Category Archives: What’cha Reading

Book review: The Girl in the Boston Box by Chuck Latovich

I just finished reading local author, Chuck Latovich, debut novel, The Girl in the Boston Box. The 400+ page book published in Cambridge by Way We Live Publishers tells the story of two people living in Boston and Cambridge. One is a down-and-out gay man (Mark) who is estranged from his family and wallowing in self-pity after a break up and the other is a young woman (Caitlyn) studying architecture history at Harvard, who is intrigued by a rumor that some nineteenth century Boston architects may have built hidden rooms in homes of wealthy Bostonians called a “Boston Box”. Initially thinking these were part of the Underground Railroad, her research points to a far more salacious and disturbing reason for these hidden spaces. Mark and Caitlyn’s path ultimately cross as the result of a murder and an unexpected connection between the two and the victim.

This is an enjoayble read filled with short, punchy chapters that kept me reading late into the night. Murder mystery and detective literature fans will enjoy the twists and turns of this well written story. I loved how Latovich used Boston and Cambridge as the backdrop with much of the story taking place in the South End, Fenway and Harvard Square neighborhoods.

This book can be purchased online at Amazon but you can also check with your local bookstore to see if they will order you a copy.

Summer reading

books, summer readingWhile this summer may be unlike any other we’ve experienced before, it remains a great time to grab a book and lose yourself in a good story. Make plans to get away even if it is only in your imagination. Below are three very different novels for you to consider adding to your summer reading list. Below I’ve also included links to five local bookstores where you can purchase these books.

The Parting Gift, by Evan Fallenberg – published Sept 2018
Red, White & Royal Blue, by Casey McQuiston – published May 2019
The Secret History, by Donna Tartt – published Sept. 1992

Evan Fallenberg

The Parting Gift by Evan Fallenberg is available in paperback starting June 2nd. The novel opens with the main character writing a letter to his friend, Adam, explaining why he showed up unexpectedly four months ago looking for a place to stay. Recounting what happened after he quit grad school and moved to Israel. What follows is a lurid description about his surprise, intense sexual attraction and all-consuming, obsessive relationship with Uzi, a hyper masculine and emotionally detached spice farmer on the coast of the Mediterranean. As the passion fizzles, unrequited love leads to jealousy and resentment.

Casey McQuistonRed, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston is a lighthearted beach novel that will appeal to RomCom lovers. The story revolves around a romance that ignites between Alex Claremont-Diaz (the son of the first female President) and Prince Henry – second in line in the British Monarchy. The scripted story line is as unrealistic as it is humorous with ridiculous scenarios playing out page after page. If you’re looking for a lighthearted romantic comedy to read while on vacation this summer – look no further – this book is for you.

Donna TarttThe Secret History by Donna Tartt opens with the murder of one of the character, Bunny, who is part of a group of  six classics students, attending a small, elite liberal arts college in Vermont (based upon Bennington College, where Tartt was a student in the 1980s). At times I found myself reviling all of these students but the writing is excellent and kept me reading to find out what becomes of this group of misfits. In some ways this story is the exact opposite of the light, RomCom-esque nature of Red, White & Royal Blue previously shared.

All of these books can be purchased online at major resellers but you may also buy this in person or online at local bookstores so buy local. Below are a handful of bookstores who would love to he

Brookline Booksmith 279 Harvard Street by Coolidge Corner
Harvard Bookstore  1256 Mass Ave in Harvard Square
Papercuts JP 5 Green Street, Jamaica Plain
Porter Square Bookstore 25 White Street in Porter Square
Trident Bookseller’s & Cafe 338 Newbury Street in Back Bay

Quarantine reading suggestions from Reach Around Books

Many Americans have spent the past month observing shelter-in-place home orders to help curb the coronavirus. While the news of  late has been pretty bleak, I thought a little light reading might be a welcome suggestion.

Brenda’s Beaver Needs a Barber
Put Tony’s Nuts In Your Mouth
Suzy Likes to Look at Balls
Spank the Monkey Lends a Hand
Come Swing with Us (not shown above)

Reach Around Books are for those of you who love a good double entendre and promises to have you in tears reading these “children’s stories”, that are most definitely for adults. These books are certain to offend those with a Puritanical streak but for my readership, I think this is perfectly on brand – so to speak.

Below is a YouTube narration from one of the five books in this series, Spank The Monkey Lends A Hand.

Boston Gay Men’s book club

shirtless guy, man with glasses, reading, bookBoston’s Gay Men’s Book Club will meet Monday, April 27th at The Boston Public Library in the Back Bay to dish on this novel. All are welcome. For more information click on the link below.

Boston Gay Men’s Book Club
Cleanness by Garth Greenwell
Monday, April 27th at 7PM

“Cleanness revisits and expands the world of Garth Greenwell’s beloved debut, What Belongs to You, declared “an instant classic” by The New York Times Book Review. In exacting, elegant prose, he transcribes the strange dialects of desire, cementing his stature as one of our most vital living writers.”

If you’re open to supporting local bookstores, try one of the links I’ve shared below, which takes you right to the book so you can order it online in just a couple of clicks!

Brookline Booksmith in Coolidge Corner
Harvard Bookstore in Harvard Square
Porter Square Bookstore in Porter Square
Trident Bookseller’s & Cafe in Back Bay

 

Boston Book Festival this weekend

shirtless guy, man with glasses, reading, bookI believe this weekend will be the 11th Annual Boston Book Festival. This free event centered in Copley Square and the Boston Public Library this Saturday and Sunday is a wonderful program worth checking out. The 2019 BBF will include 350+ presenters, 140+ events at 37 venues and is expected to draw 30k people.

The Boston Book Festival celebrates the power of words to stimulate, agitate, unite, delight, and inspire by holding year-round events culminating in an annual, Festival that promotes a culture of reading, ideas and enhances the vibrancy of our city.

The variety of events, topics and discussions are meant to ensure there is something for everyone. If you’re an aspiring (or possibly frustrated) writer, there are many sessions set up all weekend long as well (check’em out here). One program I’m contemplating attending is Saturday’s Poetry & Pints.

This year’s full schedule can be viewed here: BBF Schedule.

Summer reading

With the July 4th holiday around the corner and beach weather in the forecast, you may be looking for some quality summer reading materials. As in past years, I wanted to share a few books for you to consider. While all these books are available via sites like Amazon.com, consider purchasing one or more of these books from your local LGBT bookstore (if you still have one).

LGBTQ history, gay literature, gay non fictionThis book is most likely going to appeal to those who reside or hail from New England. Published earlier this year by Shawmut Peninsula Press, The Hub of the Gay Universe: An LGBTQ History of Boston, Provincetown and Beyond, was written by my friend and neighbor, Russ Lopez. The 300+ page soft cover starts in the early 1600 when Pilgrims landed first in Provincetown and soon after in Plymouth and concludes with the progress the LGBTQ community has made in present day. Lopez beautifully captures moments in history and shares story after story about pioneers – many of whom you’ve never heard because American queer history is virtually unknown and barely taught.

fiction, gay fiction, greek mythologyFor those looking for an escape from reality, I definitely suggest Madeline Miller’s NYT Bestselling novel, The Song of Achilles, which chronicles the story of Achilles – the son of Thetis the cruel sea goddess and Kink Peleus who is doomed to die on the battlefield and destined to be Ancient Greece’s greatest hero. Miller doesn’t shy from the companionship and love between the hero and Patroclus, an unassuming exile who is made famous in Greek mythology because Achilles names him Therapon, ‘brother-in-arms’. Miller’s talent cannot be denied. I promise you will find yourself turning page after page, staying up late to finish the novel.

gay fictionHaving recommended a new nonfiction book on LGBTQ history followed by an historical fiction novel of sorts it seems only fitting to conclude with the gay classic, Tales of the City.  I can vividly remember watching in secret the TV series in the early 1990s up in my parent’s bedroom. And later buying the books in an out-of-the-way bookstore so I wouldn’t run into anyone I knew. If you’ve never read the series or if it has been a few years, add this to your summer reading list. The novel captures a time that no longer exists and as the NY Times review says, reads like “an extended love letter to a magical San Francisco”.

If you have a book that you’d like to suggest, please leave the title and author in the comments section of this post. And as I mentioned previously, while all these books are available via sites like Amazon.com, consider purchasing one or more of these books from your local LGBT bookstore (if you still have one).

Boston Gay Men’s book club is reading Kens

Boston Book Festival, BBFHeterosexuality is so last season in Raziel Reid’s book, Kens, which was published this past September.

The book has been described as a gay Heathers meets Mean Girls. Kens is a about the three Kens of Willows High who rule the school and Tommy Rawlins who so desperately wants to be accepted by the Kens. This is a funny and provocative story about identity and acceptance.

Boston’s Gay Men’s Book Club will meet Monday, November 26th at The Trident Cafe & Booksellers on Newbury Street in the Back Bay to dish on this novel. All are welcome. For more information click on the link below.

Boston Gay Men’s Book Club
Kens by Raziel Reid
Monday, November 26th at 7PM

If you’re open to supporting local bookstores, try one of the links I’ve shared below, which takes you right to the book’s page so you can order it online in just a couple of clicks!

razel reidBrookline Booksmith in Coolidge Corner
Harvard Bookstore in Harvard Square
Papercuts JP in Jamaica Plain
Porter Square Bookstore in Porter Square
Trident Bookseller’s & Cafe in Back Bay

 

Gay Men’s Book Club is reading The Disintegrations

shirtless guy, man with glasses, reading, bookNext month Boston’s Gay Men’s Book Club meets on Monday, October 29th in the Back Bay at Trident Bookseller’s & Cafe on Newbury Street. If you’re looking for something to read and interested in meeting gay men in a more social setting that doesn’t involve a gym, bar or an app this may be worth checking out.

This month the group is reading The Disintegrations by Alistair McCartney. The book was the winner of the Publishing Triangle’s 2018 Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBTQ fiction and named one of the best works of fiction for 2017 by The Seattle Times and Entropy Magazine.  This enigmatic novel confronts both the impossibility of understanding death and the timeless longing for immortality.

Gay Men’s Book Club
Monday, October 29th at 7PM
At Trident Booksellers & Cafe

The Disintegrations can be purchased online at major resellers but you may also buy this from one of our wonderful independent bookstores. If you’re open to supporting local bookstores, try one of the links I’ve shared below, which takes you right to the book’s page so you can order it in just a couple of clicks!

Brookline Booksmith in Coolidge Corner
Harvard Bookstore in Harvard Square
Papercuts JP in Jamaica Plain
Porter Square Bookstore in Porter Square
Trident Bookseller’s & Cafe in Back Bay

Patrick Horrigan reads from his novel Pennsylvania Station

gay authors, gay literature, The History Project, gay boston

Later this month this month  The History Project will be hosting a reading of  Patrick Horrigan’s novel, Pennsylvania Station, that is free and open to the public but does require registering to ensure space will be available. You can reserve your space through Eventbrite.

Thursday, September 27th
Doors open at 6:00PM
Book reading begins at 6:30PM

Horrigan will also share how he weaves together the history of New York’s old Penn Station, the historic preservation movement, and the pre-Stonewall gay rights movement. Horrigan’s book is available for sale everywhere but help support Boston’s local and independent bookstores by placing an online order for his novel at these locations:

Brookline Booksmith 279 Harvard Street by Coolidge Corner
Harvard Bookstore  1256 Mass Ave in Harvard Square
Porter Square Bookstore 25 White Street in Porter Square
Trident Bookseller’s & Cafe 338 Newbury Street in Back Bay

Summer readin’

gay pulp  fictionPublished in 1970 I can only imagine this gay pulp fiction novel must’ve been a real page turner (I’m joking BTW).

Summer readin’

gay pulp fictionOMG, can you imagine reading this book while commuting on your way to work?

Summer readin’

gay pulp fictionPublished in 1970 this gay pulp fiction novel shows just how far we’ve come. Can you imagine any gay man introducing his husband to someone as his wife?

Book review: Less by Andrew Sean Greer

gay literature, book reviewIt is rare that I read a book that has won as many accolades as Less by Andrew Sean Greer. The national best seller went on to win the Pulitzer Prize and even though I was initially questioning what all the hype was about, once Arthur Less starts his travels, I couldn’t help but get swept up in this story about a little known novelist, trying to live off the acclaim he received from his first book and past relationship with a famous, aging poet.

When Less Andrew’s on again / off again lover (who is much younger than him) sends him an invitation to his wedding, it proves to be more than he can handle. That news, combined with the realization that he will turn 50 in a few months results in a comical midlife crisis. Less decides to decline the wedding invitation and embark on an around the world trip first to NYC then Europe before heading to Morocco, India and finally Japan before settling back home in San Francisco. I think of the trip as a funnier and more relatable, Eat, Pray Love (gay men of a certain age are really going to enjoy).

Less is about a struggling gay author who suffers a spectacular midlife crisis which Greer details beautifully in his book.

Andrew Sean Greer makes a handful of literary references in each chapter, most of which go over my head, but in spite of those references, I found myself either smiling or laughing as I turned the pages. The book is also full of really beautiful insights like this conversation Less has with a friend late one night in Morocco after he learns his friend is splitting with his partner of 20 years. His friend, Lewis, refuses to think of his 20 year relationship as anything but a success.

But you broke up with him. Something’s wrong. Something failed.
       No! No, Arthur, no, it’s the opposite! I’m saying it’s a success. Twenty years of joy and support and friendship, that’s a success. Twenty years of anything with another person is a success… 
     You can’t do this, Lewis. You’re Lewis and Clark. Lewis and fucking Clark. It’s my only hope out their that gay men can last.
     Oh Arthur. This is lasting. Twenty years is lasting! And this has nothing to do with you.

This book can be purchased online at major resellers but you may also buy this in person or online at local bookstores. If you’re open to supporting local bookstores try one of these links, which will take you right to the book so you can make a quick purchase online if that is your preference.

Brookline Booksmith 279 Harvard Street by Coolidge Corner
Harvard Bookstore  1256 Mass Ave in Harvard Square
Papercuts JP 5 Green Street, Jamaica Plain
Porter Square Bookstore 25 White Street in Porter Square
Trident Bookseller’s & Cafe 338 Newbury Street in Back Bay

Summer readin’

gay pulp fictionPublished by All Star in 1964 I can only imagine Fenster’s novel must’ve been a real page turner.

Summer readin’

gay pulp fictionI feel like this gay pulp fiction novel published in 1969 by Brandon House could very well have been talking about me as a kid.