Books

Book 580: Freak Show – James St. James

Wow – there’s a lot to take in from this book and I’m glad I read it even though it definitely took me for a bit of a spin. And even though it took a while for me to get used to the writing, the characters, and the flamboyancy, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Unlike other young adult LGBT+ novels—emphasis on “G” (Out of the Pocket, Autoboyography, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, Geography ClubBoy Meets Boy, Two Boys Kissing, etc.), this book has a character who doesn’t happen to be gay, who isn’t some jock that likes guys. Billy Boyd is loud and proud, even if he doesn’t quite know how to define himself just yet.

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Books

Book 505: Finally Out: Letting Go of Living Straight – Loren A. Olson

I’m nearing the end of my galley/ARC backlog. With this one finished I only have four more. I’ve had this since March and finally got around to it this past week.

The publicist for this book reached out to me and with my Masters degree (Gender, Sexuality and Queer Theory) and a friend who at one point studied gerontology, I of course said yes!

Finally Out is Olson’s look at gay men/MSM who come out/acknowledge their practices later in life. What seriously strengthens the book is Olson’s own story and experience of coming out at the age of 40. What Olson really needs though, is a good Queer Theory 101 course. In general he did a really good job of writing about these men, but there were some problems when it came to sexual orientation/identity/practice. He basically gets it, but in choosing not to use the pre-existing language, I feel that the book suffers.

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Books

Book 462: The Courtesan – Alexandra Curry

curry-alexandra-the-courtesanWhen Dutton reached out to me about a copy* of this book for its new paperback release I jumped at it because of my trip to China this summer! What I didn’t realize was that it was predominantly set in two of the cities I visited: Suzhou and Beijing! It was really neat to read through the fictionalized life of Sai Jinhua and actually feel like I know what and where she was talking about for the post part!

This is a debut novel that I probably would not have read just because I don’t read too many, but with my trip to China, the cover and having someone reach out to me about it, I figured I would give it a chance and I’m glad I did. Add in that the book also featured a subplot line about the one non-English classic from Asia I chose for my Classics Club list: Dream of the Red Chamber and it was well worth the read.

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ARC, Books

Book 372: Not Gay – Jane Ward

Ward, Jane - Not Gay“Straight boys and men, I believe, already have all of the information and proclivities they need to manufacture situations that facilitate homosexual (and heterosexual) activity.” (165)

FINALLY! Academia is talking about fluidity of male sexuality (perceived, lack thereof, the dangers of, etc.). We’ve come a long way from Foucault, Butler, Muñoz. When we’re now looking at the idea that “heterosexuality is, in part, a fetishization of the normal,” (35) and no one is batting an eye. We’re starting to get somewhere.

One of the biggest critiques I had while pursuing my master’s degree was the lack of research, or even recognition, of the fluidity of male sexuality. So much of what we discussed resolved solely on women, women’s sexuality and feminists critique.

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Books

Book 260: Openly Straight – Bill Konigsberg

Konigsberg, Bill - Openly StraightI saw this book first on Sarah’s blog Sarah Reads Too Much and as soon as I saw the author and read her review I knew I wanted to read it. My first introduction to Bill Konigsberg was through his debut novel Out of the Pocket. It’s hard to believe I read it three years ago AND it was my very first book on my old Sony e-reader.The best part is as I did a quick re-read of that post Konigsberg answered quite a few of my critiques and he’s clearly matured as a fiction writer over the past few years!

As I read the book I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between this and Andrew Smith’s Winger which was a great novel I read last year. However, they are distinctly different and as much as I enjoyed Winger I would probably put this one ahead, not for the writing, but for the story and the subject matter.

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Books

Book 237: Two Boys Kissing – David Levithan

Levithan, David - Two Boys kissingIf I were to write a book I would want it to be this book. I’m serious, I don’t think I need to write a novel anymore because this is what I would want to have written. Maybe one day I will, but I don’t need to having read this. The number of times I cried on the T (from this book and the other bazillion things going on in my life) are uncountable. It was a daily occurrence and I finally had to stop reading it on the T so I’d stop freaking people out. This review does not do this book justice, you need to go read it to really see what I’m talking about.

Levithan’s inspiration for the novel comes from an actual event and he draws other ideas from the past few years which fed into the various story lines and created this masterpiece. I’ve not read anything by Levithan previously, but I do have Boy Meets Boy on my bookshelf. If any of his books are anything like this I’m glad I’ve got another to read. Although this is classified as young adult I think everyone needs to read this novel, there is something so raw and so emotionally wrenching about this novel and Levithan’s writing that it has to speak across so many demographics.

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Books

Book 205: Harvard’s Secret Court – William Wright

Wright, William - Harvard's Secret CourtI’ve wanted to read this since a book group I was in when I first moved to Boston read it. They read it before I joined and I thought it sounded interesting. So keeping with my theme of expanding my reading (and apparently reading a lot more nonfiction) I requested it from the local library.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t impressed. This book felt more like a really well written undergraduate research paper than a book than a published book (and they were typos too). Part of this I believe comes from the structure and subtitle of the book and the other part I think comes from the super-focused subject matter. I discuss both below, but before I get to that I do want to say that it was an interesting read and I found many of the stories compelling and the appalling way in which Harvard dealt with these students should be a black mark on their history and reputation regardless of the time period. Not only did the Secret Court expel a number of individuals they were so adamant in their beliefs that they expunged the records of some of the individuals completely removing them from Harvard University records and if any of those expelled attempted to get into another school or a job using their Harvard connection/credentials, Harvard had a policy of exposing explicitly why they were expelled and this continued into at least the 1970s.

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