March 7, 2014 | by Terri Schlichenmeyer
Paths through pages
Frog Music, books, gay news, Washington Blade

‘Frog Music’ (Image courtesy Little, Brown and Company)

Whether you’re looking for a fabulous read for a spring fling/getaway or you’re hoarding books for that long-anticipated summer vacation, there are lots of books to look for this spring and events you’ll want to attend.

Let’s start this trip with books.

It’s practically an Emma Donoghue signature: take one obscure historical event and wrap a “what if?” story around it — which is exactly what you get in “Frog Music,” due next month.

It’s 1876 and Blanche Beunon is nearly run over by a strange man on a penny farthing. When the man stops to make sure Blanche is OK, she learns that the man is actually a woman in men’s clothing. Jenny Bonnet knows who Blanche is; she’s seen Blanche dance and she knows that Blanche sleeps with men for money. Still, the two become friends — that is, until the night Jenny is murdered.

This imagined tale based on a real murder takes us on a trance-like journey from France to San Francisco.

Out in the Army, books, gay news, Washington Blade

‘Out in the Army’ (Image courtesy Biteback Publishing)

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” isn’t just something our military personnel know and have lived with. It happens in Great Britain, too, and in “Out in the Army: My Life as a Gay Soldier” by James Wharton (June), you’ll read about a boy who wanted adventure. To find it, he joined the Army and there, he became a man who struggled with disclosure: how to tell his loved ones and colleagues that he’s gay. This is one of those action-packed memoirs with pockets of truth and strength.

Moving on in this trip filled with books, you’ll want to read “Lost and Found in Johannesburg” by Mark Gevisser (April). It’s the story of apartheid, maps and how one led to an understanding of the other. You may find it fascinating that the author is a gay Jewish white born-and-raised South African married to a man of another race.

Then, landing back home, how about a trip to New York with “Nothing Like a Dame” by Eddie Shapiro, (February) a book of conversations with some of Broadway’s leading ladies. Peek in on Carol Channing, Chita Rivera, Patti LuPone, Kristin Chenoweth, Bebe Neuwirth and others. It’s almost like being there.

Almost.

Also just out is “Christ-Centered Consciousness” in which author John Ryan writes a meditation on how he found peace with being a gay believer.

Out novelist (and Washingtonian) Louis Bayard’s new book “Roosevelt’s Beast” tells of an action adventure involving Theodore Roosevelt and his son, Kermit, through Brazil’s Rio da Duvida circa 1914. It’s out March 18. Look for an interview with Bayard in next week’s Blade.

And then there are trips you can physically take this spring.

If you’re a book lover, make plans to attend BOOKS ALIVE! 2014 on March 29 at the Bethesda Marriott on Pook’s Hill. This event offers a chance to meet big-name authors and journalists, but aspiring authors will also have a chance to meet with literary agents at pitch sessions. Doors are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., early registration is $220 or $240 at the door, which includes morning coffee and a box lunch. For more information, call Deborah Gelin at 202-223-6161.

And before the spring’s over, be sure to attend the Gaithersburg Book Festival on May 17. Meet authors, find your next best read and get it signed.

Oh, and just in case you missed it in January, fans of legendary gay author Armistead Maupin will definitely want to check out his latest — “The Days of Anna Madrigal,” the end of the 40-year, nine-volume “Tales of the City” series that’s let us all get a surprisingly resonating taste of San Francisco’s LGBT community over the decades.

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