Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Book Shelf: He Got the Beat & More

I've fallen seriously behind on my reading -- just now wrapping up Kamal Al-solaylee's memoir, "Intolerable" -- but wanted to alert you to a handful of new books that caught my eye, two of which I have already purchased (one as a gift): 

"American Hipster: The Life of Herbert Huncke, The Times Square Hustler Who Inspired the Beat Movement" tells the tale of a New York sex worker and heroin addict whose unrepentant deviance caught the imagination of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs. Teetering between exhaustion and existential despair, Huncke (rhymes with “junky”) often said, “I’m beat, man.” His line gave Kerouac the label for a down-at-the-heels generation seeking spiritual sustenance as well as “kicks” in post-war America. Recognizable portraits of Huncke appear in "Junky" (1953), Burroughs' acerbic account of his own heroin addiction; “Howl” (1956), the long, sexually explicit poem that launched Ginsberg’s career; and "On the Road" (1957), Kerouac’s best-selling novel that immortalized the Beat Generation. But it wasn’t just Huncke the character that fascinated these writers: they loved his stories. Kerouac called him a “genius” of a storyteller and “a perfect writer.” Order HERE.

"Lawfully Wedded Husband: How My Gay Marriage Will Save the American Family":  When Joel Derfner's boyfriend proposed to him, there was nowhere in America the two could legally marry. That changed quickly, however, and before long the two were on what they expected to be a rollicking journey to married bliss. What they didn't realize was that, along the way, they would confront not just the dilemmas every couple faces on the way to the altar—what kind of ceremony would they have? what would they wear? did they have to invite Great Aunt Sophie?—but also questions about what a relationship can and can't do, the definition of marriage, and, ultimately, what makes a family. Add to the mix a reality show whose director forces them to keep signing and notarizing applications for a wedding license until the cameraman gets a shot she likes; a family marriage history that includes adulterers, arms smugglers, and poisoners; and discussions of civil rights, Sophocles, racism, grammar, and homemade Ouija boards—coupled with Derfner's gift for getting in his own way—and what results is a story not just of gay marriage and the American family but of what it means to be human. Order HERE.

"Leaving the Rest: Gay Men on Alcoholism and Sobriety": Collected for the first time in two decades are 22 personal essays by sober gay men about the wide spectrum of experiences particular to being a gay alcoholic, including experiences leading to and following recovery. Edited by Leslie L. Smith. Order HERE.

No comments: