Point to Point Navigation: A Memoir, 1964 to 2006
By Gore Vidal
This meandering but soulful sequel to Vidalās pointillist 1995 memoir, Palimpset, isnāt half the book its predecessor was. Itās stuffed with many of the authorās oft-told tales and with several walloping dollops of deja vuāmost particularly in the early chapters, where Vidal borrows liberally from his own 1992 book about film, Screening Movies, and in two of the last chapters, where he critiques books about him, by gay activist Dennis Altman and biographer Fred Kaplan. For all that, itās still a deliriously absorbing memoir; Vidalās life has been that rich, and heās matter-of-factly un-vain, though pithily gossipy. Vidal intersected over the decades with the disparate likes of Johnny Carson and John F. Kennedy on one hand and Tennessee Williams and Paul Bowles on the otherāthough, in truth, the worlds of mainstream culture and politics and those of such queer outlaws of art werenāt as far apart decades ago as they are now. Passages about the decline and death of his partner of more than 50 years, Howard Auster, are particularly majestic and poignantāas is Vidal, in his defiant elder years.s.
Three Sides to Every Story
By Clarence Nero
Harlem Moon/Broadway Books, $12.95
On one side of this lively pre-Hurricane Katrina story, set in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, thereās buxom Tonya, a stripper seduced by a rapperās bling while her true love is in prison for beating up her ex-boyfriend. On another side, thereās lean, muscled Johnny, one-time high school football star, a preacherās son sent up for delivering that beating. On yet another side, thereās James, a spirited drag queen behind bars for petty theft. Johnny pines for Tonya while heās doing time, but heās also drawn to the masculine-feminine duality of James, who encourages him to finish his educationāand to deal with his internalized homophobia. Itās a fraught love triangle guaranteed to combust once the two men are back on the street. Neroās novel hums with polished pacing, as the point of view shifts nimbly from one character to another, while juggling adroitly a number of memorable subplots. This sizzling urban soap opera offers melodramatic intensity, occasional hilarity, and astute commentary on the homophobia of black churches, drag in the gay community, and the twin oppressions of racism and poverty..
We Walk Alone
By Ann Aldrich
The Feminist Prss, $14.95
This reissue of a peppy, 50-year-old study of lesbians by the pseudonymous Aldrichāwith a 2006 introduction under her real name, Marijane Meakerāis more than a trip down memory lane to the bad old days. Lifeās far better for lesbians in the 21st century, sureābut a chapter on bisexuals of yore echoes present-day arguments, and the fear expressed by a straight man in 1955 that rights for a ālessieā will encourage young girls to come out is certainly ongoing. Aldrichās pre-PFLAG advice to parentsādonāt wallow in shame or blameāhas a timeless wisdom, and her state-by-state rundown of sodomy laws is a chilling reminder of how much more oppressive America once was. Reissued simultaneously is the 1958 sequel quel We, Too, Must Love, in which Meaker (who has also written as pulp novelist Vin Packer, in the ā50s, and as young-adult novelist M.E. Kerr today) responded to hundreds of letters from lesbians about finding bars, finding jobs, and finding loversāquestions still asked today. Plus ca change.
The After-Death Room: Journey into Spiritual Activism
By Michael McColly
Transition Books, $15.95
Most recent books about AIDS in Africa and Asia deal with the epidemic mainly in the abstract: the cost of drugs, the need for wealthy nations to donate money, the tension around condom use, and the vast numbers of infected on the horizon. McCollyās humane book, part self-reflective autobiography and part hands-on reporting, puts many memorable faces on the medical and social devastation. With his own HIV-positive status always on his mind, the author spent two years visiting AIDS groups and individuals in South Africa, Thailand, India, Vietnam, and Senegal, meeting with overworked outreach staff, male sex workers, compassionate Buddhist monks, and traditional African healers. Their stories, as humbling as they are inspirational, put a human face on the crisisāand inject some soul. Adding realistic heft to this noble book is the fact that McColly chronicles an honest ambivalence around his own sexual identity, andāabandoning the pretense of omniscient reporterāwrites nakedly about the physical and emotional toll of his travels on body and spirit.
DAVID LEVITHAN, AUTHOR of the gay young adult novels Boy Meets Boy and Wide Awake, and of the polysexual poetry cycle, The Realm of Possibility, has been promoted to editorial director of Scholastic Books, among Americaās leading publishers of childrenās and young adult titles. He continues as editorial director of PUSH, a Scholastic imprint featuring work by young writers about young people, including a couple of gay-interest titles: Billy Merrellās poetry collection Talking in the Dark, which touches on being gay and coming out; and Eddie de Oliveiraās Lucky, about two boys who are as attracted to other boys as they are to girls... KEN SIMAN, author of the classic comic coming-out novel, Pizza Faceāpublished in 1992 but long out of printāhas been named publisher of the new U.S. office of Britainās Virgin Books, which plans to publish 12 books in the first year, with a focus on ādiscovering and nurturing writers who have something original to contribute to popular cultureābe they novelists or music critics, sportswriters or humorists, bloggers, or biographers.ā Siman was an editor and publicist at Penguin Books, most recently working on gay activist Mel Whiteāse's Religion Gone Bad: The Hidden Dangers of the Christian Right...
MICHAEL HOLLOWAY PERRONNEāS self-published iUniverse novel, A Time Before Me, about a gay teen moving from a repressive small town in Mississippi to the gay whirl of New Orleans, has been bought by Italian publisher Playground Libra for publication next year. The bookās sequel, Falling into Me, is due this month.
Richard Labonte has been reading, editing, selling, and writing about queer literature since the mid-ā70s.