Sunday, July 02, 2006

July Publishing Notes

The buzz: Alan Hollinghurst’s new novel (currently untitled), an elegiac multigenerational family saga about an affluent English family, will be published by Bloomsbury in August 2008. Crown will publish Brett Berk’s The Gay Uncle’s Guide to Parenting. Pulitzer prize-winner Jeffrey Eugenides (Middlesex) has assembled an anthology of Greatest Love Stories of All Time, which will be published by Harper. The late sci-fi author Octavia Butler was honored with a tribute at the New York Public Library on June 5. Her mentor, author Samuel R. Delaney, was among the guests offering reminisces. Toni Amato has started a new LJ community, called whwn, as the first Write Here Write Now online writer's workshop. David Hockney’s 1966 painting, “The Splash,” sold for £2.6 million. Books Inc. will take over the space of the former A Clean Well-Lighted Space in San Francisco. The Peppertree Bookstore in Palm Springs is opening a second store in La Quinta. O, Oprah Winfrey’s magazine, scoured a coup by publishing a letter from the reclusive Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird) about how she became a reader as a child in a rural, Depression-era Alabama town. The world premier of Douglas McGrath’s Infamous, a biopic about writer Truman Capote, will open the 63rd Venice International Film Festival in August. Johnny Depp is being considered for the title role of Tim Burton’s film adaptation of the Broadway musical Sweeney Todd. The New York Post reported that Brendan Fraser has been cast as legendary gay designer Halston in an upcoming biopic. Sienna Miller and Peter Sarsgaard are in negotiations to star in The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, a film adaptation of Michael Chabon’s 1988 gay-themed novel. Bryan Singer, the openly gay director of Superman Returns, will direct the upcoming Harvey Milk biopic, The Mayor of Castro Street, based on Randy Shilts’ award-winning book. Here television is developing a new film with a screenplay by Chastity Bono and Garth Belcon titled In the Name of Love, about a lesbian troubled by heterosexual dreams. The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society announced the launch of its own YouTube channel in June. The channel will build a growing archive of historical GLBT video clips that will be accessible to the public. ThinkFilm will distribute John Cameron Mitchell’s film Shortbus, which recently premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. In June the Logo network acquired three popular gay and lesbian news-entertainment sites as part of its continuing efforts to target online queer audiences.,, and have joined the Web portfolio of the MTV-owned gay cable channel. Logo has also put into development a series based on Del Shores popular play and cult movie, Sordid Lives.

Kudos: Colm Toibin was named the recipient of the International Impac Dublin Literary Award, the world’s richest literary prize, for his novel The Master. The Queer Foundation 2006 Queer Scholars are: Jason Brown of San Francisco State University, Julianne Maynus of Rhode Island College, and Scarlett Sieber of Fordham University. Educators are encouraged to download the essays from for use in the classroom.

Open calls: Richard Labonté is looking for stories for a new anthology for Cleis Press: Country Boys: Dirty Gay Erotica. Stories should have a physically rural setting and/or an emotionally rural mindset. Deadline is September 1, 2006. Original stories preferred but reprints will be considered. Maximum length 7,000 words. E-mail submissions and queries to

Not a Queer Issue: Gay leaders thought an arsonist was making a political statement by setting a fire in Chicago that destroyed nearly 80 books in the Merlo Branch library’s gay and lesbian collection on June 13. According to the local police, it appears they guessed the wrong cause. The police said Erica Graham, 21, who is homeless, was protesting the library's treatment of homeless people when she started the fire. That the books burned were mainly about gays and lesbians turned out to be a coincidence, police said. Seventy-seven books from the gay and lesbian collection and 23 books from the African-American collection were destroyed. "We're happy they found the person who did it, and we're happy it doesn't appear to be a hate crime," Rick Garcia, a head of the gay rights group Equality Illinois told a reporter from the Chicago Tribune. "The gay community has made great gains in the last 20 years. But you don't have to scratch too far below the surface to find anti-gay sentiment."

This Guy’s Just Interested in the Illustrations: Randy Jackson, an Idaho man checked out The Joy of Gay Sex from his local library in Nampa to protest a recent library board decision to keep the book on the shelf. Several news articles reported that he has no intention of returning the book to the library. In June the library board voted 3–1 to keep the books in circulation but place them on higher shelves and routinely sweep the library to make sure they are not lying around. There has been no word on whether the library plans to fine Jackson for the overdue book or whether it will buy a replacement copy.

Three Discoveries: During the spring, works by three writers came to my attention that I can highly recommend, one is Richard Grayson’s surreal and thought-provoking short story, “With Hitler in New York,” which was also the title of a collection of his short stories that were published in the late 1970s and which has been recently reissued. In the story, “Hitler” becomes a stand-in for the alienation and discrimination many Germans felt in the decades after the war. The story is readable on-line via a link on Grayson's Web Site. ( Grayson also has an impressive political background (in the 1980s he was a Presidential candidate), but it is his short fiction that intrigues me most. His other collections worth exploring are Let Slip the Dogs of War, Lincoln’s Doctor’s Dog and Other Stories, and his most recent collection, And to Think He Kissed Him on Lorimer Street. Another re-isssued work came my way recently, Toby Johnson’s superb gay-themed science fiction novel, Secret Matter. Johnson, a former Catholic monk and San Francisco hippie who became a noted religion scholar and editor of the White Crane Journal, is also the author of two superb non-fiction books, Gay Spirituality and Gay Perspective, but it is Johnson’s utopian and romantic vision that makes Secret Matter such a compelling read. The novel is set in San Francisco in the immediate future, just after a destructive earthquake, when a race of alien Visitors arrive. Secret Matter was the winner of a Lambda Literary Award for Gay Men’s Science Fiction and has been nominated for the Gaylaxicon Spectrum Awards Hall of Fame. More on the novel and the author can be found at Johnson’s Web site, I was a fan of Wayne Hoffman’s long before he recently published his first novel; in the late 1990s we worked together at The New York Blade News. I was always impressed by Wayne’s sharp observations of popular culture (at the time, he was the Arts Editor), but it was also obvious to me that he had a clear and passionate interest in the field of sexual politics (he was also one of the co-editors of the anthology Policing Public Sex). Hoffman has set his extraordinary first novel, Hard, in New York City in the mid-1990s, at a time when the city government was cracking down on public sex venues. While the novel is a complex weave of situations and scenes, the primary conflict is between two gay journalists: one, an AIDS widower who wants to see all the sex clubs and adult theaters shut down, and the other, a young and sex-positive activist who wants to keep them open. Hoffman’s details of the city and the gay community of this era are superb (and he does present a “community” – from buff-bod hustlers to hunky bears to HIV-positive ex-lovers). While the political construct is what makes this novel so unique in gay fiction, it is Hoffman’s dead-on descriptions (witty and wise) of his characters’ sexual psyche that make it soar. (One character, in fact, runs a delightful cost-analysis on how much his search for sex costs him.) But I am also happy to report, that while Hard is political, sexy, comic, and full of social-consciousness, it is also encased in a surprising romantic yearning. More on Wayne and his book can be found at

Passages: Eric Rofes, an educator, author and gay rights activist, died June 26, 2006 in Provincetown, Mass. He was 51. A Boston native who currently lived in San Francisco, Rofes had been working on a book when he was discovered dead. Rofes wrote or edited 12 books, some of which provoked controversy, among them Reviving the Tribe: Regenerating Gay Men's Sexuality and Culture in the Ongoing Epidemic (1995), Dry Bones Breathe: Gay Men Creating Post-AIDS Identities and Cultures (1998), and most recently, A Radical Rethinking of Sexuality and Schooling : Status Quo or Status Queer? (Curriculum, Cultures, and (Homo)Sexualities) (2005). Rofes was born on Aug. 31, 1954, in Brooklyn. He grew up in Commack on Long Island and graduated from Harvard in 1976. In the 1970's, he was one of the so-called “Boston Mafia” who founded the Gay Community News and the Boston Lesbian and Gay Political Alliance. In 1985, he was hired as executive director of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center. After moving to San Francisco in 1989, he headed the Shanti Project, an AIDS service group. Rofes received his master's from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1995 and his doctorate in 1998. He had taught at Humboldt State University in Arcata, Calif., since 1999. Surviving are his partner of 16 years, Crispin Hollings of San Francisco; a brother, Peter, of Milwaukee; and a sister, Paula Casey-Rofes.

Ralph Paul Gernhardt, a pioneering publisher who cofounded Gay Chicago magazine three decades ago, died in June 4, 2006, of lung cancer. He was 72. Gernhardt started a telephone hotline offering a recorded message about gay-friendly parties and clubs in 1972. The line's popularity convinced him that he had found a niche that was being underserved, so he cofounded Gay Chicago in 1976. He is survived by his son, Craig—who now publishes Gay Chicago—a daughter, two sisters, and three grandchildren.