Entertainment

Must Read Books For Spring

Written by Gregg Shapiro

Spring is here and with the change in seasons comes new life in bloom. Nowhere is that truer than on the shelves of your local bookseller where a virtual garden of new titles is just waiting to be picked.

Words and pictures

Stonewall Book Award-winning straight author Kirstin Cronn-Mills teams up with illustrator/comic book artist E. Eero Johnson for Original Fake (Putnam, 2016), a Y/A novel with graphic panels for readers of all ages about Frankie’s attempt to make his own mark in a family of attention grabbers.

With a foreword by Boy George, Damien Frost’s Night Flowers: From Avant-Drag to Extreme Haute Couture (Merrell, 2016) features artist/photographers stunning portraits of the “loose-knit community of drag queens and kings, club kids, alternative queer, transgender, and gender-queer people, goths, artists, and cabaret, burlesque and fetish performers who bloom at night and burn bright among the neon lights of inner-city London.”

GG

Golden Girls Forever (Harper Design, 2016), subtitled An Unauthorized Look Behind the Lanai, is Jim Colucci’s reverent “complete, first-ever Golden Girls retrospective,” inviting readers inside the “wicker wonderland,” including exclusive interviews, behind-the-scenes stories and photos, making it an essential companion to the enduring sitcom.

Commissioned by the Arcus Foundation, award-winning photographer Jenny Papalexandris’ photo book Five Bells (The New Press, 2016), illustrates what “Being LGBT in Australia” means through images of weddings, family get-togethers, the LGBT Mardi Gras parade and more.

Books of love

Love Wins

Read Love Wins: The Lovers and Lawyers Who Fought the Landmark Case for Marriage Equality (William Morrow, 2016) by Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Debbie Cenziper and Jim Obergefell, the “definitive account…of the dramatic and previously unreported events” leading up to Obergefell v Hodges, the milestone case regarding the legalization of same-sex marriage, before it’s made into a movie with a screenplay by Chris Weitz.

Love Unites Us: Winning the Freedom to Marry in America (The New Press, 2016), edited by Kevin M. Cathcart and Leslie J. Gabel-Brett, includes essays by Evan Wolfson, Paula L. Ettlebrick, Mary L. Bonauto, the ACLU’s Matt Coles, as well as a foreword by Eric Holder.

Books of life

Odd

In Architecture’s Odd Couple (Bloomsbury Press, 2016), the lives and careers of two quirky but brilliant 20th century architects, Frank Lloyd Wright and openly gay Philip Johnson, described as possessing “restless creativity, enormous charisma” and a penchant for being outspoken, are examined by writer Hugh Howard.

Lita Ford, who as a member of all-female rock group The Runaways, shared the stage with queer music marvel Joan Jett, and later went on to have a successful solo career, tells her story in the memoir Living Like a Runaway (Dey Street, 2016), featuring a foreword by Dee Snider of Twisted Sister.

Songs

“Is there an unforgettable song that changed your life?” is the question that NPR’s “All Songs Considered” host and creator Bob Boilen posed to queer artists such as Carrie Brownstein, Michael Stipe (of REM), Courtney Barnett, St. Vincent, Jonsi (of Sigur Ros), as well as straight musicians including Leon Bridges, Jeff Tweedy (of Wilco), David Byrne, Lucinda Williams and Cat Power, for his book Your Song Changed My Life (Morrow, 2016), and the answers are nothing less than fascinating.

The late country music and honky-tonk superstar George Jones, who received his Kennedy Center Honors alongside Barbra Streisand in 2008, is profiled Rich Kienzle’s book The Grand Tour: The Life and Music of George Jones (Dey Street, 2016).

New novel ideas

Said to encompass “the full spectrum” of gay life, through “the disco era into the age of AIDS,” Our Young Man (Bloomsbury, 2016) by prolific gay literary legend Edmund White, tells the tale of handsome Guy, a Frenchman who becomes the toast of the fashion world and Fire Island.

Some Go Hungry (Kaylie Jones Books/Akashic, 2016) by J. Patrick Redmond is a gay murder mystery that takes readers from Miami Beach, Florida to Fort Sackville, Indiana, as Grey Daniels “struggles to live his authentic, openly gay life” amidst the fundamentalist Christians in his hometown.

Glass

In Case of Emergency: Break Glass (Queens Ferry, 2016), three novellas by poet and fiction writer Sarah Van Arsdale, goes “from the far-flung to the far gone,” to answer questions about identity and relationships.

The GJS II (Quote Editions, 2016) of the title of Lambda Literary Award-winner Shawn Stewart Ruff’s third novel is Griffin Jewells Saunders II, the man at the center of this Clinton-era thriller promising “tabloid intrigue, high-fashion passion and murder.”

Award-winning gay writer Paul Russell’s second novel, Boys of Life (Cleis Press, 1992/2016), about “country boy” Tony’s journey from Kentucky to New York to an “inside wet cell” has been reissued for readers who might have missed it the first time around.

In Without Annette (Scholastic Press, 2016), writer Jane B. Mason’s Y/A debut, girlfriends Josie and Annette attend Brookwood, an esteemed boarding school far from home, where they must face a series of unexpected challenges that threatens everything, not least of which is their relationship.

David

A combined work of mystery fiction and semi-autobiographical memoir, David Goes Home (Hamaca Press, 2016), subtitled “Growing Up Gay In the Dust Bowl,” follows the title character’s “nightmarish search for the murderer of his hometown sheriff” and what he learns about the residents his Oklahoma birthplace.

Set in a time before there were openly gay jazz artists such as Patricia Barber, Gary Burton, Andy Bey, Terri Lyne Carrington or Lea DeLaria, The Jazz Palace (Anchor, 2015/16) by Mary Morris, now in paperback, takes readers back to 1920s Chicago where two musicians, Jewish Benny and African-American Napoleon, “navigate the highs and lows of the Jazz Age.”

As more and more queer folks choose to be parents, childbirth becomes an increasingly common occurrence and Eleven Hours (Tin House, 2016) by Pamela Erens, depicts the process through the eyes of two women, in-labor Lore and pregnant nurse Franckline.