Thursday, June 28, 2012

Summer Reading Part Four: LGBT Reads

June is LGBT Pride Month and to round it out I've decided to use today's post to offer some suggestions for great reads by or about LGBT people. My list leans heavily on the L/G side; that's probably something I need to change so if you have any suggestions for books with bisexual or transgender themes I'd be interested to know.

I decided to run this post at the end rather than the beginning of the month to give you a jumping-off point for reading LGBT books all year long, not just one month out of the year.

As usual this is an idiosyncratic list of mine and not a comprehensive bibliography by any stretch!

The Journals of John Cheever might be one of the best books I've ever read. Cheever, a renowned writer, was bisexual and his journals are intimate and raw, as well as incredibly beautiful, covering every aspect of his life, not just his sexuality. But that was a big part of who he was and his relationships, and it's important.

Dearest Anne is a beautiful literary novel by Israeli writer Judith Katzir, about an affair between a young girl and her female teacher. The controversial nature of the subject is matched by the luminosity of the writing.
Daniel Arsand's poetic novella Lovers is a book I reviewed recently, about a young man and the love of his life, set in pre-Revolutionary France.

Andre Carl van der Merwe's heartbreaking Moffie is one of the best books I've read this year, and one of the best LGBT books I've read ever. Set in South Africa, it's a brutal and raw portrait of military life and the terrible burden of being gay in an extremely conformity-oriented society.

Me Talk Pretty One Day is probably my favorite of David Sedaris's books. In this collection of memoir-essays he focuses on his relationship with his partner Hugh, including how they met and setting up house in the French countryside. I laughed so much when I read this that people who saw me asked me if I was OK or needed help.

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit is Jeanette Winterson's fictionalized autobiography, about growing up and coming out. It's a searing, incredible and unforgettable book, and one that everyone can relate to. Yes, I do have her memoir on my TBR  pile and yes I do plan to read it soon!

My favorite of Winterson's novels is Written on the Body, an erotic, poetic love letter from a genderless narrator to a married woman. I dare you to read this and not be moved.

Boston author Scott Pomfret's memoir Since My Last Confession should be required reading for Catholics and anyone interested in the issue of gay marriage. Pomfret details his own conflicted relationship with his faith and recounts the struggle for the legalization of gay marriage in Massachusetts in a touching, hilarious and totally irreverant memoir that manages to be deeply respectful of the Church even as he questions the actions of some of its most powerful leaders. I loved this book!

And I would be remiss if I didn't mention Alison Bechdel, not for Fun Home or her latest, Are You My Mother? but for her long-running comic Dykes to Watch Out For, which I started reading in syndication in a local paper while I was in high school. It opened up a whole world to me and for that I will be forever grateful to her. If she never wrote either of her two very popular and acclaimed memoirs she would be immortalized for Mo and the gang at Madwimmin Books.

Want more? Look on my side bar and click on LGBT under Subject Tags.


bermudaonion said...

Sedaris is the only one of those authors I've read and I love his work. I'm jotting down a few of the other author's names.

Harvee said...

Since My Last Confession is a book I'll look for! The Sedaris novel is also one I hope to read. Thanks for the list.

caite said...

I will skip a comment on Since my Last Confession because I don't want to start a fist

but I must say that every time I read about Cheeve's sexuality, I can't help but think of the Seinfeld episode.

ChaosIsAFriendOfMine said...

I love David Sedaris. The audio versions of his books are even more hilarious because he reads them himself and his delivery is so dry and wonderful.

Bellezza said...

I enjoyed Jeanette Winterston's novel The Passion during my Venice in February challenge, and I've even bought Oranges Aren't the Only Fruit. I like how unusual she is in her writing, so unlike other authors which is a wonderful thing!

Can the teacher in me confess that while David Sedaris is indeed funny I've never liked the title Me Talk Pretty Some Day? It makes me cringe even though of course it's deliberate. (I hope. ;)

Esther said...

I love Dan Savage's The Kid, about the process he and his partner went through to adopt a baby.

Kathleen said...

Thank you for the recommendations Marie!