Beauty’s Kingdom by Anne Rice, writing as A.N. Roquelaure (Viking)
In 1983, The Advocate gave the first book of Rice’s erotic Sleeping Beauty series, The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, a great review, saying the book was "something very special ... at once so light and yet so haunting." Now that Rice again casts her lurid gaze towards the traditional tale of Sleeping Beauty, probing the unspoken implications of this suggestive tale by exploring its undeniable connection to sexual desire, we’re thrilled to say it too deserves some LGBT adoration. That’s because, in addition to the usual rich imagery there’s every configuration of sexual pleasure — gay, lesbian, bi, and straight — in every combination, with amble doses of BDSM. Rice recently wrote on her Facebook page, “I am a feminist who believes in the right of women to their sexual fantasies, no matter how shocking such fantasies might seem. … I resist all efforts to politicize or sanitize women's fantasies for them. They have a right to imagine what they want, to write what they want, to read what they want.” This book is an unadulterated example of that philosophy.
The Life and Death of Sophie Stark by Anna North (Blue Rider Press)
There’s a reason why Emma Donoghue, one of the best lesbian novelists out there, joined a slew of magazines and critics in praising Sophie Stark. This terrific lit-fic novel, which explores love, art, and identity, offers a look at a once-rising but imperfect filmmaker, told from the POVs of the people who loved her most, including an ex-husband and an ex-girlfriend. In fact, though the titular Sophie Stark is a bisexual woman, neither her sexuality nor her gender is an explicit driving plot point, both characteristics taking a back seat to her difficult, artistic brilliance.
I’m Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves by Ryan O’Connell (Simon & Schuster)
Growing up, Ryan O’Connell always knew he was special — and not because his magnet high school for the “extraordinarily” gifted told him so, nor was it the countless hugs and kisses from his helicopter parents that gave him the idea. No, Ryan knew he was special because he drooled on people, wore leg braces, and couldn’t manage to put a key in a door. He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth, and he is also gay. His hilarious millennial memoir goes through his often ridiculously funny escapades in his 20s, trying to find love (or get a BJ) off Grindr and stalking people on Facebook, enduring stressful unpaid internships, and that excruciatingly awkward first time with another man (it really is funny). The book, coming out Tuesday, is already making headlines: After a multistudio bidding war, the television rights were sold to Warner Bros., with The Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons’s production company, That’s Wonderful Productions, signed on to produce. I’m Special is delightfully fun and, better for us beach bums, easy to read in one fell swoop.