Early Summer Book Club

Artistic expression

Subtitled “A Memoir of Howard & Art & The `70s & The `80s,” Smash Cut (Harper, 2015) by Brad Gooch reads like an indie movie about indie movie making, male modeling, the Chelsea Hotel and love in a battlefield.

AE_1 Celebrated writer Bernard Cooper (Maps To Anywhere, The Bill From My Father) takes readers back to the early days of his artistic exploration in the marvelous memoir My Avant-Garde Education (Norton, 2015).

The Light of the World (Grand Central, 2015), a memoir by award-winning poet and essayist Elizabeth Alexander, strikes the right balance between joy and sorrow, delight and devastation, as she tells the story of meeting her late husband, painter and chef Ficre Ghebreyesus, and endures the tragedy of his sudden death.

Featuring queer and straight voices, Brandon Doman’s “Strangers Project,” which began with the simple question, “What’s your story?,” has resulted in the book What’s Your Story? (Harper Design, 2015), featuring a selection of 200 stories (out of more than 10,000), as well as more than 50 illustrations and photos.

The whole queer truth

WQT_outoforange_coverTime On Two Crosses: The Collected Writings of Bayard Rustin (Viva Editions/Cleis Books, 2015), edited by Devon W. Carbado and Donald Weise, reissued in time to coincide with the release of the film Selma, is essential reading for anyone interested in civil rights and equality, LGBT rights and equality, and just human rights and equality.

“Unconventional physician” Oliver Sacks is one of the most famous men in his field and the author of several books including The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat, Musicophilia and Awakenings (made into a movie in which a character based on Sacks was portrayed by Robin Williams). In his new memoir, On The Move: A Life (Knopf, 2015), Sacks is at his most revealing, detailing his coming out story, as well as his own health issues.

Now in paperback, Not My Father’s Son (Dey Street, 2014/15) by Alan Cumming, the self-described “Scottish elf trapped inside middle aged man’s body,” tells his story from “then” to “now,” with detours to 2010 when he was in the process of filming his episode of the TV show Who Do You Think You Are?

Moth StorySLAM host (and three-time Moth Slam winner) David Crabb turns his acclaimed solo show into a hilarious memoir in Bad Kid (Harper Perennial, 2015), full of the discoveries and misadventures of coming out, all set to an `80s and `90s soundtrack.

If you prefer to be read to rather than reading, the audio book of Stonewall (Listening Library, 2015) by Ann Bausum, read by gay Y/A author Tim Federle over the course of three compact discs (and three hours), puts the historic 1969 event in perspective for listeners of all ages.

Cleary Wolters, the inspiration for the character Alex (portrayed by Laura Prepon) in the acclaimed and popular Netflix series Orange Is The New Black has her say in her memoir Out of Orange (Harper One, 2015).

In The Bone Bridge: A Brother’s Story (Dagmar Miura, 2015), gay memoirist/essayist/artist Yarrott Benz tells the story of how, at the age of 16, he rose to the occasion and became a part of the life-saving procedure that would aid his older brother Charley in his battle with aplastic anemia.

Creative writing

CW_StarlingsMainly told through a series of Mazie Phillips-Gordon’s diary entries spanning more than 30 years during the early part of the 20th century, Saint Mazie (Grand Central, 2015) by Jamie Attenberg, author of the brilliant novel The Middlesteins, is also augmented by commentary by other characters, all beautifully and seamlessly woven together to tell the story of the remarkable and unforgettable titular character in this mini-epic of a novel.

Award-winning gay poet and writer Rigoberto González returns with the chapbook Our Lady of the Crossword (A Midsummer Night’s Press, 2015) in which he address his “cultural heritage and sexuality” over the course of 10 poems including “My First Male-to-Male Kiss,” “The Tattooed Man Can Can-Can” and the titular piece.

When it comes to cool summer reading few books can compare with Fortune’s Favor: Scott In Antarctica (Poetry Mutual Press, 2015) by Kim Roberts, in which the poet relates the story of British explorer Robert Scott Falcon’s second Antarctic expedition, resulting in the death of five men (including Scott) from starvation, dehydration and extreme cold, told in Scott’s voice through a series of sonnets.

City of Starlings (Sibling Rivalry, 2015), the stunning third full-length poetry collection by gay writer Daniel Nathan Terry, features a literary aviary, a virtual botanical garden, dogs, deer and family, as well as cover art by the poet’s husband Benjamin Billingsley. With this book, Terry enters the realm of Mary Oliver.

Featuring a preface by Lepa Mladjenović, an introduction by Jewelle Gomez and an afterword by Julie R. Enszer, What Can I Ask: New and Selected Poems 1975-2014 (A Midsummer Night’s Press/Sinister Wisdome, 2015) by Elana Dykewomon consists of 10 new poems, including “Butch resisting the pressure to change gender,” as well as selections from Nothing Will Be As Sweet As the Taste, fragments from lesbos and more.

Words that rock

WTR_MillionWith photographs by Holger Talinski, What Else Is In The Teaches of Peaches (Akashic, 2015) by groundbreaking queer musician and performance artist Peaches, with essays by Yoko Ono, Ellen Page and Michael Stipe, is like the hippest and most daring photo album you ever saw, following Peaches onstage, backstage and basically where she went.

Musician Nathan Larson, formerly of the band Shudder To Think, returns with his new novel The Immune System (Akashic, 2015), the third installment in his “hard-boiled crime-fiction” Dewey Decimal trilogy, following The Dewey Decimal System and The Nervous System.

Fiddler Records founder Amy Fleisher Madden’s debut novel A Million Miles (Animal Manufacturing, 2015), with a foreword by Cold Cave’s Weslet Eisold, is a late 1990s coming of age story that provides insight into the indie rock scene of the era, featuring narrator Maddy and her fave band Crimson + Clover.

At the chapel of love

ATCOL_MarriedForcing The Spring: Inside The Fight for Marriage Equality (Penguin, 2014/15) by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jo Becker is described as “the definitive account of five remarkable years in American civil rights history,” detailing the struggle for marriage equality and the historic legal battle fought against California’s Proposition 8.

In Just Married: Same-Sex Couples, Monogamy, and the Future of Marriage (Princeton University Press, 2015), author Stephen Macedo looks at both sides – the left’s take on “monogamous marriage as a special status defined by law” and the right’s fear-mongering about polygamy, the dissolution of marriage as it is known and more.

By Gregg Shapiro

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