Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 42 / 19 October 2017
 

Winter reading list

Books


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Looking back on 2009, it would be safe to declare it the year of the memoir. Among the numerous memoirs published were a significant number of titles by LGBT writers and of LGBT interest.

Queer memories: Edited by Elizabeth Benedict, Mentors, Muses & Monsters: 30 Writers on the People Who Changed Their Lives (Free Press, $24.99) is a collection of personal essays by 30 of today's brightest writers, including out authors such as Alexander Chee, Michael Cunningham and Edmund White, in which they recall the people who helped shape them into who they are today.

Gay writers Felice Picano and Wayne Hoffman are among the dozen interview subjects in Living Alone Creatively: How Twelve People Do It (iUniverse, $13.95) by Stanley E. Ely.

American Romances: Essays (City Lights, $16.95) by award-winning lesbian writer Rebecca Brown (Gifts of the Body) is an unusual essay collection that paints "a playful new image of American culture."

Alix Dobkin, whom Bob Dylan called his "favorite female singer," is best known for her groundbreaking recordings in the realm of women's music. With My Red Blood; A Memoir of Growing Up Communist, Coming Onto the Greenwich Village Folk Scene, and Coming Out in the Feminist Movement (Alyson, $16.95), we learn that it was another color altogether that led her to release her groundbreaking Lavender Jane Loves Women album in the early 1970s.

Out Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Janis Ian has more in common with Dobkin than being a lesbian and a musician. In the paperback edition of Society's Child: My Autobiography (Tarcher Penguin, $16.95), Ian tells her (and her family's) fascinating story, including how they ended up on an FBI watch list.

Picking up where his last memoir Midlife Queer left off, Waiting to Land: A (Mostly) Political Memoir, 1985-2008 (New Press, $26.95), by Martin Duberman, chronicles his involvement in gay politics, which includes the founding of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies (CLAG) and his role as an original board member of Queers for Economic Justice.

In A Report from Winter: A Memoir (Lethe Press, $18), Wayne Courtois writes of his untimely return home to an ill mother and a particularly harsh Maine winter, leaving him feeling barren until he invites his partner Ralph to stay with the "cold as December" Courtois family.

Mary Cappello's memoir Called Back: My Reply to Cancer, My Return to Life (Alyson, $15.95) has been hailed as an honest, unflinching and new kind of book about facing cancer.

Fifteen years after his death, Modern Nature (U. of Minnesota, $18.95) by the late gay filmmaker Derek Jarman has been reissued in a new edition.

Robert Rodi, a gay writer who established himself during the gay lit boom of the early 1990s with a series of humorous queer novels, returned with a work of nonfiction. Dogged Pursuit: My Year of Competing Dusty, the World's Least Likely Agility Dog (Hudson Street Press, $24.95) retains much of Rodi's trademark humor.

Queer bios: A jarring insight into the life of Patricia Highsmith, author of Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Talented Miss Highsmith: The Secret Life and Serious Art of Patricia Highsmith by Joan Schenkar (St. Martin's Press, $35) is a page-turner. Biographer Schenkar

had full access to Highsmith's love letters, journals and close friends, resulting in new insight into the secretive Highsmith's life and loves.

Born Reginald Dwight, Sir Elton John has sold over 200 million records and won five Grammy Awards in a career that is entering its fifth decade. Elton John: The Bitch is Back (Phoenix Books, $22.95) by Mark Bego is the latest book to tell his story.

The works of important queer artists are given the scholarly treatment in Derek Jarman's Angelic Conversations (U. of Minnesota, $21.95) by Jim Ellis, and Concerning E.M. Forster (Farrar, Straus, Giroux, $24).

Straight stories: With same-sex marriage still one of the prevailing hot-button issues, the last thing LGBT people probably want to read is a book on the subject of a heterosexual marriage. But author Elizabeth Gilbert amassed a sizable following, including several in our community, with her book Eat, Pray, Love. In Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage (Penguin, 2009, $26.95), Gilbert touches on gay marriage, feminism and other topics related to the book's theme.

Gay icon and comedy goddess Kathy Griffin reveals how she clawed her way to the top, sparing few details in Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin (Ballantine, $25).

Casablanca Records co-founder Larry Harris candidly recalls the story of the definitive 1970s record label that was home to such acts as the Village People, Donna Summer, Kiss and George Clinton's Parliament Funkadelic, in And Party Every Day: The Inside Story of Casablanca Records (Backbeat, $24.99) by Harris with Curt Gooch and Jeff Suhs.

In The Adderall Diaries: A Memoir of Moods, Masochism, and Murder (Graywolf Press, 2009, $23), Stephen Elliott interweaves his own personal story and complex relationship with his father with the story of the murder trial of computer programmer Hans Reiser.

Melanie Gideon's The Slippery Year: A Meditation on Happily Ever After (Knopf, $24.95) takes the "Is this all there is?" concept and makes it both personal and universal.

Despite its serious subject matter, the 2009 paperback edition of Cancer Vixen (Pantheon, $16.95), by cartoonist Marisa Acocella Marchetto, is a colorful and witty graphic novel.

Pop culture: The Magnetic Fields, led by out frontman Stephin Merritt, are the centerpiece of Our Noise: The Story of Merge Records (Algonquin, $18.95) by John Cook with Mac McCaughan & Laura Balance. The Fields' revolutionary 1999 triple-disc set 69 Love Songs remains an essential chapter in legendary indie record label Merge's history.

Harvey Fierstein and Barry Diller are among the queer dramatis personae represented in The Simpsons: An Uncensored Unauthorized History (Faber and Faber, $27) by John Ortved, with a foreword by Douglas Coupland. It's described as "the first ever behind-the-scenes look" at the perennial pop-culture powerhouse.






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