The lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
Kingsolver's seventh novel is an epic story. It begins in Mexico in 1929. We meet Harrison Shepherd, a young boy born in the United States but living in Mexico with his Mexican mother, a vivacious but self-absorbed woman who moves from man to man, providing inconsistent parenting to her young son.
Harrison instead receives direction from a series of housekeepers, learning cooking and running errands. His life is altered forever when he meets Mexican muralist Diego Rivera and his wife Frida Khalo. Taken in to their home and their confidence, Harrison observes their tempestuous relationship first hand, and develops a deep appreciation for their art and for Aztec history. The arrival of Russian political exile Lev Trotsky and his wife change the dynamic in the home and in the relationships, and provide another life-changing bend in Harrison's life journey.
The story is told in the form of Harrison's diary entries, letters, and newspaper stories - some real and some fictional - and by Violet Brown, a woman who became Harrison's stenograper and loyal friend when he returned to the United States following Trotsky's death. This return coincided with the emergence of McCarthyism, the Cold War, and the persecution of anyone suspeced of "un-American" activities. Even as he achieved great national popularity with the publication of historical novels set during the Aztec era, Harrison himself became a victim of the anti-communist movement.
Kingsolver's characters leap off the page. The development of Harrison's character, and of his relationships with Frida and Violet, are full of depth, humour and sensitivity. The depiction of place - the exotic and intoxicating landscape of Mexico and the suffocating and myopic milieu of small town America in the late 1940s and early 50s - feels authentic. I loved the snappy dialogue, the frequent "one-liners", the sympathetic and generous treatment of these flawed characters. The lacuna is a wonderful evocation of time and place, and should have a spot on your bedside table.
Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg
This internationally acclaimed, award winning novel by historian and activist Feinberg follows the journey of Jess Goldberg, a masculine girl growing up during the McCarthy era. Confused initially about the strict lines between male and female, Jess begins to push the boundaries, visiting gay bars, trying on her father's suits and using men's rooms. This was the time when police squads raided gay bars, and she is jailed on more than one occasion. She also begins to take hormone treatments, but when the emotional implications of changing sex become overwhelming, she stops. Some physiological changes, such as the deepening of her voice, are irreversible, and she finds herself stranded somewhere between genders, and feeling even more undefined in an "either/or" world. Goldberg's journey evokes the confusion and struggle of transgendered people, and her story is a landmark in the literature.
In 1994 Stone Butch Blues won the Stonewall Book Award, the American Library Association Gay and Lesbian Book Award and the Lambda Literary Award. Feinberg continues to be an activist, speaker and author/blogger
(http://www.transgenderwarrior.org/) She is the author of Transgender Warriors: Making History from Joan of Arc to Dennis Rodman, Trans Liberation: Beyond Pink or Blue, and another novel, Drag King Dreams.
Mann, gay novelist, biographer and chronicler of gay Hollywood, had a busy year in 2009, publishing both a novel and a biography of Elizabeth Taylor. Read on...
Object of desire
Danny Fortunato has it all - looks, smarts, and a long-term, loving relationship of twenty years. But as he turns 41, his career as a go-go boy finished, he senses that something isn't right. Is he really the "golden boy" that everyone thinks he is? His sister went missing when he was 14, changing his world completely, and as a result he has carried a secret for all these years. Then a young bartender named Kelly appears, providing further compications, and making him examine the patterns that define his life. Will his quest to find the things and people he has lost and loved succeed? Other fiction titles by Mann include Men who love men, All American boy, Where the boys are and Masters of midnight: erotic tales of the vampire.
How to be a movie star: Elizabeth Taylor in Hollywood
Mann has tapped into new sources - interviews and previously untapped material - to bring us a picture of the actress, from her childhood in England, to early films such as National Velvet and Giant, to her romances and machinations in the Hollywood circle. He presents her as a savvy "player of the game", showing us how she shrewdly surrounded herself with people who could help her achieve the status of icon. Mann is the author of Kate: the woman who was Hepburn; Behind the screen: how gays and lesbians shaped Hollywood, 1910-1969; and Wisecracker: the life and times of William Haines (out of print, but available through Interlibrary Loan).
Following are some titles from our fiction collection which focus on gay/lesbian characters. Enjoy!
My fair captain by J.L. Langley
If you like science fiction with an erotic twist, My fair captain may work for you.
Intergalactic Captain Nathaniel (Nate) Hawkins is asked to go undercover to investigate a missing weapons stash. He finds himself drawn to the king’s son, Prince Aiden, an artist who has no interest in a convenient marriage or political power. Ultimately the two men have to work together, and are confronted with the challenge of finding the stolen weapons while grappling with their growing mutual attraction.
The skin beneath by Nairne Holtz.
Sam O’Connor has always believed that her sister died of a drug overdose. But someone has sent her a postcard that claims that Chloe dies of gunshot wounds.
Sam has to find out what really happened, and in order to do so she must navigate a trail of fact and fantasy, and confront some difficult truths about her beloved sister, and about herself.
Drag queen in the court of death by Caro Soles
Michael Dunn-Baerton is cleaning out his ex-lovers apartment when he discovers a mummified corpse in a trunk. Was the killer his lover? In solving the mystery, Michael must go back 25 years to revist the murky memories of those who knew Ronnie. He must also revisit a time in his life when he was thrown out by his wife, disowned by his family, and had found his first true love.
Rose of no man’s land by Michelle Tea.
Tea, winner of the 2000 Lambda Award for Valencia (coming soon to RPL), relates the story of Trisha Driscoll, an alcoholic 10th grader from a dysfunctional family. Trisha meets Rose, a fry cook, and the two go on a high stakes adventure which includes crystal meth, dumb guys in cars, and sexual discovery.
Virginia bedfellows by Gavin Morris
Two young men, banished from England and working as indentured servants in Colonial Virginia, develop an unbreakable bond that enables them to overcome the fear, prejudice and constant threat that their secret represents.
When you were me by Robert Rodi
53 year-old Jack Ackerly has achieved a comfortable existence, but having recently broken up with his boyfriend, is facing a hole in his life. But when he hits a handsome young cyclist, Corey Szaslow, with his Porsche, he is presented with an opportunity to relive his youth. The plot involves changing bodies…