Books unshelved

by Roberto Friedman

Books unshelved

Books tend to pile up on the Arts desk. We read some of them, we give some of them to writers to review, and sadly, pumpkins, some we may never get to at all. Them's just the breaks. But here are some interesting volumes worth calling attention to, with attendant squibs.

"In the City by the Lake" by Taylor Saracen (13RedMedia). A 21-year-old closeted mobster lives in late-1920s/early-30s Chicago. A so-called "Pansy Craze" centers on the gay clubs in so-called Towertown.

"The Night Swimmers" by Peter Rock (Soho). Autobiographical novel re-imagines the author's Wisconsin youth.

"Outrages — Sex, Censorship, and the Criminalization of Love" by Naomi Wolf (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; June). How 19th-century English critic John Addington Symonds wrote about "sexual inversion" influenced our modern understanding of homosexuality. Wolf writes about Symonds' secret memoir, "rightfully understood as one of the first gay rights manifestoes in the West."

"Headcase — LGBTQ Writers and Artists on Mental Health and Awareness" edited by Stephanie Schroeder and Teresa Theophano (Oxford Univ. Press). Personal essays, poems and visual artwork.

"Instructions for a Funeral," stories by David Means (FSG). Fiction originally published in The New Yorker, Harper's, The Paris Review and Vice.

"Gay Sunrise — Writing Gay Liberation in San Francisco 1968-1972" edited by James Mitchell (Ithuriel's Spear). San Francisco-based poets who wrote about gay male sexuality before the gay publishing boom. The title is a nod to publisher Winston Leyland's contemporaneous "Gay Sunshine" press.

"Correspondents" by Tim Murphy (Grove Press; May). Family saga by the Brooklyn-based author of "Christodora" follows the daughter of an Irish-Lebanese clan in Massachusetts.

"The City in the Middle of the Night" by Charlie Jane Anders (Tor). Speculative fiction set on a dying planet other than ours.

"Sugar Run" by Mesha Maren (Algonquin Books). Atmospheric debut novel set in rural West Virginia.

"Daughter of Moloka'i" by Alan Brennert (St. Martin's Press). A reunion follows racist internment at the Manzanar Relocation Camp.

"Ben Hecht — Fighting Words, Moving Pictures" by Adina Hoffman (Yale Univ. Press). Biography of a great American screenwriter ("Scarface," "Notorious"), part of Yale's excellent "Jewish Lives" series.

"Virginia Woolf in Manhattan" by Maggie Gee (Fentum Press). The great feminist novelist comes back to life (and culture shock) in present-day NYC.

"I Used To Be a Miserable F*ck" by John Kim (Harper One). Subtitled "An Everyman's Guide to a Meaningful Life," from the author who self-describes as "Angry Therapist."

"Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl" by Andrea Lawlor (Vintage; April). Gender-bending homage to Woolf's "Orlando," originally published in 2017, gets reprint.

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