Despite the success of ebooks and online video and music streaming, somehow I keep having multiple tall stacks of books and videos to read, watch and review. I simply can't keep up with all the great LGBT, feminist and other content coming out from alternative and mainstream sources. But in an attempt to catch up as best as possible, here are highlights from the mail bin, with more to come in next week's Gift Guide.
As always, we encourage our readers to purchase their books through LGBT-friendly and independent places such as Women & Children First Bookstore ( 5233 N. Clark, which also has online ordering, including of e-books ) , Unabridged Books ( 3251 N. Broadway ) , The Book Cellar ( 4736-38 N. Lincoln ) , Seminary Co-Op ( 5757 S. University ) , 57th Street Books ( 1301 E. 57th ) , and other independent stores.
Postcards From Divine
compiled by Noah Brodie, Dan Marshall, Frances Milstead and Michael O'Quinn
This is a collection of more than 50 postcards written by Divine and sent to his parents while traveling and touring between 1977 and 1987. The book features personal photographs as well as quotes and stories from friends and colleagues including John Waters, Mink Stole, Mary Vivian Pearce, Channing Wilroy, Susan Lowe, Jean Hill, Tab Hunter, Lainie Kazan, Alan J. Wendl, Ruth Brown, Deborah Harry, Jerry Stiller, Ricki Lake and more. Postcards From Divine also contains a preface written by Divine's mother, Frances Milstead plus a filmography and discography. Divine achieved cult notoriety as star of Waters' films including Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble and Polyester as well as Waters' mainstream hit Hairspray. He also had a successful recording career with several hit singles including "Native Love ( Step By Step ) ," "Shoot Your Shot," "Shake It Up" and "You Think You're A Man."
Native American Bolo Ties, Vintage and Contemporary Artistry
by Diana Pardue with Norman L. Sandfield
Chicagoan Norm Sandfield is well known for his decades-long activist career, but he is also a collectorof many different things. His silver seed pot collection was the focus of a long-running exhibit at the Heard Museum and a first-of-its-kind book on the subject. Now he is offering his bolo tie collection for another exhibition and book: Native American Bolo Ties, Vintage and Contemporary Artistry. The bolo ties included in the exhibit come from the Heard Museum permanent collection of more than 170 bolo ties and from the promised gift of Sandfield. His collection consists of more than 1,000 bolo ties, scarf slides and ephemera. The exhibit ( now open in Phoenix ) and book show the antecedents of the bolo tie including Victorian neckwear, scarf slides and string tie slides. It includes an important early scarf slide from the Heard Museum collection made in the 1930-40s by Leekya Deyuse ( Zuni Pueblo ) . Some TV and movie personalities who brought scarf slides and bolo ties into popularity include the Cisco Kid, Hopalong Cassidy and Roy Rogers. Emphasis is also placed on artistic bolo ties created by American Indian jewelers from the late 1940s through today. See http://tinyurl.com/843gzq5.
Sparks: The Epic, Completely True Blue, ( Almost ) Holy Quest of Debbie
by S.J. Adams
S.J. Adams, who lives in Chicago, worked as the chief of the Smart Aleck Staff, which created the Smart Aleck's Guide to American History by Adam Selzer. As the promo for this fiction book notes: "Debbie is heartbroken; her best friend Lisa, whom Debbie has been secretly crushing on for many years, is now dating the most boring guy in school. In order to build-up the courage to confess her feelings to Lisa, Debbie embarks on a holy quest with two fellow student misfits in Sparks."
Invisible Families: Gay Identities, Relationships and Motherhood among Black Women
by Mignon R. Moore
This new book looks at family life of gay women of color. Through interviews and surveys of 100 Black gay women in New York City, it seeks to challenge "long-standing ideas about racial identity, family formation and motherhood." Invisible Families explores the ways that race and class have influenced how these women understand their sexual orientation, find partners and form families. Dr. Moore is a family sociologist whose research examines variation in processes and outcomes among disadvantaged groups. Moore reveals the ways Black women who were born in the 1960s and 1970s in large Northern U.S. cities, Southern U.S. towns, and parts of the Caribbean use these experiences to shape thinking about their own sexuality.
The Fabulous Flying Machines of Alberto Santos-Dumont
by Victoria Griffith, illus. by Eva Montanari.
A "fabulous" children's book about a little-known Brazilian pioneering aviator, who also happened to be gay. As the book's promo notes: "While the Wright Brothers were gliding over Kitty Hawk, the charismatic Brazilian Alberto Santos-Dumont was making his own mark on the history of flight in Paris. On a chilly November morning in 1906, Alberto commandeered the first ever self-propelled airplane flight in history. … Alberto loved floating over Paris in his personal flying machine called a dirigible. He would tie it to a post, climb down, and spend the day shopping or meeting friends for coffee. But he wanted to make his invention even better. By 1906, Alberto had transformed his balloon into a box with wings! But now there was competition. Another inventor challenged Alberto to see who would be the first in flight. Alberto's hard work paid off, and his airplane successfully soared into the air, making him the first pilot to lift off and land a completely self-propelled plane. … Designed for children who have an interest in world history and technology, the book also includes a bibliography, an index and an author's note about Santos-Dumont which touches on the disagreement over who in fact did fly the first plane." And a great side story is his friend Louis Cartier, who invented the first men's wristwatch, for Santos-Dumont, who needed a solution to seeing the time during flight ( without pulling out a pocketwatch ) . While the book does not address his sexuality ( he was known as a "dandy" in the press of the day ) , historians believe Santos-Dumont was gay, and his story is an important part of both aviation and gay history. He did not acknowledge his sexuality in public, but he was never married and had a live-in boyfriend, the caricaturist known as Sem, while he lived in Paris. Distraught that his flying machineswhich he thought would bring peace to the worldwere being used for warfare, he killed himself in 1932.
F'em!: Goo Goo, GaGa and Some Thoughts on Balls
by Jennifer Baumgardner
Third Wave feminist Baumgardner presents a collection of her best essays ( old and new ) and interviews with the women who most inspire herincluding Riot Grrrl's Kathleen Hanna, transgender activist Julia Serano and Native American activist Winona LaDuke. At the promo notes: "When many young women in the '90s were feeling let down by Second Wave feminists, Baumgardner was advocating for a new kind of feminism: wearing fishnet stockings and lipstick, questioning the status quo, and helping women understand that they didn't have to change who they were in order to be a feminist." Some readers may know the author for her important "I Had an Abortion" documentary and activist project. Baumgardner is also the author of Look Both Ways: Bisexual Politics and Abortion & Life, and the co-author, with Amy Richards, of Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism and the Future and Grassroots: A Field Guide for Feminist Activism.
The Silent Hustler
by Sean Meriwether
This is not a new book, but it is a continual bestseller for Lethe Press ( www.lethepressbooks.com ) . Meriwether is known as the founder and managing editor of two online literary magazines, Outsider Ink and Velvet Mafia. The venues were launched in 1999 to publish "homeless" alternative and queer fiction and poetry. The Silent Hustler, a collection of short stories, is a blend of literary fiction and queer erotica that the author had published in printed anthologies and online venues over the previous decade.
Halsted Plays Himself
by William E. Jones
Artist and filmmaker Jones documents his quest to capture the elusive public and private personas of Fred Halsted, gay porn's first film auteur. Jones assembles a "narrative of a now-vanished gay lifestyle, and a now-vanished Hollywood underground, when independent films were still possible, and the boundary between experimental and pornographic was not yet established." He said: "To reconstruct Halsted's story is to imagine another world, a time when a man with no formal training in filmmaking and a small amount of money could make a sexually explicit film starring himself, and the result could become a hit that enabled him to embark upon a career. It may not yet be possible to salvage the memory of Fred Halsted in opposition to our current cinema of distraction, an era of failed blockbusters and cynical rip-offs." Jones is an artist and filmmaker who teaches film history at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.
Take Me There: Trans and Genderqueer Erotica
by Tristan Taormino
This is the latest anthology from Taormino, a much-published author, columnist and sex educator. This book is by, for and about transfolk, genderqueers, gender outlaws, and gender-variant folks. It features original pieces by Kate Bornstein, Patrick Califia, S. Bear Bergman, Ivan Coyote, Julia Serano, Laura Antoniou, Helen Boyd, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Toni Amato, Alicia E. Goranson and more.
Blood on the Roses
by Robert Hays
Hays, 76, writes a fictional account of 1950s racism in the American South. "People who didn't live through events of that time can't fully comprehend the progress we've made because they don't know how bad it used to be," said Hays, who retired from the journalism faculty at the University of Illinois in 2008. "I love the South, but as a white man who witnessed the evils of racial segregation first-hand, I felt it was my duty to help make sure that this dark period in American history is not forgotten." The novel tells the story of Rachel Feigen, a reporter sent to Tennessee on a missing person story. She gets caught up in the bigotry she expected to observe when three local extremists decide to teach a lesson to this "uppity jewgirl" and hold her prisoner in a cheap motel along with two Black men.
Backdrop: The Politics and Personalities behind Sexual Orientation Research
by Gayle Pitman
Pitman, a Sacramento City College professor, investigates the human factor behind research on LGBT issues. She "pulls back the veil of scientific objectivity practiced in psychological science, arguing that, when it comes to sexual orientation research, we could potentially glean more insights from the 'backdrop' of politics and personalities behind the research than from the research itself." Pitman provides a context to the research that, in her opinion, gives meaning, importance, and nuance to the findings. Pitman reveals the cultural fears that can drive political action and policy ( such as California's Proposition 8 ) , and shines a light on the "multiple truths" that exist in the LGBT community.
Windy City Queer: LGBTQ Dispatches from the Third Coast
edited by Kathie Bergquist
Bergquist has edited a collection of Chicago-area LGBTQ writers. There are both established and new writers, organized along seven themes, such as "emergence" or "in transit." There are poems, memoir, fiction, essay and performance texts, and it is a who's who of queer writers, including: Sharon Bridgforth, Edmund White, Robert McDonald, Cin Salach, Achy Obejas, David Kodeski, Aldo Alvarez, Carol Anshaw, Mark Zubro, C.C. Carter, E. Patrick Johnson, Goldie Goldbloom, Owen Keehnen, Yasmin Nair, Gregg Shapiro, Gerald Wozek, Kay Ulanday Barrett, Carina Gia Ferrero, Deb R. Lewis, Karen Lee Osborne, D. Travers Scott, Allison Gruber, Brian Bouldrey, Nadine C. Warner, Emma Vosicky, Jeanne Theresa Newman, Sheree L. Greer, J. Adams Oaks, Rose Tully, Avery R. Young, Richard Fox and David Trinidad.
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Great Gifts: Books and DVDs for the Holidays