UPDATED: LGBT Pride Month brings with it a whole host of new books, including memoirs by a gay icon, John Waters, and a not-so-gay icon, Christopher Hitchens, who nevertheless candidly explains exactly what went on at night in his all-boys boarding school in Cambridge. Hitchens’s book, Hitch-22, though not as queer-centric as most of these new releases, is notable for the sharp analysis, clarity, and level-headedness that brought its author to prominence.
The last novel by the popular, late E. Lynn Harris is upon us, as is (already) a tribute collection by three of his admirers (Visible Lives). Sandra McDonald‘s debut collection Diana Comet is so inventive that even its synopsis is refreshingly baffling.
In non-fiction, two new books (Balancing on the Mechitza and Queering the Text) take on issues of Jewish transpeople and Jewish texts. Travels in a Gay Nation explores the gay interior of our country, while The Gay State advances the notion of creating a gay country of our own. If the author, Garrett Graham, can get Lady Gaga to serve as Queen of Gaytopia, I’m on board.
1. Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist, and Sexual Renegade
By Justin Spring Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Drawn from the secret, never-before-seen diaries, journals, and sexual records of the novelist, poet, and university professor Samuel M. Steward, The Secret Historian is a sensational reconstruction of one of the more extraordinary hidden lives of the twentieth century. An intimate friend of Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, and Thornton Wilder, Steward maintained a secret sex life from childhood on, and documented these experiences in brilliantly vivid (and often very funny) detail.
2. Blood Strangers: A Memoir
by Katherine A. Briccetti Heyday Books
Fascinated from an early age by the holes in her family tree, Briccetti takes it upon herself to search for her father’s birth parents. As her search begins to reveal more tantalizing clues about the family she never knew, she is forced to confront her own tenuous relationship with her two fathers—the father who gave her up as a little girl and the stepfather she struggles to connect with in her adult years. But when she forms her own family with Pam, her longtime partner, Briccetti learns that families can be made under many different circumstances.
3. The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentlemen Farmers: An Unconventional Memoir
By Josh Kilmer-Purcell Harper Collins
What happens when two New Yorkers (one an ex–drag queen) do the unthinkable: start over, have a herd of kids, and get a little dirty? Find out in this riotous and moving true tale of goats, mud, and a centuries-old mansion in rustic upstate New York—the new memoir by Josh Kilmer-Purcell. A happy series of accidents and a doughnut-laden escape upstate take Josh and his partner, Brent, to the doorstep of the magnificent (and fabulously for sale) Beekman Mansion. One hour and one tour later, they have begun their transformation from uptight urbanites into the two-hundred-year-old-mansion-owning Beekman Boys.
4. I Was Born This Way: A Gay Preacher’s Journey Through Gospel Music, Disco Stardom, and a Ministry in Christ
By Carl Bean with David Ritz Simon & Schuster
“There is a wonderful gospel song entitled, ‘How I Got Over,’ which I believe exemplifies the life of Archbishop Carl Bean.This book is an amazing testimony of one man’s journey to find himself, and in doing so he became one of the heroes of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered movement, as well as being a major crusader for the fight against HIV/AIDS. Carl’s story will make you laugh and cry. He tells of his life with an honesty that will, I’m sure, shock some readers, but you will not be able to put this book down until the end.”
When Terry Galloway was born on Halloween, no one knew that an experimental antibiotic given to her mother had wreaked havoc on her fetal nervous system. After her family moved from Berlin, Germany, to Austin, Texas, hers became a deafening, hallucinatory childhood where everything, including her own body, changed for the worse. But those unwelcome changes awoke in this particular child a dark, defiant humor that fueled her lifelong obsessions with language, duplicity, and performance. What could have been a bitter litany of complaint is instead an unexpectedly hilarious and affecting take on life.
6. Girl In Need of A Tourniquet: A Borderline Personality Memoir
By Merri Lisa Johnson Seal Press
An honest and compelling memoir, Girl in Need of a Tourniquet is Merri Lisa Johnson’s account of her borderline personality disorder and how it has affected her life and relationships. Johnson describes the feeling of “bleeding out” — unable to tell where she stopped and where her partner began. A self-confessed “psycho girlfriend,” she was influenced by many emotional factors from her past. She recalls her path through a dysfunctional, destructive relationship, while recounting the experiences that brought her to her breaking point. In recognizing her struggle with borderline personality disorder, Johnson is ultimately able to seek help, embarking on a soul-searching healing process. It’s a path that is painful, difficult, and at times heart-wrenching, but ultimately makes her more able to love and coexist in healthy relationships.
Over the course of his 60 years, Christopher Hitchens has been a citizen of both the United States and the United Kingdom. He has been both a socialist opposed to the war in Vietnam and a supporter of the U.S. war against Islamic extremism in Iraq. He has been both a foreign correspondent in some of the world’s most dangerous places and a legendary bon vivant with an unquenchable thirst for alcohol and literature. He is a fervent atheist, raised as a Christian, by a mother whose Jewish heritage was not revealed to him until her suicide. In other words, Christopher Hitchens contains multitudes. He sees all sides of an argument. And he believes the personal is political. This is the story of his life, lived large.
8. Visible Lives: Three Stories in Tirbute to E. Lynn Harris
By Terrance Dean, James Earl Hardy, and Stanley Bennett Clay Kensington Books
Bestselling author and literary icon E. Lynn Harris captivated millions of readers with his powerful, groundbreaking stories of black men searching for love in a taboo world. Now three outstanding writers and friends honor the late author with this trio of original novellas in the genre E. Lynn helped create—each accompanied by a special personal tribute remembering the important role he played in their lives. Evoking the hope, romance, and complexity of this gifted writer, this unique collection will serve as a living legacy for fans old and new.
“I had a friend who was a spy.” So begins a story of terrorism and espionage, featuring a brilliant, almost enlightened, but emotionally jaded and politically cynical secret agent, a gay Mati Hari who’d seduced secrets out of Arab rulers and now struggles to prevent the start of the Terrorist Wars. It’s a story with a vast sweep that places spying—and spiritual vision— within the larger history of heresy and homosexuality in Western culture from the Crusades to contemporary Islamic fundamentalists.
Narrator Richard and his partner, Conrad, are a well-adjusted gay couple living in Boston at the end of the American Century in McCauley’s adroit latest. They have an understanding that allows for the occasional infidelity, but when Richard realizes that Conrad’s current fling may be luring him away, he begins to worry. It doesn’t help that Richard is becoming infatuated with his own insignificant other, Benjamin, who leads a double life as a supposedly happily married father of two. Richard’s problems, though, go well beyond his love life, and with a dry, caustic wit and the occasionally weighty social observation, he describes how he’s coping with his own exercise addiction, his suspicious sister, a client at work who may or may not be on the brink of going crazy, a friend who can’t bring himself to tell his wife about his health problems, and his deeply confused feelings about Conrad and Benjamin. But it’s an unlikely alliance with Conrad’s business partner and the slow unraveling of his problems that adds an unexpectedly and refreshingly sentimental dimension to this accomplished comedy.
Before he died last year, Harris wrote this bangup first installment to a projected series about a bisexual owner of a Miami modeling agency. Bentley L. Dean III runs the Picture Perfect modeling agency in South Beach. His father, a homophobic Detroit millionaire, disowned him after he broke off an engagement and had an affair with a male TV sports reporter, and though the agency’s been a success, the recession has taken a big bite out of Bentley’s business. Strapped for cash, he reluctantly agrees to supply gay, bi or very open-minded eye candy for a VIP party hosted by Prosperity Gentleman’s Club, which is run by Emperor Seth Sinclair, a closeted gay celebrity. When Jah, an 18-year-old student Bentley’s been mentoring, covers for a no-show model and begins an affair with Seth, big trouble looms.
The New York Times calls Val McDermid, “As smooth a practitioner of crime fiction as anyone out there…the best we’ve got.” Time spent with her extraordinary thriller, A Darker Domain, will prove that it’s true. Set in Scotland, the milieu of Ian Rankin’s John Rebus, McDermid’s brilliant exploration of loyalty and greed intertwines the past and present. It was chosen as a New York Times Notable Crime Book of the Year and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.
An imaginative, fascinating novel about one of the most enduringly popular and romantic figures of the First World War—the radical, handsome young bisexual poet Rupert Brooke. With great imaginative skill and playfulness, Jill Dawson gives voice to Rupert Brooke in a narrative told from both his point of view and that of her spirited character, Nell. Revealing a man more surprising, complex, and radical than his romanticized image suggests, her novel powerfully conveys the allure of charisma as it captures the mysterious and often perverse workings of the human heart.
14. Diana Comet: And Other Improbable Stories
By Sandra McDonald Lethe Press
A writer of whimsy and passion, Sandra McDonald has collected her most evocative short fiction to offer readers in Diana Comet & Other Improbable Stories. A beautiful adventuress from the ancient city of New Dalli sets off to reclaim her missing lover. What secrets does she hide beneath her silk skirts? A gay cowboy flees the Great War in search of true love and the elusive undead poet Whit Waltman, but at what cost? A talking statue sends an abused boy spinning through a great metropolis, dodging pirates and search for a home. On these quests, you will meet macho firefighters, tiny fairies, collapsible musicians, lady devils and vengeful sea witches. These are stories to stir the heart and imagination.
Although Double Bound features the central characters from the award winning novel Strings Attached, this is now Arthur’s story: his abuse-filled youth, his precarious years as a gay US Marine, then his treacherous journey to Brazil—where he is challenged to heroism, while agonizing between love and duty and his crippling personal demons.
16. Inseparable: Desire Between Women in Literature
By Emma Donoghue Knopf
The past is a wild party; check your preconceptions at the door, warns British literary historian and novelist Donoghue in her comprehensive catalogue of a thousand years of Western literature. In Western culture passion between women is always a big deal, whether presented as glorious or shameful, angelic or monstrous, she claims. These passions are not always, strictly speaking, lesbian, Donoghue says. She links them to historical developments and deciphers their sometimes obscure language. Delivering on her promise of a wild party, Donoghue reads Clarissa as a rivalry between Lovelace and Anna for Clarissa’s heart; she considers Jane Eyre as an early schoolgirl novel (note Jane’s crush on her schoolmate Helen), whose form would be adapted by early lesbian coming-out novels. With her excellent reading list, readers can test for themselves the unexpected continuity Donoghue finds in the presence of passion between women in Western literature.
17. And Baby Makes More: Known Donors, Queer Parents, and Our Unexpected Families
Edited by Susan Goldberg and Chloë Brushwood Rose Insomniac Press
And Baby Makes More pushes at the boundaries of current family conceptions. This quirky, funny, and occasionally heartbreaking collection of personal essays offers a front-row view into the relative risks and unexpected rewards of queer, do-it-yourself baby-making, and the ways in which families themselves are re-made in the process. The authors—donors, biological and non-biological parents, and their children—offer provocative, nuanced insights into what it means to be or use a known donorand how queer families are being reconceived to include new roles, new rules, and, sometimes, more than two parents.
“How did somebody from a quiet Baltimore neighborhood grow up to become the outlandish, brilliant, and insane John Waters? Two words: Johnny Mathis.”
19. The Gay State: The Quest for an Independent Gay Nation-State and what It Means to Conservatives and the World’s Religions
By Garrett Graham iUniverse
With the hope that his work will inspire his Gay brothers and sisters around the globe with optimism and validation for a future filled with the possibilities, peace, and fulfillment, Graham provides the results of his comprehensive study of the concept of the Gay state, the global Gay question, the effects of anti-Gayism, and his plan for building a nation based on humanistic ideals. As Graham walks others through his carefully researched method that includes ideas on governmental rule, available land for purchase, trade and commerce options, and safety measures that will discourage failure, his passion for creating a community where all LGBT people are allowed to pursue freedom and sovereignty are contagious.
20. Queering the Text: Biblical, Medieval, and Modern Jewish Stories
By Andrew Ramer
Lethe Press/White Crane Books
Andrew Ramer’s new book, Queering the Text: Biblical, Medieval, and Modern Jewish Stories , grapples with traditional midrashim, plays with homoerotic love poems from medieval Spain , and envisions alternate versions of the present. Inspired by the pioneering work of Jewish feminists, using the same narrative tools as the rabbis of old, Ramer has crafted stories that anchor LGBT lives in the three thousand year old history of the Jewish people. ”The universe is made up of stories, not atoms,” wrote poet Muriel Ruckeyser. The stories in this book will transport you to a new universe the one we are striving to create, right here and now.
21. Balancing On The Mechitza: Transgender in Jewish Community
Edited by Noach Dzmura North Atlantic Books
The contributors to Balancing on the Mechitza—activists, theologians, scholars, and other transgender Jews—share for the first time in a printed volume their theoretical contemplations as well as rite-of-passage and other transformative stories. Balancing on the Mechitza introduces readers to a secular transwoman who interviews her Israeli and Palestinian peers and provides cutting-edge theory about the construction of Jewish personhood in Israel; a transman who serves as legal witness for a man (a role not typically open to persons designated female at birth) during a conversion ritual; a man deprived of testosterone by an illness who comes to identify himself with passion and pride as a Biblical eunuch; and a gender-variant person who explores how to adapt the masculine and feminine pronouns in Hebrew to reflect a non-binary gender reality.
Acclaimed biographer of James Joyce, Edna O’Brien has written a “jaunty” (The New Yorker) biography that suits her fiery and charismatic subject. She follows Byron from the dissipations of Regency London to the wilds of Albania and the Socratic pleasures of Greece and Turkey, culminating in his meteoric rise to fame at the age of twenty-four. With “a novelist’s understanding of tempo and characterization” (Miami Herald), O’Brien captures the spirit of the man and creates an indelible portrait that explodes the Romantic myth. Byron, as brilliantly rendered by O’Brien, is the poet as rebel, imaginative and lawless, and defiantly immortal.
“This collection of interviews with gay activists and artists is like going to dinner with people you’d love to know but don’t, and Phil Gambone is the perfect stand-in for the reader: impressively prepared, sympathetic, and smart.”
Every summer since 1975, a new crop of campers has entered Stagedoor Manor to begin an intense, often wrenching introduction to professional theater. They come from varying backgrounds: the offspring of Hollywood players like Ron Howard, Nora Ephron, and Bruce Willis work alongside kids on scholarship. Some campers have agents, others are seeking representation. Eye-opening, funny, and full of drama and heart, Theater Geek tracks three determined teen actors through the rivalries, heartbreak, and triumphs of a summer at Stagedoor Manor.
25. Another Country: Queer Anti-Urbanism
by Scott Herring NYU Press
Impassioned and provocative, Another Country expands the possibilities of queer studies beyond its city limits. Herring leads his readers from faeries in the rural Midwest to photographs of white supremacists in the deep South, from Roland Barthes’s obsession with Parisian fashion to a graphic memoir by Alison Bechdel set in the Appalachian Mountains, and from cubist paintings in Lancaster County to lesbian separatist communes on the northern California coast. The result is an entirely original account of how queer studies can—and should—get to another country.
26. A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend
By Emily Horner Dial Books
For months, Cass has heard her best friend, Julia, whisper about a secret project. When Julia dies in a car accident, her drama friends decide to bring the project—a musical called Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad—to fruition. But Cass isn’t a drama person. She can’t take a summer of painting sets, and she won’t spend long hours with Heather, the girl who made her miserable all through middle school and has somehow landed the leading role. So Cass takes off. In alternating chapters, she spends the first part of summer on a cross-country bike trip and the rest swallowing her pride, making props, and—of all things—falling for Heather. This is a story of the breadth of love. Of the depth of friendship. And of the most hilarious musical one quiet suburb has ever seen.
Two women, one who fears obscurity and one who seeks it, meet in the heart of the Southwest. Their competing desires — success for one and solitude for the other — make any chance of romance between the two improbable, but the City Different is a most accommodating place. When Ainsley Faraday and Greer Davis meet on a flight to New Mexico, love is the last thing on either of their minds, but tall mountain vistas, big blue skies, and hot, hot green chili all combine to create a rush of endorphins begging for release.
After a drunk driver took the lives of her lover and unborn child, Devon Conway ran. Three years later when offered a business opportunity she can’t pass by, she decides to return home. Katherine Hunter took a different path, throwing herself into her work instead. Even if she wanted to, Kat doesn’t have the time to date. But then fate drops Devon on her doorstep—literally. But despite Devon and Kat’s powerful attraction, the past stands between them—preventing them from taking a chance on the future. Will what is growing between them be enough to convince them that from this moment on, anything is possible, even love?
Wandering cowboy Luke Walker is at the end of his rope after his girlfriend abandons their newborn daughter. A terrified new father, he’s grateful to meet Dr. Morgan Gallagher. Morgan recognizes that he and Luke could help each other: Luke can rebuild Morgan’s property and land so Morgan can have the horses he wants, and Morgan can provide the younger man with a safe place to raise his daughter. In theory, it should work out perfectly, except that Morgan is instantly attracted to Luke—a straight man—and sharing the same cabin and caring for the baby is a more intimate arrangement than he’d imagined.
30. Muscle Men: Rock Hard Gay Erotica
By Richard Labonté Cleis Press
Muscle Men is a celebration of the body beautiful, where men who look like Greek gods are worshipped for their outsized attributes. Editor Richard Labonté takes us into the erotic world of body builders and the men who desire them. These uninhibited stories are by the masters of the genre, including Jack Fritscher, Jeff Mann, Steven Bereznai, Tom Fuchs, and Ryan Field. At the gym, in the locker room, and especially in the steam room, the hunks who look hard, work hard, and play hard inspire fantasies the world over. Visit the masculine studs of Muscle Mento enjoy a taste of their strength and power.
Billy Bronner is, to all appearances, every inch the 1950s American dream: handsome, clever, captain of the high school football team, looks good enough in tight jeans that people can even forget he’s Jewish. Then the new guy on the block, the enigmatic Leonard Nachman, turns his head, and over the summer Billy discovers a new world of romance and love—in a man’s arms. But when Kit O’Reilly, Billy’s best friend and shadow, comes home after spending the summer with relatives, he finds Billy acting… differently. Soon enough, it becomes obvious that this change is related to Len, and Kit will have to decide if he’ll accept the relationship Billy and Len have forged, or if he’ll push Billy and their longtime friendship away.
Author Ashley Vaughn deserves nothing less, according to Vic, the unwilling star of Ashley’s latest erotic best seller. Ashley spends her life writing erotic romance and her nights alone. When a sexy butch sweeps her off her feet following a book signing, she’s too afraid to believe in the miracle of love at first sight to take a chance. Instead, she writes about it. Victoria Hadley, chef and restaurateur, believes she’s found the woman of her dreams. Until she discovers Ms. Right has used their night of passion to further her career. Bent on revenge, she lures Ashley into a trap. But is the trap about to snare her too?
Kassandra Lyall is used to working alone. But when she’s called in to help the local cops work on a mysterious murder case, she finds herself needing all the help she can get. A bloodthirsty werewolf is on a killing spree. Now, a strange she-wolf seeks Kassandra’s aid to help find her missing brother. Kassandra soon learns that the strange she-wolf serves two masters, and one of them has taken quite an interest in her. In a world where vampires have charmed their way into modern society, where werewolves walk the streets with their beasts disguised by human skin, Kassandra Lyall has a secret of her own to protect. She’s one of them.