Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 7 / 15 February 2018

Fall bookshelf browsing


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Gay poet Richard Blanco became a household name when he was selected as the fifth inaugural poet, reading his poem "One Today" at President Obama's second inauguration in 2013. In his Miami-set memoir The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood (Ecco), Blanco employs lyrical prose to tell his own story.

Hillary Clinton: In Her Own Words (Seal), edited by Lisa Rogak, contains more than 300 quotations from the former Secretary of State, New York Senator and First Lady, and possible 2016 Presidential candidate, on a vast array of topics, including "Gay Rights and Marriage," "How People Perceive Her," "America's Role in the World," "Her Daughter" "Gun Control," "Women's Rights," "Her Personality" and "The Kind of President She'd Be."

Tom Maxwell, one of the vocalists and songwriters for popular Swing Movement revivalists Squirrel Nut Zippers, is the author of Hell: My Life in the Squirrel Nut Zippers (Oyster Point), which purports to "tell the other side of the story," in which a fascinating cast of characters played their part in Maxwell's musical and personal life.

The posthumously published Glow: The Autobiography of Rick James (Atria), by the late Rick James with David Ritz, hits shelves 10 years after James' passing. The man remembered for songs "Superfreak," "You and I," and "Give It to Me Baby," and for his purported last words ("I'm Rick James, bitch"), has his say.

Poetry reading list The expanded 50th anniversary edition of Lunch Poems (City Lights) by Frank O'Hara is a glorious tribute to the book, as well as to the genius of the poet himself. Poet John Ashbery wrote the preface, and publisher/poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti writes about the anniversary edition. If you haven't read this essential volume of poetry, including the amazing poem "Ave Maria," you don't know what you're missing.

Sam Taylor, a poet known for the "ecological engagement" in his work, and for his ability to summon Whitman, O'Hara and Ginsberg, is the author of the new poetry collection Nude Descending an Empire (University of Pittsburgh Press), containing the poems "America: An Autobiography," "Testimony" and "Walt."

Described as "a look at the constitutional history of corporate personhood in the United States," poet Jena Osman's Corporate Relations (Burning Deck) combines the personal and the political.

Sexy stuff A massive tome with lined pages for readers' notes, Male Sex Work and Society (Harrington Park Press), edited by Victor Minichiello and John Scott, features essays "Male Sex Work from Ancient Times to the Near Present," "Representation of Male Sex Work in Film," "Advertising Male Sexual Services" and "Clients of Male Sex Workers."

With contributions by Jeff Mann, Rob Rosen, Simon Sheppard, the anthology's editor Shane Allison, and more than a dozen other writers, Men on the Make: True Gay Sex Confessions (Cleis) compiles titillating and true hook-up tails, uh, tales.

A View from the Bottom: Asian American Masculinity and Sexual Representation (Duke) by Nguyen Tan Hoang examines "portrayals of Asian and Asian American men in Hollywood cinema, European art film, gay porn" and more.

Though written for our hetero brothers and sisters, much of the advice offered in How To Woo a Jew: The Modern Jewish Guide to Dating and Mating (Seal) by JDate columnist Tamar Caspi, with the necessary pronoun adjustments, could apply to same-sex Kosher coupling as well.

Words & pictures Thanks to talented folks such as Alison Bechdel, Art Spiegelman and Marjan Satrapi, the graphic novel has become a staple of our literary diets. Joyce Brabner, widow of Harvey Pekar, has teamed up with illustrator Mark Zingarelli for her "gang of misfits" creation Second Avenue Caper: When Goodfellas, Divas and Dealers Plotted Against the Plague (FSG), a thoughtfully rendered tale of how "thousands of social rejects took amazing care of each other" in the early days of AIDS crisis.

Children's books have a unique way of combining text and images to get stories and messages across to readers of all ages. Gay cabaret artist Craig Pomranz, "inspired by a true-life incident," wrote Made by Raffi (Frances Lincoln), with illustrations by Margaret Chamberlain, to introduce us to "different" little boy Raffi, who prefers knitting to kicking a ball.

Story/Time: The Life of an Idea (Princeton University Press) by Bill T. Jones is the "printed artifact of three Toni Morrison Lectures" given by the gay choreographer at Princeton. A combination of Jones' thoughts, quotations from others, original short stories, and 16 pages of photographs, the book provides insights into the award-winning artist's creative process and genius.

Gay geography lessons Filmmaker, monologist, writer and pop culture icon John Waters extends his thumb and hits the road for his own personal odyssey in Carsick (FSG), in which he hitchhiked from Baltimore to San Francisco, encountering an assortment of drivers willing to stop, pick him up and get him to his next destination. Can't wait for the movie, please let there be a movie!

Edmund White's groundbreaking 1980 non-fiction book States of Desire, which received high praise from Christopher Isherwood, Fran Lebowitz and Andrew Holleran upon its publication, has been reissued in an expanded edition as States of Desire Revisited: Travels in Gay America (University of Wisconsin Press). It includes a new introduction by White.

Anyone who has encountered straight breeders pushing SUV strollers through Chicago's Boystown or NYC's Chelsea neighborhoods will find something to relate to in sociologist Amin Ghaziani's There Goes the Gayborhood? (Princeton).

No biz like showbiz The prolific Lisa Rogak shifts gears in Angry Optimist: The Life and Times of Jon Stewart (Thomas Dunne), her thoughtful biography of  the actor-comedian-director-writer, longtime friend of the LGBT community, and Daily Show mainstay.

The Joseph Stein/Jerry Bock/Sheldon Harnick musical Fiddler on the Roof is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its Broadway debut. In Tradition! The Highly Improbable, Ultimately Triumphant Broadway-to-Hollywood Story of Fiddler on the Roof, the World's Most Beloved Musical (St. Martin's Press), Barbara Isenberg traces the show's evolution from concept to stage to screen and back to stage again.

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