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New month! New books! May is upon us and so are a slew of new and noteworthy LGBT books.
Award-winning author Michael Cunningham’s new book, The Snow Queen, is being released this month by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. The book delves into the lives of two brothers as they search for transcendence and grace in an emotionally fraught modern world.
It’s November 2004. Barrett Meeks, having lost love yet again, is walking through Central Park when he is inspired to look up at the sky; there he sees a pale, translucent light that seems to regard him in a distinctly godlike way. Barrett doesn’t believe in visions—or in God—but he can’t deny what he’s seen.
At the same time, in the not-quite-gentrified Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, Tyler, Barrett’s older brother, a struggling musician, is trying—and failing—to write a wedding song for Beth, his wife-to-be, who is seriously ill. Tyler is determined to write a song that will be not merely a sentimental ballad but an enduring expression of love.
Barrett, haunted by the light, turns unexpectedly to religion. Tyler grows increasingly convinced that only drugs can release his creative powers. Beth tries to face mortality with as much courage as she can summon.
Cunningham follows the Meeks brothers as each travels down a different path in his search for transcendence. In subtle, lucid prose, he demonstrates a profound empathy for his conflicted characters and a singular understanding of what lies at the core of the human soul.
Novelist Rebecca Coffey’s new book, Hysterical (She Writes Press) provides a riveting fictional portrait of Anna Freud, the lesbian daughter of famed psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud.
From the publisher:
There are several serviceable biographies about child psychoanalyst Anna Freud, who lived from 1895 to 1982. But as a fictional memoir, Hysterical is the first novel to reveal Anna’s secrets—and two are blockbusters: 1) At around the time that the young Anna began having intense “friendships” with other women, her father Sigmund began psychoanalyzing her—dissecting her dreams, memories, and, most disturbingly, her sexual fantasies, and writing about them; 2) While Anna publicly supported her father’s “wisdom” about lesbianism and remained his favorite family member, she enjoyed a monogamous relationship with Tiffany fortune heiress Dorothy Burlingham for fifty-four years. Weaving a good story out of a pile of crazy facts, Hysterical lets Anna freely examine the forces that shaped her.
This month, sports writer Kate Fagan details her experience playing basketball for a Christian college in her new memoir The Reappearing Act: Coming Out as Gay on a College Basketball Team Led by Born-Again Christians (Skyhorse Publishing).
From the publisher:
It’s hard enough coming out, but playing basketball for a nationally ranked school and trying to figure out your sexual identity in the closeted and paranoid world of big-time college sports—that’s a challenge.
Kate Fagan’s love for basketball and for her religious teammates at the University of Colorado was tested by the gut-wrenching realization that she could no longer ignore the feelings of otherness inside her. In trying to blend in, Kate had created a hilariously incongruous world for herself in Boulder. Her best friends were part of Colorado’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes, where they ran weekly Bible studies and attended an Evangelical Free Church. For nearly a year, Kate joined them and learned all she could about Christianity—even holding their hands as they prayed for others “living a sinful lifestyle.” Each time the issue of homosexuality arose, she felt as if a neon sign appeared over her head, with a giant arrow pointed downward. During these prayer sessions, she would often keep her eyes open, looking around the circle at the closed eyelids of her friends, listening to the earnestness of their words.
Kate didn’t have a vocabulary for discussing who she really was and what she felt when she was younger; all she knew was that she had a secret. In The Reappearing Act, she brings the reader along for the ride as she slowly accepts her new reality and takes the first steps toward embracing her true self.
This May, the relationship between writer Christopher Isherwood and artist Don Bachardy is exposed in stark detail with the release of their collected love letters by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. The Animals: Love Letters Between Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy, edited by Katherine Bucknell, tells the love story of Isherwood and Bachardy in their own words.
From the publisher:
Christopher Isherwood was the celebrated middle-aged English author of Goodbye to Berlin when he met the Californian teenager Don Bachardy on a Santa Monica beach in 1952. Defying convention, the two created an enduring relationship out of that initial spark—living as an openly gay couple for more than three decades in the closeted world of Hollywood. The Animals is the testimony in letters to their extraordinary partnership, which lasted until Isherwood’s death in 1986—despite a thirty-year age gap, affairs, jealousies, the pressures of literary fame, and the disdain of twentieth-century America for love between two men.
In romantic letters to each other, they invented the private world of the Animals. Chris was Dobbin, a stubborn old workhorse; Don was a rash, spirited white kitten named Kitty. The ability to create a world, a safe and separate milieu, was a great talent of Isherwood’s—and a necessary one as a gay man in mid-twentieth-century America. But Isherwood knew how to spread hay around his stable and attract beauty. He drew Bachardy into his semi-secret realm and together they invented a place for their love to thrive. Bold, transgressive, and playful, The Animals shows us the devotion between two creative spirits in tenderness and storms.
Quentin Crisp famously stated, “If at first you don’t succeed, failure may be your style.” This month, Ivan E. Coyote and Rae Spoon’s new book Gender Failure (Arsenal Pulp Press) explores the wonderful ways the LGBT community often “fail” upwards.
About the collection:
Ivan E. Coyote and Rae Spoon are accomplished, award-winning writers, musicians, and performers; they are also both admitted “gender failures.” In their first collaborative book, Ivan and Rae explore and expose their failed attempts at fitting into the gender binary, and how ultimately our expectations and assumptions around traditional gender roles fail us all.
Based on their acclaimed 2012 live show that toured across Canada and the US and in Europe, Gender Failure is a poignant collection of autobiographical essays, lyrics, and images documenting Ivan and Rae’s personal journeys from gender failure to gender self-acceptance. Equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking, it’s a book that will touch LGBTQ readers and others, revealing, with candor and insight, that gender comes in more than two sizes.
As always, if we missed an author or book, or if you have a book coming out next month, please email us.