Today is quite the busy day. Not only is it the beginning of Pride Month, it is also the day of my brother’s graduation. Both are momentous in their own ways, and it is a great way to begin June. Overall, May was a quiet month filled with writing poetry and working on my novel, drinking tea and trying out new vegan recipes, and going to the beach and hosting dinner parties. This month also featured some fantastic books, and I am quite excited to be sharing them with you now.
Book 35: Out of the Blue: Russia’s Hidden Gay Literature: An Anthology edited by Kevin Moss.
Due to the ongoing persecution of LGBTQ individuals in Russia, one is hard pressed to find a queer Russian voice. In this anthology, Moss provides the first ever published collection of gay Russian literature, bringing to light an incredibly rich Russian homosexual tradition. Gennady Trifonov, Nikolai Gogol, and Vladamir Makanin are a few of the the standout voices in this book, and they, along with the rest of the authors within the collection, reveal a history of gay Russian literature that demands its turn in the spotlight. Furthermore, Moss’ efforts help to explain the climate in Russia that has attributed to such anti-homosexual sentiment in the country.
Book 36: The Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch
At a time when the regulation of bodies has become such an contentious issue, Yuknavitch’s novel is a powerful piece of literature with a lot to say. In the world she creates within the novel, conceptions of gender and sexuality are challenged with every turn of the page. Furthermore, the reoccurring theme of attempting made to revoke female self-autonomy over their bodies and reproductive systems is an incredibly important idea to consider in the current atmosphere surrounding women’s rights. Much like the protagonist of this novel, the literary world has been set ablaze by the impressive talent of Yuknavitch.
Book 37: Blue: The History of a Color by Michel Pastoureau
In this visually stunning book, Pastoureau tells the story of the color blue and proves that a color can have a history as interesting as any other subject. While blue was never considered a color with much meaning, it has managed to become the favorite color of the current era, and this book traces its evolution from rarity into prominence. I have also read Pastoureau’s biography of the color red, and, with both books, he has proved himself to be a master historian of color.
Book 38: Lunar Park by Bret Easton Ellis
This book was recommended to me by the professor working with me on my study of gay and bisexual men’s literature, and it did not disappoint. While the novel does feature a queer character, the most appealing components of Ellis’ story are intense moments of psychological terror and the meta-fictional approach taken in telling the story. Lunar Park is absolutely terrifying, and it mixture of fantasy and reality will leave you fearful of what your own mind is capable of creating.
Book 39: Angel in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes by Tony Kushner
I do not typically read plays, but I am glad I picked up Kushner’s play. In two parts, Kushner provides an epic story that tells a moving story set during the height of AIDS Epidemic in the United States. Desperation, confusion, courage, and vulnerability are just a few of the attributes Kushner brings to life in this glimpse into the harrowing period. Angels in America is a literary work meriting all the praise and acclaim it has received.
Book 40: The Real James Dean: Intimate Memories from Those Who Knew Him Best edited by Peter L. Winkler
I am not exactly sure how or when it happened, but I recently developed an interest in James Dean and wanted to learn some more about him. Winkler’s book did not disappoint. Dean, a queer man in the time before Stonewall, is an absolutely fascinating individual with a multitude eccentric idiosyncrasies. Though he was only the star of three movies, the lover of fast cars and bull-fighting has certainly made his mark on history.
The following is a list of books I also read this month but chose not to review: Book 34 – The Tunnel: Selected Poems by Russell Edson
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.