BOOKS - ARCHIVE
News & reviews
2005's Best Reads
Throughout 2005, I reviewed 100 books in this column, and read as many more, and there are dozens of potentially good reads I haven't gotten to yet. This offering of 10 fiction and 10 nonfiction titles is pared down from an initial list of almost 50; those cited here are decidedly personal picks – and some of my favorites of the year aren't included at all, for assorted reasons.
Katharine Hepburn gay?
The books reviewed include a new novel by pioneering lesbian author Ann Allen Shockley; a fictional account of the life of Branwell Bronte; an unauthorized biography that "queers" Katharine Hepburn; and a collection of fine-art photos of gay men in their homes. Read more
Lesbian love and a guide to gay movies
The books reviewed include a biography of lesbian couple Natalie Barney and Romaine Brooks; a novel about a Philippines-born gay man in '90s San Francisco; an erotic gay comic book from Canadian illustrator Patrick Fillion; and a register of 101 "must-see" movies for gay men.
In the days before Pride
The books reviewed include the memoirs of matinee idol Tab Hunter; a fiction collection from Douglas A. Martin; a lesbian mystery from Brenda Weathers; and a study of the queer New York art world of the 1950s. Read more
Dissapointing second book
The books reviewed include John Berendt's much-anticipated second book, about Venice; a new mystery from Ellen Hart; a gay young-adult novel set in Sri Lanka; and a biography of the Hollywood agent who discovered Rock Hudson and other '50s stars.
Fitness Over Fifty
Studies have shown that starting a regular exercise program can greatly benefit the health and quality of life of seniors of all ages and fitness levels. Many older adults, however, are either afraid to start exercising or are unsure how to begin. To get most out of an fitness program, seniors need to incorporate four types of exercises, according the authors of this book.
Hints of Matthew Shepard's murder
The books reviewed include Dan Savage's personal reflection on same-sex marriage; a murder mystery featuring both a lesbian policewoman and a lesbian serial killer; and a white man's memoir about being a "rice queen." Read more
Not all that clearcut
The books reviewed include a novel about a 1970s mťnage a trios; an anthology of lesbian cowboy erotica; a novel about a gay man who returns from New York to live in his Mississippi hometown; and a biography of comedian Paul Lynde. Read more
Sex & Politics in South Africa
This book tells how South Africa came to lead the world in enshrining sexual equality in the Bill of Rights of our Constitution.
Memoirs, biographies and novels
The books reviewed include a lyrical memoir by 94-year-old writer Sybille Bedford; a biography of Beat artist Brion Gysin; a torrid lesbian novel by Jamaican-born Fiona Zedde; and a novel set in Hollywood, about three gay men and their 'fag hag.'
Sodom on the Thames
The books reviewed include a road novel about a 17-year-old lesbian; the latest installment in Ethan Mordden's "Buddy Cycle" novels; a gay man's memoir of becoming a surrogate father for his troubled teenage niece; and a scholarly work about several homosexual scandals in Victorian England. Read more
The one night stand
The books reviewed include a feisty lesbian memoir about having cancer; a novel about a 13-year-old street kid in L.A.; a lesbian sci-fi novel; and a collection of essays by gay journalist Michelangelo Signorile. Read more
Turn the Beat Around
The books reviewed include Dennis Cooper's new novel; a German lesbian mystery about a genetics researcher; a memoir by Daniel Harris, based on his online diary; and a history of disco.
Gay men receive conflicting messages about sex – donít be a perv, donít be a prude, donít be a ho, donít – do – donít. So gay male literature is rife with books encouraging men to embrace their sexuality, find partners, have fun, and do it do it. Read more
Strange families and transsexuals
The books reviewed include a debut novel about a queer choir boy; a novel about a "found family," including a gay male couple; a memoir of being gay in Hollywood 60 years ago; and a female-to-male transsexual's memoir and how-to guide. Read more
Lesbian pulp novels and others
The books reviewed include Specimen Days, by Michael Cunningham; an anthology of excerpts from lesbian pulp novels, edited by Katherine V. Forrest; Rich Merritt's controversial Secrets of a Gay Marine Porn Star; and a nonfiction book about mobilizing straight support for gay rights.Read more
The psychology of being gay
The books reviewed include a novel set in an upscale Manhattan gay bar; a soap-opera parody with a lesbian twist; a young-adult gay novel; and an exploration by a clinical psychologist of the stages in the gay male journey to self-discovery.
The Tricky Part
The books reviewed include a book of interconnected stories by Richard McCann; a prose-poetry hybrid about a queer girl 'on the road'; a memoir of childhood sexual abuse by Martin Moran; and a joint biography of writer Glenway Wescott, composer Aaron Copland, and peacekeeper Dag HammarskjŲld.
The books reviewed include a chatty memoir by Felice Picano, detailing his life as a young man – in '70s Greenwich Village with a kitten; a lesbian-themed thriller; a young-adult novel set in a summer camp; and a history of Provincetown. Read more
The All Americam Boy
The books reviewed include a lesbian-themed novel set in India; a new novel from William J. Mann; a biography of an 18th-century cross-dressing female actor; and a sociological study of gay athletes.
When a Fan Gets Close to Fame
The books reviewed include new novels by Jeanette Winterson and Christopher Rice; an exploration of celebrity and fans, by a former autograph-hound; and Richard Mohr's study of same-sex marriage.
The 70's, the Holocaust and Queer Wars
The books reviewed include a biography of disco singer Sylvester; a novel about a teenage lesbian murderer; the latest fiction from Harlan Greene, based on facts from Holocaust history; and a critique of the gay right – and left – from Paul Robinson.
The books reviewed include a comic novel from performer Mike Albo; a first novel from stage actor Keith McDermott; a memoir from a now-out, now-retired army major; and the autobiography of stand-up comic Phyllis Diller. Read more
Three Decades of Sex, Golf, and Rock 'n' Roll
The books reviewed include another unsettling novel by Dennis Cooper; a history of the Dinah Shore Weekend, by Michele Kort; a memoir about sailing and sorrow, Deep Water: A Sailor's Passage, by E.M. Kahn; and Five Quarts: A Personal and Natural History of Blood, by Bill Hayes. Read more
This weeks books
The books reviewed include a memoir by Steven Sorrentino, about returning to his conservative New Jersey town to live; a new mystery from Randye Lordon; a coming-out story/horror novel combination, by John Michael Curlovich; and a look at the transgender body in film, fiction, art, and music, by Judith Halberstam.
Books reviewed include a group biography of W.H. Auden, Carson McCullers, and other residents of "February House" in the 1940s; a collection of sex tales by Michael Thomas Ford; a poetry collection from Marvin K. White; and an anthology of essays by the siblings of gay men and lesbians. Read more
The hidden gay black male
The books reviewed include an anthology of black gay men's writing, edited by E. Lynn Harris; a new Benjamin Justice mystery, from John Morgan Wilson; a collection of essays on race and sexuality; and the latest Karin Kallmaker romance. Read more
A look at Sex Camp, Brian McNaught's cutting-edge new book which brings together a delightful assortment of strangers who struggle with their feelings and values, and at times with each other, during a legendary, intensive, weeklong workshop on sexuality. Read more
Abraham Lincoln queer ?
The books reviewed include a scholarly study that "queers" Abraham Lincoln; a guide to gay pop culture; a mystery from Rick Copp; and a biography of lesbian Olympic athlete Helen Stephens.
The books reviewed include a memoir by novelist David Plante ; an insider's account of The Cockettes; a collection of erotic gay drawings; and a fantasy novel, about a world of erotically sexual hermaphrodites.Read more
The Best of 2004
Everyone's opinion of what is best differs, but here, Richard Labonte, gives his views of what he considers the best in both fiction and non-fictiction.
Alexander the fabulous
The books reviewed include a collection of gay men's fiction, selected by Edmund White; soulful prose/poetry from Sharon Bridgforth; Wayne Koestenbaum's first novel; and a look at the queer life of Alexander the Great. Read more
Crossing racial barriers
The books reviewed include an essay collection on gay-interest personalities, by Edmund White, entitled Arts and Letters; a black lesbian young-adult novel; a gay novel about a romance between a white doctor and a black singer; and a gay-themed novel for middle-school-age kids.
Queer guy, straight friend
The books reviewed include screenwriter Ron Nyswaner's memoir; a lesbian mystery set at Wal-Mart; essays on gender by academic Judith Butler; and a graphic novel about two teenage best friends - one gay, one straight.
The Male Body Beautiful
Books reviewed include a queer-themed novel set in Iran from the 1920s to the 1970s; an erotic lesbian novel from Britain's Fiona Cooper ; an anthology on the topic of same-sex marriage; and interviews on the "male body beauty business."
Allan Hollinghurst nominated for Booker Prize
Books reviewed include a novel about a gay boy's coming-out, told from the perspective of his
straight father; a new installment in the lesbian-themed 'Tropical Storm'
series; a memoir of James Baldwin by his editor; and a young adult
Andrew Hollinghurst excells
The Line of Beauty written by Andrew Hollinghurst, author of The Swimming Pool Library, is as close to dazzling as a book can be. Love Letters in the Sand by Sharon Stone (not the actress) on the other hand, is as cheesy as a book can be.
The books reviewed include a debut novel about gay puberty called Fruit, by Brian Francis; an anthology of lesbian fairy tale novellas; a poetry collection by Spanish poet Luis Cernuda; and a "gay chick-lit" novel.
A madcap queer novel
The books reviewed include a madcap queer novel, by Mary Wilbon; another madcap queer novel, by Marc
Acito; an anthology of scholarly essays about drag queens and female
impersonators; and a collection of essays on the topic of porn.
Gay comic-strip collection
Books reviewed include a historical novel by Emma Donoghue; a coming-out novel about a skaterboy
and a surferboy; a collection of commentary by radio talk-show host Charles Karel Bouley; and Greg Fox's gay comic-strip collection set in a bed & breakfast.
The books reviewed include a
domestic-drama novel from Stacey D'Erasmo; humor columnist Michael Thomas
Ford's second novel; a sci-fi/fantasy novel with queer characters; and a
compendium of quotes from well-known gay people.
Vampires, musicals and children
The books reviewed include a vampire novel by Patrick Califia; a young-adult version of Romeo and Juliet; a history of 1970s Broadway musicals; and a collection of essays on the 'queerness' of children.
Love in the 60's
Books reviewed include the
erotic memoir of Jack Nichols, a gay liberation pioneer; Charlotte von
Mahlsdorf's memoir, which inspired the play I Am My
Own Wife; a comic queer novel set in Ireland; and a history of women-loving
On the down low
Books reviewed include a
study of gay men as preservationists; a novel about a black gay man who
wants to "birth" a baby; a lesbian whodunit; and J.L. King's much-discussed
look at black men who have sex with other men but otherwise live as
Love, marriage then gay romance?
First comes love, then then comes marriage. Then comes gay romance novels? If you have already found your true love, you can now go to Massachusetts, Canada, the Netherlands or Belgium. But for all the rest of us, there's Romentics.
The books reviewed include a
gay coming-of-age novel set in Northern Ireland; the latest Kate Delafield
novel from Katherine V. Forrest; a study of gender and diversity in nature;
and two Harlequin-style gay romances.
History of Stonewall
The books reviewed include a definitive history of the Stonewall Riots; a queer novel set against the backdrop of recent Chilean history; a lesbian legal thriller/romance; and a memoir by a transman.
Love and marriage
The books reviewed this week include a caper novel featuring a straight father and his gay son; a lesbian romance set in the Florida wetlands; a new children's book from Leslea Newman; and a
primer on the issue of marriage rights.
How queer is God?
The books reviewed this week include a gay thriller; the latest installment in Jean Stewart's scifi Isis series; a collection of poems by the late Muriel Rukeyser; and a queer-theory look at God that is bound to upset conservatives.
One fat lady
This week: novel about a fat lesbian's road trip; a joint biographical portrait of a
British gay male couple, who were together for 50 years; an anthology of
queer writing about surviving childhood abuse; and a collection of literary
Queer Eye tips on CD
A more than four hours tutorial on basic wines, indispensable knives, follicle necessities etc by the Queer Eye for the Straight Guy team - all on CD; this and other book news.
A numbing, account of the dark side of the Catholic church; a zesty novel of an unorthodox family; a delicious romp about being gay and 22; and an erotic thesaurus
25 rules for gay dating
A history of homophobia in the McCarthy era; a debut collection of lesbian short fiction; a gay mystery with a Hollywood flavor; and a how-to on gay dating.
A "Bridget Jones' Diary"-like lesbian novel; an anthology of gay travel writing; a collection of linked stories about drag queens; and a study of 19th-century gay culture in America and Europe.
Cruising the streets
An eclectic mix of sometimes factual, almost always distinctive writing, gay marriage wars in America, a Natalie Wood biography and cruising the queer streets of New York and London.
A new book about queer promiscuity of the pre-AIDS '70s paints the decade as a wellspring of art, culture, and ideas. It is a combination of insightful thumbnail biographies, tender histories of hallowed sexual playgrounds like the Mineshaft in New York, and supportive interviews with surviving elders.
This week: a short-fiction anthology based on the songs of Janis Ian; a gay-themed coming-of-age novel; a lesbian romance set in the Wild West; and a confessional book about gay men married to women.
A novel about a blue-collar lesbian; a new novel about gay "cater waiters"; a survey of homosexuality; and a collection of "Chelsea Boys" cartoons.
The books reviewed include a debut novel about a "sissy boy," by Tom House; a critique of the left, by Tammy Bruce; a second installment of Elizabeth Sims' lesbian crime-story series; and a young adult novel about internalized homophobia.
In the dark
The books reviewed include Gary Indiana's new novel Do Everything in the Dark; a lesbian romance by Jackie Calhoun called Outside the Flock; a collection of literary short fiction by gay men (picture); and The Changing of the Guard - a book about queer seniors.