Roxane Gay: On Messiness, Not Belonging, and What Being Queer Taught Her About Being a (Bad) Feminist
From covering pop culture, to writing beautifully crafted short stories Roxane Gay has long been a prolific online presence. Her work appears everywhere, including The Guardian, Twelve Stories, XO Jane, Salon, and The Rumpus (where she is also the essays editor). This year saw the release of her first novel, An Untamed State (Grove Atlantic, 2014) which garnered strong reviews. Holly Bass of The New York Times wrote, “ In this fable, the princess and a wicked witch relate to each other as real women do, and ultimately rescue each other.” (more…)
I imagine it is bad form to start off talking about a book by bad-mouthing its genre, but I felt the need to disclose, if only to emphasize how damn good Everett Maroon’s new young adult novel is: I don’t much care for YA. Well, at least I thought I didn’t. Let me explain. (more…)
Born erudite, John Rechy, 83, is the author of twelve novels and three non-fiction works.
He was raised Mexican-American in El Paso, Texas at a time when Latino children were routinely segregated. He was assumed to be Anglo because of his light skin. A teacher “changed” his name from Juan to John. (more…)
Rebecca Coffey: On Sigmund Freud’s Relationship with His Lesbian Daughter Anna and Using Fiction to Explore the Truth
On May 13, 2014 She Writes Press published Rebecca Coffey’s latest book, Hysterical: Anna Freud’s Story which has been getting very positive reviews. Booklist called it “complexly entertaining, sexually dramatic, [and] acidly funny”; Lambda Literary said it’s “got a plot so rife with tension it’ll make you squirm.” And Oprah’s magazine recommended it in its June 2014 issue. (more…)
Francine Prose: On Her New Historical Novel, Exploring the Psyches of Nazi Collaborators, and Examining Questions of Good and Evil
Set in Paris prior to and during World War II, Francine Prose’s historical novel, Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 (HarperCollins), revolves around the lives of those who visit and perform at the Chameleon Club, a kind of burlesque joint/dance hall where “men danced with men, women with women in monocles and mustaches.” Club proprietor Yvonne, a “Hungarian chanteuse” keeps a lizard that matches her outfits; actually, she’s owned several—one died from exertion after being placed on a paisley print. (more…)
As a young reader, several of my favorite science fiction authors were lamentably out of print, so a trip to a used bookstore was a treasure hunt. There was always the possibility that I would find a rarity, or even a book previously unknown to me. As an adult reader, I’m continually surprised at the breadth and depth of gay fiction. The Stonewall riot may have been the start of a civil rights movement, but it was not the beginning of our history. Intuition, coded cover art and friendly guidance has led me to many a title, and I’m glad that there are still surprises on this journey, chief among them Valancourt Books. My friend Trebor Healey interviewed them recently at the Huffington Post, where I learned that they’ve been reprinting gay classics and Gothic and horror books since 2005. I immediately went to their website and was startled at the number of books that they’ve resurrected, and the obvious care and diligence that went into those books’ recovery. I’ve since chatted up one of the publishers, James Jenkins (his partner in books and marriage, Ryan Cagle, handles the horror side of the business), to learn more about some of the gay titles they’ve brought out. (more…)
Sandra Gail Lambert: On Her Debut Novel ‘The River’s Memory,’ Historical Research, and the Thin Line Between Short Stories and Novels
I was nervous when Sandra Gail Lambert asked me to read an advanced review copy of The River’s Memory. I admired Sandra’s shorter works, but what if I didn’t like her debut novel? Weeks later, I leafed through the book, still under the spell of the sexy, unsentimental, beautiful muck and mire of this astonishing story. I loved this haunting novel. (more…)
You may know Ariel Schrag as the author and illustrator of a series of graphic memoirs ( Potential, Likewise), or as a writer for The L Word. She also received the most exuberant name-check in the Le Tigre song “Hot Topic,” a nod she returns with a wink in her debut novel Adam (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). When seventeen year old Adam Freeman ditches his boring scene in Piedmont, CA to spend the summer with his lesbian sister Casey in New York City, he’s hoping for life-changing excitement in one form only: Girls. When he meets Gillian, the girl of his dreams, fun turns to major confusion as he realizes she has mistaken him for a transman, the most plausible explanation for why this cute young guy is hanging out with a bunch of lesbians. The book is riotously funny, deeply romantic, and a head-clearing breath of fresh air in its look at sexual and gender politics. I asked Schrag via email about Adam, trans inclusion then (the book is set in 2006) and now, and The L Word (because I simply couldn’t resist). (more…)
All I Love and Know (William Morrow), by Judith Frank, is a brilliant, thoughtful, unexpectedly funny new novel about a gay couple, Daniel Rosen and Matt Greene, who live in Northampton, MA. It opens with a café bombing in Jerusalem that kills Daniel’s twin brother Joel and Joel’s wife Ilana. When it is revealed that Joel and Ilana designated Daniel the guardian of their two small children should they die, a firestorm erupts in both Daniel’s and Ilana’s families about the possibility that the children will be taken out of Israel and raised by gay men. The novel explores what happens to Daniel and Matt’s relationship in the wake of this conflict and this trauma. It is also page-turner that keeps the reader deep in the story until the very last page. And thinking about it afterwards for days. (more…)
Lorrie Sprecher’s fiction stars women whose lives are propelled by a passion for activist culture and an almost painful compassion for the disenfranchised of the world. For Amanda, the protagonist of new novel Pissing in a River (The Feminist Press), a love of punk rock and distaste for U.S. foreign policy drives her to take shelter in England. There, she finds her way toward friendship and romance while forming a band, keeping tabs on her lifelong obsessive-compulsive disorder, and dealing with fallout from the rape of her partner, Melissa.
Amanda is funny and, when it comes to standing up for her beliefs, not afraid to be intense—qualities shared by her author. Sprecher took the time to talk via email about her new book, the next two she has planned (one a sequel), and her thoughts on being an American at a time when advances in gay rights coexist with dramatic steps backward in reproductive rights and national policy. (more…)