Books

ReadOut Shorts: August 2008

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PlagueChronicle of a Plague, Revisited
Andrew Holleran

Da Capo Press (www.dacapopress.com)
You may not want to read this book straight through. The unrelenting death and disease is more than painful, and its origin as a collection of magazine columns shows in its repetitiveness. At the same time, the stories are important for our collective memory. There was a time when the gay community felt attacked by an invisible assailant, and Holleran (a fine writer — reason enough to own this book) records how that went, as it went. Poignant, angry, fearful, beautiful. — Review: Neil Ellis Orts

A Place Like This
Mark S. King

iUniverse, Inc. (www.iuniverse.com, www.marksking.com)
In this true, first-person account of the 1980s, Los Angeles transforms an all-American boy from an actor in commercials plugging fast food to a gay phone-line worker pushing fast sex. King experiences firsthand nearly every gay social milestone of an astonishing decade — drug use, the phone-sex trade, the onset of HIV, Rock Hudson, assisted suicide, anonymous encounters, the early development of AIDS organizations and activism, Magic Johnson’s announcement — and shares his experiences with disarming humor and startling candor. AIDS eventually converts King’s plunge into sex and drugs to an increasing awareness of mortality — and a renewed search for meaning. — Preview: Troy Carrington

StoryMarriageThe Story of a Marriage
Andrew Sean Greer

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (www.fsgbooks.com)
In 1950s America, “a country held together by silence and lies,” an interracial gay love affair threatens the gingerbread marriage of two hometown sweethearts from Kentucky who meet again and marry in San Francisco in this exquisitely written novel with lines such as “But you know the heart: every night, it grows a thorn.” — Review: Donalevan Maines  

Drifting Toward Love
Kai Wright
Beacon Press (www.beacon.org)

Coming of age and finding a place in the world is hard for every gay boy. Doing these things in New York when you are a young man of color is even harder. Wright’s exquisite journalism presents us with truths usually found only in fiction. Here we see the everyday bravery of those young men who “shouldn’t have to be a hero to make it through adolescence.” A gripping page-turner of a story, this book is not to be missed. — Review: Angel Curtis

downtotheboneDown to the Bone
Mayra Lazara Dole
HarperCollins (www.harpercollinschildrens.com)

Laura is a young Cuban girl happily living in Miami, until the nuns discover her “immorality.” To keep face with her new husband, Mom throws Laura out of the house. Caught and supported by a huge community safety net, Laura takes us through a world of young gay Miami culture and the people who hate them. Predictably, Laura and her friends all triumph in the end. This is a fine beach read. — Review: A.C.

Hiding in Plain Sight: The Secret Life of Raymond Burr
Michael Seth Starr
Applause Theatre & Cinema Books (www.applausepub.com)

Actor Raymond Burr (Rear Window, TV’s Perry Mason and Ironside) was in the closet, and rather than inventing throwaway fibs to hide his homosexuality, he came up with whoppers (different wives, a dead son). To explain why he wasn’t married, he came up with a true lie: his work schedule. Also hidden was Burr’s 35-year relationship with actor Robert Benevides, whom he met on the set of Perry Mason. Sympathetic but honest in his approach, author Starr recounts a story of what it was like to be gay in the old days. Good read. — Review: Blase DiStefano

openingupOpening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships
Tristan Taormino
Cleis Press (www.cleispress.com)
“We have accepted that Heather has two mommies,” the author writes. “Now it’s time to acknowledge that Heather’s mommies may have secondary partners, lovers, or friends with benefits.” Throughout her informative how-to manual on navigating non-monogamous relationships, Taormino weaves first-person perspectives of people she’s interviewed, including a gay triad. Houstonians can contact local polyamorists via www.lists.polyamory.org/listinfo.cgi/poly-houston-polyamory.org. — Review: D.M.

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