Today, however, I'm highlighting two winners whose works I read and highly recommended because they were both such excellent reads: Lee Thomas whose book The German was on my 2011 top ten favorite books list, and Jan Steckel whose poetry book The Horizontal Poet I particularly enjoyed reading earlier this year.
Lee Thomas - The German (Lethe Press, 2011)
A finalist for the 2011 Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel and the Lambda Literary Award for Best LGBT Science-fiction/Fantasy/Horror title.
Set during the height of World War II, The German examines the effect a series of ritualistic murders has on a small, Texas community. A killer preys on the young men of Barnard, Texas, leaving cryptic notes written in German. As the panic builds all eyes turn toward a quiet man with secrets of his own, who is trying to escape a violent past.
Ernst Lang fled Germany in 1934. Once a brute, a soldier, a leader of the Nazi party, he has renounced aggression and embraces a peaceful obscurity. But Lang is haunted by an impossible past. He remembers his own execution and the extremes of sex and violence that led to it. He remembers the men he led into battle, the men he seduced, and the men who betrayed him. But are these the memories of a man given a second life, or the delusions of a lunatic?
Lee currently lives in Austin, TX, where he's working on a number of projects.
Jan Steckel - The Horizontal Poet (Zeitgeist Press, 2011)
Winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Bisexual Nonfiction title.
Jan Steckel is an Oakland, California writer, a Harvard- and Yale-trained former pediatrician (now retired due to an acquired physical disability), and an activist for bisexual and disability rights. Her first poetry chapbook, The Underwater Hospital (Zeitgeist Press, 2006), garnered critical acclaim and won the Rainbow Award for lesbian and bisexual poetry. She won the 2008 Gertrude Press Fiction Chapbook Award, and Gertrude published her fiction chapbook Mixing Tracks.
The Horizontal Poet is her first full-length poetry book. (Zeitgeist Press, 2011).
Congrats to both!
And since I'm highlighting winners, LGBTQ authors, and it seems as if poetry is in the air, here is a bit of information about a poetry book I read this past week by Eduardo C. Corral, Slow Lightning. (actually my husband and I read this book together and to each other) Although I'm highlighting a tiny excerpt from his amazing poem "Self-Portrait with Tumbling and Lasso," I'll quickly say that "Variation On A Theme by José Montoya" is by far my (and my husband's) favorite section of the book. Carl Phillips words from the Foreword describe Corral's style quite eloquently. This is an "A grade/5 star" read for me -- one I'll be enjoying for a while -- and a book that I highly recommend.
Slow Lightning by Eduardo C. Corral (Yale University Press, 2012)
Yale Series of Younger Poets Volume 106
The Yale Younger Poets Prize
"We can make of what would blind us a conduit for changed vision, suggest Corral. In these poems, a cage implies all the rest that lies outside it; any frame frames a window through which to see other possibilities unfolding. . . . Like Robert Hayden, Corral resists reductivism. Gay, Chicano, 'Illegal-American,' that's all just language, and part of Corral's point is that language, like sex, is fluid and dangerous and thrilling, now a cage, now a window out. In Corral's refusal to think in reductive terms lies his great authority. His refusal to entirely trust authority wins my trust as a reader." Carl Phillips, from the ForewordSelf-Portrait with Tumbling and Lasso
My soul is whirling
above my head like a lasso.
My right hand
a pistol. My left
automatic. I'm knocking
on every door.
I'm coming on strong,
like a missionary.
I'm kicking back
my legs, like a mule. I'm kicking up
my legs, like
[excerpt - Page 21]
The Yale Younger Poets Prize is the oldest annual literary award in the United States. The competition is open to any American under forty years of age who has not previously published a volume of poetry.