Sunday, November 30, 2008

December Publishing Notes

The buzz: Abrams will publish Gore Vidal’s illustrated memoir in the Fall of 2009. The memoir will combine personal reflections with a social history of the twentieth century, and never-before-seen images of political and cultural icons from Vidal’s personal collection. ** World Parade Books will release Edward Field’s memoir Kabuli Days, Travels in Old Afghanistan this month.

Touchstone Fireside will publish Gyles Brandreth’s next three mysteries featuring Oscar Wilde as a sleuth aided by his real-life friend Arthur Conan Doyle. ** Sphere will publish mystery writer Val McDermid’s next two books, including a new Tony Hill for publication in 2009. ** Holt will publish Louis Bayard’s next two literary suspense novels.

In 2009, Arsenal Pulp Press will publish Fist of the Spider Woman: Tales of Fear and Queer Desire, edited by Amber Dawn. ** Da Capo will publish Catherine Friend’s The Last Farm Standing, a look at the state of small, sustainable farms, and how sheep may be the answer to our environmental woes.

Author Stephen McCauley is working with on a film adaptation of his novel The Easy Way Out. Filming is set to begin in March in Paris. ** Showtime announced that it is developing Perry Moore’s book Hero, the story of a young gay superhero, into a hour-long series for the network. Moore will be writing the script and will executive-produce the series along with his partner, Hunter Hill. The two are also collaborating with comic book legend Stan Lee and his Pow! Entertainment partner Gill Champion. ** Nicole Kidman will star in and produce the film version of The Danish Girl, based on the novel by David Ebershoff, about the world’s first post-op transsexual, Einar Wegener. Charlize Theron will also star. ** John Hurt will star in the film An Englishman in New York, about Quentin Crisp’s later years. ** John Boorman is attached to direct the $25 million, CG-animated pic The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, adapted from L. Frank Baum’s original novel. Unlike the MGM classic, it will not be a musical.

Jane Fonda returns to Broadway after a 46-year absence, in 33 Variations, a new play by Moisés Kaufman, scheduled to open in the winter of 2009. ** South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone are working with Avenue Q co-writer Robert Lopez to on a new musical, Mormon Musical, which will star Cheyenne Jackson. ** Playwright Michael Yawney’s play, 1,000 Homosexuals, about Anita Bryant’s 1977 campaign to repeal Miami-Dade County’s first gay-rights ordinance, recently opened in Miami. The play was commissioned by the Adrienne Arsht Center for Performing Arts. Miami’s Camposition is producing the play. ** The Milwaukee Gay Arts Center is suing the city for shutting down its production of the popular musical revue, Naked Boys Singing. ** This month the Thorny Theater in Palm Springs is presenting Michael Holmes in Judy’s Old Fashioned Christmas Show, a comic tribute to the old Garland holiday specials.

Variety reported that due to the recent departure of City Opera Artistic Director Gerard Mortier, some upcoming opera projects will be shelved. Among them, the musical adaptation of the film Brokeback Mountain. ** The Fort Worth Opera has announced it will stage the world premiere of Before Night Falls, a new opera by Cuban American composer Jorge Martin, based on the memoir by Cuban dissident poet Reinaldo Arenas, as the centerpiece of its 2010 Opera Festival.

Don Weise has been named the new publisher of Alyson Books. ** In November poet, novelist and playwright Jewelle Gomez married Dr. Diane Abbe Sabin at the main branch of the San Francisco Public Library. The wedding was written up in the Style section of The New York Times.

In Atlanta in November, Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse in Atlanta celebrated its 15th year and Charis Books & More its 34th.

The Atlanta Queer Literary Festival has set their 2009 dates: November 4 through 7, 2009. More details forthcoming at

Gay rights activist Cleve Jones and Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black published a manifesto calling for LGBT civil disobedience and government intervention against Proposition 8 in the San Francisco Chronicle. Jones and Black have urged President-elect Barack Obama, House speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate majority leader Harry Reid to push legislation that protects LGBT people in areas of hate crimes, marriage, military service, adoption, Social Security, taxation, immigration, employment, housing, and access to health care, social services, and education. ** Louis-Georges Tin, editor of the recently published Dictionary of Homophobia and president of the International Day Against Homophobia Committee, will address the United Nations General Assembly in December to urge a world-wide end to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. ** Dustin Brookshire of has started the Not In My Georgia Project in response to the rumored legislation to ban adoption by LGBT Georgians.

Kudos: Mark Doty won the National Book Award for Fire to Fire: New and Collected Poems. ** Hudson Booksellers named When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris as its Book of the Year. ** On the IMPAC Dublin longlist for the 2009 award, which honors book-length fiction published in English during 2007, were Alan Bennett for The Uncommon Reader, David Leavitt for The Indian Clerk, Ali Smith for Girl Meets Boy, Jeanette Winterson for The Stone Gods, Andre Aciman for Call Me By Your Name, Jonathan Coe for The Rain Before It Falls, and Marianne Wiggins for The Shadow Catcher. The shortlist will be announced April 2, 2009. ** Michael Cunningham won the sixth annual Fairfax Prize given by the Fairfax County Public Library Foundation. ** Chris & Don: A Love Story was nominated for best documentary for the Gotham Independent Film Awards.

Marc Andreyko was among the recent Out magazine 100. He is the author of the graphic novel, Torso, based on the true story of Eliot Ness and a serial killer in 1930s Cleveland, now in development as a Paramount film. Other works of note include co-creating and writing a modern update of the Peter Pan universe, The Lost, and work on the DC comic book series Manhunter, which features the son of the original Green Lantern, a superhero named Obsidian, in a happy and healthy gay relationship.

In November, The Black Cat, a bar in Silver Lake, California that was home to the gay rights movement in Los Angeles, was named a historic-cultural monument. The bar was the site of a police raid and subsequent protests in 1967, predating the Stonewall riots in New York City by two years. Today, the bar at Sunset Junction is known as Le Barcito, a small stucco building with a purple facade that still bears the original sign of a black and white smiling cat.

Open Calls: Editors Richard Labonté and Lawrence Schimel are seeking short essays and memoirs for the anthology I Like It Like That: True Tales of Gay Desire, to be published by Arsenal Pulp Press in 2009. Submissions should be between 1000-3000 words and sent to Deadline is Feb 1, 2009. ** Labonté is also seeking short stories and erotica for Best Gay Erotica 2010. Blair Mastbaum is this year’s guest judge. Original work, or reprints of work published or scheduled to be published between July 2008 and July 2009, are eligible. Deadline is April 1, 2009. Queries and submissions to: in .doc format.

Passages: Irish poet James Liddy died in November, 2008. Born in Dublin in 1934, Liddy is best known for his early collections In A Blue Smoke (1964) and Blue Mountain (1968). The first volume of his memoir, The Doctor’s House: An Autobiography, was published in 2004.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Bookstore Tourist

This October I took a cruise to the Mediterranean, visiting Venice, Dubrovnik, Santorini, Corfu, and Ephesus (in Turkey). The weather was gorgeous, as was the scenery, and the overall experience was very interesting and relaxing (and which was what I needed). The highlight of my trip, however, was my final day in Paris because of a stopover flight — a bright, sunny Sunday afternoon crowded with Parisians strolling arm and arm through the streets. I walked through the Marais till I found Rue Ste Croix de la Bretonnerie, where I was relieved to discover that Les Mots à la Bouche, the gay bookstore was open. I was tired from the flights and my stamina isn’t what it used to be, and I wedged my way through the aisles looking at titles, searching for books that might be familiar to me in their English editions. And there, face out on the shelves with the other works, was Les Fantômes, the French translation of my AIDS stories by Anne-Laure Hubert that French publisher Cylibris had published in late 2005. I’d seen the edition before; I have several copies and have given many as gifts to friends. But I had never seen the book in a bookstore.

It’s hard to explain this sort of thrill to someone who hasn’t had the experience of seeing their writing displayed in a bookstore. It’s immensely gratifying and awesome and exhilarating, probably like what an architect might feel standing in front of his completed building, particularly if you have spent years and years, as I do, writing a book, struggling with the plots and characters and themes and then trying to find a publisher who was willing to release it out into the world. I remember the first time I saw a book of mine in a bookstore — it was the winter of 1993, late February, and I was temping at a job on Park Avenue in Manhattan. My first collection of short stories had been accepted more than two years before by Viking, but because of a recession and a company freeze on signing contracts with new authors, the book was not slated for publication until that spring. The store was a small Barnes and Noble outlet, situated on a corner of one of the high-rising glass skyscrapers on Park Avenue near Grand Central Station. I hadn’t expected to find my book so soon in a store. I was on a lunch break, escaping my desk where I had eaten a sandwich because I was too poor to afford the neighborhood restaurants. It was a winter I could barely even afford to take the subway. I had stepped out of the cold into the bookstore, thinking I might look at a magazine or find a title I might later be able to get from the public library, before I headed back to my dismal job, where, at the time, I was typing up the license plates of cars and trucks that had been abandoned and were sitting in a lot in Queens. And there, in the store on a shelf with the rest of the fiction, were five copies of Dancing on the Moon. The first sight of them remains one of the happiest moments of my life, particularly when I correlate it with the unfortunate experiences and deaths from AIDS of the friends who inspired those stories.

That spring and the following one were full of similar thrills. My book found its way into the windows of Brentano’s on Fifth Avenue and B. Dalton’s in the West Village on Eighth Street. I did readings and signings for the first time — including at Lambda Rising in Washington, D.C and Glad Day in Boston, among other stores. I’m not a widely bought or distributed author and the press runs of my books haven’t been the kind to impress any kind of bestseller list, but I’ve now seen my books in an airport bookshop (in New Orleans), in foreign bookstores (also at Word is Out, the gay bookstore in the Bloomsbury district of London, where I was on the shelves with many of my friends’ books), and part of a suggested reading list posted at a university bookstore. And even now, fifteen or so years later, I still get a thrill discovering something I have written in a store, even if it is a used copy of my novel, Where the Rainbow Ends, in the second-hand bookstore in my hometown, north of Atlanta.

Hopefully as you get older and wiser, you discover things about yourself that keep you happy. I have been fortunate to have taken some amazing trips during the last two decades — many due to the generosity of friends — and I’ve learned that I find great joy in being a bookstore tourist. Some people go to museums or sporting events or concerts or restaurants when they travel. I love to hunt for books — and, for the record, not for just my own. I search out local ghost story anthologies, local gay history books, local literary journals and magazines, unusual translations, and all sorts of novels and fiction by both mainstream publishers and small presses. Of all the bookstores I've been to, some other memorable experiences stand out — a deja-vous experience at the Haunted Bookshop in Cambridge (realizing I had already been there decades before with a friend who was now deceased), a boulevard in Pisa, Italy, lined with bookstores, store after store after store, with bins of books outside in the bright sun, the same with Galway, Ireland and the Shinjuku district of Tokyo. I remember the first time I walked into City Lights bookstore in San Francisco and didn’t want to leave because the friend I was with wanted to go elsewhere. I can still spend hours wandering along Charing Cross while many of my other friends are out at the theater. And I’ve often thought I might one day retire to Napa, California — on my last visit there a few years ago I counted more than four bookstores within blocks of each other. I'm not ready for that yet, though. (I still have a few more years left...) And first I'd like to find that town in Wales where there's nothing but bookstores.