Next weekend – Memorial Day Weekend – is the official opening of prominent New England summer destinations like Provincetown, Ogunquit, Newport and the islands. Traditionally, I share a few gay-themed book options for those looking to add to their summer reading.
My first suggestion is Take This Man: Gay Romance Stories. This 232 page paperback published by CLEiS Press is available starting on June 26th and can be pre-ordered at your local LGBT bookstore (here in Boston contact Calamus Bookstore in the Leather District).
This book is a compilation of sixteen romantic / erotic short stories. The book opens with the 10-page short story, A Good Heart Is This Day Found, a very seductive and endearing story about two men who have just married by Rhidian Brenig Jones. The short stories make for easy summer reading and I enjoyed the naughty narratives, despite rarely reading this genre.
For those who prefer non-fiction, I would strongly recommend Michelangelo Signorile’s latest book, It’s Not Over, which is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and is currently on sale everywhere.
Signorile’s 259 page book is a wake up call of sorts. He warns the LGBT community not to take for granted the amazing progress we’ve made by assuming equality is inevitable. He makes a persuasive argument pointing to how the conservative movement is reorganizing and how groups the LGBT community often view as allies are sometimes without even realizing it becoming complacent and as he puts it “become a roadblock to progress.” Definitely worth the read if social justice and politics are your thing.
My third and final suggestion is actually an older book that was first published by St. Martin’s Griffin in 2008 called The Conversion and is written by Joseph Olshan (author of the popular gay novel Nightswimmer).
The 278 page novel captured my imagination as it centers on Russell Todaro, a young American translator who wakes up one morning in Paris to find his lover dead. The story quickly relocates to Tuscany where you learn more about this conflicted man against the backdrop of one of my favorite places in the world, Italy.
As I mentioned previously, while all these books are available via sites like Amazon.com, I’d ask that you consider ordering / purchasing one or more of these books from your local LGBT bookstore. If you don’t have a local LGBT bookstore, consider calling Boston’s last remaining store, Calamus Bookstore and having them ship you the book(s).
I don’t regularly share book reviews because I think there are a lot of great sites that do this far better than me. However, every once in awhile I read a book that I really like and want to share with others.
Earlier this year, I paid a visit to Boston’s sole remaining LGBT Bookstore, Calamus Bookstore, and picked up a handful of books. One of those books was Joseph Olshan’s The Conversion. I thought this story about Russell Todaro – a young American translator who wakes up in a hotel in Paris to find his lover (a world renowned poet) has died in his sleep – hard to put down.
Russell’s story unfolds in a villa in Italy after he accepts an unexpected offer from a celebrated Italian author to recover from the shock. While in Italy, Joseph Olshan shares more about Russell’s quest for love and overcoming a persistent writer’s block that he (Russell) learns his former lover attributed in his yet unfinished memoir to his fixation on failed relationships – Ouch!
Joseph Olshan lives in Vermont and is perhaps best known for his books, Nightswimmer and Clara’s Heart. You can learn more about the book and the author, here.
Boston’s Calamus Bookstore is hosting a “meet the author” tonight at 7PM at their store on 92B South Street, near South Station in the Leather District.
Christopher Hennessy is the author of Outside the Lines: Talking with Contemporary Gay Poets and a collection of poems, Love-In-Idleness, which was a finalist for the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry. He is the associate editor for The Gay & Lesbian Review-Worldwide and lives in Boston, Massachusetts.
For more details call Calamus Bookstore at 617-338-1931.
Call Me By Your Name is a coming of age story that is beautifully written by Andre Aciman. I first read this book a few years ago when the owner of Boston’s LGBT bookstore, Calamus Books, suggested it as a must read.
Talk about “Summer Lovin”… The setting of the story takes place on the Italian Riviera in the 1980s and the main character, Elio, is a curious teenager nearly 18 who falls hard for Oliver, a 24 year old postdoc teacher from Columbia who’s spending the summer at his home as a guest of Elio’s father.
What transpires is a summer romance of sort that is incredibly touching and beautifully written so much so that at times the book reads more like poetry than prose. Perhaps the book’s publisher describes the book best when they write, “André Aciman’s critically acclaimed debut novel is a frank, unsentimental, heartrending elegy to human passion. ”
The hard cover copy of this book is nearly 250 pages so its perfect for a long weekend if you are an avid reader. I’m sure you’ll find this book difficult to put down. The interactions are so touchingly written and the intimacy so profound that you’ll feel as if the pages of the book are turning themselves. Your local LGBT bookstore will have this for certain, or you may buy the book online here.
Queerty’s article, The Last Chapter: A Look At LGBT Bookstores Around the World, got me to thinking about this small and quirky group that have defied the odds by remaining open, and I’d like to wish all these owners success in 2012 and beyond. I love LGBT bookstores and consider Boston lucky to still have at least one in operation.
Not too long ago most large cities had a collection of LGBT bookstores that catered to the community, but over the years, most of these have closed. Truth be told, I’m not much of a shopper, but I’ve always enjoyed nosing around a neighborhood bookstore and have visited a few of the places featured in the article. Check out Queerty’s list and consider stopping by one of these shops.
If you live in Boston or plan to visit, certainly check out Calamus Bookstore in the Leather District near South Station and Chinatown. If you’re unfamiliar with Boston, the Leather District may be a bit misleading. The neighborhood derives its name from the city’s leather tanneries located here in the 19th & 20th centuries. However, by sheer coincidence, you can buy all sorts of leather apparel at the Marquis de Sade which is just above Calamus bookstore.
More LGBT bookstores listed by city
Atlanta – Outwrite
Boston – Calamus Books
London – Gay’s the word
Paris – Les Mots a la Bouche
Philadelphia – Giovanni’s Room
Vancouver – Little Sisters
Washington DC – Kramerbooks
Share in the comments section of this post the names of any LGBT bookstores not mentioned – include the bookstore’s name, web address and city. If I get a fair number of stores, I’ll compile a list and republish in the near future.
In truth, this is less of a review about Steven Saylor’s book, Empire: The Novel of Imperial Rome, published in 2010 by St. Martin’s Griffin than it is a recognition of this gay author who writes superb historical fiction novels at a mind-boggling rate.
For those fascinated by ancient Rome, his novels are compelling reads. Saylor is best known for his Roma Sub Rosa series, set in ancient Rome featuring a detective named “Gordianus the Finder” who lived during the time of Cicero, Julius Caesar and Cleopatra.
Empire is nearly 600-pages and opens in Rome in 14 AD with Lucius Pinarius, a young man born into a prominent Roman family. The novel traces the Pinarius family for the next 100+ years. With imperial Rome as a backdrop, Saylor weaves a story chalk full of intrigue, drama and action.
If you enjoy historical fiction or are fascinated with this era, I would recommend trying one of Saylor’s novels. He has an easy-t0-read writing style. Should you opt to buy one of Saylor’s books, I’d recommend Calamus Bookstore. Calamus is the last standing GLBT bookstore in Boston and you can purchase books online if you don’t live in the area.
Calamus Bookstore 92B South Street, Boston Tel: (617) 338-1931