Gay Books To Look for in 2014 By Ramon Johnson

This year is emerging as a great moment for the release of new books written by, for and about gay and trans men (and a few that extend beyond). Power your tablets and get your book marks ready. From an exploration of underground gay language to collations of love letters, this list is a literary journey through gay life.

1. Peter Orlovsky, a Life in Words: Intimate Chronicles of a Beat Writer

Poet Peter Orlovsky is a lesser known member of the Beat Generation and as the lover of Allen Ginsberg, his work is often overshadowed by one of the movements greats. Now, drawn from previously unpublished journals, correspondence, photographs, and poems, this first collection of Orlovsky’s writings traces his fascinating life in his own words. It also tells, for the first time, the intimate story of his relationship with Ginsberg.

2. The Animals: Love Letters Between Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy

Katherine Bucknell’s collection of letters between the famous British-born novelist Christopher Isherwood and his lover the American portrait artist Don Bachardy is anything but dull banter. Bucknell was only 18 when 48-year-old Isherwood met him on a Santa Monica beach in 1952. Although the cute couple had an open relationship, they often cemented their feelings for one another with pet names, often the name of animals.

3. Queering Religion, Religious Queers

This collection leans toward the academic, but is a valuable read for anyone interested in how our religious identities plays a role in everyday queer life. This book is beyond what the Pope said and reaches deep into what it’s like to be a ‘religious queer’.

4. The Nearness of Others: Searching for Tact and Contact in the Age of HIV

After three and a half decades HIV and its stigmas linger on in renewed strength. The Nearness of Others is an intimate look at the experiences, meanings, and politics of revealing your status. In this ‘radical, genre-bending’ narrative, David Caron tells the story of his 2006 HIV diagnosis and its aftermath.

5. What Did You Eat Yesterday?

Part comic, part cookbook Fumi Yoshinaga’s narrative follows the lives of a hard-working middle-aged gay couple in Tokyo and how they come to enjoy the finer moments of life through food. Main characters Shiro and Kenji discuss their feelings and enjoy delicately prepared home cooked meals. The most delicious part is you can join in the fun with recipes at the end of each chapter.

6. Clean

From the “basement / of that suburban church with its sad paint / job in Texas” to an old drag queen’s “parlor,” “that bazaar of flounce, chintz, feathers,” Clean, the award-winning collection by David J. Daniels, tears back the curtain of life to expose gorgeousness and grit. These poems pay homage to the addict, the grandmother, the closeted, and the lover, to the dead, the dying, and the living who refuse to die.

7. How to Be Gay

How does one ‘be’ gay?  Far from being deterred by stereotypes, David Halperin explores beyond the surface of sex by claiming that the genius of gay culture resides in some of its most despised features: its aestheticism, snobbery, melodrama, adoration of glamour, caricatures of women, and obsession with mothers.

 

8. Polari

The word “Polari,” from the Italian “polare” (“to talk”) is a coded language, originating in the U.K. and dating as far back as the 16th century. Overheard in outdoor markets, the theatre, fairgrounds, and circuses, it was appropriated by gay men to provide them with cover as well as with a way to assert personal and shared identities. In his poems John Barton uses hidden language as an effective tool for communicating a sense of history, politics, and aesthetics.

9. Haiti Glass

In her debut collection of verse and prose, Moïse moves deftly between memories of growing up as a Haitian immigrant in the suburbs of Boston, to bearing witness to brutality and catastrophe, to intellectual, playful explorations of pop culture enigmas like Michael Jackson and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

10. Stuck in the Middle with You: A Memoir of Parenting in Three Genders

When her two children were young, Jennifer Finney Boylan came out as transgender, and as Jenny transitioned from a man to a woman and from a father to a mother, her family faced unique challenges and questions. In this thoughtful, tear-jerking, hilarious memoir, Jenny asks what it means to be a father, or a mother, and to what extent gender shades our experiences as parents.

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