Post-Stonewall 50 reading list

  • by Gregg Shapiro
  • Tuesday July 16, 2019
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Post-Stonewall 50 reading list

Stonewall 50 celebrations may have come and gone, but that doesn't mean that there isn't an abundance of good LGBTQ reading to be found to take you through the summer and into the fall. All titles are out now unless otherwise indicated.

Poetry pages: According to gay poet Aaron Smith in "The Book of Daniel" (Univ. of Pittsburgh Press), he needs his Frank O'Hara and Denise Duhamel, among other poets, and he certainly gets them in this 47-poem collection that merges pop culture references and sensibility with his own personal and political struggles for an intoxicating concoction. (Oct.)

Curated by the poet and spoken-word artist herself, "Crossfire: A Litany for Survival" (Haymarket Books) by Staceyann Chin is the first full-length collection by the "out poet and political activist," featuring more than 50 of Chinn's pieces, as well as a foreword by Jacqueline Woodson, and advance praise from Rosanne Cash and Eve Ensler. (Oct.)

The fourth book in gay poet Tommy Pico's Teebs tetralogy, "Feed" (Tin House Books) is an appetizing love letter addressed to the "dear reader" (who's "easy to love but hard to get close to") that employs heart, humor and hunger to spell out its messages involving sex, travel, politics and the dangers of life now. (Nov.)

The 43 poems in "Aviva-No" (Alice James Books) by Israeli writer Shimon Adaf, translated from Hebrew by Yael Segalovitz, mirror the age that Adaf's sister Aviva was when she died. They are a potent reflection of grief and loss, incorporating "Biblical, Talmudic, and Rabbinic intertextualities." (Nov.)

Screen and stage pages: Dustin Lance Black, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of "Milk," turns his pen to his mother and himself in his memoir "Mama's Boy: A Story from Our America" (Knopf), in which he writes about his conservative religious upbringing (Mormon), his relationship with his mother, and how she came around to acceptance after meeting his friends.

"Disasterama!: Adventures in the Queer Underground 1977-1997" (Three Rooms Press) is writer-musician-exotic dancer Alvin Orloff's memoir of life among San Francisco's queer alternative scene during the zenith of the AIDS crisis, following his odyssey from the city's suburbs into the "lavender twilit shadow world of the gay ghetto" and beyond. (Oct.)

Legendary music journalist and NYU professor Vivien Goldman returns with "Revenge of the She-Punks: A Feminist Music History from Poly Styrene to Pussy Riot" (Univ. of Texas Press), which opens with the author's "Womanifesto" and continues with interviews, historical and personal perspectives. Goldman includes a wide swath of queer acts, including Le Tigre, Tribe 8, Sleater-Kinney, and Girl in a Coma.

Featuring essays by queer artists such as Joan Jett, Allison Wolfe and Tara Jane O'Neil, "Frame of Mind: Punk Photos and Essays from Washington, DC, and Beyond, 1997-2017" (Akashic Books) is a cool coffee-table book by Antonia Tricarico, containing pics of The Gossip, The Julie Ruin and many others.

Published to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the beloved 1990s NBC sitcom "Friends," Saul Austerlitz's "Generation Friends: An Inside Look at the Show That Defined a Television Era" (Dutton) is the ultimate peek behind the scenes into the creation and execution of the series that broke new ground with its inclusion of a lesbian wedding and other LGBTQ-related storylines. (Sept.)

Almost Biblical in scope, Jeanine Basinger's encyclopedic "The Movie Musical" (Knopf) has the benefit of being written by someone who "was raised on musicals" and loves them. Basinger describes the book as her effort to relate the story of the genre "from then to now," from the arrival of sound to the most recent version of "A Star Is Born." (Nov.)

Speaking of Bibles and movies, in "Latter-day Screens: Gender, Sexuality, and Mediated Mormonism" (Duke Univ. Press), Brenda R. Weber takes a look at the pervasiveness of Mormons and Mormonism in American popular media, including Sister Wives, Big Love and the Broadway musical "The Book of Mormon," as well as gay filmmaker C. Jay Cox's underappreciated feature-length debut "Latter Days," co-starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt. (Sept.)

Pages for all ages: In "To Night Owl from Dogfish" (Dial/Dutton), Meg Wolitzer teams up with Holly Goldberg Sloan for a Y/A novel told via emails and letters, a correspondence between Avery and Bett, daughters of gay dads who have fallen in love with each other.

Based on a series of Facebook posts from 2013, "St Sukie's Strange Garden of Woodland Creatures" (Rattling Good Yarns Press) by St Sukie de la Croix, with drawings by Roy Alton Wald, compiles and expands on the original text with delirious results.

If you or any of the little ones in your life somehow managed to miss the Stonewall 50 commemorations, you can read all about it in the official Who HQ book "What Was Stonewall?" (Penguin Workshop) by Nico Medina with illustrations by Jake Murray.

Set in 1973, "Ziggy, Stardust and Me" (Putnam), the debut novel by gay actor-filmmaker-activist James Branden, imagines what it was like to be the boy, in this case 16-year-old David Bowie-obsessed Jonathan, who changed the mind of his psychiatrist, Dr. Evelyn in the book, regarding homosexuality's classification as a mental illness.

"Like a Love Story" (Balzer + Bray), a "bighearted and sprawling epic" by Abdi Nazemian, is set in NYC in 1989, and follows teenagers Reza, Judy and Art as they navigate a world in which being gay is tangled up with the specter of AIDS.

The title character of "Zenobia July" (Viking), by Y/A novelist and New Hampshire's first transgender state representative Lisa Bunker, is a transgender tech whiz coming out of her online shell, and finally living openly as a girl who has a chance to confront an online troll. But at what personal cost?

Part of the Ordinary People Change the World series, "I Am Billie Jean King" (Dial Books for Young Readers) by Brad Meltzer, with illustrations by Christopher Eliopoulos, tells the true story of one of the world's best tennis players and LGBTQ activists from childhood to championship. King herself loves the book!