Thursday, December 31, 2009

January 2010 Publishing Notes

The buzz: This year Penguin will publish Mehmet Murat Somer's Wig Murders, a new installment about the transvestite detective from Istanbul.

Broadway books will publish Meredith Baxter's memoir of her personal and professional life, including her fight with breast cancer, her 19 years of sobriety, and her recent announcement that she is gay.

Doubleday has released Union Atlantic, a first novel by Adam Haslett.

This April Scribner will publish The Moonlit Earth, a new novel by Christopher Rice, a thriller about a woman who must try to save her brother's reputation and life when he is accused of a terrorist act.

StarBooks Press has released Nerdvana, edited by Fred Towers, an erotic collection of stories about men who wear glasses, and Unmasked II: More Erotic Tales of Gay Superheroes.

Lethe Press has reissued Alex Jeffers's novel, Safe as Houses. Lethe also has plans to reissue Jeff Mann’s collection of erotica A History of Barbed Wire.

Next month InsightOut book club will publish a hardcover edition The Haunted Heart and Other Tales, a collection of gay-themed ghost stories by Jameson Currier (the author of this blog).

Later this year Alyson will publish Frank Browning's Spirits of Desire: Conversations With My Priest, describing the author's sexual encounters and deep dialogues with a Dominican monk about faith, sin, sex, love and the eternal body.

This spring Alyson Books will publish David McConnell’s new novel, The Silver Hearted. The author is also currently at work on a non-fiction project, Gay Panic: True Stories of Straight Men Who Kill Gay Men.

Stephen Greco takes a hard look at "faking it" inside New York's media and art worlds in his new novel The Culling. The novel is one of three which the author has releasing soon. Others include Dreadnought, a novel in the form of six stories, about what happens when young consumers and creative talent are stalked by a Big Brand of unprecedented power, and Other People’s Prayers, a sequel to The Culling, which will be published in March, 2010.

Michael Alenyikov’s Ivan & Misha: A Novel in Stories, will be published by Northwestern University Press this fall. The stories explore the lives of a Russian immigrant family in New York City, circa 2000. The title story appeared in Descant and was anthologized in Best Gay Stories, 2008.

Lev Raphael, author of 19 books, including the Nick Hoffman mystery series, the short story collection Dancing on Tisha B'Av, and, most recently, the memoir My Germany, has donated 89 boxes of handwritten and typed manuscripts, annotated drafts, letters, diaries and book tour journals and other research material to the Michigan State University Libraries.

Perry Brass will lead a workshop on the topic of his new book, The Manly Art of Seduction, with Jerry Kajpust, Wednesday, January 20, 2010, at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center in NY, 208 West 13th Street, 7:30 to 10 pm.

The newest issue of the gay speculative fiction magazine Icarus is out, featuring fiction by Tanith Lee, Robert Joseph Levy, Chaz Brenchley and Rodello Santos.

Charis Books in Atlanta recently celebrated its 35th birthday.

Lambda Rising, Dupont Circle’s LGBT bookstore since 1974, is set to close in January 2010, along with the bookstore located in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Owner Deacon Maccubbin has sold the storefront located at 1625 Connecticut Ave NW in Washington, D.C. to an undisclosed buyer.

This spring Tennessee Williams and Elia Kazan are the subject of a new multi-author play, The Really Big Once, produced by the Target Margin theater company. The play covers the years 1948 to 1953, when the two men collaborated on Camino Real. Performances April 15 for a limited engagement at The Ontological at St. Mark’s.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that the new Tony Kushner play, The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism & Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures, would not be arriving in New York this spring as expected, to allow the playwright to make revisions to the script. Kushner is also the writer-in-residence at the Signature Theatre in New York, which is dedicating its 2010-11 season to the playwright, including a revival of Angels in America.

Kudos: Lucy Jane Bledsoe was awarded the 2009 Arts & Letters Prize for fiction as well as the Fiction Award from the Sherwood Anderson Foundation.

Recipients of the United States Artists grants included poet and novelist Sapphire, whose book was recently made into the film Precious.

Among the nominees on the long list of the Irish IMPAC Dublin Literary Award were The Story of a Marriage by Andrew Sean Greer; Pilcrow by Adam Mars-Jones; The Black Tower by Louis Bayard; Child 44 by Tom Robb Smith; and The Hakawati by Rabih Alameddine.

Maida Tilchen won the 2009 New Mexico Book Award in the LGBT Category for her novel, Land and Beyond Maps; other finalists were Keith Pyeatt (Struck) and A.C. Katt (The Sarran Plague).

Among the LGBT nominees for the Black Quill Awards given by Dark Scribe Magazine are The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters (Dark Genre Novel of the Year); Kelland by Paul G. Bens Jr. (Best Small Press Chill); Martyrs & Monsters by Robert Dunbar (Best Dark Genre Fiction Collection); Pumpkin Teeth by Tom Cardamone (Best Dark Genre Fiction Collection); The Haunted Heart and Other Tales by Jameson Currier (Best Dark Genre Fiction Collection and Best Cover Art and Design); and Ugly Man by Dennis Cooper (Best Dark Genre Fiction Collection). Icarus magazine also received a nod for Best Dark Scribble for publishing the short story “The Man in the Mirror.”

Among the winners of the World Fantasy Award was Richard Bowes for his novelette “If Angels Fight.” Originally published in the February 2008 issue of The Magazine of Science Fiction & Fantasy, the story was reprinted in Best Gay Stories 2009.

Among the nominations for the 15th annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards were honors for Precious and A Single Man. The Broadcast Film Critics Association nominated each film for best picture. The nominations for the 67th annual Golden Globe Awards included Precious receiving a nomination for best dramatic film and Colin Firth garnering a nomination for best actor in a drama for his role in A Single Man.

Open Calls: Hors-micro / Off-mic, a new gay literary e-zine organized and edited by Dominic Ambrose and a group of writers in Paris, is looking for poetry, fiction, prose, photos, and artwork in English or French with the cross-cultural life of Paris as its theme. Submissions can be sent to “Edition Zero” of the e-zine is viewable at

The Queer Foundation, a Washington nonprofit corporation, will offer the three winners of its 2010-11 High School English Essay Contest College scholarships in the amount of $1,000 for studies in queer theory or a related field at a US college. Deadline is February 26, 2010. For more information, a printable flyer, or an application form, please visit

Passages: Robin Wood, an influential British film critic who published the first serious critique on Alfred Hitchcock in Cahiers du Cinéma, died on December 18, 2002 at his home in Toronto. He was 78. His essay "Responsibilities of a Gay Film Critic," originally a speech at the National Film Theater and later printed in Film Comment magazine in 1978, was also included in the revised edition of his book Personal Views.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Favorites of the Year

Favorite Gay Novel: I’m usually behind in reading new books — often by a year or more — unless I’m asked to review a specific title or I am judging an awards category. The best gay-themed novel I read in 2009 was John Weir’s What I Did Wrong — which was published in 2006. I’d avoided reading the book in part, because I knew there was a character based on David Feinberg, a mutual friend I shared with Mr. Weir, and in part, because I had enjoyed Andrew Holleran’s novel on the same theme, Grief, but felt that Holleran was often repeating himself too much in all his writings — he keeps writing the same story over and over, even though they are always gorgeously written and insightful and terrific reads — and I was worried that Weir’s novel might be a re-tread of his first novel The Irreversible Decline of Eddie Socket, which I admired a great deal. What I Did Wrong was much better than I had expected it to be. I thought Weir’s novel captured David with uncanny precision in the character of Zack, but it also vividly captured the narrator Tom’s grief and imbalance following Zack’s death. Tom’s “lost boy adrift” sort of life mirrors the lasting affect that AIDS has had on friends and survivors — in a way that doesn’t go away with aging and the passing of years. This is also a deeply felt book about having a New York relationship and the experiences of a certain generation living in the city, in the same way that Breakfast at Tiffany’s or Bright Lights, Big City or Slaves of New York are about New York experiences. My only qualm was that I wished Mr. Weir had written a little more about his and David’s ACT UP experiences as activists — but of course that is me projecting my knowledge of some of the facts of both men and the events of their lives and not necessarily what Mr. Weir wanted to include in his novel — or should have included in it. But this was a profoundly good and satisfying read for me; in many passages of this novel Weir’s prose is stellar and lush, particularly in its last, glorious paragraphs.

Favorite Gay Memoir/Autobiography: I fell in love with Joel Derfner’s Swish immediately on opening it and I couldn’t put it down. Derfner writes narrative essays about himself, and about learning knitting, making friendships, dating, dating, and dating, being a cheerleader, and his love of musical theater. He has the kind of engaging, talky, campy personality that you hope your best friend has. What sets this memoir apart from a lot of similar comic, gay essay books is Derfner’s intelligence and seriousness coupled with a delightful sense of irony and bewilderment of who he is and what he wants. I’ve been recommending this book ever since I finished it.

Favorite Short Story by a Gay Author: Later this year Lee Thomas has a collection In the Closet, Under the Bed being published by Dark Scribe Press and I had a chance to read an advance copy of this. These are fifteen horror tales, many of which find gay male protagonists battling supernatural forces. I think that this will be a classic horror collection because Thomas does the kind of “guy fiction” that Stephen King does, only he is doing it with gay characters and themes. The best story in the collection has no paranormal gimmicks to it at all to it — “Crack Smokin’ Grandpa” — just a mounting sense of dread as the clues and truths behind the evolving relationship of a gay man and an older one come to light. It’s a powerful and unsettling story.

Favorite Discovery: I’ve blogged about this before, but I think that more readers need to know of these books — the gay and lesbian line of local history books published by Arcadia. I read Gay and Lesbian San Francisco by William Lipsky (and loved it) and then discovered Gay and Lesbian Atlanta by Wesley Chenault and Stacy Brankham (and could not put it down because I grew up in Atlanta).

Favorite Re-Discovery: I sometimes pull down from my shelves a favorite book that I had read years before—sometimes for enjoyment, sometimes to study an author’s technique. This year I had the joy of rediscovering Allan Hollinghurst’s The Swimming Pool Library. I remember when I first read the book in 1989 I was awed by the author’s prose style and his unabashed depiction of gay life in London. It was a marvelously sexy book. I had always been hesitant about revisiting this book, in part because I was probably one of the few people who had been disappointed by The Line of Beauty. But I will only say this: my rediscovery of this book was as magnificent as my first reading of it.

Favorite Guilty Pleasure: I have developed a tremendous affection for ghost stories and this year I spent a lot of time reading both new and old ones — literary short fiction — in an attempt to compile an historical and chronological list of ghost stories that feature gay characters and which were written by gay authors (i.e. “The Mysteries of the Joy Rio” by Tennessee Williams, “Dr. Woolacott” by E.M. Forster, and “The Circular Valley” by Paul Bowles). So I was particularly enthralled by Ken Summers’ Queer Hauntings: True Tales of Gay and Lesbian Ghosts which came out in October. This is a non-fiction guide/reference work of gay and lesbian ghosts and locations haunted by queer spirits. Summers also maintains a Web site at which details queer paranormal events and locations.

For a glance at what other gay authors have revealed as their favorite reads of the year, visit Stephen Bottum's terrific blog, Band of Thebes.