Words to live by
A reading list for spring 2011
by Gregg Shapiro
Novel approaches In her riveting debut novel The Fates Will Find Their Way (Harper Collins, $22.99), Hannah Pittard tips her hat to Jeffery Eugenides' The Virgin Suicides and Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones, and adds an unexpected queer twist. River Marked (Ace Books, 2011, $26.95), the latest installment in fantasy novelist Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson series, features the character Warren, a gay werewolf.
Maize and her gay best friend Robbie are the main characters in The Intimates (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $24), the first novel by Ralph Sassone, an exploration of friendship. Lesbian novelist and AWP Award-winner Goldie Goldbloom makes her debut with The Paperbark Shoe (Picador, $15), set in 1940s Australia.
Due out in May, Chris Adrian's latest novel, The Great Night (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26) retells Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, transporting it to Buena Vista Park in 2008 San Francisco. Another queer fiction debut, Hidden (Kensington Books, $15) by Tomas Mournian, delves into the realm of underground safe houses harboring teen escapees from residential treatment centers. A Single Year by Chicago transplant Dawn Mueller (Create Space, $15.99) promises "explicit sex, raw emotions" and "hysterical lesbians."
So queer Written "in the tradition" of Howard Zinn's beloved A People's History of the United States is Queer America: A People's GLBT History of the United States (The New Press, $17.95) by Vicki L. Eaklor, featuring essays on the Stonewall Riots, same-sex marriage, LGBT rights, AIDS and much more. Queer (In)Justice: The Criminalization of LGBT People in the United States (Beacon, $27.95), by Joey L. Mogul, Andrea J. Ritchie and Kay Whitlock, draws on years of research to examine the "ways in which queer lives are criminalized, policed and punished."
Leo Bersani and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick are among the writers represented in After Sex?: On Writing Since Queer Theory (Duke University Press, $23.95), edited by Janet Halley and Andrew Parker. Simon Levay, of the Gay Brain fame, returns with Gay, Straight, and the Reason Why: The Science of Sexual Orientation (Oxford University Press, $27.95).
Memoir bank Gay historian Martin Duberman's new book is the dual biography A Saving Remnant: The Radical Lives of Barbara Deming and David McReynolds (The New Press, $27.95). Now in paperback, unconventional memoir The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentlemen Farmers (HarperCollins, $14.99) by Josh Kilmer-Purcell is the literary companion to the Planet Green TV series The Fabulous Beekman Boys .
The Jack Bank: A Memoir of a South African Childhood (St. Martin's Press, $24.99) by Glen Retief explores what it was like for a gay, privileged white boy to grow up in a pitiless society in the late 1980s. Politicians Tammy Baldwin and Barney Frank, musician Stephin Merritt, writer/cartoonist Alison Bechdel, poets Mark Doty and Joan Larkin, actor George Takei and comedian Kate Clinton are among the LGBTQ people interviewed by Philip Gambone in his book Travels in a Gay Nation: Portraits of LGBTQ Americans (University of Wisconsin Press, $26.95).
Singer/songwriter Rodney Crowell, who produced a recent disc by out musicians Chely Wright and Susan Werner (making him an honorary member of the LGBT community), follows the lead of ex-wife Rosanne Cash with his memoir Chinaberry Sidewalks (Knopf, $24.95).
Poetic license What better way to observe National Poetry Month in April than to get lost in the pages of The Best of It: New and Selected Poems (Grove Press, $24) by out poet Kay Ryan, who was the United States Poet Laureate, 2008-10?
If you prefer to have your poetry read to you, there's Words for You: The Greatest Poems. The Finest Voices. Glorious Music. (Mighty Village/Universal), a 22-track CD featuring the works of queer poets Langston Hughes, Oscar Wilde and Walt Whitman, alongside Shakespeare, Dickinson, Poe and Longfellow, read by Helena Bonham Carter, Terence Stamp, Meryl Streep, Garrison Keillor and others.
Kids Lit Dream Big Little Pig! (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, $16.99), by Olympic figure-skating champion Kristi Yamaguchi and illustrations by Tim Bowers, features "pot-bellied, waddling, toddling" pig Poppy and a "follow your dreams" message to which readers of all ages will be able to relate.
Writer, activist and single, gay father of two adopted children, Brian J. Tessier has written a pair of books for young readers, The Wildest Dream and The Poet and the Painter: A Living Love Story (Xlibris), both illustrated by Donna Estabrooks. Somewhat older readers will find all sorts of useful information in the revised, updated second edition of GLBTQ: The Survival Guide for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Teens (Free Spirit, $15.99) by Kelly Huegel.