Category Archives: GLBT non-fiction

“Moab is My Washpot” by Stephen Fry— The Early Years

moab is my washpot

Fry, Stephen. “Moab Is My Washpot”, Soho Press, 2014.

The Early Years

Amos Lassen

I have heard so much about this memoir by Stephen Fry and am so lucky that one of my British friends sent me a copy. It is due to be released in the United States in November of this year. It is “funny, shocking, tender, delicious, sad, lyrical, bruisingly frank and addictively readable”. It tells us that Fry was sent to a boarding school 200 miles from home at the age of seven where he survived beatings, misery, love, ecstasy, carnal violation, expulsion, imprisonment, criminal conviction, probation and catastrophe. When he reached the age of eighteen, he was ready to try and face the world in which he had always felt a stranger.

Fry is a master of quick wit as well as shocking candor. Since his PBS television debut in the “Blackadder” series, the American profile of this multitalented writer, actor and comedian has grown steadily, especially in the wake of his title role in the film “Wilde”, which earned him a Golden Globe nomination, and his supporting role in “A Civil Action”. In his earlier biography of his adolescent years, “The Liar”, we were given a taste of his writing ability. Now he takes us back to the years before that period. He was one of the very few Cambridge University graduates to have been imprisoned prior to his freshman year and we certainly see that he is a brilliantly idiosyncratic character who continues to attract controversy, empathy and real devotion.

Fry is prone to moments of weakness. He disappeared in 1995 after walking out of the play he was a part of, contemplating suicide and eventually surfacing in Belgium. Even when he was young, he had issues with depression, and he had a habit of lying, cheating and stealing.  He even tells us about the period in his youth in which he stole a credit card and went on a criminal spending spree, eventually ending up in jail.

We learn some things about Fry that we probably never wanted to know—more happened to Fry in the first twenty years of his life than to most people by the age of their retirement, and it’s fascinating to read all about it in his own words. Fry writes with wit and wisdom, and it is fun to read about him in his own words. There are times we feel that we are actually at Stouts Hill Prep School with him. He makes us so comfortable that we feel we are reading what a good friend has written.

“Moab is my Washpot” sets you up perfectly for Fry’s later autobiography, “The Fry Chronicles”, which covers the later periods of his early life including his higher education and his meetings with some of the stars that he shaped a career with, including comedy partner Hugh Laurie. There are times that the book is a bit self-indulgent but that’s ok—like the rest of us, Fry is far from perfect. He suffered from anti-social behavior, his resentment of his father, his confused Judaism, his true feelings about his homosexuality, his relentless low esteem and self loathing .I imagine that this book was a form of therapy for him.

“The engaging Mr. Fry admits to lies, thievery, homosexuality, excessive cleverness, and other peccadilloes in this boarding-school adventure . . . An author in the long and honorable tradition of English Eccentrics, Theatrical Division, presents his coming-of-age story. With all the wit and Pythonesque antics, his book will entertain the Masterpiece Theatre crowd and others as well.”

Fry tried to commit suicide several times since his first attempt at age 18 (described with great sensitivity in the book) and this makes this book a bit disturbing. He suffers from a bipolar disorder but he does not say so here and I wish that he had. It might have clarified some of what I was unsure about. Even with all of his wit and charm, this is a chilling and sometimes confusing yet delightful read. That might sound contradictory until you read it yourself.

“Integral Voices on Sex, Gender, and Sexuality: Critical Inquiries” edited by Sarah E. Nicholson and Vanessa D. Fisher— Gendered, Sexual Self in a Postmodern World

integral voices

Nicholson, Sarah E. and Vanessa D. Fisher, editors. “Integral Voices on Sex, Gender, and Sexuality: Critical Inquiries”, (Suny Series in Integral Theory), State University of New York Press, 2014.

A Gendered, Sexual Self in a Postmodern World

Amos Lassen

In “Integral Voices”, we get a new and unique approach to what it means to be a gendered, sexual self in a postmodern world. It presents insights based on the Integral paradigm of theory and practice. With the inquiry into sex, gender, and sexuality having become so broad today and with diverse voices within both academia and popular culture, the Integral approach makes sense of the various theories and agendas present in this discussion. This volume contains essays and criticisms of the integral paradigm.

We hear from the works of Sri Aurobindo, Gregory Bateson, Jean Gebser, Ervin Laszlo, and Ken Wilber to name a few and see that the Integral approach acknowledges and works with multiple and contradictory experiences, theories, and realities. We have a variety of topics which include feminism, the men’s movement, sexual identity, queer history, and spirituality and the contributors come from varied backgrounds personally and politically and from varied academic and practitioner schools of thought and from differing genders. This gives different voices and opinions that show complex and integrated understanding of what it means to be woman, man, human. The articles in the book are

concerned with significant issues and thereby push the conversation forward. These essays are provocative volume and they bring us to consider a critical inquiry that transforms our philosophy and our personal thoughts. What we read here might not be especially comfortable but it does contain a great deal of thought and information. We deal with questions here of ”how is Spirit fully recognized and fulfilled in its myriad gendered, sexual embodiments in this integral age? What blinds us from recognizing (both individually and collectively) and from fulfilling (individually and collectively) our sexual complexity and gender creativity?”

Some of the topics considered here are “a history of the women’s movement, a challenge for the men’s movement, an inquiry into gay cultures, an evaluation of sexual harassment, interrogations of feminine essentialism and masculine bias, a window to artistic practice, and a vision of sex education”.

“Not only does this volume serve gender, feminist, and men’s studies by bringing and integral approach to bear on its multilayered topics, but it also serves Integral Theory by modeling critical inquiry that is generative. So while Integral Theory can offer an integrative framework to a field that is often paralyzed by its own diversity, it can also benefit greatly from this same field by developing a more self-critical and reflective approach to model building and theorizing.” This is a look at a more constructive, nuanced, compassionate set of discussions around being a gendered and sexual human being.

“Sexual Futures, Queer Gestures, and Other Latina Longings” by Juana Maria Rodriguez— Sexual Politics

sexual futures

Rodriguez, Juana Maria. “Sexual Futures, Queer Gestures, and Other Latina Longings”,  (Sexual Cultures), NYU Press. 2014.

Sexual Politics

Amos Lassen

In her book “Sexual Futures, Queer Gestures, and Other Latina Longings”, author Juana Maria Rodriguez gives us a new way of looking at sexual politics and proposes that we examine them with reference to ”the interstices between radical queer desires and the urgency of transforming public policy, between utopian longings and everyday failures”. She uses the stereotype considering the ways in which bodily movement is assigned cultural meaning, Juana María Rodríguez takes the stereotypes of “the hyperbolically gestural queer Latina femme body as a starting point from which to discuss how gestures and forms of embodiment inform sexual pleasures and practices in the social realm”.

Her focus is on the sexuality of radicalized queer female subjects, including burlesque border crossings, daddy play, pornography, sodomy laws, and sovereignty claims and in this way to bring forward “alternative sexual practices and machinations that exist outside the sightlines of mainstream cosmopolitan gay male culture”. “Forms of agency continually mediate among these various structures of legibility—the rigid confines of the law and the imaginative possibilities of the performative”. She looks at Puerto Rican activists who work toward self-determination alongside sexual performances on stage, in film including commercial porn, in multi media, in dance and in the bedroom.

 commercial pornography, in multi-media installations, on the dance floor, and in the bedroom. She shows that projections of radicalized sex become part of over mediums such as discourse and the coming together of racial and gendered anxieties and also appears in gestures and utterances of sexual acts, kinship structures, and activist practices.

We see how sex has been deployed in contemporary queer communities in order to radically change sexual politics.

Rodriguez contributes to the study of gender and sexuality by mobilizing the stereotype of the Latina and she is a critic to be reckoned with.

“Straights: Heterosexuality in Post-Closeted Culture” by James Joseph Dean— The Politics of Sexual Identity


Dean, James Joseph. “Straights: Heterosexuality in Post-Closeted Culture”, NYU Press, 2014.

The Politics of Sexual Identity

Amos Lassen

Now this is a title I never thought I would see especially after having had to be in the closet for so long. In 1969 with the Stonewall Riots, American politics of sexual identity were changed. It is impossible not to see that today the later generations of American feel greater acceptance of the gay community. We have seen gays portrayed positively in the media and we have all seen the LGBT community gain legal rights. These changes, great as they are, not solely affecting the gay community; heterosexuals are also in the midst of change as to “how their sexuality plays out in everyday life”. James Joseph Dean in “Straights” shows us that heterosexuals can neither assume the invisibility of gays and lesbians, nor count on the assumption that their own heterosexuality will go unchallenged. We are no longer able to presume that everyone is heterosexual or that compulsory heterosexuality even exists (or even ever existed).

The book is the result of some 60 interviews with straight men and women. It looks at how straight Americans look at their sexuality and gender. It is important to note the role of race in this and whether it plays a role or not. And yes, heterosexuality has a history that Dean presents to us. We read how it was first established and of the differing worlds of males and females; masculinity and femininity and the rise of the meterosexual for men and a more fluid sexuality for women. It is safe to say that there is a new kind of heterosexuality today.

Dean documents the way heterosexuals interact and form relationships with their LGBTQ family members, friends, acquaintances, and coworkers. We know that homophobia still exists in the world today but what we see here is that being gay-friendly or against homophobic expressions is becoming very common among those in the straight world. Sexual expression in America is changing and changing quickly.

Straights underscores the shifting terrain of gender and sexuality in contemporary America. Through detailed, compelling analyses, Dean shows that being straight is a contested and increasingly fluid sexual and social status. This is an indispensable text for a gender and queer studies that aims to pivot beyond a minoritizing identity politics.”-Steven Seidman, author of Beyond the Closet: The Transformation of Gay and Lesbian Life

 “James Dean’s book illuminates the cusp of lived social change in gender and sexual relations, with homophobic attitudes on the decline and public support for gay rights and families on the rise. Straights shows how, during this ‘post-closet’ historical moment, people of various racial-ethnic groups define, mark, and sometimes contest heterosexual identities, privilege, and heteronormative social relations.”-Michael Messner, author of Power at Play: Sports and the Problem of Masculinity

“Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh” by John Lahr— The Definitive Biography

tennessee williams

Lahr, John. “Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh”, W.W. Norton, 2014.

The Definitive Biography

Amos Lassen

This is not yet a review but more of an announcement of a book that will undoubtedly be very important—“the definitive biography of America’s greatest playwright from the celebrated drama critic of The New Yorker”.

The advance word on this book is “John Lahr has produced a theater biography like no other. Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh gives intimate access to the mind of one of the most brilliant dramatists of his century, whose plays reshaped the American theater and the nation’s sense of itself. This astute, deeply researched biography sheds a light on Tennessee Williams’s warring family, his guilt, his creative triumphs and failures, his sexuality and numerous affairs, his misreported death, even the shenanigans surrounding his estate”.

“With vivid cameos of the formative influences in Williams’s life—his fierce, belittling father Cornelius; his puritanical, domineering mother Edwina; his demented sister Rose, who was lobotomized at the age of thirty-three; his beloved grandfather, the Reverend Walter Dakin—Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh is as much a biography of the man who created A Streetcar Named Desire, The Glass Menagerie, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof as it is a trenchant exploration of Williams’s plays and the tortured process of bringing them to stage and screen”.

“The portrait of Williams himself is unforgettable: a virgin until he was twenty-six, he had serial homosexual affairs thereafter as well as long-time, bruising relationships with Pancho Gonzalez and Frank Merlo. With compassion and verve, Lahr explores how Williams’s relationships informed his work and how the resulting success brought turmoil to his personal life”.

“Lahr captures not just Williams’s tempestuous public persona but also his backstage life, where his agent Audrey Wood and the director Elia Kazan play major roles, and Marlon Brando, Anna Magnani, Bette Davis, Maureen Stapleton, Diana Barrymore, and Tallulah Bankhead have scintillating walk-on parts. This is a biography of the highest order: a book about the major American playwright of his time written by the major American drama critic of his time.” The book will contain 80 photographs.

 “There’s never been an American critic like John Lahr. His writing exalts, honors, and dignifies the profession and, more importantly, the art.” (Tony Kushner)

 “Unsurpassable…An eloquent, spellbinding narrative that emerges as an instant classic.” (Ron Chernow, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Washington: A Life)

 “Could this be the best theater book I’ve ever read? It just might be. Tennessee Williams had two great pieces of luck: Elia Kazan to direct his work and now John Lahr to make thrilling sense of his life.” (John Guare, author of Six Degrees of Separation)

 “Brilliant and seamless. A labor of the profoundest love, and it comes from the heart and mind of one of our greatest theater writers.” (André Bishop, artistic director of Lincoln Center Repertory Theater)

 “Swear-to-god, it’s the most original, insightful, thrilling biography I’ve ever read!” (Elizabeth Ashley)

 “It is a MAGNIFICENT work. Mesmerizing, illuminating, and heartbreaking.” (André Gregory)

 “This is a masterpiece about a genius. Only John Lahr, with his perceptions about the theater, about writers, about poetry, and about people could have written this book. What a marvelous read.” (Helen Mirren)

 “A splendid book, one of the finest critical biographies extant.” (Robert Brustein)

 “Splendid beyond words. It would be hard to imagine a more satisfying biography.” (Bill Bryson)

“There is only one word for this biography: superb.” (Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review)

 “Brilliant… [Lahr’s] achievement is not likely to be surpassed.” (Publishers Weekly)

 John Lahr, the author of eighteen books, was the senior drama critic of The New Yorker for over two decades. He has twice won the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism and is the first critic ever to win a Tony Award for coauthoring the 2002 Elaine Stritch at Liberty.

This certainly seems like it will be one of THE books of the year.

“My Buddy: World War II Laid Bare” by Dian Hanson—10 Intimate Photographs of World War II Soldiers in the Buff

Bruno Gmunder New in August


New in August




Rod Bellamy




Unwanted and abandoned by his Mississippi River plantation-owning daddy, young Jeff got by as best he could in a torrid world of prostitution and vice where the whole neighborhood used him as a cheap sex-toy. And then, out of the blue, came an airline ticket to distant Hawaii , where his wealthy daddy enjoyed a decadent high-life of unbridled lust. Was this his father finally showing him he cared…? There he met Mohammed — a man who seemed to appreciate him. But that was when troubles really began. Twisted desires and murderous jealousy put his very life in jeopardy — could young Mississippi Hustler survive and find true love?




320 pages

Softcover, 5 ¼ x 7 ½” ( 13 x 19 cm)

€ 15,99 / US$ 17.99 / £ 11.99

ISBN 978-3-86787-784-8








Within a few years, inkedKenny (born 1967) developed into one of the most successful photographers of gay culture. His stylized photography shows a desirous view on the beauty of an idealized men’s world. After numerous publications in anthologies such as TurnOn: Sneax, Hair, or Raunch, this is his first monography.




128 pages, full color

Hardcover with dust jacket, 8 ½ x 11 ¼“ (21, 5 x 28 ,5 cm)

€ 39,99 / US$ 59.99 / £ 39.99

ISBN 978-3-86787-759-6








This is the story of Evan and Rick. Fast and close friends since their kindergarten days in a small town, their friendship evolves into the love of their lives. They move to the big city where they meet Billy and Charlie and these four friends are soon inseparable. Mioki presents a moving portrait of gay life with all its highs and lows. Drawn in a sure style and masterfully incisive, Mioki’s comic is a joy to read, is moving and the sex also doesn’t get short shrift. A charming comic for the young and the young-at-heart. This is the bundle of two previously published hardcover books by Bruno Gmünder before.




240 pages, full color

Softcover with flaps, 6 ¾ x 9 ¼“ (17,0 x 23,5 cm)

€ 24,99 / US$ 39.99 / £ 24.99

ISBN 978-3-86787-770-1




Winston Gieseke (Ed.)




Why do we go weak in the knees for a man in uniform? He could be a police officer, a military man, a fire fighter, or one of those guys in sexy brown pants who delivers nice packages (both in a box and in his pants!) to your door—something about the uniform makes us stop and stare. A uniform transforms an everyday guy into a modern-day Superman, one who stands straighter, prouder. And one we can’t wait to get naked. Because the only thing sexier than a man in uniform is a man out of uniform.




208 pages

Softcover, 5 ¼ x 7 ½“ (13,0 x 19,0 cm)

€ 15,99 / US$ 17.99 / £ 15.99

ISBN 978-3-86787-786-2


“Travels with Casey” by Benoit Denizet-Lewis— A Cross Country Trip

travels with casey

Denizet-Lewis, Benoit. “Travels With Casey”, Simon and Schuster, 2014.

A Cross Country Trip

Amos Lassen

For four months, 32 states and 13,000 miles Benoit Denizet-Lewis traveled with his moody Labrador dog and it is no wonder that he questions whether his dog likes him or not. I drove from Little Rock, Arkansas to Boston, Massachusetts with my Jack Russell terrorist so I know just how he felt. Denizet-Lewis tells us that he is insecure anyway and having a moody dog along for such a trip can be quite tiring. Casey, the Lab was nine-years old during the journey and he and his master set out in a rented motor home with the goal of  “paying tribute to the most powerful interspecies bond there is, in the country with the highest rate of dog ownership in the world”. As they traveled, they met dogs and dog-crazed owners of dogs. As a dog lover, I found myself becoming genuinely affected by what I was reading and was very glad to know that there are others that are controlled by an animal on the end of a leash. I have always wondered exactly how much my pup controls my life and thoughts and it is good to know that I am not the only one. What the book does and successfully so is explore the relationship man/woman and his/her dog and what that tells us about what we value and ourselves. (Please note that I tried to be politically correct in that sentence and not use the all encompassing “male” terminology but I included women as well and if necessary I can add transgender). However, I do not classify myself as one of those “dog people” but I am a dog lover.

The book is loaded with information from scientists, scholars, writers and so on and what they share is love for the dog.

There is an age difference between master Denizet-Lewis (in his 30s) and dog, Casey (about 9), yet there is unconditional love from both sides and it had to be that way if they were going to spend four months together on the road. The author felt that he needed to feel better about dog and that is one of the reasons for the trip.

I think that for most people, the pet dog in a member of the family and for us there is certainly a relationship between dog and master as well as other members of the family. Now some see this as a symbiotic relationship based upon mutual desire to be together. What we forget sometimes that relationships do not just happen—they are the work of building together and I am fairly well sure that a dog and his family have a relationship that they have built together.

As writer and dog travel together, they meet many dogs and their human masters and we meet them too. We indeed see how much humans love their dogs and are ready to do anything for them. We also see here that we need our dogs more than they need us. If I were not already a dog lover, I would certainly become one by the end of the book.

Here is what some of the critics are saying about the book:

      “Travels with Casey is a charming, touching, human and humane book. The author’s self-deprecating humor, his keen eye for the truth of the people he encounters, his respect for those who live in what too many others might call ‘fly-over country,’ and his affection for dogs make this a unique book.”
– Dean Koontz, author of The City: A Novel and A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog

  •       “Benoit Denizet-Lewis has written about some pretty strange and fascinating people in his career, but no group is more entertaining than Dog People. Benoit captures this group with warmth and wit in Travels With Casey. Sit! Read! Enjoy!”
– A.J. Jacobs, New York Times bestselling author of The Year of Living Biblically
  •       “I couldn’t stop reading Travels with Casey until I had to walk the dog. It’s an adventure story, a love story, and a brilliant commentary on dog literature from J.R. Ackerley to Cesar Millan. Everyone who has a dog will love this book.”
– Susan Cheever, author of E.E. Cummings: A Life
  •       “Dog lovers will be entranced by Benoit Denizet-Lewis’ Travels with Casey, but so will everyone, because it’s a book about all of us and a book about America. His observations are funny and poignant and the writing is exquisite.”
– David Sheff, author of Beautiful Boy and Clean
  •       “Travels With Casey is a fascinating, clear-eyed, must-read dog book. Benoit takes us on a journey into that very sentimental, very American dog-human relationship, and the result is a dog book like no other.”
– Alexander Chee, author of The Queen of the Night
  •       “Casey takes his place alongside Charley and Tulip and Skip as Denizet-Lewis takes his alongside John Steinbeck and J.R. Ackerley and Willie Morris. Travels with Casey is a book for dog lovers that reaffirms why we love them so. And it is a book for misanthropes that will restore their faith in humanity.”
– Kevin Sessums, author of Mississippi Sissy
  •       “This sprightly, entertaining travelogue should find a delighted readership.”
– Kirkus Reviews
  •       “Engaging. . .. Comparisons to John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley are obvious, but this is an entirely different and equally rewarding piece of work that expands with each page without losing its narrative thread or the reader’s interest.”
– Publishers Weekly

“Land’s End: A Walk in Provincetown” by Michael Cunningham— P-Town

land's end

Cunningham, Michael. “Land’s End: A Walk in Provincetown”, Picador; Reprint edition , 2012.


Amos Lassen

Now that I am living in Boston, I need to enjoy all the wonderful aspects of the location and one of those is Provincetown. For many gay men, Provincetown is the Mecca and the Medina of gay life—a place we all read about and strive to get to at least once in our gay lives. What Michael Cunningham gives us here is a love letter to P-town and his book is as beautiful and haunting as the place itself. It is a quick read that pulls you in on the first page and keeps you there.

For those who do not know, Provincetown is the tide-washed tip of Cape Cod, Massachusetts and has long been a place where gays live and go to party.

 “Cunningham rambles through Provincetown, gracefully exploring the unusual geography, contrasting seasons, long history, and rich stew of gay and straight, Yankee and Portuguese, old-timer and ‘washashore’ that flavors Cape Cod’s outermost town. . . . Chock-full of luminous descriptions . . . . He’s hip to its studied theatricality, ever-encroaching gentrification and physical fragility, and he can joke about its foibles and mourn its losses with equal aplomb.” —Chicago Tribune.

Like Provincetown, the “city of sand”, Cunningham’s book is filled with joy and beauty and whether he is writing about a grocery store or the beach, each word seems to be carefully chosen to reflect his own feelings about the place. I read the book before I went and in fact I read every time before I go and then I read it when I come home. It is as if we are walking around the town and are being shown favorite places. The prose is gorgeous and sensual and this book is a real keeper.

“A Queer Capital: A History of Gay Life in Washington D.C.” by Genny Beemyn— Our Nation’s Capital

a queer capital

Beemyn. Genny. “A Queer Capital: A History of Gay Life in Washington D.C.”, Routledge, 2014.

Out Nation’s Capital

Amos Lassen

This first LGBT history of Washington, D.C. reveals that the nation’s capital has quite a gay past that goes back over 125 years. Using extensive archival research and interviews, Genny Beemyn looks at how lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals established spaces of their own before and after World War II and how they managed to survive some of the harshest anti-gay campaigns in the U.S. Nonetheless they managed to organize to demand equal treatment. Race, gender, and class shaped the construction of gay social worlds in a city that was racially segregated.

Genny Beemyn begins at the turn of the twentieth century and goes forward through the 1980s exploring the experiences of gay people in Washington, showing how they created their own communities, fought for their rights, and, in the process, helped to change the country. We gain insights into LGBT life, the history of Washington, D.C., and African American life and culture in the twentieth century.

There is a lot of information here including some fascinating people and history. If that is not enough, Beemyn also analyzes D.C. looking at individuals and at society and reminding us of the importance of race in the nation’s capital. Below is the table of contents:


1. The Geography of Same-Sex Desire: Cruising Men in Washington D.C. in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries

2. “Sentiments Expressed Here would be Misconstrued by Others”: The Same-Sex Sexual Lives of Washington’s Black Elite in the Early Twentieth Century

3. Race, Class, Gender, and the Social Landscape of the Capital’s Gay Communities during and after World War II

4. The Policing of Same-Sex Desire in Postwar Washington

5. LGBT Movements in the Capital in the Mid to Late Twentieth Century: Three Historic Moments

6. Epilogue: “In Tyra’s Memory”

Appendix: List of Narrators