Advocate Bookshelf: Gay Baseball, Perverse Painters, and the Religious Right

Back to school brings a host of offbeat books to the shelves, including the memoir of an influential gay painter, a love story between a gay man and baseball, and the tale of a lesbian teen who wants to go to prom.

BY Diane Anderson-Minshall

September 27 2012 5:00 AM ET

Fontana by Joshua Martino (Bold Strokes Books, $16.95)

A book about a closeted ballplayer couldn't come at a better time, as more and more pro athletes are both coming out or standing up for their teammates' right to do so and just two weeks ago a pro baseballer was suspended for displaying a homophobic slur on his face. In Joshua Martino's new novel, Ricky Fontana is one incredible baseball player, a New York Mets outfielder who is worried that his skyrocketing popularity will reveal his big secret: that he's gay. Of course there is a world-weary and grizzled sportswriter, Jeremy Rusch ("hardened by drink and disappointment" because journalists in novels, at least, often are) who exposes Ricky's secret just as the athlete is on a Barry Bonds-like hot streak. The drama that ensues changes both men in a book that's illuminating and  beautifully written. Even better: This isn't a classic gay love story or a traditional coming-out narrative. In a world where there's never been an active out pro baseball player, it's about about a love affair between a man and his sport, the sort of classically masculine narrative in which gay men have rarely been visible previously. (BoldStrokesBooks.com)

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