March 3, 2017 at 7:00 am EDT | by Will Owen
SPRING ARTS 2017: Books — Gays at home
new books spring 2017, gay news, Washington Blade

Doug Spearman, left, and Marc Samuel at their home. The photo is from ‘Tom Atwood: Kings & Queens in Their Castles,’ a new coffeetable book that shows LGBT people in their homes. (Photo used with permission from Atwood)

Does a 15-year project of photographing 350 LGBT subjects sound overly ambitious? Not for Tom Atwood, who has done just that with his breathtaking photo series, “Tom Atwood: Kings & Queens In Their Castles” (Damiani, March 28). Atwood’s monumental project, which has been named the most comprehensive LGBT photo series ever conducted in the U.S., portrays the intimate moments of prominent figures ranging from Don Lemon to Alison Bechdel.

If you’re a poetry fan, “New American Best Friend” by Olivia Gatwood (Button Poetry, March 28), is a stunning celebration of contemporary womanhood, gender and sexuality by one of the most venerated young poets and queer writers in America. Gatwood effortlessly segues between themes of pleasure, violence, youth and adulthood, and ultimately transitions into a fearless ode to women and the messy journey faced in finding oneself.

If you’re crafty and creative, “Queer Threads: Crafting Identity and Community” by John Chaich and Todd Oldham (AMMO Books, April 1), is a delightful compilation of crochet, embroidery, quilting and sewing masterpieces by an international mix of 30 LGBT artists. To elaborate on how queerness has influenced their fiber and textile work, the artists are interviewed by renowned leaders in creative fields — many gay themselves.

As we still grieve his sudden passing, “George Michael: the Life: 1963-2016” by Emily Herbert  (Lesser Gods, April 4), will provide closure on the life and legacy of one of Pop’s most beloved and unapologetically gay icons. Herbert thoughtfully touches on George Michael’s early life, rise to fame, sex scandals, struggle with depression and addiction, and mysterious death, ultimately revealing that his legacy is as rooted in (often anonymous) charity as it is in music.

In “The Secrets of My Life” by Caitlyn Jenner (Grand Central Publishing, April 25), readers can dive much deeper into the remarkable story of the most famous transgender woman in the world, told in her own words. Jenner recounts intensely personal stories of her struggle to find self-acceptance in the  context of being an Olympic legend and global symbol of masculinity, as well as the patriarch of the ubiquitous Kardashian family.

In “No One Can Pronounce My Name: A Novel” (Picador, May 2), Lambda Literary Award-winning author Rakesh Satyal tells the multigenerational story of a community of Indian Americans living in a Cleveland suburb.  Harit, a lonely Indian immigrant in his 40s, finds himself dressing in a sari every night to pass off as his deceased sister for his grieving mother. He later befriends Ranjana, who writes paranormal stories to find escape during her husband’s suspected infidelity. Their unlikely friendship is a hilarious and touching account of navigating American society and the divide between Eastern and Western cultures.

After a generous profile in the New Yorker last year, “Nature Poem” by Tommy Pico (Tin House Books, May 9), is definitely one of this year’s most anticipated LGBT releases. In a book-length poem, Pico tells the story of Teebs, a young, queer, American-Indian poet who prefers city life and struggles to write about nature, the subject white people and wider American culture equate him with. Pico himself identifies as queer and grew up on the Viejas Reservation near San Diego, so “Nature Poem” is very much a meditation on his own life in Brooklyn and his American-Indian identity.

No matter your age, “It’s Not Like It’s A Secret” by Misa Sugiura (HarperTeen, May 9), is a young adult fiction novel about two girls of color falling in love that will touch even the least-high school nostalgic of readers. In this poignant coming-of-age story, 16-year old Sana moves to California, where she meets the beautiful and intelligent Jamie Ramirez. Jamie spurs Sana to finally spill some of her many secrets, the hardest to admit being that she wants to be more than friends with Jamie.

For more poetry, “How To Get Over” by T’ai Freedom Ford (Red Hen Press, May 9), is a spellbinding debut that fearlessly confronts the author’s past hardships, including those related to sexual identity, sexual assault and substance abuse. Ford grapples with themes of homophobia, bullying, anti-black racism and gentrification, incorporating important reminders of slavery’s legacy as well as directly addressing modern-day pop culture icons like Kanye West and Nicki Minaj.

“The Voice Book for Trans and Non-Binary People: A Practical Guide to Creating and Sustaining Authentic Voice and Communication” by Matthew Mills and Gillie Stoneham (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, May 18) is a comprehensive guide for trans and non-binary individuals interested in achieving a different voice that feels more authentic to their identities. Written by two language and specialist speech therapists, this book provides a thorough overview of the process to develop new vocal skills, and includes exercises on resonance, intonation and pitch.

In her much-anticipated second memoir, “Surpassing Certainty: What My Twenties Taught Me” (Atria Books, June 13), Janet Mock details the existential growing pains she faced during her early 20s, many of which will feel relatable to readers despite her status as one of the most revered transgender rights and racial justice activists of her generation. “Surpassing Uncertainty” candidly unfolds with Mock’s uncomfortable failures and incremental successes in love and intimacy, career development and learning to advocate for herself as a transgender woman of color before advocating for her wider community.

This year, we’re blessed with not one but two memoirs written by bisexual writer Roxane Gay. In “Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body” (Harper, June 13), the much-buzzed-about author explores her struggles with food, weight and body image with restorative vulnerability and honesty. Through her own journey, Gay provides invaluable lessons on self-care and self-love.

Other releases of note include:

• “Marilyn in Manhattan: Her Year of Joy” by Elizabeth Winder (Flatiron Books) is a beautiful love letter to one of the most celebrated icons of all time, specifically profiling her time in the Big Apple from 1954-1955: a year of independence, success and relief for Monroe. The book is $27.99 and releases March 14. The author will present the book at East City Bookshop (645 Pennsylvania Ave., SE) on Wednesday, March 15 at 7:30 p.m.

• “The Rules Do Not Apply: A Memoir” by Ariel Levy (Random House) is a sardonic reflection on the famed New Yorker writer’s life, telling the story of her traumatic loss of her unborn child in Mongolia through her signature queer feminist lens. The memoir is $16 and releases March 14.

• “The Tree of Healing of Love Love & Missed Opportunity” by Rev. Steven R. Fleming is an allegorical and evocative journey through seven symbolic gates that takes readers from pain and anger to acceptance and new possibilities via colorful, lyrical prose. It’s out now. Details at

• “The War on Sex” (March, Duke University Press) explores the history of sex offender registries, criminalization of HIV and laws against sex work in a series of essays edited by David M. Halperin and Trevor Hoppe.

• “The Lotterys Plus One” (March 28, Levine) is the latest from lesbian bestselling author Emma Donoghue, her “middle-grade debut” (i.e. for grade school readers), which tells of family life when a grandfather with dementia comes to live with a family with young children.

• “The Spartacus International Gay Guide 2017” (Bruno Gmuender) is a must-have for gay and bisexual men who love to travel abroad. This year’s edition ($24.99) is out April 1, just in time for summer travel planning.

• “Making My Pitch: A Woman’s Baseball Odyssey,” by Ila Jane Borders and Jean Hastings Ardell (University of Nebraska Press), is the autobiography of Ila Jane Borders, the first woman to play men’s professional baseball in the modern era and, at the time, was a closeted gay athlete. It is $26.95 and is out April 1.

• “When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities,” by Chen Chen (BOA Editions Ltd.), is the author’s debut collection of poems that investigate love, family and identity from queer, Asian-American and immigrant perspectives. It’s $16 ($9.99 e-book) and releases April 11.

• “LGBT: San Francisco: the Daniel Nicoletta Photographs” (Reel Art Press) is an arresting compilation of the legendary photographer’s images of gay 1970s San Francisco, which include iconic photographs of Harvey Milk. The book is $60 and releases May 23.

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