Eugene Weekly : Books : 6.14.07

Even More Fabulous YA LGBTQQ etc. Books
by Suzi Steffen

These reviews are just one or two sentences for time purposes—but don’t think the books aren’t interesting or, in some cases, super good (and the Eugene Public Library owns most of ’em!):

Another Kind of Cowboy by Susan Juby. If you liked Juby’s Alice, I Think and the two sequels, you’ll probably appreciate this odd little novel about a young lower-middle-class boy who just wants to perform dressage and manage to have a gay life in small-town British Colombia. More positive than Jean Ferris’ Eight Seconds, also about a young gay cowboy (but in much bleaker circumstances), this book ends with hope and joy. Comes out in the winter, but first person to email me with a convincing plea can borrow my copy now.

Dance on My Grave by Aidan Chambers. OK, it’s old (1982) and so could possibly be forgiven for killing off one of the gay characters, but even though that’s annoying, the construct of how the main character comes to understand his sexual orientation (Arthurian “bosom friends”) is delicately and beautifully portrayed. Chambers’ Postcards from No-Man’s Land (2002) shows a much more evolved understanding of the possibilities for bi and gay men, perhaps because it’s set in Amsterdam and perhaps because it’s 20 years on.

Dangerous Angels: The Weetzie Bat Books, by Francesca Lia Block. Glittery and full of delight, the Weetzie Bat books incorporate characters with fantabulous sensibilities, sweet stories and a sense of connection and love, all set in glorious scenes in L.A.

Dare, Truth or Promise, by Paula Boock. It’s set in New Zealand, which is practically enough right there, but there’s also the class differences, the Shakespeare, the fundamentalist parents, the car crash … and the final shred of hope.

Dramarama by E. Lockhart. I’ve gotten on E. before for not writing about gay characters in her Roo books (The Boyfriend List, The Boy Book) set in Seattle, but here she comes through with one of her main characters a gay boy at a drama camp. And if you like this, check out Alex Flinn’s Diva, which updates us on Caitlin’s post-Nick life and introduces more gay drama characters.

Freak Show by James St. James. In a complete contrast, this is a new book, written by famous drag queen St. James in what I must assume is a rough autobiographical, totally over-the-top and dragerrific fashion. Not to my taste, but hey, whatevs.

The One Where the Kid Nearly Jumps to His Death and Lands in California by Mary Hershey. Not strictly a queer book, though there is one strong lesbian adult character, this quirky work about a kid who lost a leg in a skiing accident (a sort of accident) and then trains for a triathlon while avoiding his father, whom he blames for the whole mess, combines deadpan humor with a strong plot.

Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg. Only one of the best books ever written, this historically informative autobiofictional work gives any reader a feel for the loneliness of being outside of the gender box and should help lesbians treat both butch dykes and transmen with more respect.

A Tale of Two Summers by Brian Sloan. The book that introduced me to parkour and a twist on the gay-drama theme with the straight narrator the actor and the gay narrator a stay-at-home goof who falls for a French exchange student. Lots of frank, fun discussion between the two boys about what sex means to each of them.

Transparent :Love, Family and Living the T with Transgendered Teenagers by Cris Beam. Nonfiction, yes, and a fascinating look at the lives not of all trans teens but of working-class trans girls of color in Los Angeles, a far cry from the supportive environment of, say, San Francisco or Portland or Seattle and all of the services those cities have for young trans folks.



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