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Book Topics > First gay novel to read -- What do you recommend?

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message 1: by Ted (new)

Ted (efcorson) | 414 comments Mod
For teens, for 20-sometings, and for oldsters?


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

Reflections of a Rock Lobster A Story about Growing Up Gay That's a good classic for teens.

For 20-somethings, any novels by Scott Heim is a good start.

For oldsters, Chaos A Novella and Stories is particularly recommended.



message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Another author who writes for the young adult genre is Alex Sanchez

One more would be James Earl Hardy, the author of the B-Boy Blues series.


message 4: by Gary (last edited Feb 10, 2009 04:15AM) (new)

Gary | 3 comments When I became a high school librarian in 1987, I discovered the novels of young-adult author M. E. Kerr. As a gay man, I was impressed with the sensitivity with which she dealt with gay issues. She included gay teens, for whom their homosexuality was not a big issue to them or their friends, as incidental characters in some novels such as "I'll love You When You're more Like Me", and dealt with gay teens with AIDS in "Night Kites", one of the first novels of any genre to tackle this subject. Her novels are all terrifically readable for even younger teens. I would highly recommend them. As Amazon.com comments: "...while never ignoring how problematic life can be for gay youth, she envisions a world in which gay teens can be happy and secure."


message 5: by Perry (new)

Perry (perrybrass) | 6 comments A few wonderful gay books to start for young readers: "Maurice," by E. M. Forster, a still-startling book about a forbidden attraction that still holds its own; "The Front Runner," by Patricia Nell Warren, a book about a young runner and an older coach that has sold a million copies and means so much to generations of young gay readers; "The Man Without A Face," by Isabelle Holland, a YA book for everyone; "A Single Man," by Christopher Isherwood, Isherwood's ode to gay coupledom and L.A.; and "Serendipity," Peter Burton's collection of stories about the good fortunes of gay love.

Perry Brass, author of "Carnal Sacraments," "Warlock," and "How to Survive Your Own Gay Life." Maurice A NovelThe Front Runner A NovelThe Man Without a FaceA Single Man Serendipity The Gay Times Book Of New Short Stories by Peter Burton Carnal Sacraments A Historical Novel of the Future by Perry Brass Warlock A Novel of Possession by Perry Brass How to Survive Your Own Gay Life An Adult Guide to Love, Sex, and Relationships by Perry Brass


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Perry wrote: "A few wonderful gay books to start for young readers: "Maurice," by E. M. Forster, a still-startling book about a forbidden attraction that still holds its own;

Yes, Maurice is a great novel. I recently re-read that particular novel a few months ago and I still find it an excellent read. I've always enjoyed E.M. Forster's novels which provide some very interesting insights into the study of colonialism and its effects on the subculture(s) and the colonial (dominant) culture, i.e., the English empire-expanders.




message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

Of course, how could I forget Christopher Rice
Christopher Rice

He's the son of the world famous vampire chronicler, Anne Rice. Let's not go into her recent fixation with Jesus. Oh golly.

Chris Rice write pop-lite novels, very easy for anyone to read in a day or two.


message 8: by Ted (new)

Ted (efcorson) | 414 comments Mod
Doesn't sound like it from reading the abstract. Rambling Reader, how about a review of this quirky-sounding novel?


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Nancy wrote: "Is A Density of Souls a good place to start?"

Yes, that can be a good start. Like I said earlier, all of Chris Rice's novels are very easy to read.


message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

Ted wrote: "Doesn't sound like it from reading the abstract. Rambling Reader, how about a review of this quirky-sounding novel?"

Well, the review claims that this was a roman a clef. That would make sense as I remember wondering how can this writer put in a chockful of action and suspense. It's about a group of high school students being naughty and creating hijinks in New Orleans beneath moss-drenched oak trees. LOL




message 11: by Ted (new)

Ted (efcorson) | 414 comments Mod
Well, I supppose that's better than beer-drenched oak trees lol! I'm putting it on my To-Read.. thanks.


message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

Ted wrote: "Well, I supppose that's better than beer-drenched oak trees lol! I'm putting it on my To-Read.. thanks."

Hahaha! You and your puns!!!


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

I would like to recommend two books with similar themes:

Edinburgh by Alexander Chee
Edinburgh by Alexander Chee

and Mysterious Skin by Scott Heim
Mysterious Skin by Scott Heim


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

If you want to read about being gay on a global scale, then check out:

Funny Boy
Funny Boy (Harvest Book) by Shyam Selvadurai

The Master

and as a primer to gay literature, check out:

The First Time I Met Frank O'Hara Reading Gay American Writers
The First Time I Met Frank O'Hara Reading Gay American Writers by Rick Whitaker

and this one, although I did not agree with most of the author's assertions. The Gay Canon Great Books Every Gay Man Should Read by Robert Drake.


message 15: by Troy (new)

Troy My first "gay" novel was The Boys on the Rock by John Fox. I laughed, I cried, I related. I was 17.


message 16: by Ted (new)

Ted (efcorson) | 414 comments Mod
Thanks, Troy, looks good for YA. I put it on my to-read.


message 17: by Troy (new)

Troy Ted wrote: "Thanks, Troy, looks good for YA. I put it on my to-read."

I guess it depends on the person and how young YA is. I think there was some profanity and coarse sexual language.


message 18: by Ted (new)

Ted (efcorson) | 414 comments Mod
Well, to me, "YA" means about 16-22. "Gay youth" maybe 13-18.

Anyway, you liked it at 17, and it doesn't appear to have damaged you in any way, yes? LOL


message 19: by Troy (new)

Troy No, apparently not. I loved it at the time.


message 20: by Ted (new)

Ted (efcorson) | 414 comments Mod
After Googling various defintions of "YA literature," the one definition that makes the most sense to me is "literature in which there is an adolescent hero or protagonist."

The boundaries between children's, YA, and adult fiction is very loosley defined, some sources stating an age range of 10-20. Fiction for readers aged 10 to 12 is also referred to as "middle grade fiction" as oosed to "adolescent literature."

On the other hamd, some novels originally marketed to adults have been identified as being of interest and value to adolescents.

Seeing as the minimum Goodreads age is 13, I will try to see that our YA bookshelp constains titles appropraite for gay people ages 13-20.



message 21: by Collin (new)

Collin Kelley | 17 comments Jeanette Winterson's "Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit" is an important book, and I would recommend anything by Armistead Maupin.


message 22: by N.S. (new)

N.S. (nsberanek) | 14 comments Rambling Reader, you make it sound as though Christopher Rice is on a par with Rob Byrnes' Straight Lies. While there is nothing wrong with Byrnes' work, it is light and cute, a take-it-along-to-the-beach type book, and that is not what Rice is doing at all.

I recommend two coming-of-age novels. For the first part of the demographic we've identified here (13-20), The World of Normal Boys by K.M. Soehnlein, and for the upper end of it Someone Bought the House on the Island by Ken Anderson.



message 23: by Alex (new)

Alex (little_alex) | 8 comments Rambling Reader wrote: "Yes, that can be a good start. Like I said earlier, all of Chris Rice's novels are very easy to read."

They're easy to read, yes, but aren't they a bit too, hm, angsty as someone's first forays into gay novels? :p


message 24: by N.S. (new)

N.S. (nsberanek) | 14 comments They're easy to read, yes, but aren't they a bit too, hm, angsty as s..."

Not for my tastes, but I'm rather fond of pathos.


message 25: by Doug (last edited Jul 05, 2009 10:49AM) (new)


message 27: by N.S. (new)

N.S. (nsberanek) | 14 comments You know, the more I think about this the more it bothers me. Christopher Rice's A Density of Souls is a finely crafted coming-of-age novel that deals with homophobia, madness, the mid-life crisis, class warfare, and religious fundamentalism. That it is a first novel only makes it that much more astounding.




message 28: by Ted (last edited Jul 05, 2009 12:06PM) (new)

Ted (efcorson) | 414 comments Mod
Several of you have mentioned books which are listed in our gay-young-adult bookshelf; others of you have mentioned titles which probably should be there, so please add them.

I encourage you to point new readers to this resource. I also encourage you to write a review for titles you add.

From our group home page, click bookshelf (on the right), then gay-young-adult (on the left).


message 29: by Alex (new)

Alex (little_alex) | 8 comments Nancy wrote: "You know, the more I think about this the more it bothers me. Christopher Rice's A Density of Souls is a finely crafted coming-of-age novel that deals with homophobia, madness, the mid-life crisis,..."

No, you're right, it's a great novel. I only wish he has a better proofreader/editor (I was an English major and I kept picking up tiny little errors).


message 30: by Jeremy (new)

Jeremy (dontyouaskme) | 27 comments For teens, I recommend Desert Sons. There's love, confusion, and more love. Lots of love! It really hit the spot when I was in high school, wondering how my life was going to be different.

Aside from Christopher Rice, I haven't found much to appeal to my 20-something sensibilities. I've been sticking to "alternative" literature in general, not gay literature. I'm more for stories with "gay" as a sidenote, not a plot-builder.


message 31: by Becko (new)

Becko Annie on My Mind - for teens


message 32: by Tom (new)

Tom (beachcombert) | 27 comments For teen guys finding themselves, I'd recommend Edmund Wilson's "A Boy's Own Story."


message 33: by Ted (new)

Ted (efcorson) | 414 comments Mod
Thanks, Tom, I agree.


message 34: by Wayne (new)

Wayne (waynehastings) | 6 comments Is Boy Culture too trashy to recommend for a first gay novel?

Also:
The Boys on the Rock
The World of Normal Boys
Getting Off Clean
Dream Boy A Novel
The Coming Storm

I also enjoyed and recommend A Density of Souls (mentioned above).

Depending on how much of Augusten Burroughs writing you believe to be true vs. fiction, Dry A Memoir is a heartbreaking story of love and loss.


message 35: by Stephen (new)

Stephen (act1966) | 6 comments I'd recommend the following (20s or adult):

"Maurice" by E.M. Forster

"The Master" by Colm Toibin and "At Swim Two Boys" by Jamie O'Neill are probably my favourite novels of all time.

"Dry" by Augusten Burroughs is the only book to have made me cry. And it's a great book too!

"Tales of the City" series (but not the one recently published, "Michael Tolliver Lives" - oy... that one was a dog) by Armistead Maupin

I just finished "Mysterious Skin" by Scott Heim. Stunning, disturbing and absurd. All in a great, shake-your-soul way.

I read "Eighty Sixed" by David Feinberg years ago but I remeber it being rivetting.

I really like anything by David Sedaris. "Naked" made me laugh out loud and never buy chocolate brown towels...

Just personal taste but I didn't think much of "Density of Souls" and wouldn't recommend it: at best, it's a pool side snooze fest and there are a TON more books that are far better written than this (IMHO); all I kept thinking was, "He only had this published because of who his mother is...".

The young adult books are really hit and miss so I left any recommendations about that genre out because it's so subjective: what might have appealed to me as a teenager might not ring true in my forties. But... I would recommend "Hero" by Perry Moore "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay" by Michael Chabon for any comic book fans of any age.


message 36: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimlux) | 4 comments The first "gay" book I read was Dancer from the Dance. Then, one of the earliest I read was "The Best Little Boy in the World." I identified perfectly with the latter and wonder how I would feel about the book if I read it now (20 or so years later). The Front Runner was one of my earlier reads, too, and I loved it. "Back in the day" (I'm 47), there weren't a whole lot of choices and I remember reading some then-smutty Gordon Merrick novels -- Are they even still around? : )


message 37: by Stephen (new)

Stephen (act1966) | 6 comments Gordon Merrick?!?!? LOLLLLLL I'd forgotten about him! <> I remember thinking, "Ugh... is this what gay books are all like...?" Thankfully, that hasn't been true. Thanks for the hysterical reminder...


message 38: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimlux) | 4 comments Stephen, I was nearly ashamed to mention Gordon, but thought I'd throw him in. I, too, was both titillated and horrified by the quality of those novels...


message 39: by Robin (new)

Robin (therobinreardon) | 47 comments I found Dancer from the Dance to be very affecting and, unfortunately, about as grim as the time in which the story took place. It wouldn’t be my suggestion for a first read, though it’s well worth reading.

For teens, I don’t think you can go wrong with anything by Alex Sanchez. David Levithan’s work is very high quality, although I heard him say in an interview a few years ago that the readership is largely straight girls – at least for BOY MEETS BOY.

I have two first-read recommendations, and (full disclosure, here) I wrote them. They’ve both received great reviews, and one in particular qualifies (IMHO) for a very good first read.

A SECRET EDGE (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/85...) is the one I would recommend as a first read, and THINKING STRAIGHT (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22...) is for anyone interested in the intersection of gay and Christian (the protagonist gets put into an “ex-gay” camp for the summer).

Sorry for tooting my own horn. I’d love to hear from anyone who’s read either of my books.



message 40: by Javier (new)

Javier Martinez (jmartcougar) | 2 comments For teens I would recommend Good Boys which is about three guys all best friends who are dealing with their sexuality and other issues that are teen related.

For 20 somethings I like Lake Overturn. What a wonderful first novel that contains very homoerotic episodes. This is not your typical gay book and you will find yourself laughing at the humorous and touching moments.

For oldsters I really enjoyed A Single Man. Short and full of very life filled moments do not miss out on this wonderful read and also check out the movie that just came out based on the book with Colin Firth and Julianne Moore


message 41: by Damian (new)

Damian Serbu (damianserbu) | 5 comments If you want a good first novel read/coming out tale with a ghost story mixed in, read Steve Berman's Vintage: A Ghost Story. It's a good, quick read. Well done and deals with a lot of issues that a first time reader can relate to.


message 42: by Tim (new)

Tim (timmybear) | 2 comments It's hard for me to divide by age groups, as I was reading Poe when I was 8 or so.

A book I would recommend for all age groups is THE WHISTLING SONG by Stephen Beachy - several of his other books are kind of arty and idea driven, but this one has both a plot AND some interesting ideas/artistic elements


message 43: by Tim (last edited Feb 14, 2010 12:44PM) (new)

Tim (timmybear) | 2 comments And it doesn't help that I had no idea about having ANY sexuality until I was 20ish.

I have read things like ONE TEENAGER IN 10 or CONFESSIONS OF A ROCK LOBSTER, and I didn't recognize me in them, but I'm sure they'd be very valuable to 'normal' queers. :)


message 44: by Brittany (new)

Brittany Soncek | 3 comments Boy meets boys was the first one that i read. I would recommend that.


message 45: by Adam (new)

Adam Hodgins | 1 comments These all have teenage protagonists

Clay's Way - Blair Mastbaum
War Boy - Thorn Kief Hillsbery
Rose of No Man's Land - Michelle Tea


message 46: by Marie (new)

Marie | 3 comments I highly recommend Stilettos and Steel by Jeri Estes. It completely transports the reader back to the 1960s Tenderloin district of San Francisco. Such a dark and dangerous time in queer history. This was the original gay ghetto pre-Castro, when gay rights were not even a concept yet. Estes captures the seedy red light district, complete with dirty cops, gangsters, hustlers and a cast of unforgettable characters. Would also make a great film!


message 47: by Kevin (new)

Kevin Klehr (goodreadscomkevink) | 7 comments Start here - Blue Heaven by Joe Keenan - then read the other two.

About the author


message 48: by Javier (new)

Javier Martinez (jmartcougar) | 2 comments At swim to boys is a beautiful story set in Ireland. A little hard to read in the beginning but its one you will not forget and will stay with you forever!


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