Summer reading

Posted on 21 Jun 2013 at 11:45am

Time to sit by the pool and consume some of these gay-interest titles

David-Sedaris

SWEET SMELL OF EXCESS | Queer essayist and professional crank David Sedaris just published his latest comic memoir, ‘Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls.’

Truth to tell
In Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls (Little, Brown 2013), beloved gay humorist and monologist David Sedaris once again employs his specific brand of storytelling to regale the reader with deliriously funny tales from his childhood, adolescence and adulthood.

ManupMan Up!: Tales of My Delusional Self-Confidence (Grand Central Publishing 2013) by Ross Mathews, featuring a foreword by Gwyneth Paltrow and an afterword by Chelsea Handler, follows small town gay boy Mathews as he became known as Ross The Intern on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno to where he is today, rubbing shoulders with celebs from all walks of life.

Gay metal god Rob Halford of Judas Priest wrote the afterword for Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral History of Metal (!t Books 2013) by Jon Wiederhorn & Kathleen Turman. The lengthy cast of characters in this massive (700 pages) tome includes Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne, Trent Reznor, Cynthia Plastercaster, gay author Chuck Palahniuk, Henry Rollins and David Draiman (of Disturbed), although lesbian metal artist Otep (Shamaya) is conspicuously absent.

Subtitled “A Gay Melodrama in 13 Acts,” A Short Jew in the Body of a Tall W.A.S.P. (Dog Ear 2013) by Mark Okun and Hillary Brower, follows celeb hair stylist Okun’s journey of self-discovery and love as a gay man, beginning in 1960s Syracuse to the present day Fire Island Pines and many stops in between.

Gender-ans-sexualityFrom the For Beginners series comes Gender & Sexuality For Beginners (For Beginners 2013) by Jaimee Garbacik, with illustrations by Jeffrey Lewis. The eight detailed chapters set out to answer questions about the meaning of “queer,” moving beyond “the boundaries of binary descriptions of gender and orientation” and how to approach orientation as gender categories come into question, among other hot topics related to gender and sexuality.

Prolific and award-winning gay writer David Leddick returns with The Beauty of Men Never Dies (Terrace Books 2013), a short “autobiographical novel” about being gay and being in love in the 1970s, following the narrator’s travels to Montivideo, New York and Paris.

Lauren-TopelComedian/actress Julia Sweeney wrote the essays in her delightful and insightful memoir If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Your Mother (Simon & Schuster 2013), while her daughter and husband were away and she was home alone. A humorous and heartwarming book about motherhood, family, friendships (some of Sweeney’s queer friends get shout-outs), pets, missing family and “passing through life together in a big, giving, frightening, unpredictable, beautiful, luxurious, breathy world.”

Cravings
The final book under their “common name,” To Eat: A Country Life (FSG 2013) by Joe Eck and the late Wayne Winterrowd takes readers from the gay couple’s garden to the kitchen in a celebration of fruits and vegetables, as well as cows, pigs and old hens.

Addressing “the need for sustenance,” Autobiography of My Hungers (University of Wisconsin Press 2013) by Rigoberto Gonzalez, author of the acclaimed Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa, continues flexing his memoir muscles in this slim volume.

Gay comedian/author Frank DeCaro (A Boy Named Phyllis) compiled more than 100 (!) appetizers, main courses and desserts in The Dead Celebrity Cookbook (Health Communications Inc., 2012). Featuring recipes by deceased celebs that hadn’t officially come out of the pantry, including Merv Griffin, Cesar Romero, Katharine Hepburn and Agnes Moorehead, to kitchen queens such as Paul Lynde, Rock Hudson, Roddy McDowall, Wayland Flowers, Peter Allen and Klaus Nomi and numerous others, The Dead Celebrity Cookbook is as entertaining as it is appetizing.

Writers on writers
Gay poet and novelist Glenway Wescott’s A Heaven of Words: Last Journals 1956-1984 (University of Wisconsin 2013), edited and with an introduction by Wescott biographer Jerry Rosco, brings readers to the end of the Wisconsin-born writer’s remarkable life. The pages come to vivid life as Wescott and his partner, Monroe Wheeler, socialized with Christopher Isherwood, Paul Cadmus, George Platt Lynes, Truman Capote, W.H. Auden, Colette, Jean Cocteau and many more influential artists and creative people of the 20th century.

Subtitled “Family, Sexuality and the Cuban Revolution,” Becoming Reinaldo Arenas (Duke 2013) by Jorge Oliveras examines the life and career of the late gay Cuban writer Arenas (portrayed by Javier Bardem in the film Before Night Falls), who endured various hardships, including the Mariel boatlift and an AIDS diagnosis, before dying in 1990.

A new bilingual edition of gay poet Federico Garcia Lorca’s Poet In New York (FSG 2013), which includes “Ode to Walt Whitman,” edited and with an introduction by Lorca scholar Christopher Maurer and translated by Greg Simon and Steven F. White, is the ideal book of poetry for the summer of 2013.

balenciagaFashion statements
Spanish fashion designer Cristóbal Balenciaga was described by fellow designer Christian Dior as “the master of us all,” a term that inspired Mary Blume’s fitting (ahem) biography of the acclaimed couturier, The Master of Us All: Balenciaga, His Workrooms, His World (FSG 2013).

Based on her 2010 Vanity Fair article “The Suspects Wore Louboutins,” the book The Bling Ring (!t Books 2013) is also the basis of the upcoming Sofia Coppola movie of the same name.

Political action
Irresistible Revolution: Confronting Race, Class and the Assumptions of LGBT Politics (Magnus Books 2012), the third book by queer activist and community organizer Urvashi Vaid (who is also the longtime partner of comedian Kate Clinton) is a “strategic and informed argument” regarding “limited political vision” and the purpose of an agenda encompassing and moving beyond equality.

Entrepreneur and public speaker Juan Ahonen-Jover, Ph.D. is the author of the guidebook The Gay Agenda 2013: All In (CreateSpace 2013), which is described as “an indispensable guide for those who want to achieve full legal equality as promised in the United States Constitution.”

Based on his experiences at super-conservative Bob Jones University, former U.S. Marine and gay porn star writer Rich Merritt’s new novel Spiritual Probation (self-published) sets out to set the record straight on religious fundamentalism.

— Gregg Shapiro

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 21, 2013.

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