2012 NBCC Award Winners, Victories for Gay Rights Activists, and a New Graphic Novel Everyone Should Read
Each January, the National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) announces a list of 30 finalists, five books for each of six genre categories. After about six weeks of close reading and deliberating, the NBCC board members announced the winners for the 2012 publishing year yesterday evening at the New School in New York City: Ben Fountain’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (fiction), Andrew Solomon’s Far from the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity (nonfiction), D.A. Powell’s Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys (poetry), Robert Caro’s The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson (biography), Leanne Shapton’s Swimming Studies (autobiography), and Marina Warner’s Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights (criticism).
“I find it really fun and interesting to be gay now. The culture you get to enjoy is so hilarious and diverse and full of camp. There is such an appreciation of camp and surrealism. It’s a banquet. “
Author and creative director Simon Doonan’s sixth book Gay Men Don’t Get Fat (Blue Rider Press) offers help for the helpless, through the well-manicured hands of gay men. Part self-help, part humorously anecdotal, and part manifesto dedicated to simply loving the gayness that makes you…well, you; Gay Men Don’t Get Fat mainly serves to help those that need a bit of encouragement to walk a bit more fiercely on this planet. Not only does Mr. Doonan dive deep into his natural gay reservoir, he comes from the depths with gifts. Gifts such as realizing who you really are, defining what you are, and then having the courage to buck against said realizations. Tools many of us can use…Right? (more…)
Techno, as any DJ will tell you, is a circular form of music. Its structure is built from repeating patterns called loops which the enterprising DJ can stitch into a long, continuous track. In this way, Brane Mozetič’s Lost Story (translated from the Slovenian by Erica Johnson Debeljak), resembles a techno track. Written in the form of a diary, Lost Story follows a young gay Slovenian, Bojan, who’s stuck in a loop of drugs, clubs, sex.
This sounds like a familiar tune, but Mozetič’s European sensibility changes up the rhythm. Neither the club life nor the drug use are sensationalized; instead, they seem to be a normal aspect of Bojan’s life. It’s Friday? Time for Propaganda. Saturday? Let’s drive to Izola for the Embassy Gavioli. The characters gobble up ecstasy, acid, cocaine, marijuana, and liquor without moralizing or glamorizing. (Heroin, however, is the notable exception; Bojan explodes at characters to delve into it.)
Mozetič’s matter-of-fact handling of these subjects hints at his larger purpose: he’s less interested in club culture and more in the deadened youth who participate in it. Even Bojan’s interiority goes only skin-deep: he tracks his moment-by-moment emotions, but his motivations and desires are mysterious even to him. Though Mozetič name-checks headline techno acts of the late 90s (Robert Miles, Laurent Garnier, Sven Väth), Lost Story feels almost dislocated from time. The diary (purported to have been “found” by Mozetič himself) gives specific date markers, but no years. It doesn’t implicate a specific youth culture for its fatalistic and self-destructive attitude, but youth culture in general.
Indeed, even though Bojan has a steady boyfriend, Tim, neither are strangers to polyamory. But just as there’s no emotional connection between Bojan and Tim, there’s none with their other partners, either. In fact, the eroticism in the story is tied to drug use, as if drugs are the only way they can access emotions. The very idea of sexuality, as well, becomes fluid under the influence; putatively “straight” young men allow themselves to be seduced, depending on how beholden they feel to their suppliers.
Many of the complaints that people level against techno (it’s repetitive; can’t tell when one part ends and another begins; it all sounds the same) could be leveled against Lost Story itself. But this misses an essential element: the repetitive nature of techno also allows for variations to become that much more prominent. When an established pattern is disrupted, the change sounds huge.
The major disruption in Lost Story is the arrival of Arjun, a young half-Indian man. His appearance on the scene provides an element that gives Bojan more of an emotional pitch. When Tim leaves for a drug-and-party bender, Bojan never feels his absence; the appearances and disappearances of Arjun, however, leave Bojan alternately bereft or even more numbed. As the object of affection, Arjun himself is, at turns, annoying, obsessive, and charming—in other words, maddeningly real.
Mozetič manages to keep these elements spinning harmoniously, though early on, he does have one trainwreck mix—when the DJ mis-syncs two records, resulting in an off-putting clatter. In Mozetič’s case, he replicates two chat sessions, which, on one hand, speaks to the alterability of identity (Bojan impersonates Tim looking for tricks), but, on the other, is meaningless (as Internet chat transcripts tend to be).
Arjun’s presence starts to open up Bojan, little by little. He begins to imagine more, to fantasize, to see himself outside of his loops. But even though the novel shifts dramatically out ofSlovenia, Bojan discovers that the patterns in his life are perhaps too ingrained. Bojan is stuck in a locked groove, where the record’s stylus enters a circle and repeats endlessly, endlessly, endlessly…
By Brane Mozetič (translated by Erica Johnson Debeljak)
Paperback, 9781584980865, 148pp
“I don’t have a problem with a place at the table, and I don’t have a problem with a place at the table for my clients, but I think it’s all about the work. Are you good, or are you not good?”
Ira Silverberg’s life in publishing owes much to the allure of a tall blond guy from Kansas, a “Junky” mother-in-law, and his taste for formally experimental fiction. His mother still laments the Bachelor’s degree he abandoned in the 80s. And yet, there began three decades worth of selling, buying, and marketing fiction. (more…)
Writer and man-about-town, Logan K. Young files a report on what he loved at this year’s inaugural Outwrite LGBT Book Fair.
Unlike the rain that threatened, thankfully, the crowd was steady all day long. The inaugural OutWrite LGBT Book Fair , held on Saturday, August 6, 2011, in Washington, DC was stronger than many book fairs twice her age. With eleventh-hour shout-outs from Metro Weekly and the Washington Blade (the District’s foremost gay newspapers), the friendly confines of The DC Center ultimately proved too small to comfortably accommodate everyone who would stroll in. It’s never easy turning anyone away, but as far as problems on a maiden voyage go, overcrowding is probably the best one to have. (more…)
“The thing I wanted to do in this one was take a new approach to how the sexuality is dealt with. In my two previous YA novels the kids are coming out and it’s a really big deal. But that story’s becoming in some ways a product of the past.”
With the publication of Saints of Augustine in 2007, Patrick Ryan became part of the early millennium’s burst of authors who broke barriers by placing GLBT characters front and center in commercially viable young adult literature, breaking previous taboos and giving young readers better access than ever to current stories relating in and around many aspects of the GLBT coming-of-age experience. Around the same time, his first novel-in-stories, Send Me, got him attention from the adult literary world and was a selection of the Barnes and Noble Discover Great Writers. He has straddled both worlds since, working as an associate editor at GRANTA and releasing two more young adult novels: In Mike We Trust, and last month, Gemini Bites, which centers around twins in a large family—one male, the other female—who both become enamored with and in competition over an outsider at their high school who may or may not be the vampire he claims to be. (more…)
Don Quixote, one of the greatest works of world literature, has been the object of academic studies since the inception of Queer Theory in the critical apparatus. The well-known possibility of Miguel de Cervantes’ homosexuality, the main character’s relationship with his male companion and his idealization of the impossible and inexistent heterosexual love, and other queer aspects of the world’s first modern novel have been intensely and frequently targeted. So, during the writing of my own doctoral dissertation I engaged in a rereading of the novel believing the likelihood of finding something new to “queer” would be a difficult task. I was wrong. There was this man, an obscure protagonist explored in one of the episodes, that clamored to be heard. He was, Vicente de la Rosa, a traveling soldier. (more…)
The American Library Association has announced its 2010 Stonewall Book Awards, given annually to English-language LGBT books of exceptional merit: fiction, Stray Dog Winter (MacAdam/Cage) by David Francis; non-fiction,Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America (St. Martin’s Press) by Nathanial Frank; and children’s and young adult literature, The Vast Fields of Ordinary (Penguin Group) by Nick Burd. Details on the books and all nominees here.
Nominee Lesléa Newman’s Mommy, Mama, and Me and Daddy, Papa, and Me (both from Tricycle Press, illustrated by Carol Thompson)were named ALA Stonewall Honor Books and included on its Rainbow Reading list (http://rainbowlist.wordpress.com/rl-2010/). Mommy, Mama, and Me was also named an ALA Notable Book for Children.
D. A. Powell’s poetry collection, Chronic (Graywolf Press), is a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, to be announced March 11. Chronic was also selected as a best book of the year byPublishers Weekly and the Kansas City Star.
Author Christopher Rice has donated $25,000 to the city of West Hollywood to help with the construction of Library Park, a major new civic centerpiece and cultural landmark, which has already broken ground. Included in the new library will be a special collection of LGBT literature and another devoted to HIV/AIDS. Vital fund-raising continues (www.weholibraryfund.org) and every dollar helps. (For those blessed with cushy bank accounts, please see my related overture further down.)
Looking for a literary alternative to the Super Bowl on February 7? You might log on to www.shadowunit.org, which starts its third season on Super Bowl Sunday, offering character blogs, serial narrative, and innovative, storytelling interactivity. Among those involved: Elizabeth Bear, Emma Bull, Amanda Downum, and Sarah Monette. (Elizabeth is also our Book Buzz Interview this month, anchoring this column.)
February is Queer Horror Month at Dark Scribe (www.DarkScribeMagazine.com), featuring interviews with Tom Cardamone, Jameson Currier, and Lee Thomas, plus a roundtable discussion on the state of queer horror.
Meanwhile, Dark Scribe Press has premiered a snazzy trailer for its newest title, In the Closet, Under the Bed, by Lambda Literary Award and Bram Stoker Award-winner Lee Thomas.
The Robert Chesley Foundation, established by Victor Bumbalo in 1993 in playwright Robert Chesley’s honor to support playwrights of gay and lesbian theatre, has a new website:www.chesleyfoundation.org.
Chip Livingston, a widely-published and award-winning gay poet of mixed Creek heritage, has collected much of his best work into a debut collection, Museum of False Starts. It’s out next month from Gival Press (www.givalpress.com).
Genia Stevens interviewed Mikaya Heart, author of My Sweet Wild Dance, on Sisters Talk Radio, the online queer talk radio show. My Sweet Wild Danceis the true story of Mikaya’s turbulent life growing up lesbian in Scotland in the ‘50s. Tune in here.
Submissions for the winter issue of Mary (www.maryliterary.com), “a cute homo version of Reader’s Digest,” need to reach editor William Johnson by February 30. The LGBT literary quarterly made its debut last fall with several author interviews and contributions from eighteen writers. Mary pays small honorariums and welcomes submissions for both its print and web publications in prose, poetry, or essay format.
El Museo del Barrio’s Speak Up! Speak Out! chapbook, featuring the poetry of Edwin Torres,Mahina Movement, Caridad De La Luz, and Emanuel Xavier (who also edited), with art byJuan Betancurth, is downloadable as a free PDF file by clicking “More.”
Click to hear Jee Leong Koh reading from Equal to the Earth, his first full-length collection.
It’s been a decade since Kensington published the Lammy-winning, ‘70s coming-of-age novel The World of Normal Boys, by K.M. Soehnlein. Now comes a sequel, Robin and Ruby, for release in early April. It follows Robin from Normal Boys and his sister Ruby over the course of a life-changing weekend in the mid-‘80s. For Karl’s readings on both coasts, check his website: www.kmsoehnlein.com.
TnT Classic Books (www.tntclassicbooks.com), dedicated to post-Stonewall playwrights, has collected twenty-seven plays in Short Plays To Long Remember, due out March 28. Among the queer authors represented are Jane Chambers, Perry Brass, David Johnston, David Mauriello, Sidney Morris, and Doric Wilson.
Bold Strokes Books has acquired Paul Faraday’s new mystery satire, The Straight Shooter: A Nate Dainty Manhunt!, scheduled for release later this year.
The Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation, which awards yearly, $1,000 grants to selected writers of “full-length plays, screenplays, musicals or operas that present the gay and lesbian lifestyle in a positive manner,” is again open to new submissions. To be considered, work must be based on, or inspired by, a historic person, culture, event, or work of art. Grants are also awarded to filmmakers and production companies who meet similar criteria. Details here.
Tim Miller has begun touring with his new performance piece, “Lay of the Land.” Here’s a YouTube clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYrH-PKJPnA.
Last month, in partnership with the Houston Public Library, the Houston GLBT Community Center began a new, free, monthly literary series featuring LGBT writers. (The inaugural author wasRev. Rick Elliott, reading from his inspirational book, Faith Journeys of the Heart.) For upcoming programs, go to www.hglbtcc.org.
NLA: International, dedicated to the pansexual leather community, has expanded its annual writing awards for excellence in SM/leather/fetish writing. Nominations are now being accepted for non-fiction books, articles, novels, short fiction, and anthologies first published between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2009. The deadline for submission is February 29. Details at http://www.nla-i.com.
Partners in life for twelve years, poets William Reichard and James Cihlar will also be reading partners this spring at various locations to celebrate William’s fourth collection, Sin Eater, and James’s first, Undoing. To find out where and when, use this link: http://www.williamreichard.com. James has also been busy reviewing for the poetry site Coldfront (http://coldfrontmag.com), with recent reviews of Louise Glück’s A Village Life and Mary Jo Bang’s The Bride of E.
Vice London editor Bruno Bayley interviews Jack Fritscher about gay literature and censorship athttp://www.viceland.com/int/v17n1/htdocs/erotic-fiction-puritan-censorship-314.php.
New Town Writers, Chicago’s LGBT writing and performance group, is accepting submissions from writers and artists in the Midwest for Swell, NTW’s online zine, and Off the Rocks, its print magazine. The submission deadline for both publications is March 15. For more details, go tohttp://www.newtownwriters.org
”The Lord of the Orchards,” a comprehensive online feature from Jeffrey Beam and Richard Owenson the life and work of gay Black Mountain poet, publisher, and photographer Jonathan Williams, can be read at John Tranter’s literary magazine, Jacket. Here’s the link:http://jacketmagazine.com/38/index.shtml#jw.
Facebook has reportedly banned advertising for Perry Brass’s The Manly Art of Seduction and Sam Martino, news editor of Out in Jersey, has written about it here.
Adam Lowe’s science fiction novel Troglodyte Rose (Crossing Chaos/Enigmatic Ink), due out April 1, has been earning positive early reviews, including this from Leeds Guide: “Strange, creepy, hilarious, disgusting and simply fantastic… Not for the faint hearted but a must for any fan of sci-fi, strong, modern writing or pure originality.”
Raymond Luczak has a new PDF sampler and a book trailer for his deaf gay novel, Men with Their Hands.
“Tenochtitlan,” a story by James Magruder (www.jamesmagruder.com), first published inSubtropics, has been selected for the anthology New Stories from the Midwest, due out from Ohio University Press in the winter of 2010/11.
Patricia Nell Warren is working on My West, an anthology collecting the best of her many short nonfiction pieces about the American West written over more than half a century, including a section of her writings on LGBT people in the West. Look for it from her own Wildcat Press, tentatively this fall.
Rick R. Reed’s novel, Deadly Vision, is now available as an e-book from Bristlecone Pine Press. Here’s the link: http://www.facebook.com/l/06cbb;tinyurl.com/y8epaep.
Finally: Regarding West Hollywood’s $64 million Library Park project, which will reflect the city’s unique identity and provide much needed resources and services, including a safe place for gay youth to privately read LGBT literature: I’m on the host committee for a gala February 22 reception and silent auction to be held for select individuals who are in a position to donate $5,000 to $10,000 to help reach the Library Fund’s $10 million private philanthropy goal (we’re more than halfway there). If this is you, and you feel the cause is worthy, please contact me soon at firstname.lastname@example.org. Again, here’s the link for more information: http://weholibraryfund.org/.
Book Buzz is a monthly column of news and noteworthy tidbits from the LGBT writing and publishing community. Book release announcements (pub dates) will continue to be covered elsewhere while Book Buzz looks for a different “angle” – an award, milestone, notable reissue, film deal, rave review, event of national interest, etc. Submit your brief item to John Morgan Wilson at email@example.com. No attachments please.
Writers of many stripes were among 2009’s Out 100, including Frank Bruni, Mark Doty, Kerry Eleveld, Andrew Holleran, Tony Kushner, Arthur Laurents, Malinda Lo, Tina Mabry, John Marans, Felice Picano, Paul Rudnick, Sarah Schulman, Pam Spaulding, Michael Sucsy, Matt Tyranauer, Sarah Waters, and Edmund White. To see the complete list, plus profiles and photos, go to out.com.
Two books shared first place for Best Overall Gay Novel in the 2009 Rainbow Awards competition, founded last year “to celebrate the best in LGBT writing”: Out of Position, by Kyell Gold (Sofawolf Press), and Whistling in the Dark, by Tamara Allen (Lethe Press). More than twenty publishers participated. To view the finalists and winners in all categories, click here. (more…)
Hannah Free, starring Sharon Gless and based on Claudia Allen’s acclaimed stage play about the unabashed love of two women over several decades, will premiere at Outfest Los Angeles on July 10. As the film schedules future festival dates, Bella Books has acquired the print and digital rights to the novelization of the play, which Claudia will also write.
Big news from the world of horror fiction: Vince Liaguno and Chad Helder have won the prestigious Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement from the Horror Writer’s Association for their anthology, Unspeakable Horror: From the Shadows of the Closet . To learn why this is so important, read our Q&A with Vince and Chad below.