So far, it’s been refreshing to President who knows the difference between truth and lies. If you’re the kind of reader who enjoys their prose with a healthy dose of truth, consider these new non-fiction titles to pass the winter days.
Let Me Tell You What I Mean (Knopf, 2021) by celebrated writer Joan Didion opens with a lengthy intro by gay writer Hilton Als, before delighting readers with previously uncollected essays written between 20 and 50 years ago on topics as timely as ever, including college admissions stress, addiction programs, the state of journalism, as well as one on the late gay photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, all in her sharp observational style.
Based on the novel by the late, gay writer James Leo Herlihy, the Oscar-winning 1969 movie Midnight Cowboy was groundbreaking in many ways, not the least of which was its depiction of homosexuality. Shooting Midnight Cowboy: Art, Sex, Loneliness, Liberation, and the Making of a Dark Classic (FSG, 2021) by Glenn Frankel takes a long, hard look at how it came to be and the impact that it had on the culture.
As colorful as its subject matter, and hefty, too, The Queens’ English: The LGBTQIA+ Dictionary of Lingo and Colloquial Phrases (Clarkson Potter, 2021) by Chloe B. Davis has the potential to be an indispensable volume for the alphabet soup of our community, as well as for our legion of supporters and allies.
An American Covenant: A Story of Women, Mysticism and the Making of Modern America (Topple Books/Little a, 2020), the debut book by queer, Brooklyn-based writer Lucile Scott is described as “a history of mystic resistance and liberation,” focusing on five women – Marie Laveau, Cora L. V. Scott, Helena Blavatsky, Zsuzsanna Budapest and Marianne Williamson – “who transcended the expected to transform America.”
Prolific Danish playwright Emma Gad (1852-1921), whose “theatrical productions raised important and still pressing questions about sexuality and morality,” is the subject of Laughter and Civility: The Theater of Emma Gad (University of Wisconsin Press, 2020), which combines biography, history and analysis to remind us of Gad’s value.
Incorporating multiple meanings of the term “hip check,” from the way it’s used in reference to athletes to “the inspection of racialized gender,” The Small Book of Hip Checks: On Queer Gender, Race and Writing (Duke University Press, 2021) by Erica Rand, examines “the workings of queer gender, race, and writing,” via familiar names including tennis legend Serena Williams, ballet dancer Misty Copeland, and figure skater Debi Thomas.
In his memoir The Secret Gospel of Mark (Seven Stories Press, 2021), gay poet Spencer Reece (The Clerk’s Tale) takes readers on his journey through Yale, alcoholism, his retail job at Brooks Brothers, Harvard Divinity School, and Episcopal priesthood, and ultimately how it was poetry that saved his life.
Gregg Shapiro is the author of Fifty Degrees (Seven Kitchens, 2016), selected by Ching-In Chen as co-winner of the Robin Becker Chapbook Prize. Other books by Shapiro include the short story collections How to Whistle (Lethe Press, 2016) and Lincoln Avenue (Squares and Rebels Press, 2014), the chapbook GREGG SHAPIRO: 77 (Souvenir Spoon Press, 2012), and the poetry collection Protection (Gival Press, 2008).
He has work forthcoming in the anthology Reading Queer: Poetry in a Time of Chaos (Anhinga Press, 2018). An entertainment journalist, whose interviews and reviews run in a variety of regional LGBT and mainstream publications and websites, Shapiro lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with his husband Rick and their dog Coco.