13 Satisfying Summer Reads

MAN READING

 

Martin

Agnes Martin: Pioneer, Painter, Icon by Henry Martin.

One of the most acclaimed painters of the 20th Century, Agnes Martin was also a reclusive lesbian who had complicated relationships with women, gender, and the schizophrenia that both inspired and threatened her creativity. This new biography explores those issues and delves into the decade Martin spent as part of a queer arts community. (Schaffner Press)

Bone

Bone Music by Christopher Rice.

The latest from Anne Rice’s gay son launches the Burning Girl thriller series about a girl abducted and raised by serial killers, who is then subjected to experimental treatments that inadvertently bestow her with superpowers. Struggling with survivor’s guilt, she seeks to use her new powers as a vigilante to hunt those who prey on the weak. (Thomas & Mercer)

Boys Swinging

Boys Keep Swinging by Jake Shears.

In this well-crafted and entertaining memoir, the lead singer of glam rock band Scissor Sisters (who also adapted Tales of the City into a musical) shares his rise from bullied boy to a rock star who ruled New York and rubbed elbows with queer icons including David Bowie and Elton John. (Atria Books)

Idyll

Idyll Fears by Stephanie Gayle.

This is the second installment in the Thomas Lynch series about a gay police chief, set in the 1990s rural America. Idyll Fears sees Lynch struggling with homophobia on the force after being outed, trying to find a missing teen boy, and falling for a visiting FBI agent. All of which makes Lynch grouchier, for some reason. (Seventh Street Books)

Seven

Seven Suspects by Renee James.

In the latest Bobbi Logan mystery, the intrepid transgender sleuth must solve a cold case (her best friend’s murder)—before it’s pinned on her. But her muddled dating history, poor choice in men, self-doubt and the inexplicable difficulty of being a middle-aged femme complicate the matter. (Oceanview Publishing)

People Like Us

People Like Us by Dana Mele.

This psychological thriller stars Kay Donovan, a soccor player within a group of popular girls, who may be in love with her mean girl best friend. As a murder at their elite private school gets investigated, readers get the splendid unraveling of pretty little lies. (G.P. Putman’s Sons)

Sisters

Sisters in the Life: A History of Out African-American Lesbian Media-Making edited by Yvonne Welbon and Alexandra Juhasz.

In this academic but engaging anthology, contributors examine the important contributions of black lesbian filmmakers over the past three decades. Finally, filmmakers like Cheryl Dunye, Dee Rees, and Angela Robinson get their due. So too should Welbon (director of 1993’s famed Sisters in the Life: First Love.) (Duke University Press)

Some Hell

Some Hell by Patrick Nathan.

In this coming of age novel, gay teen Colin is already struggling when his father commits suicide. Drowning in grief, he seeks solace in the wrong teacher. Colin sinks further as he dives into his father’s strange notebooks. Can a road trip to Los Angeles—and the shades of gray he finds there—pull him out of his spiral? (Graywolf Press)

Impossible Beauties

The House of Impossible Beauties by Joseph Cassara.

This novel revolves around the early ball scene and the real House of Xtravaganza (focus of Paris is Burning), the queer and transgender street kids who created New York City’s original and enduring all-Latino house while trying to survive violence and HIV on the seedy
piers of Christopher Street. (Ecco)

Night Language

The Night Language by David Rocklin.

In this beautiful love story, Prince Alamayou of Abyssinia (present day Ethiopia) is taken from the war and placed in Queen Victoria’s court. There the Ethiopian prince struggles to adapt to the British culture, falls for another black man, and fights extradition to his former homeland where they plan to execute him. (Rare Bird Books)

Mirrors

Ezili’s Mirrors: Imagining Black Queer Genders is Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley’s complex, multi-voice exploration of how LGBT African-Americans view gender in ways that reference the queered genders in the pantheon of Voodou spiritual practice. Tinsley finds Voodou references in everything from the Harlem ball scene, documentaries on Haitian women union organizers, and the complicated gender performances of drag king MilDred Gerestant, to singers like Whitney Houston and Nicki Minaj. It’s an often complex analysis with historical citations, spiritual explorations, and gender expressions. It will have you ruminating for days about the queerness of Marie Laveau; bisexual southern gentlemen in the French Quarter; odd ways that slavery — and strange Jim Crow laws — defeminized black women; the garbage that clogs Haitian waterways; and how work is a critical element of black fem(me)inine genders. (Duke University Press)

Struggling For Ordinary

Struggling for Ordinary: Media and Transgender Belonging in Everyday Life by Andre Calvalcante looks at how the portrayl of transgender people — in mainstream and LGBT media — has expanded the possibilities for who trans people can be. Between 2008 and 2012, Calvalcante interviewed 35 trans individuals from San Francisco and “a small Midwestern city.” He concludes that most of his subjects are struggling to simply live “ordinary” lives—although his definition of that term is atypical. His sense of ordinary or “normal” is situated firmly in the academic realm of queer studies, where transgender people are often imagined as, Calvalcante says, “the ideal queer subject… [who] embodies the apex of queer theoretical aspiration.” In this context, he writes, “transgender people are heralded for challenging the gender binary and resisting all that is normative.” But not all trans people identify as radical gender warriors, and indeed, Calvalcante says, most of his subjects did not. But they did speak of both similarities and differences with cisgender people, leading Calvalcante to posit that trans people occupy a middle ground between normative and queer, a space he dubs “queerly ordinary.” (New York University Press) 

Boystown

Boystown: Season Eight, is the latest installment of Jake Biondi’s hit Boystown series (BoystownTheSeries.com) about residents of Chicago’s famed Boystown neighborhood. The Mancini brothers — Emmett, who’s dating Keith; and Derek, who’s married to Joyelle — and their numerous friends, all deal with personal secrets (that sometimes become public). The last book foreshadowed the deaths of two main characters, including a member of the Mancini family, and Biondi promises that the storyline “slowly resolves” over the course of the book. “In true Boystown fashion, there are many twists and turns… before readers discover exactly who died.” According to Biondi, the series may soon be adapted to the small screen. (CreateSpace)

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