As I approach the end of my sophomore year and begin to take my finals, I am starting to become more excited about what comes next. During the summer, I will be doing research on the Stucky (Steve Rogers/Bucky Barnes) fandom and beginning a new phase in my Instagram presence. In the fall, I will be starting my junior year off with an independent study I created titled “A Wilde Era: Gay Literature of the 20th and 21st Century.” In this study, I will be looking at the evolution of gay and bisexual men’s literature after Wilde’s defense of “the love that dare not speak its name.” Then, if all goes according to plan, I will be off to Italy to spend my spring 2019 semester studying in Florence. As you can see, I have quite exciting year ahead of me, which is why it is so important that I continue to find time to read. Reading a book is such a useful way to ground one’s self and escape from the world for a while. Thus, I hope that these reviews will inspire people to pick up a book, even if it is not necessarily a traditional novel. With that being said, here is April’s literature review.
Book 27: Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Simon Spier, the protagonist of Albertalli’s novel, is completely unremarkable in every way, and it is for this reason that this novel is so incredible. I found it refreshing to read a story about a young gay man who is incredibly average. Yet, this story remains true to its gay roots, and it manages to subvert the coming-of-age romantic comedy-drama novel in interesting ways throughout the plot. This book was also recently adapted into the major motion picture Love, Simon, which serves as the first movie to feature an LGBT protagonist that was produced by a large studio.
Book 29: The Sparsholt Affair by Alan Hollinghurst
Gay men rarely appear in multi-generational stories. Thus, Hollinghurst’s novel is a pleasant surprise that tells a story which spans several decades. Each character offers a new narrative voice that evolves as they themselves age throughout the course of the novel. This book is also an excellent Künstlerroman–the coming of age of the artist–and it captures so many different aspects of gay culture throughout the years the story covers.
Book 30: The Immortal by Walter Ross
This book was fascinating if only because it is one of my first “out of print” books I have obtained on a personal whim. However, the story crafted by Ross is quite clever, and the collection of eccentric narrative styles and voices made this book a fun read. Allegedly based on the life of James Dean, The Immortal offers a brief glimpse into a pre-Stonewall past while providing an interesting exploration into the fluidity of sexuality.
Book 31: This Cheese is Nuts!: Delicious Vegan Cheese at Home by Julie Piatt
This book is the first cookbook to appear in these reviews, and I am excited to be including it this month. In this book, Piatt provides several tantalizing alternatives to dairy cheese, and they all appear to be just as good as their dairy counter-parts. Though many of the recipes are nut-based, Piatt offers several alternatives for those who are allergic and do not wish to rely upon dairy to have a cheese experience. I look forward to giving these recipes a try and I encourage anyone trying to live more ethically to pick up a copy of this cookbook.
Book 33: Enigma Variations by André Aciman
This book was my second round with Aciman, and I was not disappointed. I will admit that I did not understand all that was going on within this novel, but this element of the story is perhaps what contributes the most to the emotions evoked by Aciman’s plot. Following the story of a bisexual man, this novel is a fantastic exploration into the confusing and fluid nature of sexuality. Furthermore, it serves as yet another reminder that Aciman has mastered the languages of desire and longing.
The following is a list of books I also read this month but chose not to review: Book 28 – The Shawl by Cynthia Ozick and Book 32 – “The Abencerraje” and “Ozmin and Daraja”: Two Sixteenth-Century Novellas from Spain.
If you have read any of the books I mentioned in this post, please let us know what you thought of them in the comments below.