Category Archives: GLBT memoir and/or biography

“Money, Murder, and Dominick Dunne: A Life in Several Acts” by Robert Hofler— The Constant Reinvention of a Complicated, Combative, Self-aggrandizing, and Tormented Man

Hofler, Robert. “Money, Murder, and Dominick Dunne: A Life in Several Acts”, University of Wisconsin Press, 2017.

The Constant Reinvention of a Complicated, Combative, Self-aggrandizing, and Tormented Man

Amos Lassen

Dominick Dunne (1925-2001) spent his entire adult life in the public eye. However, author Robert Hofler in this biography shows us that he was a conflicted, enigmatic man who reinvented himself again and again. He was a television and film producer in the 1950s–1970s and socialized with Humphrey Bogart and Natalie Wood, he found success and crushing failure in a pitiless Hollywood. He was a “Vanity Fair” journalist who covered the lives of the rich and powerful, he stunned his readers with his detailed coverage of spectacular murder cases including O.J. Simpson, the Menendez brothers, Michael Skakel, Phil Spector, and Claus von Bülow. He once had his own television show and he wrote five novels that were bestsellers that were all based on real life events. He was a friend to many in the entertainment and literary fields and to some of the most famous women in the world (Princess Diana, Nancy Reagan, Liz Smith, Barbara Walters, and Elizabeth Taylor).

Dunne published his memoirs and now we know that he did not include everything. He did not write about the rivalry he shared with his brother John Gregory Dunne (who was married to poet Joan Didion), his affairs with other men even while he was married or about the fights he had with the editors of “Vanity Fair”. Dunne’s career as a reported came during the trial of the man who murdered his daughter in 1983.

This biography begins with Dunne’s youth and covers every aspect of the man’s career. We learn of his struggles with his sexuality. His personal life takes up the first half of the book and then moves to the crime cases he covered as a reporter and there are a plethora of fascinating stories. Dunne seemed to live for scandal and his life was often filled with sadness. His father made fun of him and called him a sissy whipped him often and made him feel that he was a girl in the body of a boy.

Dunne’s eventful, turbulent, and often sorrowful life. Dunne never felt that he really belonged anywhere and we see that here again and again. However, we are not really looking at Dunne’s family life here. Hofler is more interested in the celebrities in Dunne’s life and that is why I am sure that there will be those who read this for the gossip in it. Of that we get plenty although I am not so sure that people will want to read about Elizabeth Taylor’s drinking habits again. On the other hand I am sure that many will find Rudolf Nureyev’s sexual proclivities quite exciting especially the time that he got twenty-four men to offer themselves to him at a party. I was surprises that Hofler used the term “closeted homosexual” to describe Dunne since his affairs with men were public knowledge. Yes, he was married (don’t you love when people say, “he is married” as an excuse for not being gay?) and fathered two sons but he failed at being a family man and his wife divorced him.

Hofler writes with great detail as he shows Dunn’s wit and charm and also his vulnerability. Beneath the glitz and glamour that comes with being a celebrity, there was a lot going on and not all of it was positive. Now that we are firmly living in a culture that is so celebrity conscious that I cannot imagine anyone not enjoying this read (in which the only Kardashian to appear is Robert who I am pretty sure would not have approved for his former wife’s and his daughter’s behavior. [I had to get that dig in]). Entertainment and tragedy figure equally in the life of Dunne that seems, to me, to be the story of fame, the upper class, sexual identity and the struggle to be remembered. I am not sure that Dunne would have approved of everything here but I bet that he would have loved knowing that he was being read about. He was a man who could easily destroy himself one day and then reinvent himself the next day.

“The New Old Me: My Late-Life Reinvention”— Starting Over at 60

Maran, Meredith. “The New Old Me: My Late-Life Reinvention”, Blue Rider, 2017.

Starting Over at 60

Amos Lassen

Meredith Maran’s memoir begins with the death of her best friend, the loss of her life’s savings, and the collapse of her once-happy marriage. She leaves her San Francisco freelance writer’s life for a 9-to-5 job in Los Angeles and is determined to rebuild her savings and her life when she is already sixty-years-old. She shows us what being an older woman means in today’s world. We see her resilience and transformation and her charisma and poise as she resists spiraling down into self-help and self-pity.

She is inspiring and full of life and even though she is 60, she is never old. We see, through her, how humans of all ages can create joy and community and still be funny, curious and experience things with a sense of awe. We must remember, as we see here, that every new day offers new beginnings and new hopes.

This is an American story about what it means to be a woman ‘of a certain age’ today. Maran writes of the difficulties of loss, change and aging and shows that getting older can be more interesting, more fun, and a lot more exciting than the years of youth.

Near the end of the book when a close friend’s husband dies unexpectedly, she tells Maran that she does not think she will ever be happy again. Maran tells her that she indeed will be happy again but she will have a different kind of happiness. Yes, it will never be the same but we cannot ignore the truth of our lives and aging is one of those truths. Even though things may never be the same again that does not mean there is no more happiness to be had.

This isn’t a plucky, self-help moment. It’s the real life portrait of two 60-something women, grappling with fates they’d rather not have been handed, finding comfort in each other, and not shying away from the truth: things will never be the same. This fact doesn’t preclude happiness, but it shades it a different color. When Maran cuts her finger deeply and gets to the emergency room, the doctor tells her that she will have to cut off her wedding ring in order to treat her finger. The wedding ring is the symbol of the woman she was married to and is now separated from, the very same woman that caused her to move to Los Angeles, the same woman who will return her phone calls, the woman with whom she spent a decade and a half and the woman she thought she would be with forever. Has the time now come that she needs to stop hoping for something that is no longer there?

She is now living the life she never expected to have yet she manages to change uncertainty to opportunity. As she navigates her way through changes and shifts, she remains sweet, funny and she never loses her charm.

She easily could have become a bitter, angry woman but instead she finds a way to have a new life in a new city, a new job, new friends and new lovers and in doing so she gives the rest of us offers hope for zestful and soulful living despite the passage of time.

 

“Flight Risk: Memoirs of a New Orleans Bad Boy” by James Nolan— Escaping the Pull of New Orleans

Nolan, James. “Flight Risk: Memoirs of a New Orleans Bad Boy”,  (Willie Morris Books in Memoir and Biography Series), University of Mississippi Press, 2017.

Escaping the Pull of New Orleans

Amos Lassen

Having been raised in New Orleans, I identified with a great deal of James Nolan’s “Flight Risk”. New Orleans is a town that it is near impossible to run away from; the city becomes part of anyone who has experienced a good bit of time there. James Nolan’s family goes back five generations in New Orleans and he gives us a look at his hometown alone with the counterculture of his generation. His story begins when he escaped from a gothic mental hospital. He had been committed there by his parents in 1968 when he considered himself a teen poet. Out of that breakout, he ends up in jail in Guatemala. Later on we read that he also escaped from China where he ran away from his career as a teacher. He also managed to escape Hurricane Katrina by dodging the flooding in a stolen school bus three days after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. Nolan says that his luck in his flight could be traced back to those of his French ancestors who fled to New Orleans in the mid-nineteenth century. They set up a tobacco business in the French Quarter, and lived as they did in the “old country” alive in the Seventh Ward of the city with quite a menagerie of the extended family in which he grew up. He shares his early attraction to and fascination with extremist politics. Nolan was especially close to his grandfather, a freewheeling and eccentric gentleman from the Gilded Age. In his search for freedom. Nolan’s goes to San Francisco of the sixties and seventies at the height of the “flower power” and he lived as an expatriate life in Spain as the country transitioned into democracy. Like so many New Orleanians, he goes back and lives in the French Quarter and had to deal with the aftermath of Katrina and the city’s resurrection. (This is where he and I differ in that I have no plans to go back).

Nolan’s stories are commentaries about such topics as race in New Orleans, the Disneyfication of the French Quarter, digital technology and globalization, the challenges of caring for aging parents, Creole funeral traditions, how to make a gumbo, and what it really means to belong.

The book is a compilation of Nolan’s essays that together form his memoir. We are very aware of the honesty with which he wrote this and we also aware that his writing is “nostalgic, gut-wrenching, poetic, uncomfortable, surreal, scary, appetite- inducing, tearful”. James Nolan sees life as nowhere and the homogenization of every city causes it to slowly lose its soul to a mass conformity.

I know that it is difficult to remember life before Twitter and Instagram, and cell phone texting and sexting, bit it is so good to be reminded of it again. For those of us who were college students during the war in Vietnam and who lost someone to AIDS, this book will get your memories flowing again. There was a time when book clubs consisted of people who think and not those who buy a book because the cover matches the décor at home and who have souvenirs of dead family, you are in the right place and here is a book to act as your guide and you waltz down memory lane.

“Crazy for Vincent” by Herve Guibert— From Death to Life

Guibert, Herve. “Crazy for Vincent”, translated by Christine Pichini”, Semiotext(e) / Native Agents, 2017.

From Death to Life

Amos Lassen

Vincent was playing parachute with his bathrobe when he fell from the third floor after drinking a liter of tequila, smoking Congolese grass and snorting cocaine. His story here begins with his death and then moves backwards in time. Vincent was a skateboarding, drug-addled, delicate “monster” of a boy and in whom the narrator finds sublime beauty. Sometimes tender and sometimes violent, Vincent drops in and out of French writer and photographer Hervé Guibert’s life over the span of six years from 1982, when he first met Vincent as a fifteen-year-old teenager, to 1988. After Vincent’s senseless death, the narrator embarks on a writing mission to bring back the Vincent who had come into and elevated, and emotionally eviscerated his life. Guibert works chronologically backward from the death that opens the text. He writes in his journal, the author trying to understand what Vincent meant to him and his life and wonders if this had been passion, love an erotic obsession or simply an invention. We are not sure whether this writing is a diary, a memoir, a poem or fiction or if it is an autopsy, a crime scene, a hagiography or a hymn. One thing that it is, for sure, is a look at desire.

“Proxies: Essays Near Knowing” by Brian Blanchfield— A Cultural Autobiography

Blanchfield, Brian. “Proxies: Essays Near Knowing”, Nightboat, 2016

A Cultural Autobiography

Amos Lassen

Brian Blanchfield’s “Proxies” is a collection of essays about honesty and the revelation of self . He calls his essays “inroads to disinhibited autobiography.” The twenty-five are gems that come together to give us the writer’s life story. In each essay, Blanchfield chooses a subject that he looks at from several different angles and then produces a surprising and beautiful analogy. These confessional writings find their places between

“a poetics of impersonality” and a “disinhibited autobiography.” Through narrative, we are ushered into the writer’s life where we meet his family and John, hiss partner, friends and former lovers.

This is part memoir and part criticism and the essays chronicle Blanchfield’s life and memory. He shares his sensitivity to his own life experiences including growing up as a “primitive Baptist” in North Carolina.

His thought is influenced by reading, loving, and reckoning and each word seems to be specifically chosen with grace and daring. He goes through his life making mistakes in order to understand himself and his world sharing all that he feels he needs to live today and he reminds us to look within ourselves.

 

29th Annual Lambda Literary Award Finalists Announced

29th Annual Lambda Literary Award Finalists Announced

 Awards Ceremony: Monday, June 12, 2017 in New York City   

 Note: The number of finalists in a category is determined by the number of submissions in that category. Those marked with an asterisk have been reviewed here at reviewsbyamoslassen.com

 Lesbian Fiction

  • *A Thin Bright Line, Lucy Jane Bledsoe, University of Wisconsin Press
  • Another Brooklyn, Jacqueline Woodson, Amistad
  • Bull & Other Stories, Kathy Anderson, Autumn House Press
  • The Day After Death, Lynn C. Miller, University of New Mexico Press
  • Here Comes the Sun, Nicole Dennis-Benn, Liveright Publishing Corporation
  • Pretend I’m Your Friend, MB Caschetta, Engine Books
  • Tears in the Grass, Lynda A. Archer, Dundurn
  • They May Not Mean To, But They Do, Cathleen Schine, Sarah Crichton Books

Gay Fiction

  • *The Angel of History, Rabih Alameddine, Atlantic Monthly Press
  • *Black Deutschland, Darryl Pinckney, Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • *The Cosmopolitans, Sarah Schulman, The Feminist Press
  • *Hide, Matthew Griffin, Bloomsbury USA
  • *Jazz Moon, Joe Okonkwo, Kensington Books
  • *Moonstone, Sjón, Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • *The Rope Swing, Jonathan Corcoran, Vandalia Press
  • *What Belongs To You, Garth Greenwell, Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Bisexual Fiction

  • *Beautiful Gravity, Martin Hyatt, Antibookclub
  • Marrow Island, Alexis M. Smith, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Mouth to Mouth, Abigail Child, EOAGH
  • When Watched, Leopoldine Core, Penguin Books

Transgender Fiction

  • Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: A Dangerous Trans Girl’s Confabulous Memoir, Kai Cheng Thom, Metonymy Press
  • If I Was Your Girl, Meredith Russo, Flatiron Books
  • Small Beauty, jia qing wilson-yang, Metonymy Press

LGBTQ Nonfiction

  • *Conflict Is Not Abuse: Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility and the Duty of Repair, Sarah Schulman, Arsenal Pulp Press
  • *Gay Gotham: Art and Underground Culture in New York, Donald Albrecht, Skira Rizzoli
  • Ghost Faces: Hollywood and Post-Millennial Masculinity, David Greven, State University of New York Press
  • *How to Survive a Plague: The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS, David France, Knopf
  • *Pride & Joy: Taking the Streets of New York City, Jurek Wajdowicz, The New Press
  • Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Duke University Press Books
  • *The Estrangement Principle, Ariel Goldberg, Nightboat Books
  • The Feminist Bookstore Movement: Lesbian Antiracism and Feminist Accountability, Kristen Hogan, Duke University Press Books

Bisexual Nonfiction

  • Black Dove: Mamá, Mi’jo, and Me, Ana Castillo, The Feminist Press
  • The Body’s Alphabet, Ann Tweedy, Headmistress Press
  • I Have Devoted My Life to the Clitoris, Elizabeth Hall, Tarpaulin Sky Press
  • Women in Relationships With Bisexual Men: Bi Men By Women, Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli and Sara Lubowitz, Lexington Books

Transgender Nonfiction

  • *Life Beyond My Body: A Transgender Journey to Manhood in China, Lei Ming, Transgress Press
  • *Outside the XY: Black and Brown Queer Masculinity, Morgan Mann Willis, Riverdale Avenue Books
  • Outspoken: A Decade of Transgender Activism and Trans Feminism, Julia Serano, Switch Hitter Press
  • Trunky (Transgender Junky): A Memoir, Samuel Peterson, Transgress Press
  • You Only Live Twice: Sex, Death and Transition, Chase Joynt and Mike Hoolbloom, Coach House Books

Lesbian Poetry

  • Bestiary, Donika Kelly, Graywolf Press
  • Complete Works of Pat Parker, edited by Julie R. Enszer, Sinister Wisdom/A Midsummer Night’s Press
  • Journal of Ugly Sites, Stacy Szymaszek, Fence Books
  • Night, Etel Adnan, Nightboat Books
  • play dead, francine j. harris, Alice James Books
  • Swarm Queen’s Crown, Stephanie Adams-Santos, Fathom Books
  • The Old Philosopher, Vi Khi Nao, Nightboat Books
  • You’re the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened, Arisa White, Augury Books

Gay Poetry

  • DIG, Bryan Borland, Stillhouse Press
  • Night Sky with Exit Wounds, Ocean Vuong, Copper Canyon Press
  • Primer, Aaron Smith, University of Pittsburgh Press
  • Rapture, Sjohnna McCray, Graywolf Press
  • The Halo, C. Dale Young, Four Way Books
  • The Taxidermist’s Cut, Rajiv Mohabir, Four Way Books
  • Thief in the Interior, Phillip B. Williams, Alice James Books
  • Trouble the Water, Derrick Austin, BOA

Transgender Poetry

  • even this page is white, Vivek Shraya, Arsenal Pulp Press
  • The Romance of Siam: A Pocket Guide, Jai Arun Ravine, Timeless, Infinite Light
  • Reacquainted with Life, Kokumo, Topside Press
  • Safe Space, Jos Charles, Ahsahta Press
  • Sympathetic Little Monster, Cameron Awkward-Rich, Ricochet Editions

Lesbian Mystery

  • Blood Money Murder, Jessie Chandler, Bella Books
  • Bury Me When I’m Dead, Cheryl A. Head, Bywater Books
  • Collide-O-Scope, Andrea Bramhall, Ylva Publishing
  • Final Cut, Lynn Ames, Phoenix Rising Press
  • Pathogen, Jessica L. Webb, Bold Strokes Books
  • Requiem for Immortals, Lee Winter, Ylva Publishing
  • Under Contract, Jennifer L. Jordan, Clover Valley Press
  • Walk-in, T.L. Hart, Bella Books

Gay Mystery

  • Bitter Legacy by Dal Maclean, Blind Eye Books
  • Homo Superiors by L. A. Fields, Lethe Press
  • Lay Your Sleeping Head by Michael Nava, Korima Press
  • Nights in Berlin by Janice Law, Head of Zeus
  • Speakers of the Dead: A Walt Whitman Mystery by J. Aaron Sanders, Plume

Lesbian Memoir/Biography

  • *A Body, Undone: Living On After Great Pain, Christina Crosby, NYU Press
  • A Two-Spirit Journey: The Autobiography of a Lesbian Ojibwa-Cree Elder, Ma-Nee Chacaby, University of Manitoba Press
  • *Im Just a Person, Tig Notaro, Ecco
  • *Indomitable: The Life of Barbara Grier, Joanne Passet, Bella Books
  • The Wind Is Spirit: The Life, Love and Legacy of Audre Lorde, Gloria I. Joseph, PhD, Villarosa Media

Gay Memoir/Biography

  • *Books For Living, Will Schwalbe, Knopf
  • *Boy Erased, Garrard Conley, Riverhead Books
  • *Capsid: A Love Song, Joseph Osmundson, Indolent Books
  • *Cursed Legacy: The Tragic Life of Klaus Mann, Frederic Spotts, Yale University Press
  • *Lust & Wonder, Augusten Burroughs, St. Martin’s Press
  • *One Man Show: The Life and Art of Bernard Perlin, Michael Schreiber, Bruno Gmuender Books
  • *Proxies, Brian Blanchfield, Nightboat Books
  • *When We Rise, Cleve Jones, Hachette Books

 

Lesbian Romance

  • The Scorpion’s Empress, Yoshiyuki Ly, Solstice Publishing
  • Coils, Barbara Ann Wright, Bold Strokes Books
  • Finding Lizzie, Karma Kingsley, NineStar Press
  • Little Lies, Lila Bruce, Self-Published
  • Lost in the Starlight, Kiki Archer, K.A. Books
  • *Loving Eleanor, Susan Wittig Albert, Persevero Press
  • *Perfect Pairing, Rachel Spangler, Bywater Books
  • *The Liberators of Willow Run, Marianne K. Martin, Bywater Books

Gay Romance

  • Into the Blue, Pene Henson, Interlude Press
  • Pansies, Alexis Hall, Riptide Publishing
  • *Femme, Marshall Thornton, Kenmore Books
  • Rank, Richard Compson Sater, Bold Strokes Books
  • *Country, Jeff Mann, Lethe Press
  • Adulting 101, Lisa Henry, Riptide Publishing
  • Rented Heart, Garrett Leigh, Riptide Publishing
  • Caught Inside, Jamie Deacon, Beaten Track Publishing

LGBTQ Anthology

  • ALPHABET: The LGBTQAIU Creators from Prism Comics, Jon Macy and Tara Madison Avery, Editors Stacked Deck Press
  • *Building Fires in the Snow: A Collection of Alaska LGBTQ Short Fiction and Poetry, Martha Amore and Lucian Childs, Editors, University of Alaska Press / Snowy Owl Books Imprint
  • *No Tea, No Shade: New Writings in Black Queer Studies, E. Patrick Johnson, Duke University Press Books
  • *The Remedy: Queer and Trans Voices on Health and Health Care, Zena Sharman, Arsenal Pulp Press
  • *Queer, David J. Getsy, MIT Press

LGBTQ Children’s/Young Adult

  • Beast, Brie Spangler, Alfred A. Knopf
  • Girl Mans Up, M.E. Girard, Harper Teen
  • Gravity, Juliann Rich, Bold Stroke Books
  • Highly Illogical Behavior, John Corey Whaley, Dial Books
  • Not Your Sidekick, C.B. Lee, Duet
  • Our Chemical Hearts, Krystal Sutherland, G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
  • *Symptoms of Being Human, Jeff Garvin, Balzer + Bray
  • The Midnight Star, Marie Lu, G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

LGBTQ Drama

  • Barbecue/Bootycandy, Robert O’Hara, Theatre Communications Group
  • Freda and Jem’s Best of the Week, Lois Fine, Playwrights Canada Press
  • Perfect Arrangement, Topher Payne, Samuel French, Inc.

LGBTQ Erotica

  • Camp Rewind, Meghan O’Brien, Bold Strokes Books
  • Roped In, Marie Sexton and L.A. Witt, Amber Quill
  • Steel and Promise, Alexa Black, Bold Strokes Books
  • Soul to Keep, Rebekah Weatherspoon, Bold Strokes Books
  • Skyscraper, Scott Alexander Hess, Unzipped Books

LGBTQ Graphic Novels

  • Active Voice The Comic Collection: The Real Life Adventures Of An Asian-American, Lesbian, Feminist, Activist And Her Friends, Written by P. Kristen Enos with Heidi Ho; Illustrated by Derek Chua, Leesamarie Croal, Casandra Grullon, Beth Varni, Dan Parent, Furia Press
  • *The Case of Alan Turing: The Extraordinary and Tragic Story of the Legendary Codebreaker, Eric Liberge and Arnaud Delalande, Translated by David Homel, Arsenal Pulp Press
  • Wuvable Oaf: Blood & Metal, Ed Luce, Fantagraphics Books

LGBTQ SF/F/Horror

  • *All Good Children, Dayna Ingram, Lethe Press
  • The Devourers, Indra Das, Del Rey
  • *Irish Black, David Lennon, Blue Spike Publishing
  • Kissing Booth Girl, A.C. Wise, Lethe Press
  • *Lily, Michael Thomas Ford, illustrated by Staven Andersen, Lethe Press
  • A Little Queermas Carol, Sassafras Lowrey, PoMo Freakshow
  • Style of Attack Report, By Ras Mashramani, Rasheedah Phillips, Alex Smith, and M. Eighteen Téllez, Metropolarity
  • Will Do Magic for Small Change, Andrea Hairston, Aqueduct Press

LGBTQ Studies

  • Asegi Stories: Cherokee Queer and Two Spirit Memory, Qwo-Li Driskill, University of Arizona Press
  • *Homintern, Gregory Woods, Yale University Press
  • Indian Blood: HIV and Colonial Trauma in San Francisco’s Two-Spirit Community, Andrew J. Jolivette, University of Washington Press
  • Melodrama: An Aesthetics of Impossibility, Jonathan Goldberg, Duke University Press
  • Not Straight, Not White: Black Gay Men From The March on Washington to the AIDS Crisis, Kevin Mumford, University of North Carolina Press
  • *Out in the Periphery: Latin America’s Gay Rights Revolution, Omar G. Encarnación, Oxford University Press
  • *Queer Clout: Chicago and the Rise of Gay Politics, Timothy Stewart-Winter, University of Pennsylvania Press
  • Sex Museums: The Politics and Performance of Display, Jennifer Tyburczy, University of Chicago Press

“Farm Story” by Eddie Casson— Challenging Expectations

Casson, Eddie. “Farm Story: Coming Out of Indiana”, Toss Glitter, 2016.

Challenging Expectations

Amos Lassen

Eddie Casson grew up on a farm in a small Indiana town, a place where church, family, and identity were the symbols of an acceptable life. One who was a conventional person was regarded as highly successful. Gender roles was highly maintained and while there was a place for the arts, boys and girls we were expected to behave in certain acceptable ways. Even though Casson always felt different and apart from most of everyone else around him, he worked hard to be the perfect son, brother, and friend. At home, the family subscribed to perfection and faith and Casson struggled to understand who he was even as unhappiness surrounded all that he did. He knew he had to break free and that to do so meant hurting people that he loved. He also knew “that living his true life would be the only thing that would make it all worth it”.

Casson writes with sensitivity, brutal honesty, raw emotion and detail and to all of us who have suffered and for those who still suffer in silence at some times in our lives, he provides inspiration and hope. We go back in time to a period that we really do not want to remember, a time when children behaved according what that parents felt was the right way to do so. In doing so, we look at our own lives. The book is written in a conversational tone and it is almost as if Casson is there with us. He found the courage to live his authentic life.

 

“Cake Dreams: A Memoir of Survival” by Hoyt J. Phillips III— A Year in the Life

Phillips III, Hoyt J. “Cake Dreams: A Memoir of Survival”, CreateSpace, 2016.

A Year in the Life

Amos Lassen

Hoyt J. Phillips III survived ground zero but was haunted by the horror he saw on 9/11. Right after the attacks, his life became one of starvation, obsession, alcoholism, and self-destruction that almost killed him before he turned twenty-six. If that is not enough, days before the first anniversary of the attacks, he was diagnosed with a potentially fatal brain tumor. “Cake Dreams” chronicles that year in detail and explores his struggle over addiction and starvation as a result of national tragedy.

Eventually, Hoyt found his love for social justice and has worked for it leading challenging conversations at a social justice and leadership camp for teens where he also tells about his story of self-acceptance and survival. He currently works for Teaching Tolerance where he supports K-12 educators in creating more equitable and inclusive classrooms.

His struggles against self-hatred are inspiring reads. We read about family, moving to a big city, a national tragic event and recovery on multiple fronts. The story simultaneously disturbing, and therapeutic.

 

“Being Green: A Colorful Journey” by Howard Green— Inspiring Struggles

Green, Howard. “Being Green: A Colorful Journey”, Page Publishing, 2016.

Inspiring Struggles

Amos Lassen

Howard Green came of age in the 1950s under really bad circumstances. His mother was insane and his father was cold and abusive. did not make for a good start in life. It was a time when there no gay role models since mot gay men were in the closet. Homosexuality was regarded as a mental illness and Green spend years hiding from who he was. He was married for seven years to a woman but the pressure of hiding his sexuality got to him and he entered, on his decision, a mental hospital for a month and tapped into his inner strength and slowly turned his life around and accepted himself. Once he did so, he was able to become a successful film publicist in Hollywood and worked Lucille Ball, Clint Eastwood, Barbra Streisand, John Denver, Jack Lemmon and many others. Green went from his painful and troubled youth to emerging as a successful man and friend to singer and actress Doris Day.

 

“Oscar Wilde Prefigured: Queer Fashioning and British Caricature, 1750-1900” by Dominick Janes— Expressing Who We Are

Janes, Dominic. “Oscar Wilde Prefigured: Queer Fashioning and British Caricature, 1750-1900”, University of Chicago Press, 2016.

Expressing Who We Are

Amos Lassen

In “Oscar Wilde Prefigured”, Dominic Janes takes us to the England of Oscar Wilde as he looks at how men who wanted to have sex with other men expressed themselves. We see that since the middle of the eighteenth century, they did do through clothing, style, and behavior and were labeled as sodomites by those around them. since the mid-eighteenth century. Although history credits Wilde with the term, we see that this had been going on look before he made his appearance. He is, however,

the pivot by which Georgian figures and twentieth-century camp stereotypes meet. Janes looks at what was regarded as dandyism and caricature and explores theater, fashion, and the popular press to show new dimensions of identity politics, gender performance, and queer culture.

We see a continuous yet varied tradition of representations of sodomy and effeminacy and we upset the argument that male homosexuality only gained public visibility in the late nineteenth century. Wilde has long been referred to as the “first” publicly gay man because it was held that “he set the standard for literary and iconographic representations of homosexual men in the twentieth century”. Here, however, Wilde is convincingly presented as the end point of this. As we are taken through the areas of effeminacy, homoeroticism, and sodomy, we realize that we have rethink these. “Queer self-fashioning predates Wilde and perhaps even influenced him through codes and behavior. For over hundred years before Wilde came onto the scene, stereotypes and caricatures shaped the way people saw gay men and how they behaved. Janes reveals the double-sided nature of late-Victorian homophobic humor as destructive and creative at the same time setting the stage for Wilde to enter.