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Friday, May 27, 2016

Pride and Summer 2016 Reading

Written by  Gregg Shapiro
Kevin Mumford Kevin Mumford

Books for beach & bungalow

Poetic license – Now in its second printing, a remarkable achievement for a book of poetry, Night Sky With Exit Wounds (Copper Canyon Press, 2016), the full-length debut collection by lauded gay poet Ocean Vuong, is not only deserving of all the praise it has already received (including a Whiting Award), but much of the acclaim that is sure to follow in its wake.

Award-winning lesbian writer and educator Julie Marie Wade seamlessly merges the poetry and memoir realms of her work in Catechism: A Love Story (Noctuary Press, 2016), resulting in a dazzling collection of poetic essays about loving others and learning to love oneself.

Poetry by Jeff Mann, Trebor Healey, Alan Martinez, Mark Ward, Daniel Allen Cox, Jonathan Lay, Miles Griffis, Stephen Mead, and a collaboration by Elizabeth J. Colen and Carol Guess, are among the selections found in Not Just Another Pretty Face (Beautiful Dreamer Press, 2016), edited by Louis Flint Ceci.

Fictional forays – Taking place in the 24 hours in and around the time that Rasa, “a gay man living in an unnamed Arab country,” is outed by his grandmother, putting his life, his boyfriend Taymour’s life and the lives of others in jeopardy, Saleem Haddad’s debut novel Guapa (Other Press, 2016), is a welcome introduction to a new literary voice.

The late Jackie Collins often included gay characters in her beach-read novels, including Dante, the gay brother of Lucky Santangelo. The “ever-powerful” Lucky is the main focus of Collins’s final novel The Santangelos (St. Martin’s Press, 2016).

19th century literary heroine George Eliot (born Marian Evans), who wrote novels such as Middlemarch and The Mill On the Floss, under a male pseudonym in order for her work to be taken seriously, is the subject of The Honeymoon (Other Press, 2016) by Dinitia Smith, about the author’s brief, late-in-life marriage to the considerably younger John Walter Cross.

Arriving in time for the 2016 political season, The Pink Bus (Lethe Press, 2016) by journalist and critic Christopher Kelly, takes us on a journey through Texas Senate candidate Patrick Francis Monaghan’s life, following an assassination attempt during a campaign stop.

Y/A? OK! – The Great American Whatever (Simon & Schuster), the third Y/A novel by gay writer Tim Federle, described as a “winning testament to the power of old movies and new memories,” introduces us to 16-year-old Quinn who, in the midst of mourning the death of his sister just might be falling in love.

David Levithan, no stranger to collaboration (see Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, for example), teams up with Nina LaCour for the novel You Know Me Well (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2016), a “friends at first sight” story told in alternating chapters about Mark and Kate.

Born of Y/A author Kody Keplinger’s “love of female friendship,” her fifth novel Run (Scholastic Press), features bi Bo and sheltered Agnes, who go on the run and encounter a series of life-changing experiences that only deepens their unlikely friendship.

Set about 100 years into the future, The Chronicles of Spartak: Rising Son (Jubilation Media, 2016) by “soldier, teacher, journalist, state legislator, literary commissioner” Steven A. Coulter, is the first in a series told “through the eyes” of 16-year-old athlete Spartak Jones.

The memoir’s the thing – Baptist pastor’s son Garrard Conley’s Boy Erased: A Memoir (Riverhead Press, 2016) is about his family’s inability to come to terms with his being gay, leading to the writer spending time at the soul-crushing ex-gay Christian ministry formerly known as Love In Action, and how he survived the experience.

Electronic music legend and activist Moby (aka Richard Melville Hall), a longtime friend of the LGBT community who counted out DJs including the late Frankie Knuckles and Danny Tenaglia among his closest associates, tells his story in Porcelain: A Memoir (Penguin Press, 2016).

Co-written by actress Charlotte Stewart with Andy Demsky, Little House in the Hollywood Hills (BearManor Media, 2016), subtitled “A Bad Girl’s Guide to Becoming Miss Beadle, Mary X, and Me,” details Stewart’s 50-year career in movies and on television, including roles in Little House on the Prairie, Eraserhead and Twin Peaks, and her friendships with Joni Mitchell and others.

Long out of print, Blue Days, Black Nights (Lethe Press, 2016), Oscar-nominated screenwriter Ron Nyswaner’s (Philadelphia) brutal memoir of his decline into drugs and sexual obsession has been reissued with an introduction by director Jonathan Demme and an epilogue by Nyswaner.

With the lengthy subtitle, “Writers Reflect on Love, Longing, and the Lasting Power of Their First Celebrity Crush,” co-editors Cathy Alter and David Singleton’s Crush (William Morrow, 2016) features contributions by queer writers such Richard McCann (on Bette Davis), Shane Harris (on Mark Hamill) and Roxane Gay (on Almanzo Wilder) and straight writers including Jodi Picoult (on Donny Osmond), Steven King (on Kim Novak) and James Franco (on River Phoenix).

If having four lesbian moms isn’t inspiration enough for a memoir such as Queerspawn in Love (She Writes Press, 2016), then Kellen Anne Kaiser’s own personal journey, including a stint in the Israeli army and the challenges of maintaining a heterosexual romance certainly qualify as fodder.

A memoir about “raising a gender creative child from toddler to adult,” My Son Wears Heels (Wisconsin, 2016) by Julie Tarney begins with the chapter “How Do You Know I’m a Boy?,” a question she was asked by her then two-year-old son Harry in the early 1990s, and follows the author on her quest for answers.

Necessary non-fiction – Kevin Mumford, a professor of history at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana is the author of Not Straight, Not White (University of North Carolina Press, 2016) , subtitled “Black Gay Men from the March on Washington to the AIDS Crisis.”

In Fair Play (Akashic / Edge of Sports, 2016), Cyd Zeigler, “one of the foremost experts on LGBT issues in sports,” writes about “how sports have transformed for LGBT athletes,” including Michael Sam, Britney Griner, Jason Collins, John Amaechi, Billy Bean, and Fallon Fox.

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