By Gregg Shapiro
With the new year upon us, it’s never too early to begin assembling a reading list for 2019. Visit your favorite independent bookseller or the love-it-or-hate-it Amazon.com to reserve and order copies of these forthcoming LGBTQ books for readers of all (rainbow) stripes.
Owen Keehnen’s Dugan’s Bistro and The Legend of the Bearded Lady (Out Tales, 2018) came out at the end of 2018, but it still deserves to be read in 2019 and beyond. To Keehnen’s credit, he achieves something notable by creating a fond feeling of nostalgia for those who remember original club-kid The Bearded Lady and Chicago’s celebrated gay disco the Bistro, as well as night spots Coconuts and Paradise, at the same time stirring up a sense of envy in those who were never able to take part in the experience.
Back with a vengeance, the new Fab Five (Antoni Porowski, Tan France, Jonathan Van Ness, Bobby Berk and Karamo Brown) of Netflix’s Queer Eye transfer their expertise from the screen to the page in the coffee table book Queer Eye: Love Yourself, Love Your Life (Clarkson Potter, 2018). [Out now.]
Black. Queer. Southern. Women.: An Oral History (University of North Carolina Press, 2018) by Northwestern University professor E. Patrick Johnson is a fascinating tome as massive, researched and revealing as its predecessor, Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South, giving readers from all geographical locations valuable insight into the “life narratives” of more than 70 queer, southern, African-American women. [Out now.]
Edited by The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide’s founder and editor-in-chief Richard Schneider Jr., the lengthy-titled In Search of Stonewall: The Riots at 50, The Gay & Lesbian Review at 25 – Best Essays, 1994-2018 (G&LR Books, 2019), features new essays by Martin Duberman, Lillian Faderman and Andrew Holleran, as well as selected essays by Edmund White, Harry Hay, Michael Denneny, Larry Kramer, Karla Jay, Felice Picano, D. Gilson, John D’Emilio, Bob Smith, Jewelle Gomez, Michael Bronski, Amy Hoffman, Frank Browning, John Rechy, Del Martin & Phyllis Lyon, Dennis Altman and others. [Out in January 2019.]
Commemorating the 1969 BBC debut of the beloved (and occasionally cross-dressing) comedy troupe, the revised and updated edition of Monty Python Speaks (Dey Street, 2019/2005/1999) by David Morgan and featuring a foreword by John Oliver and lots of photos, is the complete oral history of the group, which featured one openly gay member, the late Graham Chapman. [Out in January 2019.]
The aptly-titled Gay A Day (Lethe Press, 2019) by L.A. Fields & Tyson Kadwell features 365 brief bios of LGBTQ folks, ranging from heroes (James Baldwin, Harvey Milk, Langston Hughes and Ruth Ellis) to horrors (John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer and “candyman” Dean Corll) to those hidden from history (Sally Ride, Jack Cassidy)
You think Brooklyn is queer now? When Brooklyn Was Queer (St. Martin’s Press, 2019) by Hugh Ryan traces the borough’s “vibrant and forgotten queer history”, beginning in the mid-1850s and continuing to the present day, essentially replacing the “systematic erasure” of its longtime LGBTQ community and restoring its rightful place in the saga of Brooklyn. [Out in March 2019.]
Pagan Light: Dreams of Freedom and Beauty in Capri (FSG, 2019) by Jamie James includes queer people, such as Truman Capote and Oscar Wilde, among those who have found that the tiny, “isolated and arrestingly beautiful” island of Capri functioned as “a wildly permissive haven” for people with “nowhere else to go”. [Out in March 2019.]
The upcoming 30th anniversary of the passing of queer Nigerian photography Rotimi Fani-Kayode is a fitting time for Bloodflowers: Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Photography, and the 1980s (Duke, 2019) by W. Ian Bourland, in which the author examines the life and photography of Fani-Kayode who died at the age of 34 in 1989. [Out in March 2019.]
The debut book by award-winning designer and artist Chris Rush, The Light Years (FSG, 2019) is a memoir following the writer on his “journey of discovery and reconciliation”, taking him from New Jersey to the West, all the while seeking knowledge, the divine and home, during the 1960s and 1970s. [Out in April 2019.]
Separated into three sections, Everything In its Place: First Loves and Last Tales (Knopf, 2019) is the final volume of essays, 34 in all, by the late gay writer Oliver Sacks, described as being “imbued with his trademark curiosity, erudition, and sense of wonder”. [Out in May 2019.]
No Walls and the Recurring Dream: A Memoir (Viking, 2019) is “little folksinger”, entrepreneur, activist, feminist, queer icon and New Orleans resident Ani DiFranco’s prose debut. Telling her fascinating story as only she can, DiFranco takes us from her early years (including being an emancipated minor) into her songwriting/performing/recording career (as the head of Righteous Babe Records) and up to the age of 30 (DiFranco turns 50 in 2020). [Out in May 2019.]