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Friday, May 12, 2017

Pride Reading List 2017

Written by  Gregg Shapiro
Barth David Schwartz Barth David Schwartz credit: Jerry W. Hibbitts

Among the things that separates LGBTQ folks from our straight brothers and sisters is our love of literature. Many of us have been avid readers since we were young, when we sought and found comfort from the problems of the outside world in the pages of books. The following are new books by LGBTQ writers out just in time for Pride month and summer reading.

Poetry

Among the more than 70 poems in The Screwdriver’s Apprentice (Blue Light Press / First World Publishing, 2017) by poet, playwright, fiction writer, and educator Edmund Miller, author of the renowned The Go-Go Boy Sonnets, you will find “In The Porno Theater,” “The Beauty of a Male Model Fades,” and “Learning from Lap Dancers,” among others.

Manila-based poet and novelist R. Zamora Linmark returns with the new poetry collection Pop Vérité (Hanging Loose Press, 2017), aptly named for its poems featuring poets (James Schuyler is a favorite) and other writers, dead divas (such as Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston and Donna Summer), film references (see “Abecedarian for John Waters”) and other pop culture and literary figures.

Things are lost (weight, memories, causes) and found (a drag queen, and birds, lots of birds) in award-winning lesbian poet Cheryl Dumensil’s lustrous poems in Showtime at the Ministry of Lost Causes (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2016).

Fiction

How to Survive a Summer (Blue Rider Press, 2017), the debut novel by writer and educator Nick White, follows graduate student Will as he confronts the time he spent at ex-gay Camp Levi in his youth with the person he is today.

In black and white, and read from left to write, openly gay Japanese artist Gengoroh Tagame’s graphic novel My Brother’s Husband (Pantheon, 2017) lovingly depicts what happens when burly gay Canadian Mike arrives in Tokyo at the home of Yaicihi, his late husband’s straight identical twin brother’s house, meeting him and his daughter Kana for the first time.

Dustin and Gauge, the main characters in Craig Moody’s debut novel The ’49 Indian (Vivid Imagery, 2017) meet in South Florida in the summer of 1983 and following a series “dramatic and disturbing” events head to California’s Pacific Coast on the back of the restored titular vehicle.

Proof that gay men can write in a wide variety of literary genres, Wade Rouse, writing under his pseudonym Viola Shipman, presents The Hope Chest (Thomas Dunne Books / St. Martin’s Press, 2017), the second in his series of “heirloom novels.”

The 14 short stories in The Dahlia Field (Chelsea Station Editions, 2017) by novelist Henry Alley were written (and some published in anthologies and literary journals) over the course of the past two decades.

Y/A fiction

Honestly Ben (Arthur A. Levine Books / Scholastic, 2017) by award-winning gay novelist Bill Konigsberg is the eagerly awaited sequel to his 2013 novel Openly Straight in which we were first introduced to Ben and Rafe, now exes, but who are still very important to each other.

A summer in Vancouver sounds like fun, but for anxiety-ridden teen Maeve, the main character of 10 Things I Can See From Here (Knopf, 2017) by Carrie Mac, it’s anything but. That is until she meets carefree local girl Salix and embarks on a “bumbling courtship.”

For The Lotterys Plus One (Arthur A. Levine Books / Scholastic, 2017) her first Y/A novel, Emma Donoghue, author of Room (for which she also wrote the screenplay adaptation for the Oscar-winning movie), tells a multi-cultural family story about two same-gender couples and their ever-expanding brood all living under one roof, with illustrations by Caroline Hadilaksono.

Memoirs

Like Maureen Seaton’s Sex Talks to Girls, James Allen Hall’s exquisite and devastating personal essay collection I Liked You Better Before I Knew You So Well (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2017) is the kind of memoir that could only have been written by a gay poet.

Notes on a Banana: A Memoir of Food, Love, and Manic Depression (Dey Street, 2017) is the eagerly anticipated memoir by gay writer David Leite, founder of the James Beard Award-winning Leite’s Culinaria website. Nicknamed Banana by his mother, Leite writes of his 1960s childhood in Fall River, Massachusetts, his struggle with bipolar disorder and how cooking saved his life.

With praise from lesbian memoirist Julie Marie Wade and gay poet Neil De La Flor, The Sunshine Chronicles (Jitney Books, 2017) is queer writer Jan Becker’s “social media book,” a memoir consisting of Facebook posts in reverse chronological order, from October 2016 through January 2014.

“An outcast gay Mormon travels from his Washington, D.C., home to Antarctica – by bus,” might sound like the setup for a joke, complete with punchline, but Andrew Evans’ travel memoir The Black Penguin (University of Wisconsin Press, 2017) is anything but, as the author takes us on his personal journey, which also includes stops in Ohio and Utah.

Creative types

Originally published in 1992, Pasolini Requiem (University of Chicago Press, 2017) by Barth David Schwartz, about the late gay filmmaker and poet Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922-75), whose brutal murder cut short one of the most creative lives imaginable, has been updated and includes a new afterword in its eagerly anticipated second edition.

As the title says, The Secret Life of the American Musical: How Broadway Shows Are Built (Sarah Crichton Books, 2017) by Jack Viertel, the senior vice president of Jujamcyn Theaters (so he knows what he’s talking about!), is essentially the anatomy of how to craft a musical, broken down song by song, and so on.

With Kings & Queens in Their Castles (Damiani, 2017), photographer Tom Atwood expands on the concept of his 2005 book Kings in Their Castles: Photographs of Queer Men at Home, revisiting previous subjects (John Waters, Simon Doonan, Tommy Tune and the late Edward Albee), and goes on to include several lesbians (Fun Home author Alison Bechdel, Houston Mayor Annise Parker, singer Mirah Zeitlyn, film producer Christine Vachon and actresses Meredith Baxter and Heather Mattarazzo), and many new familiar faces, such as Rufus Wainwright, Don Lemon, Alan Cumming, George Takei, Ari Shapiro, Leslie Jordan, Michael Urie, Barney Frank and Anthony Rapp, as well as a number of other people.

Based on a series of almost 50 lectures given by gay Beat legend Allen Ginsberg from a course he taught at the Naropa Institute and Brooklyn College, The Best Minds of My Generation: A Literary History of the Beats (Grove Press, 2017), edited by Beat historian Bill Morgan, with an introduction by poet Anne Waldman, is a compilation sure to please followers of the Beat Generation’s Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, and others.

Money, Murder, and Dominick Dunne: A Life in Several Acts (University of Wisconsin Press, 2017) by theater critic and writer Robert Hofler is a biography of the bisexual “celebrity crime reporter, novelist and notorious raconteur.”

The writing and impact of gay classical scholar and poet A. E. Housman (1859-1936) is the focus of Peter Parker’s Housman Country: Into the Heart of England (Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2017), which also includes the complete text of Housman’s landmark work A Shropshire Lad.

Relevant AIDS writing

Chronicling his life and experiences with PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis), via pharmaceuticals such as Truvada, in The PrEP Diaries (Lethe Press, 2017), gay writer Evan J. Peterson offers his distinctive and informative firsthand perspective.

Lesbian feminist journalist and AIDS activist Anne-christine d’Adesky’s The Pox Lover: An Activist’s Decade in New York and Paris (University of Wisconsin Press, 2017) is her riveting personal history of “the turbulent 1990s,” via her involvement in ACT UP and the Lesbian Avengers. t

Baltimore resident Bart Schwartz is doing a reading on May 18th at the Ivy Bookstore in Towson. Andrew Evans is doing a reading at Busboys and Poets in Washington, D.C., on May 22nd.

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