Category Archives: GLBT non-fiction

“Provincetown Memories: Paintings and Words” by Richard Stabbert— Life and Work

provincetown memories

Stabbert, Richard. “Provincetown Memories: Paintings and Words” Firehouse Publishing, 2013.

 Life and Work

Amos Lassen

Richard Stabbert is a self-taught painter. In this book he documents the people in his life, both past and present, referencing them, the objects around him, and his love of the beach. He ties everything together by his paintings which are spare and somewhat graphic. He embraces the simplicity of his style and approaches his work with passion and enthusiasm. Through his words and works we see his self-discovery and passion. He writes of young love, “from first flirt to first love, and everything in-between, most often centered here, in the artist colony of Provincetown, Massachusetts”. The book is available in two editions—one with full color illustrations and the reader’s edition in which the illustrations are in black and white.  This is an intimate view into the artist’s world and experience of love and beauty. We are taken on a journey and see the fragility of love and longing in an effort to make the moment last forever.

There is beauty and grace here in this little book and we get it both with the written work and the wonderful art. Stabbert’s use of light brings his figures, the ocean and the surrounding atmosphere to life whether he has painted male nudes or the influence of the sun. While his paintings are flat and just in one plane, his ability to paint two or more figures with other objects keeps the work simple but very pleasing to they eye. It is similar to when a child paints “images as much out of love as out of imitation of reality”.

We sense his love for Provincetown, Massachusetts, a very special place where many have tried to capture the spirit whether in words, photos or art and this is difficult to do because the light there is elusive. He is able to capture P’town “as it is today: sun-drenched blue, gold and green days and the deep satisfaction of quiet time with new friends in a special place”. There is a charm to this collection of stories with paintings and after the hard winter we had this year, I longed for the summer I saw and read about here.

“The Boy in the Yellow Dress” by Victor Marsh— Perth, 1950s

the boy in the yellow dress

Marsh, Victor. “The Boy in the Yellow Dress”,

Clouds of Magellan, 2014.

Perth, 1950s

Amos Lassen

After he was caught wearing his mother’s yellow dress, young Victor Marsh had to hide any tendency towards gender and inappropriate behavior. However his interest in dancing and theatre (and Rudolph Nureyev) were sure to make his façade come falling down. With his emerging sexuality and his sense of not being ‘at home’ in his body or in the world in which he lived brought him to a quest to finding meaning in the world. He eventually found spiritual awakening under a young guru Maharaji  and he also learned about himself.  Marsh’s story is both tragedy and comedy. He tells of his exile from home and his journey and his ultimate return home. All he wanted was to find a respectable place in the world and an intimate connection with the ultimate source of being.

This is quite a read—it is both wise and funny and constantly surprises. It is not just about growing up gay, it is a look at the search for meaning that so many of us try to find.

“The Animals: Love Letters Between Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy” edited by Katherine Bucknell— Chris and Don, A Love Story in Letters

the animals

Bucknell, Katherine (editors). “The Animals: Love Letters Between Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy,  Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014.

 Chris and Don, A Love Story in Letters

Amos Lassen

Here we have the love story of Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy—in their own words. Christopher Isherwood, the celebrated middle-aged English author of Goodbye to Berlin, met  Californian teenager Don Bachardy on a Santa Monica beach in 1952. They defied convention from that first spark and lived as an openly gay couple for more than three decades in the closeted world of Hollywood. “The Animals is  testimony in letters to their extraordinary partnership, which lasted until Isherwood’s death in 1986 and through “a thirty-year age gap, affairs, jealousies, the pressures of literary fame, and the disdain of twentieth-century America for love between two men”.
   The letters they wrote to each other are romantic and now we are abler to come into their private world of the “Animals” as they called it. “Chris was Dobbin, a stubborn old workhorse; Don was a rash, spirited white kitten named Kitty”. They were able to create a world that was safe and separate and it was also  necessity at the time. Isherwood drew Bachardy into “his semisecret realm and together they invented a place for their love to thrive. Bold, transgressive, and playful, “The Animals” shows us the devotion between two creative spirits in tenderness and storms”.

“Precious Scars: My Journey to Freedom through Forgiveness” by Yehuda Jacobi— A Moving Memoir

precious scars

Jacobi, Yehuda. “Precious Scars: My Journey to Freedom through Forgiveness”, Chazak Press, 2014.

A Moving Memoir

Amos Lassen

One of the great pleasures of reviewing is that I get to read so many different books by so many different people on so many different subjects and sure, I read a lot of trash but I also come across some very exciting books that otherwise I might never have known about. If you are familiar with my work, then you know that I gravitate toward books about being Jewish and gay because that is so much a part of me and it is not only the books that I enjoy but also the friendships that come out of reading. Whenever I read a new author, I am a bit apprehensive and especially towards a writer who chooses to write in my special field of interest. Please understand that apprehension is not vindictiveness and I always think positively when beginning a new book. My method is simple—each book gets two readings (just like when I taught college English)—the first reading is for the plot, the story, the ideas and the second is for the grammar and style and no, they do not always go hand-in-hand. As I read this book, Yehuda Jacobi caught me at the very beginning and I was totally into by page 5. There was something magical happening as this man was pouring out his heart on the pages of his book. He writes with a brutal honesty and holds nothing back.

Jacobi’s early life was one of abuse perpetrated by his father and enabled by his mother. Without doubt this caused him emotional distress that plagued him until he was able to leave home and these were issues that he would have to deal with for a long time.

There was all the pressure of dealing with his sexuality and he even went as far as contemplating taking his own life but someone or something was watching over him and a chance meeting with an LGBT-friendly church and a Taoist saved his life. He actually was able to gat a sense of spirituality and began to do self-exploration. He dealt with heavy concepts such as self-worth, forgiveness, acceptance of self and of others and he began to explore not just Eastern philosophy and religion but Christianity and Judaism as well.

As Jacobi learns more about the concepts of forgiveness, acceptance, and suffering, he begins to form a new sense of self and is increasingly drawn to concepts found in Christianity, Judaism, and Eastern religions. The big change came when his parents died and Jacobi got a glimpse of who he had become. Confronting his abuse head on, he began to write his feelings down and these are the center of the book. He did something that many of us should do and that is to explore options. So many of us do not want to be associated with religion or philosophy for two major reasons—either we feel we do not need to be bothered or we feel that religion has no place for us. He explored the main religions as well as astrology, Taoism, Spiritualism and even tarot cards. He came to the conclusion that Judaism was the best fit and begin to study the mystical aspects of Kabala hoping to find a place where he could be comfortable and receive the solace he yearned for.

During this time he kept journals and now he shares what he wrote and how he was above to incorporate what he felt into the kind of man he wanted to be.

This could have been a truly depressing read and I imagine some might find it such but I found it to be inspiring. Jacobi was able to find redemption through forgiveness and I am sure that all of us know how difficult it can be to forgive, especially an abusive parent—but then holding on only increases the anger and the pain. He reached the point that he was able to understand why his father acted as he did and he then concentrated on the positive aspects of his parenting. There is also humor in the pages and the balance is fine.

Sometimes we need help from others and are too egocentric or embarrassed to ask for it. Jacobi shows us that we need to ask when we need help and that gratitude is also important. We are all vulnerable but we can channel vulnerability into strength. There is a lot to think about here but so much of it is just plain common sense that it can be a bit embarrassing not to recognize it. In my personal life, I can vouch for having been lucky enough to have received help many times—I moved to Israel, alone, really knowing no one there and was able to build a life. When I came back to the States, I faced Hurricane Katrina and once again had to start over and finally I moved to Boston knowing maybe two people (but not knowing them well) and I have built a life here. We must never be too proud to say we need help and that is also one of the tenets of Judaism. Just because some of us have never faced the kinds of issues that Jacobi was forced to deal with does not make our own problems less significant.

The book is divided into sections—each with a Hebrew name and an English name—i.e.  “In the Beginning (Bereshit)”,  “Confrontation (Imutim)”, “Return (Chazara)” and “Revolution (“Pitaron)” and this is my only issue with the book. I do not particularly care for the transliterations but then I am a Hebrew speaker. I know this is a minor point but I would hate to be responsible for Yehuda Jacobi to get a swelled head. I am not sure that this is a book for everyone and others will react in the way that I have reacted but that is the beauty of having a mind. Just imagine how boring this world would be if we all agreed on everything. I give this book 5 stars because it speaks to me.

“Paris Was a Woman: Portraits from the Left Bank” by Andrea Weiss— Paris in the ‘20s

Paris book

Weiss, Andrea. “Paris Was a Woman: Portraits from the Left Bank”, Counterpoint Reprint, 2013.

Paris in the ‘20s

Amos Lassen

Andrea Weiss gives us “a rare profile of the female literati in Paris at the turn of the century, this “scrapbook” of their work–along with Weiss’s lively commentary–highlights the political, social, and artistic lives of the renowned lesbian and bisexual Modernists, including Colette, Djuana Barnes, and Sylvia Beach” and contains 150 photos.

There was a greatness there in these women. They both loved Paris and France and the freedom and the people they met there. They came alive living and loving in a city that seemed to inspire them to certain greatness. Poets, writers, and artists—their talents ran the gamut of art.

Some shared only brief fame– Bryher, H.D., and even Djuna Barnes are mere footnotes while others are famous and notorious for who they were and not for what they did— Natalie Barney and Dolly Wilde for example. Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas personified ‘the special relationship’ between women who loved each other.

Weiss wisely used “private writing”—what women wrote and thought of each other in their own words. “The writing is brilliant introspective provocative and sometimes banal. Gertrude wanted to be published, Thelma loved Djuna years after their breakup and Janet managed to stay friends with everyone. There are many photos as well, lavishly illustrated is not an understatement here”.

Weiss has done her research and brings us this book as an enlightening account of women who between wars found their self and their own voice in Paris. Though mostly concerned with the stories of lesbian or bisexual women who came to the City of Light attracted by an aura of unbridled freedom missing in their places of origin, this book will appeal to all those who are interested in this fascinating early period of the twentieth century as well.

The critics have wonderful praise for the book and I thought I would share it here:

“Andrea Weiss has told the fascinating, less well known story of the remarkable women artists and writers who made pre-war Paris the cultural capital of the world–riveting!” —Edmund White

 ”[In] Andrea Weiss’ enjoyable book… the bohemian world of Paris during the 1920s is more interestingly and accurately conceived as a community of women…She draws on a wealth of research [and] has a professional eye for what a photographic portrait is.”—The Times Literary Supplement

 ”Energetic, discerning feminist scholars continue to introduce us to women of consequence, beckoning them out of the shadows onto the center stage. Andrea Weiss, with the eye of a documentary filmmaker, trains her camera on 28 women of the Left Bank, her “dramatis personae.”—Washington Post Book World

2014 Independent Publisher Book Awards Result in GAY / LESBIAN / BI / TRANS NON-FICTION—- “The Missing Myth” by Gilles Herrada

2014 Independent Publisher Book Awards Result in GAY / LESBIAN / BI / TRANS NON-FICTION—- “The Missing Myth” by Gilles Herrada

Recognizing Excellence in Independent Publishing

GAY / LESBIAN / BI / TRANS NON-FICTION

Gold: The Missing Myth: A New Vision of Same-Sex Love, by Gilles Herrada (SelectBooks)

Silver: Red-Inked Retablos, by Rigoberta González (The University of Arizona Press)

Bronze: Queer Lessons for Churches on the Straight & Narrow, by Cody J. Sanders (Faithlab)

 

Bruno Gmunder—–New in June

 

New in June

 

 

Ernest Montgomery

DOMINICANOS

 

THE EROTICISM OF CARIBBEAN MEN

 

For many years, Ernest Montgomery has photographed men of the Dominican Republic . This photo book collects his most erotic works in one volume.

With a preface by bestselling author Terrance Dean.

 

ftp://b2b:2012@92.79.136.6/2014/978-3-86787-663-6

 

Ernest Montgomery

DOMINICANOS

128 pages, full color, hardcover with dust jacket

10 ¼ x 13 ½“ (26,0 x 34,0 cm)

€ 49,95 / US $ 75.99 / £ 49.99

ISBN 978-3-86787-663-6

 

 

 

 

Giovanni

MEMBERS ONLY

 

JOIN THE CLUB!

 

Another photo book by bestselling author Giovanni. His subject is once again provocative and sexy: the male member in body’s landscape.

 

ftp://b2b:2012@92.79.136.6/2014/978-3-86787-678-0

 

Giovanni

MEMBERS ONLY

228 pages, hardcover with dust jacket

10 ¼ x 13 ½“ (26,0 x 34,0 cm)

€ 79,95 / US$ 119.99 / £ 79.99

ISBN 978-3-86787-678-0 

 

 

 

 

Kent Taylor

HUSTLE

 

THE DEFINITION OF MEN!

 

Naked, hairy blokes on a full page—no more, no less. Hustle is an opulent and sexy coffee table book featuring the hottest men Kent Taylor has lensed for Raging Stallion and Falcon Studios.

 

ftp://b2b:2012@92.79.136.6/2014/978-3-86787-673-5

 

Kent Taylor

HUSTLE

160 pages, hardcover with dust jacket

10 ¼ x 13 ½“ (26,0 x 34,0 cm)

€ 49,95 / US$ 75.99 / £ 49.99

ISBN 978-3-86787-673-5

 

 

 

 

Joe Mozdzen

ANTICIPATION

 

THE BEAUTY OF YOUTH!

 

Joe Mozdzen’s boys are surrounded by the myth of youth and innocence. Mozdzen’s pictures oscillate between sensitive eroticism and innocent desire.

With a preface by American portrait photographer Greg Gorman.

 

ftp://b2b:2012@92.79.136.6/2014/978-3-86787-700-8

 

Joe Mozdzen

ANTICIPATION

128 pages, full color, hardcover with dust jacket

8 ½ x 11 ¼“ (21, 5 x 28 ,5 cm)

€ 39,95 / US$ 59.99 / £ 39.99

ISBN 978-3-86787-700-8

 

 

 

 

Winston Gieseke (Ed.)

UNTIL THE SUN RISES – GAY VAMPIRE EROTICA

 

GOOD TO THE LAST DROP!

 

What’s so alluring about the undead? Vampires are sexy, virile, and forever young—frozen in time at their sexual peak. They have a flair for seduction, an eagerness to penetrate with more than their eyes, and an insatiable need to suck things. Their libidos and youth are rejuvenated by your blood—and to get it, they use their charm and massive strength to overpower you. What could be a bigger turn-on? Featuring explicit tales from some of gay erotica’s most prolific and acclaimed authors, Until the Sun Rises overflows with kinky scenarios of thirsty vampires who are eager for much more than a taste of your blood.

 

ftp://b2b:2012@92.79.136.6/2014/978-3-86787-691-9

 

Winston Gieseke (Ed.)

UNTIL THE SUN RISES – GAY VAMPIERE EROTICA

208 Seiten, Softcover

13,0 x 19,0 cm

€ 15,95 / US$ 17.99 / £ 11.99

ISBN 978-3-86787-691-9

 

“Siegfried Sassoon: Soldier, Poet, Lover, Friend” by Jean Moorcroft Wilson— The War Poet

 

sassoon Wilson, Jean. Moorcroft. “Siegfried Sassoon: Soldier, Poet, Lover, Friend”, Overlook Press, 2014.

The War Poet

Amos Lassen

It has been a hundred years since World War I which was so brilliantly by Siegfried Sassoon, the man who came to be known as the war-poet. This biography is the first complete look at Sassoon and has been warmly received in England. It looks at the complete man and his complete works and we are with him from his youth to his death. It was his youthful patriotism that caused him to enlist and go to the frontlines and then his anti-war conditions that pulled him back. As an adult he had great literary friendships as well as love affairs that were, …er, flamboyant.

Sassoon was characterized by his crisp style and caustic observations but he was also lyrical. His work certainly epitomized what was going on in the trenches and the arenas of action and these qualities influenced other poets. Sassoon was not just a poet; he also wrote prose, some of which is quite powerful. He appeared to be a conventional Edwardian and this satisfied his Sephardic Jewish Tory family. (I once taught with Emmanuella Sassoon when I lived in Israel and she would regale with stories that had been passed down in her family about Siegfried). He was a charmer and found his place among other writers such as Wilfred Owen and Robert Graves. He immediately enlisted into the Royal Army and stayed with it until the Armistice. It is said that his bravery was almost suicidal and the won the Military Cross along with the nickname of “Mad Jack”. His poetry during that time was realistic and ironic poetry and it changed the ideals of wartime heroism. He protested with his poetry but it was not until July of 1917 that he defied the authority of the military. He also compromised his stance by returning to the military after being treated for shell shock. Author Wilson carefully balances her account of his conflicted loyalty to his fellow soldiers (and his deeper problems with his homosexuality) and his idealistic war protest. Just as she chronicles the man so she chronicles his literary output. She gives us vivid excerpts from both diaries and poetry—including some rare and unpublished verse—but also thorough literary criticism.

This single-volume biography includes never-before-published poems that have only just come to light. With over a decade’s research, and unparalleled access to Sassoon’s private correspondence, “Wilson presents the complete portrait, both elegant and heartfelt, of an extraordinary man, and an extraordinary poet”.

 Actually Siegfried Sassoon died in 1967 and he only spent one month of his life “at the front”, and wrote that famous poem as much about the new age he thought was beginning in 1919 as about the terrible war that had ended the year before. He was filled with contradictions.

This is not a completely new book. Wilson uses material from her two earlier studies of Sassoon, “The Making of a War Poet” and “The Journey from the Trenches”, but she adds a lot that’s new—- discussion of previously undiscovered poems and Sassoon’s rich store of letters, as well as binding the life and the art into a gripping narrative. She also goes back and has another look at some questions about Sassoon which are interesting and enlightening. Sassoon was a man of many moods and many had different opinions of him.

“Sassoon’s life with its depressions, broken love affairs, failed marriage, contradictions, collapses and successes, was, in the end, a “long journey” that he himself rejoiced in and made sense of. And the poetic urge in him, with all its false starts and changes of direction, kept on going, almost to the end”.

“Queerly Beloved: A Love Story Across Genders” by Diane and Jacob Anderson-Minshall— Changing Gender and Facing L:ife

QueerlyBelovedAnderson-Minshall, Diane and Jacob. “Queerly Beloved: A Love Story Across Genders”,  Bold Strokes Books, 2014.

Changing Gender and Facing Life

Amos Lassen

Diane and Suzy had been a lesbian couple for fifteen years when Suzy told her partner that she felt that she was really a man. Today, some eight years later Suzy is Jacob and they are still a couple. Now they see themselves as a queer couple and both work in LGBT media. Their relationship was so strong it was able to withstand a major change and now they share with us how they were able to do this. What we see here is the purest form of love—love that is based on the person and not on the body or the conceptions of others. They certainly had to work through issues and problems but the love that has kept them together also saw them through that. Any questions you may have about gender, sexuality, identity and love are answered here in the framework of family—one that they built. They are totally committed to each other and even while they dealt with major issues and uncertainties, their love for each other and their community was what allowed them to face the major changes that they went through. All of us have fears of the future and Jacob and Diane show us clearly that love helps to face whatever comes along.

Just as they struggled, they were part of a community that was also struggling and we all surely know how much our community was evolving during the last few years. As I read this, I am sure that I did so with a smile on my face. It can be quite difficult being an optimist when major changes stand in our path and while it is fascinating to read of what Diane and Jacob endured, it is even more fascinating to read of it in the wonderful prose that this book is written. The way the book is constructed is that everything that we read we do so through two separate narratives that, of course, come together. This is one of those books that stays with you after the covers are closed and if I have to concentrate on one aspect that really appealed to me about it, I would have to say that it is the brutal honesty with which it is written. We are an age now that many of us never thought we would see and that is what makes this book so important and wonderful addition to the gay canon. Things are changing very quickly and we must be able to keep up. It is just great that there is someone else who has “been there first” and is willing to tell us about it.

“An important story to tell and book to read that highlights the many struggles the LGBT community faces and the complexities that comes with being queer. This is a wonderful patch in the broad and beautiful quilt that is the gay family!” Perez Hilton

“Neither Here Nor There” by John Suddath—The Struggle

neither here nor there

Suddath, John. “Neither Here Nor There”, CreateSpace, 2013.

The Struggle

Amos Lassen

I firmly believe that the most positive aspect of the new rights that we feel lately is the right to speak out and not be condemned because of our sexuality. For too long we have had to keep our feelings inside and not express them openly because of fear of condemnation and being set apart from others. Probably the place where this been the strongest deterrent from speaking out is religion and I was truly made aware of how lucky we are when I moved from Arkansas to Massachusetts where my sexuality has been a non-issue. I was reminded once again last night when an openly gay poet read at my temple during the Sabbath service and I was so proud that this has come to be. The fact that we was so fondly accepted reinforced by belief in the goodness of humankind.

When I got home last night, I read most of John Suddath’s powerful memoir of his seventy-year struggle against fear and guilt to accept himself as a gay and a Christian man. Many of us have struggled with just this issue and unfortunately many give up and give in thinking that neither God nor religion has a place for them. Suddath had dead-ends and detours on his journey but he learned the most powerful lesson that one can learn by gaining insight into what being human is all about and that sometimes we must take chances.

Suddath’s journey was one of self-exploration and emotion and I am sure that many of us can identify with him. I believe that we become who we are because of the way we interact with others and this is extremely difficult when we live in a society that does not know how to deal with some who do not fit the mold of what is morally expected. It is so difficult to live in fear and being told that you cannot be who you are. Often there are clashes of self, guilt and fear and we are relegated to soul searching in order to live while feeling conflicted within.

I understand that it took some forty years for Suddath to write this memoir as he had to deal with the emotional cost of being honest and true to himself. He makes no excuses and he does not shy from sharing the emotional toll that this took on him. He harbored guilt because of his sexuality while being a committed Christian and he feared being found out. In effect, he lived two separate lives and was not honest to neither. He was forced to repress his anger against society’s lack of treatment of its gay members and this caused his struggle to last a long time. What he really wanted was to find a way to not only accept himself as a gay man but to understand why he is gay.

Suddath tells us about gay life outside of the gay metropolis. His father was a preacher from Texas and his parents paid no mind to his sexuality. He was a good son and did what was expected of him—scouts, school, college, the Navy, dating and his real struggle was with his Christian faith and its right wing statements. Aside from the bigotry of society there was the bigotry of the church, illness in his own family and his pain at trying to find a partner to share his life. While this is his story, it is also our story. He had to deal with the burden of being introverted and being the son of a minister. He also dealt with not only the deaths of his parents but also of a sibling and trying to find the right job. His intelligence and his self-doubts made it doubly hard but he made it and we are so lucky that he has shared that with us.