delighted to go somewhere other then New York or San Francisco.
Yes, we all escape to the big city and come out, but for those who
can't or don't or won't, books like this, no matter how spectral
the subject matter, are just that much more real. And a boy getting
kicked out of his house for being gay, dropping out of school and
meeting a cold specter who just happens to be hot is, well, hot.
Vintage is a quick read and a relatively short book, but
enough characters are introduced and in an appropriate context to
move the story naturally (or I should say supernaturally) along,
which also added an air of unexpected mystery. Possible unsolved
murders have given rise to two of the ghosts that haunt this book,
and the main character's ability to see these ghosts complicates
his need to connect to a real living person. I finished this very
well-written book with the realization that as a youth I never cared
or noticed if I were reading a book geared specifically towards
kids or adults. I only knew if the story satisfied my hunger for
all things dark and unknown. I was that kind of kid. And Vintage
is the kind of book I was looking for and not finding. If you've
been gobbling up the latest Siouxsie and the Banshees reissues then
you know what I'm talking about and should probably read this one.
Maybe even by candlelight.
Something BTWOF Likes from the Lambda Literary Foundation...
Celebrate your favorite Literary Pioneers all year long with a new calendar,
for just $20!
The LGBT Literary Pioneer Calendar will be available in November 2007
and will feature: Ann Bannon, Betty Berzon, Samuel R. Delany, Martin Duberman,
Leslie Feinberg, Barbara Gittings, Andrew Holleran, Audre Lorde, Paul Monette,
Joan Nestle, John Rechy, and Edmund White. This will be the perfect holiday
gift for the LGBT reader in your life, so place your order early! One calendar
for $20, three for $50, or six for only $100!
Four ways to order: Phone: 212.239.6575; fax: 212.239.6576; mail: Lambda Literary
Foundation, P.O. Box 1957, Old Chelsea Station, New York, NY 10113; online:
...and from Gay Liberation Pioneer Allen Young
Young co-edited, with Karla Jay, some of the
earliest and most inspirational gay and lesbian anthologies of the post-Stonewall
years, including Out of the Closets: Voices of Gay Liberation, After
You're Out, and Lavender Culture. Now he's dabbling in film, after
a career in rural newspaper journalism:
Dear Friend of Butterworth Farm,
I recently produced a nine-minute video about Butterworth Farm, which had
its "premiere"at a Rural GLBT Film Festival in Brattleboro, VT.
I collaborated with John Scagliotti and Dave Hall on this project, and am
continuing to work with them to further their gay-oriented video communications
You can see my film now (as "streaming video") on their website,
I hope you enjoy viewing it, and I welcome your comments.
Some of you will find yourselves in this film, and others of you will not;
please understand this is just a very short film and the Butterworth Farm
extended family is large.
This short film will be combined with other shorts on rural gay life and
a DVD will be produced (for sale) sometime later this year… When you look
at the website, you will also see that this is part of an ambitious program
to support gay video production, one that is free of censorship.
Some of you may wish to do as I have done and join as a founding member of
GoGayDVD to get this exciting new media concept for the LGBT community off
the ground. At www.gogaydvd.com,
a video rental plan (similar to Netflix)
is available for a monthly rate as low as $4.99.
The DVD rental business is a way in which members can enjoy movies while
their support helps fund and eventually contribute ideas to this new original
media concept that is being created via streaming and DVD compilations. John
Scagliotti and Dave Hall are basically trying to create a new vehicle for
uncensored media for the gay community - something that Netflix, Blockbuster,
or PBS do not do. You can spend some time on the website and contact John
and Dave if you have any questions.
Thanks, and best wishes,
Bestsellers From Our Bookstores
A Different Light Online, week of July 30
1. Country Boys: Wild Gay Erotica, edited by Richard Labonté, Cleis
2. Brendan Wolf, by Brian Malloy, St. Martin's Press
3. Business Affairs, by Menatplay, Bruno Gmunder
4. Dad's Bedtime Tales: Volume 7, by Handjobs, Avenue Services
5. Deep Sex, by Tom Bianchi, Bruno Gmunder
6. Strings Attached, by Nick Nolan, Little Eden Press
7. Tangled Sheets: Tales of Erotica, by Michael Thomas Ford, Kensington
8. Treasure Trail: Erotic Tales of Pirates and the High Seas, edited
by Jack Hart, Alyson Books
9. Twisted Tales from the Tank, by Steve Geary, Nazca Plains
10. The Bishop of Grunewald: A Tale from the Dungeon, by Jardonn Smith,
Either A Different Light (at least online) is
more honest about what really sells, or online buyers like the smutty
stuff, artistic and otherwise. The only two novels on its bestseller list
(which changes weekly) are Malloy's noirish second novel, after A
Year of Ice, and Nolan's accomplished self-published book (reviewed favorably
in the last edition of
Malloy's book feels out of place on
a list that includes, in addition to Strings Attached (a coming out
story with benefits), two hardcore S/M titles, two thematic erotica anthologies,
one author's erotic short stories, a book of daddy-son cartoons, and two pricy
photobooks. It's like one of those "what object does not belong in this picture"
"Who is Brendan Wolf? It all depends on who
* To the staff of a Minneapolis nursing home,
he's the devoted partner of a much older man who's recently suffered a debilitating
* To the women of a conservative, Christian pro-life
organization, he's the tireless volunteer grieving over the recent loss of
his wife and their unborn child;
* To one gay activist, he's the unaffectedly
charming, yet directionless and unemployed man that he's fallen hopelessly
in love with;
* To his brother and his brother's wife, he's
the lynchpin of a scam that will net them enough money to start their lives
over somewhere new;
* To the general public, he's an armed and dangerous
And the book really is that much fun!
For info: www.adlbooks.com.
Two Writers Writing about Writers on Writing
Gosh, Richard, what a great issue to come back to. I really appreciate
what you've done re: the self-published works. Not just giving them sincere
critiques as well as investing your time, but I like the ratings idea. Self-published
books do need standards - if only to give pleasure to those of us who still
love printed books and the whole experience of holding an attractive book.
I also appreciated the coverage given to the rapidly diminishing/changing
landscape of publishers. While it doesn't make me feel any better knowing
that writers everywhere are feeling the pinch and the shift, it does give
me courage to know that my daily dose of career-depression is not so isolated.
At age forty-seven, after twenty years of writing GLBT erotica professionally,
and pretty near the top of my game, I watched most of my market (by way of
PGW/Perseus) and a good chunk of my career disappear practically in an afternoon.
I don't *ever* feel good when I know others are feeling bad, but it does give
me a less self-involved perspective. It's all about perseverance, finding
the strength to just keep going, to keep writing. For me, it's easier to persevere
when I know for a fact that others are persevering, as well, and managing
to keep their careers together.
- Marilyn Jaye Lewis, www.marilynjayelewis.com.
After reading Alexander Chee's Writer's Party Survival Guide, I was reminded
of something I said at such a party years ago, a performance, I must admit,
I have repeated numerous times:
Him, smugly after introduction: "You're a writer?"
Him: "Do you make a living as a writer?"
Me: "Oh, absolutely. Last year, I made (come up with a fictional
answer that will knock the socks off him) $252,000 writing. How much money
did you make?"
Usually at that point they are either so impressed with you that they hang
around like flies, or they leave in disgust because "real people"
are never asked either how much money they make, or if they make a living
at what they do. No one would ever ask doctors, lawyers, or accountants if
they make a living doctoring, lawyering, or accounting. However, a huge number
of such people never practice any of these things. They make a living the
hard way: clipping coupons, fleecing tenants, or waiting for rich relatives
to die. It is part of the infantilization of artists in America that you are
judged solely by success - and kept in this childish state until you make
enough money and fame for them either to choke on it, or fear approaching
you. This attitude does not prevail in most other civilized countries. So,
take heart, Alexander, you are under no real obligation to impress them, only
knock them off their ignorant feet.
- Perry Brass,