Queer reading list, fall 2008
by Gregg Shapiro
Look at the calendar. It's that time of year again. The days are getting shorter, the temperatures are getting chillier, and you're probably thinking of ways to make good use of all that time you'll be spending indoors. Here are some books of LGBT interest being published this fall.
LGBT nonfiction It's been another banner year for LGBT titles, and the choices for the fall season are abundant. This is especially true when it comes to nonfiction works. Subtitled An Oral History, Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South (University of North Carolina Press, $35) by E. Patrick Johnson, Professor and Chair, Department of Performance Studies at Northwestern University, gives "voice to a population rarely acknowledged in Southern history," via a series of fascinating interviews. Matt Rothschild's memoir Dumbfounded (Crown, $23.95) bears the telling subtitle Big Money. Big Hair. Big Problems. Or Why Having It All Isn't for Sissies. The award-winning Two Lives: Gertrude and Alice (Yale University Press, $13) by Janet Malcolm, about Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, is newly available in a paperback edition. In Are You Guys Brothers? (Author House, $16.95), Brian McNaught writes about his longtime relationship (30 years) with spouse Ray. Feminist and bi writer Jennifer Baumgardner puts human (and in some cases, familiar) faces on a complex issue in Abortion & Life (Akashic, $16.95). Martin Duberman has written more than a dozen nonfiction books, including Cures: A Gay Man's Odyssey, Stonewall and The Worlds of Lincoln Kirstein. Duberman, who is also a playwright, has four of his plays, In White America, Posing Naked, Mother Earth and Visions of Kerouac, compiled under one cover in Radical Act: Collected Political Plays (New Press, $18.95).
LGBT fiction One of the most promising fiction debuts of the year can be found in The Screwed-Up Life of Charlie the Second (Kensington, 2008, $15) by gay writer Drew Ferguson. Ferguson has crafted a contemporary coming-of-age that is heartbreaking and humorous. Lammy-winner Shawn Stewart Ruff makes his debut with the novel Finlater (Quote Editions, $15.50), also a coming-age-story. Several gay fiction-writers are returning to print this season. Mattilda Sycamore Bernstein is back with the novel So Many Ways to Sleep Badly (City Lights, $15.95). For those who enjoyed Father's Day, the first novel by Philip Galanes, his second work of fiction is Emma's Table (Harper, $23.95). Bart Yates has returned with The Distance Between Us (Kensington, 2008, $24). Acclaimed novelist Larry Duplechan makes one of the boldest comebacks of the year with Got til it's Gone (Arsenal Pulp Press, $17.95), his first novel in 15 years (!). Men Without Bliss (University of Oklahoma Press, $24.95) is a collection of short stories by Rigoberto Gonzalez.
LGBT presence In ever-increasing numbers, LGBT writers and characters are figuring prominently in mainstream writing. "It Is Romance," from th
LGBT visuals For those more visually inclined, there a few options. Dale Lazarov of sexually graphic comic series Sticky renown has teamed up with illustrator Amy Colburn for Manly (Bruno Gmunder, 2008). Even without dialogue on the pages, the homo-erotically-charged illustrations for the three segments - one involving a cop, another about boxers and the third featuring a "hot librarian" - do all the talking. Cross-dressing American glam-rock legends the New York Dolls are celebrated in the shocking-pink-covered photobook New York Dolls: Photographs by Bob Gruen (Abrams Image, 2008). Although there is no photograph of gay jazz legend Billy Strayhorn, there is a quote about music that is attributed to him in the picture book Three Wishes: An Intimate Look at Jazz Greats (Abrams Image, 2008), which features photos of Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Betty Carter, Marian McPartland and others.
Other nonfiction titles In keeping with the music theme, there is The Indie Band Survival Guide: The Complete Manual for the Do-It-Yourself Musician (St. Martin's Griffin, $14.95). Singer and groundbreaking actress Diahann Carroll, who counts Michael Feinstein and Bob Mackie among her friends, tells her story in The Legs Are the Last to Go: Aging, Acting, Marrying & Other Things I Learned Along the Way (Amistad, $24.95). At the other end of the spectrum, Laurie Lindeen, who was in the all-female rock band Zuzu's Petals, has written the rockin' memoir Petal Pusher: A Rock and Roll Cinderella Story (Atria, $24). Fittingly enough, the book Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us) (Knopf, $24.95) by Tom Vanderbilt is also available in an audio-book edition perfect for listening to while stuck in, you guessed it, traffic.