Friday, July 20, 2012

TBR Highlights: Gay Spec Fic, Fiction, Non-Fiction

This was my week to again review a (one) book from my ever-growing TBR (to be read) pile. Last month I highlighted books added to my Kindle library, this month I would like to share with you some of the latest print books added to my book shelves.

My additions? They are a motley crew! You tell me:

Wilde Stories 2012: The Year's Best Gay Speculative Fiction ed. Steve Berman (Lethe Press, July 2012)
Prepare to skew your view of the world: where jinni in the clouds of a future Tel Aviv aren't spirits but powerful computer programs; where a suburban garden hiding unrecognizable bones; to a planet colony that outlaws color; or the night when a lonely lab tech finds a spambot flirting with him. The latest volume in the acclaimed Wilde Stories series has tales of hitchhikers on the run, dragons in the sky, swordsmen drawing their blades. These are stories fantastic and strange, otherworldly and eerie, but all feature gay men struggling with memories or lovers or simply the vicissitudes of life no matter how wild the world might be.
I loved the 2011 Wilde Stories Anthology and wasn't about to miss this one. But why in print? Well... my 2011 copy is in print and I like to be consistent when keeping collections, plus the cover for this book looked gorgeous. As it turns out, the cover IS gorgeous, now I have high hopes for the stories. :)

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Sexual Revolutions in Cuba: Passion, Politics, and Memory by Carrie Hamilton (University of North Carolina Press, March 2012)
In "Sexual Revolutions in Cuba" Carrie Hamilton delves into the relationship between passion and politics in revolutionary Cuba to present a comprehensive history of sexuality on the island from the triumph of the Revolution in 1959 into the twenty-first century. Drawing on an unused body of oral history interviews as well as press accounts, literary works, and other published sources, Hamilton pushes beyond official government rhetoric and explores how the wider changes initiated by the Revolution have affected the sexual lives of Cuban citizens. She foregrounds the memories and emotions of ordinary Cubans and compares these experiences with changing policies and wider social, political, and economic developments to reveal the complex dynamic between sexual desire and repression in revolutionary Cuba.

Showing how revolutionary and pre-revolutionary values coexist in a potent and sometimes contradictory mix, Hamilton addresses changing patterns in heterosexual relations, competing views of masculinity and femininity, same-sex relationships and homophobia, AIDS, sexual violence, interracial relationships, and sexual tourism. Hamilton's examination of sexual experiences across generations and social groups demonstrates that sexual politics have been integral to the construction of a new revolutionary Cuban society.
Now this book falls more under Latino Studies (history and sexuality in Latin America). The subject fascinates me. The whole idea of a sexuality study done by way of oral history (interviewing subjects) was intriguing enough, but throw in the fact that this is a Latin American country that has undergone political upheaval, and my curiosity as to how those changes influenced sexuality did me in... I had to have it! Ebook format is not available! (I'm reading this book right now)

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Rimbaud: The Double Life of a Rebel by Edmund White (Atlas & Co., October 2008)
Poet and prodigy Arthur Rimbaud led a life that was startlingly short, but just as dramatically eventful and accomplished. Even today, over a century after his death in 1891, his visionary poetry has continued to influence everyone from Jim Morrison and Bob Dylan to Patti Smith. His long poem A Season in Hell (1873) and his collection Illuminations (1886) are essential to the modern canon, marked by a hallucinatory and hypnotic style that defined the Symbolist movement in poetry. Having sworn off writing at the age of twenty-one, Rimbaud drifted around the world from scheme to scheme, ultimately dying from an infection contracted while running guns in Africa. He was thirty-seven.

Edmund White writes with a historian's eye for detail, driven by a genuine personal investment in his subject. White delves deep into the young poet's relationships with his family, his teachers, and his notorious affair with the more established poet Paul Verlaine. He follows the often elusive (sometimes blatant) threads of sexual taboo that haunt Rimbaud's poems (in those days, sodomy was a crime) and offers incisive interpretations of the poems, using his own artful translations to bring us closer to the mercurial poet.
I've had this biography of the French poet Rimbaud on my wish list since approximately the time the book was released but for one reason or another always put off buying it for later... and later. Well, I finally purchased it. I hope it doesn't take me four years to read it. :) I've always been fascinated by both the poetry and the poet.

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Boys Like Us edited by Patrick Merla (Harper Paperbacks, October 1997)
In stunning essays written especially for this collection, 29 noted gay writers recount their true "coming out" stories, intensely personal histories of the primal process by which men come to terms with their homosexuality. These essays form a documentary of changing social and sexual mores, timed to coincide with National Coming Out Day (October 11) and AIDS Awareness Month.(
Boys Like Us falls under the Gay Studies Memoir category, and it is a Lambda Literary Award winner. These are essays written by gay writers about their coming out experiences. This is another book I've had on my wish list for a long time that finally made it to my personal library.

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The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd (Dial, May 2009)
It's Dade's last summer at home. He has a crappy job at Food World, a "boyfriend" who won't publicly acknowledge his existence (maybe because Pablo also has a girlfriend), and parents on the verge of a divorce. College is Dade's shining beacon of possibility, a horizon to keep him from floating away.

Then he meets the mysterious Alex Kincaid. Falling in real love finally lets Dade come out of the closet - and, ironically, ignites a ruthless passion in Pablo. But just when true happiness has set in, tragedy shatters the dreamy curtain of summer, and Dade will use every ounce of strength he's gained to break from his past and start fresh with the future.
The Vast Fields of Ordinary is another book I've had in my wish list since it released in 2009. I do this a lot! I add books to my list and then wait to buy them. This book is young adult gay fiction. It won the 2010 Stonewall Children's and Young Adult Literature Award and I understand it's good. Why print? I found a used hardcover copy at a great price, so why not?

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Have you read any of these books? Are any of these books in your TBR? I added three (3) non-fiction books to my print book collection. Do you enjoy reading non-fiction?

6 comments:

  1. Great List! And a couple to add to my own growing list.

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    1. Brandon, I'm glad you found some books to add to your "to be read" list. I'm excited about all of them. :)

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  2. I'm not much for non-fiction, though I'm reading QUIET: THE POWER OF INTROVERTS... - haven't quite gotten into it yet.

    I tend to be picky over which books I get in print - all of yours look good!

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    1. Li, although I purchase more ebooks these days, I still love my print books! If I read and the book is a keeper, I will buy it in print. Plus, I prefer to read science fiction and fantasy in print for some reason? So those books I also buy in print. And, price point still has a lot to do with it. If I find a book at a better price in print, I will buy it! LOL!

      RE: Non-fiction. I'm picky there... I don't read a lot of it during the year, and there are years when I don't read non-fiction at all. But lately, it seems as if I've been enjoying them more. :) I tend to read a few biographies, essays, recent historical accounts, and books with political themes.

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  3. I don't have any nor have I read any of these. No surprise there since I rarely venture into non-fiction territory. The Hamilton books peaks my interest mainly because I know so little about Cuba and sexual revolution isn't what comes to mind when I think of Cuba.

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    1. Leslie, I'm reading the Hamilton book at the moment and can tell you that it's a good study. One revolution definitely created another, at least it definitely affected the 'status quo' when it comes to sexuality. It's actually fascinating on all fronts: from the feminist point of view to the M/F relationships, and from the whole "machista" culture to how they view homosexuality, etc... but it's all tied into social, political, racial, and economic relations. It's based on interviews and so far it is fascinating!

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