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February 1, 2016 BOOKLIST
Find more Top 10 Gay and Lesbian Books
Many who launched gay liberation have mellowed with age, and many younger people don’t feel they have to be as in-your-face. Reflecting that change, this list contains one nonfiction and one fiction book that possess little gay content, and perhaps only one speaks primarily to gays.
Come Out Fighting: A Century of Essential Writings on Gay and Lesbian Liberation. Ed. by Chris Bull. 2002. Thunder’s Mouth/Nation, paper, $17.95 (1-56025-325-8).
The bible of gay lib, from Havelock Ellis on sexual inversion to Kinsey and colleagues on homosexual play to Carl Wittman’s “Gay Manifesto” to the majority opinion in Romer v. Evans by Supreme Court justice Kennedy (virtually the only nonleftie contributor).
Cruse, Howard. Wendel All Together. 2001. Olmstead, paper, $17.95 (1-58754-012-6).
The first successful, long-lived gay comic strip starred Wendel Trupstock and the lover and gay-and-lesbian community he found in a middle-size city. The strip, which can look like “Archie” with sex, tackled the gay issues of the 1980s with hilarious panache.
Gorey, Edward. Ascending Peculiarity: Edward Gorey on Edward Gorey. Ed. by Karen Wilkin. 2001. Harcourt, $35 (0-15-100504-4).
Artist-author Gorey, world famous for the animated prologue to the hit PBS anthology series Mystery, was unobtrusively gay to his greater public. To enjoy this collection of delightful interviews with him, you don’t have to be gay. Oh, it might help a bit.
Rosco, Jerry. Glenway Wescott Personally. 2002. Univ. of Wisconsin, $29.95 (0-299-17730-0).
A Wisconsin farm boy by birth, Wescott (1901-87) wrote a handful of fine fiction early on. He was a fine conversationalist and lecturer, too, and candid about his sexuality in overtly homophobic times. “Happiness was his real distraction” from writing more fiction, biographer Rosco says.
Anshaw, Carol. Lucky in the Corner. 2002. Houghton, $23 (0-395-94040-0).
While Fern’s parents split up, while her mother comes out and moves the lesbian lover in, while her best friend gets pregnant, then leaves her the baby, Fern’s dog is the reliable presence in her life, though her cross-dressing uncle cares, too. This family-drama-cum-comedy-of-manners covers lots of social terrain.
Cullin, Mitch. From the Place in the Valley Deep in the Forest. 2001. Dufour, paper, $14.95 (0-8023-1336-1).
Cullin exemplifies the gay writer engaging the mainstream in eight slice-of-life stories whose settings dot the globe and whose protagonists, such as an Alaskan teenager arrested for assault and robbery and married ‘Nam vets revisiting old combat zones, mostly grapple with issues other than sexual identity.
Obejas, Achy. Days of Awe. 2001. Ballantine, $24.95 (0-345-43921-X).
A committed journalist as well as novelist, Obejas dramatizes the anguish of concealed identities, severed ties, and sorely tested faiths in her second novel, which centers on Cuban American Alejandra and her experiences with biculturalism, bilingualism, and bireligionism (forcibly Christianized Jews) as well as bisexuality.
O’Neill, Jamie. At Swim, Two Boys. 2002. Scribner, $27 (0-7432-2294-6).
Scholarly, reticent James and cocksure, poverty-stricken Doyler, who become friends and then lovers, contend with peer and church disapproval, the jealousy of an upper-class man once jailed for sexual misconduct, and ultimately with the 1916 Easter Uprising in Dublin in O’Neill’s powerful, stylistically exhilarating first novel.
Rodi, Richard. Bitch Goddess. 2002. Plume, paper, $13 (0-452-28310-8).
Ex-B-movie queen turned night-time soap opera sensation hires a freelancer to ghost her memoirs. The more he interviews her, the frothier reigning king of camp Rodi’s outré postmod take on the epistolary novel gets. So funny it should have a warning label.
Spanbauer, Tom. In the City of Shy Hunters. 2001. Grove/Atlantic, $26 (0-8021-1691-4).
Shy, stuttering Will Parker from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, comes to mid-’80s Manhattan in search of his lost love, learns to accept himself, and falls for a six-foot-five black drag-queen-slash-performance-artist just as AIDS becomes epidemic. The novel, meanwhile, becomes a long, mesmerizing meditation on love and loss.
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