ReadOut Shorts: January 2008

TomDolbyThe Sixth Form
Tom Dolby

Kensington Books (
Boys-coming-of-age novels are a dime a dozen. The Sixth Form is that rare exception, a novel that just happens to be about boys coming of age   Set in the fantasy-laden venue of Eastern prep schools, we are given characters we care about. A well told story, with universal themes and characters you can care about, this one is a great, and nostalgic, read. — Review: Angel Curtis

R.J. Pineiro

Tor/Forge (
We’ve seen countless stories about how the computers will develop their own intelligence and take over the world. Here’s one that is actually believable, and it’s filled with lots of action, great locations, and really strong characters (both male and female). A sweet bonus is that Texas and Texas characters are strong and well-drawn features.   This one is perfect for any long winter’s night. — Review: Angel Curtis 
FirstPersonFirst Person Queer
Richard Labonté and Lawrence Schimel, editors

Arsenal Pulp Press (
Over 40 short essays give us a snap-shot of queer identity at the begin-
ning of the 21st century. The consensus? We’re all different! One page, the reader might shout,”Yes!” and the next scream, “No way!” This astounding diversity makes First Person Queer a great collection for the person who fears a monolithic gay agenda. There is little agreement between these essays, but a lot of articulate, thoughtful, provocative reading. — Review: Neil Ellis Orts

Ethel Merman: A Life
Brian Kellow

Viking (
Every culturally competent gay person thinks s/he knows Ethel Merman. Brian Kellow proves our knowledge was sadly lacking. Here, we see the Merman that transcends every campy impersonation, apocryphal story, and previous attempt at biography. Finally, an up-close and personal Merman who is a whole person. Thanks to this compelling biography, I finally understand how Merman truly defined what was and wasn’t worthy of Broadway. Don’t miss this one. — Review: Angel Curtis

GlamourGirlsGlamour Girls of Sixties Hollywood: Seventy-Five Profiles
Tom Lisanti
McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers

Since author Tom Lisanti manages to come up with books with titles like Fantasy Femmes of Sixties Cinema: Interviews with 20 Actresses from Biker, Beach, and Elvis Movies (2001), you won’t be surprised to find that his latest is called Glamour Girls of Sixties Hollywood: Seventy-Five Profiles. Just be aware that some of the more famous names profiled here are Lee Meredith, Joi Lansing, Sharon Tate, and Edy Williams, and you’ll find out everything you ever wanted to know about them and a lot of other actresses who made the ’60s a particularly “decorative” decade. — Review: Jack Varsi  

Absolute Brightness
James Lecesne
Harper Teen (

This is not a perfect book. Throughout this tale of a disappeared gay teen, there are false moments, and the author seems uncertain if this is a murder mystery, a courtroom drama, a TV teen drama, or a magical realist novel. There are also many true, heartfelt moments and a beguiling teen-aged narrator that will hold your attention until the nearly perfect last scene. This is a first novel; Lecesne is an author to watch. — Review: Neil Ellis Orts


CapoteCapote in Kansas: A Ghost Story
Kim Powers
Carroll & Graf (
One has to wonder why Powers chose to use real people’s names when he admittedly runs so far from the details of their lives. Truman Capote and Harper Lee suffer not only a revisioning of their biographies, but also prose that is, alternately, self-consciously melodramatic and sitcom cute. This book is for Capote or Lee completists, but both authors deserve a better homage. — Review: N.O.


Surrounded by Insanity
Robert A. Hofmann
PublishAmerica (

The back cover of this book promised something fun. Wrong! I get the sense the author is really a nice guy, and his friends probably find him hilarious. That being said, listen up: Explaining why you are funny is not cute and quirky—it is tedious and boring. Honestly, the best thing about the book is the font. Hang onto your money and run away, this one is a total loser. — Review: Angel Curtis


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