September 16, 2016 at 1:41 pm EDT | by Kristen Hartke
FALL ARTS 2016: ‘Looking’ for a good book?
book, gay news, Washington Blade

The ‘Looking’ coffeetable book features scenes from the memorable HBO series. (Photo courtesy First Third Books)

Before it was possible to Google terms like “gender creative,” Julie Tarney had to trust her instincts when her 2-year-old son Harry told her in 1992, “Inside my head I’m a girl.” “My Son Wears Heels: One Mom’s Journey from Clueless to Kickass” (out this week for $24.95) is Tarney’s story of unwavering support for her son by listening carefully, keeping an open mind, and putting Harry’s happiness before society’s edicts.

Originally chronicled in a serialized national column in the Guardian newspaper in the U.K., “Trans: A Memoir by Juliet Jacques” (out Nov. 15, $19.95) provides an insider’s insight into gender politics and how popular media is either ignoring or distorting the transgender movement. Jacques also provides a completely honest account of her sex reassignment surgery at the age of 30 and the journey to redefine her life for her family, her friends and herself.

“Before Pictures” by Douglas Crimp (out Sept. 22, $39) ticks all the boxes for anyone who has followed the long career of art critic Crimp, who famously coined the term “The Pictures Generation” in reference to the postmodern work of artists like Sherrie Levine and Cindy Sherman during the 1970s and ‘80s. The memoir follows his experiences as a young gay man in New York City in the 1960s, partying alongside the Warhol crowd, and eventually becoming an activist as AIDS began to devastate both the gay and arts communities.

Running parallel to Crimp’s memoir, “Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor, 1980-1983” by Tim Lawrence (out Sept. 30, $27.95) examines the intersection of New York City’s party and arts scenes in the early ‘80s, a world of intense creativity, risk and cultural crossover. Lawrence’s history outlines the convergence of disco, punk, hip hop, salsa and jazz with performance and visual art, video, film and fashion, all leading to the development of 21st century dance music.

Having “Looking” withdrawal now that the series and movie are over? Savor memories of the uber-gay HBO series with a coffeetable book of photos from the show. It’s out in October in two versions — one for $59 and another for $88 that features a DVD with interviews, behind-the-scenes footage from the movie and a signed cast photo. Jump fast if you’re interested — only 500 copies of each version are being issued. Details at firstthirdbooks.com.

While New York or San Francisco might seem like the epicenters of America’s gay rights movement, “LGBT Milwaukee (Images of Modern America)” by Michail Takach ($22.99) seeks to correct that notion, highlighting the history of gay and lesbian culture that was evolving in the Rust Belt city of Milwaukee from the early 1960s. As part of the Wisconsin LGBT History Project, the book’s 150 photographs with detailed captions focus on secret back room hangouts to mega-discos to drag queen culture.

Becoming Who I Am: Young Men on Being Gay” (out Sept. 19; $27.95) is the result of extensive interviews with about 40 young gay men whose average age is 20. Author Ritch C. Savin-Williams explores their first inklings of same-sex attraction, first sexual experiences and their thoughts on love and long-term relationships.

Young Adult, or YA, fiction is the fastest-growing segment of the publishing market, continuing to offer sophisticated stories and viewpoints that are just as interesting for the over-18 reader. “You Know Me Well” by David Levithan and Nina LaCour  ($18.99) is a coming-of-age story set in San Francisco during Pride Week, as two high school classmates, Mark and Kate, who have never spoken, suddenly run into each other one night in the city while avoiding the people they want to be with. Mark is struggling with his unrequited feelings for his best friend Ryan, while Kate is fearful of finally meeting the girl she’s loved from afar.

Tippi Hedren, one of the most famous Hitchcock blondes, releases her memoir “Tippi: a Memoir” ($28.99) on Nov. 1.

“Girl Mans Up” by M-E Girard (released this month, $17.99) is another YA title that will resonate as Pen tries to navigate a world where the cultural expectations from people around her, from her parents to her friends, make it difficult for her to simply be who she is — a girl who isn’t interested in looking feminine, has strong feelings for other girls, and, at the heart of it all, is still a girl at the end of the day who doesn’t want to pretend to be something she’s not.

“It Looks Like This” (out this month, $16.99) by debut author Rafi Mittlefehldt is a tale of first love and loss, following Mike as he and his family move to a new city and he starts at a new high school, constantly urged by his father to give up art for sports as he befriends new kid Sean. Ultimately hopeful, the story doesn’t shy away from the fear that compels parents to send their kids to “straight camp” or the bittersweet need for acceptance from the people we love.

Flynn’s girlfriend is missing, but that’s the least of his problems in “Last Seen Leaving” by Caleb Roehrig (Oct. 4; $17.99). This suspenseful mystery forces Flynn to confront his own demons while being scrutinized by cops and friends, with wit, grit and realism.

“Murder Ink” (Oct. 1; $14.99) is the first offering in the Dakota Jones, P.I. Mystery series, as Jones, the owner of Runaway Investigations, tries to spend a quiet holiday with her girlfriend Kris, a homicide officer, until Kris gets caught up in the investigation of the sordid murder of the proprietor of Fantasy Escorts, who Jones once worked for, back in the old days.

Alaska may, indeed, seem like another country, a place where people go to reinvent themselves in a fresh landscape, as evident in “Building Fires in the Snow: A Collection of Alaska LGBTQ Short Fiction and Poetry” (out this week, $29.95). The anthology gathers stories and poems from across the wide spectrum of Alaska’s LGBT community, shining a light on the everyday lives of gay and lesbian individuals and families within a historically diverse culture.

“The Sea Is Quiet Tonight: a Memoir” by Michael H. Ward (Nov. 1, $19.99) is, by turns, a painful reminder and inspiration tale of both the love and loss experienced by so many during the early years of the AIDS epidemic. Ward details his partner Mark’s diagnosis and death with honesty, delving into the closeness that can develop between partners, family and friends, even as death is imminent.

Using a collection of characters from pop culture, activism, and academia, “Queer: A Graphic History” by Meg-John Barker and Julia Scheele (Nov. 15, $17.95) uses the graphic novel to guide readers through the history of identity politics, queer theory and gender roles. Fresh interpretations and clever illustrations help bring new life to academic constructs and an understanding of the intersection of biology, psychology, and modern culture.

‘My Son Wears Heels’ by Julie Tarney tells of her experiences raising a gender non-conforming son. (Photo courtesy University of Wisconsin Press)

‘My Son Wears Heels’ by Julie Tarney tells of her experiences raising a gender non-conforming son. (Photo courtesy University of Wisconsin Press)

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