Book

Gay and Single... Forever?: Book Review

by underdarkness

Gay and Single...Forever?: 10 Things Every Gay Guy Looking for Love (and Not Finding It) Needs to Know

What exactly is this book? Well, it's a book with a rather lengthy title. Other than that, it's exactly what you think it is; advice on dating... and coincidently, not dating if you don't want to. In a world where single gay men are the new "pariahs," gay men tend to feel guilty when they are alone.

"Being gay and single is the new smoking," playwright Paul Rudnick has said. "It won't be socially acceptable anymore, and you will have to go outside."

Though I cannot say that I enjoyed reading this book as much as I would have if I were reading, say... Star Wars, or something more suitable for an eighteen year old, I must say that it was incredibly methodical and detailed. Steven Bereznai mixes a gripping social commentary brilliantly with a guide to a gay man's love life... or lack thereof.

Orphan's Quest: Book Review

by underdarkness

When I first picked up Orphan's Quest, it was out of sheer interest to find out whether a novel deemed a "gay fantasy" could possibly be a good read. Most novels I've come by that specify the main characters as gay often times end up being preachy and tedious to get through without snoring or yelling at the pages, though I figured I'd give Orphan's Quest a chance.

The story starts off with a young man, Rokey, going through his studies at a sort of boarding school called the Noble Contemplative. The hierarchy of faculty at the school is vaguely reminiscent of a Catholic institution, minus the religious rule. From the start, we see that Rokey is attracted to other young men.

We also come to find that the world in which Rokey lives is incredibly tolerant of gays (or Samers, as they're called in the story). Through an accident that Rokey is ultimately blamed for, he is sent away from the confines of the school and is told never to return. The night following, Rokey is attacked and is saved by a young elf named Flaskamper (or Flash). From there, Rokey is introduced to Flash's fellow misfits who make their way from town to town to get by.

Conversations and Cosmopolitans: Book Review

by ForeverEndedToday

In Conversations and Cosmopolitans: How to Give your Mother a Hangover, a book by mother and son Robert and Jane Rave, a smart and witty perspective of life as a young gay male trying to find his place in the gay community, and a mother trying to knock some sense into her child is given. Whether it's about online dating or "manscaping," mama always has something to say.

Robert, who at the beginning of the book comes out to his parents through a letter, is a 21-year-old mid-western man who has recently moved to New York City to get a fresh start, and according to him, share sushi with Renee Zellweger.

Robert offers a comical account of his desire to fit in with the gay community and overcome his lack of self-confidence. His portion of the book is well written, and manages to grab the attention of the reader by focusing on major events that will have the reader laughing at his failed attempts to be smooth.

Freak Show: Book Review

by underdarkness

Freak Show, by James St. James, is the story of a young drag queen, Billy, who is trying to get the people at his school to like and accept him … by dressing up as a swamp monster in green makeup. The narrator of this story automatically struck me as being the most flamboyant human being on earth.

The story opens with talk of makeup and sewing scraps of fabric together to make FABULOUS new fashion statements. Billy is, in essence, the gayest human being that ever walked the fictional earth. Billy's attempts to fit in at his high school are, quite frankly, freaking hilarious. This book doesn’t miss a beat with the humor of being an outcast or the insanity that come from homophobic students.

On this first day of school at his new high school, Billy walks into his biology class and greets each and every student with an "air peck" on the cheek and scans the room for his first friend. He sits down next to a beefy, flat-faced guy named Bernie and quickly begins commenting on how amazing his fashion sense is, all the while biting his tongue at how incredibly horrible it actually is. Then, out of nowhere, as Billy puts his hand on him, Beefy Bernie shouts, "Touch me again faggot, and I'll kick the crap out of you!" Whoa… WHOA. Where did that come from?

Vintage: Book Review

by underdarkness

When I first picked up this book, I honestly thought I wouldn't like it because of its tagline, "A Ghost Story." I have rarely been able to get into books that are so blatantly described as such, but I figured I'd give it a chance.

I'm certainly glad I did. It is a sweet, if enticingly eerie, coming of age story that delicately fits in all we have come to expect in a gay teen's coming out years. Alongside this there is room for first love, gothic interest, a stalking ghost and the best girl friend that every young gay man has. The characters are shockingly believable and give a level of depth within the book's pages.

The unnamed narrator describes his experience with a ghost, Josh, which he came by on a midnight walk on an abandoned stretch of highway. What the narrator first believes to be a dream come true turns into something quite different as the ghost of a handsome jock run down by a drunk driver in the 50's refuses to let him be. As for the rest of the story, you will just have to read it now, won't you?

Julie Anne Peters: Interview

by dykehalo

I was really excited when I got a private message from Jeff asking me to do an interview with Julie Anne Peters. Originally I declined because I was too nervous and scared; after all I'm 15 year old who has no experience at doing any kind of interview. Eventually I asked Jeff if the offer was still good, it was too good of an opportunity to pass up on.

I can still remember the day I picked up Keeping You a Secret; it was Saturday August 5, 2006. KYAS (as many people refer to it) is the one GLBT themed book that has made the greatest impact on my life. To this day it is STILL my favourite book even a year later and after reading about 20 other GLBT themed books.

Julie has written 5 teen/young adult books: Keeping You a Secret, Luna, Between Mom and Jo, Far From Xanadu, and Define Normal. All of which are pretty great. My dog liked Define Normal the best; he ate all the corners of it.

The interview was done via e-mail, which wasn't bad because it meant I could take time, think of questions, consult my friends at lunch and consult Jeff.

Even though it was done via e-mail, her personality still managed to come out. She would e-mail me to let me know the answers were coming soon, and best of all actually, spell my name properly which is always a bonus when you spell a normal name a weird way.

Tim Gunn: Interview

By Jeff Walsh

With his new book, "A Guide to Quality, Taste & Style," Tim Gunn brings the expertise and charm that has made him famous on "Project Runway" and boiled it down to the essentials that everyone can use in their own life. Gunn, 53, recently left Parsons: The New School for Design, where Project Runway is taped, for a new position as chief creative officer for Liz Claiborne, although he will return for the show's fourth season. In addition, Gunn will also host Tim Gunn's Guide To Style, which will air as eight one-hour shows on Bravo starting in September.

As much as I love Project Runway, and understand that it is "reality TV," I was surprised at how down to earth and affable he was. Our initial interview was set up for Friday, via phone, a day in advance of his San Francisco visit. He was doing two book events in one day, so not surprising to do it over the phone, really. So, he calls me on Friday, and just as we're getting started, I mention I'll be seeing him at the book event in San Francisco tomorrow. "You're in San Francisco? Why don't we do this in person? We'll get a better interview that way." We make plans to meet at the bookstore the following day, in advance of his event, and that was that.

Clouds and Eclipses: Book Review

by lost_in_wonderland

Initially, I was hesitant about reviewing this book. A collection of short stories is no easy feat to repass. However, I chose to continue and I'm glad that I did.

Consistent, entertaining, and thought-provoking by turn, the stories within are all wonderful and poignant; Gore Vidal is known more for his novels and essays, but these stories, originally published as Thirsty Evil, minus a new story, are to be treasured. Most stories are from Vidal's early career, with one inclusion, from Tennessee Williams' youth, removed due to the prolific playwright's request. Gore Vidal is truly a great storyteller.

The IHOP Papers: Book Review

by dykehalo

The IHOP Papers by Ali Liebegott was an unexpected surprise. I zipped through this book and loved every minute I spent reading it. She is an amazing author with a unique writing style that I think people will fall in love with.

As a former cutter, I totally related to Francesca, the main character and narrator of the book. She doesn't cut to kill herself, but to feel and as a way to pass time and many other reasons. I believe many other people on Oasis will definitely relate to Francesca as well.

At the beginning of the novel, Francesca moves from South Carolina to San Francisco to follow her teacher, Irene. They both live in "Simplicity House," with Irene's lover Gustavo and Irene's *other* lover, Jenny. All four of them sleep in the same bed, believe in the Goddess, and try to live simply by doing things like conserving water whenever possible

Baby Remember My Name: Book Review

by -Ruby-

I know they say “don’t judge a book by its cover”… but when you pick up this book, dark and glossy, with a front cover of two chicks making out and back cover of anthology editor Michelle Tea in a tank top revealing her sexy tattoos… you just sense that you’re in for something good. Oh baby, you’re SO right. Baby Remember My Name is a collection of 22 short stories by young women from across America. They’re provocative, poetic, cute, funny, bittersweet, heartbreaking, raw, and real.

“Juan the Brave” is about a young girl named Erica, who wants to be a boy and struggles to fit into her tight Latino family and community. “T-Ten” is narrated by ten-year-old Chelsea, who’s trying to stay out of trouble with her mom and teacher, while attempting to scrape up enough cash to buy birthday presents for herself and her twin sister. “Snow Fight” takes you through the wild day-to-day adventures in a tough “ghetto” inner-city high school. “Sunshine in the Fat End” is told by Jessie, an adolescent girl living in a trailer park with an autistic brother, crackhead mom and her abusive boyfriend. In “Part 1: Tumbleweed” Scarlet shares her journey from New York to California with her best friend and sometimes lover, working as a stripper and sometimes prostitute.

Keeping You A Secret: Book Review

By Jeff Walsh

In Keeping You A Secret, Julie Anne Peters doesn't waste much time in setting up the two main characters. On the very first page, Holland sees the T-Shirt of a new girl, Cece, across the hall from her high school locker. Holland's stomach "flutter"s when she first sees the new girl and ponders the meaning of the letters on her shirt, IMRU? Am I what? Holland wonders to herself. The rest of the book explores that question.

Holland is a driven student, taking extra courses, staying up at all hours to do homework, serving as student body president, waking up early to swim laps, and working in a day care after school for extra money. But none of it seems to be her choice, let alone her desire. She just slogs through every day on autopilot doing everything that is expected of her. Her mother even turns a blind eye to Holland having sex with her boyfriend, as long as they're being careful. In just a few short months, high school will be over and the rest of her life can begin, although she doesn't seem to have much interest in finishing applications for college either.

Between Mom and Jo: Book Review

By Jeff Walsh

Once again, Julie Anne Peters has written an engaging book with a young narrator. But in "Between Mom and Jo," Nick isn't struggling with his sexuality, but with the eventual breakup of his lesbian parents. He calls his biological mother "Mom," and her partner "Jo," but they both raised him.

The book starts before the breakup, but we see it coming. Mom is the provider in the house, who keeps everything going, whereas Jo can't hold down a job and sometimes drinks. There are issues between Jo and her in-laws, who haven't interacted much since the commitment ceremony. The whole situation is a powder keg, but when it comes to Nick, everyone is united in their love for him, and wanting to do what's best.

He gets teased at school about being a freak raised by freaks. At 14, he is also at the age where he's difficult to handle because of his own sexuality and emotions. When Mom and Jo finally break up, the situation meant to be better for everyone doesn't really work out that way.

Luna: Book Review

By Jeff Walsh

Every night, Regan wakes up to find her sibling Luna in her bedroom, standing in front of her mirror. Every night, Luna wears a different dress and talks about her future as she applies different makeup and wigs.

Every morning, Regan has breakfast with the family, and her brother Liam sits there quiet and withdrawn. Only Regan knows that Liam is transgender, that her brother is really her sister.

Luna's name, Spanish for moon, is appropriate given it is the only time of day that she feels whole, not having to pretend to be a boy, which is getting more difficult. She has to use her sister's bedroom at night, because she longer has mirrors in her room, or else she will constantly keep catching glances of the boy she has to pretend to be.

The Boys and The Bees: Book Review

By underdarkness

The Boys and the Bees is the first person retelling of a young man's journey through love, lust, confusion and growing up gay in a Catholic grade school. As the word “faggot” is newly introduced to the sixth grader’s seemingly shared vocabulary, Andy, the narrator, learns that he must separate himself from anything that may appear to be gay, including his lispy and fragile best friend James.

What happens under the covers at their sleepovers must remain a secret, so Andy sees fit to call out James on his girlishness whenever possible to reaffirm his own vague sexuality. James wants to be with Andy. Andy wants to be with Mark, the basketball team captain and most popular boy in the sixth grade. Mark, however, appears to be untouchable. He's dating the most popular girl in school. He's popular and athletic. He couldn't possibly be gay!

Stray: Book Review

By lost_in_wonderland

Stray, by Sheri Joseph, chronicles the story of Paul Foster, a talented young acting student still in love with his older ex-boyfriend despite the man being married; Kent McKutcheon, a talented musician, who must choose between his wife Maggie and his old flame Paul; and Maggie, Kent's wife and a devoted Mennonite, who must deal with her own feelings for Paul. This occurs as an investigation of the murder of Paul's much older lover goes on.

The book, if left to its own devices, could have been a touching story of three people trying to discover what love is, and how you can love someone and not know anything about them.

This was not that book.

DRAMA! The Four Dorothys: Book Review

By dykehalo

Filled with mystery and drama, the book "DRAMA! The Four Dorothys" by Paul Rudis is a decent book.

Orion Academy, a high school for rich kids in Malibu, is putting on its annual spring play. Normally, everything goes off without a hitch but this year's spring musical is different. For starters, it's the Wizard of Oz, a play usual done in middle or grade school. Forced to perform the play for only one night and having to combine four grade levels, each with their own stars, makes for a whole lot of drama when they decided to have four Dorothys.

Strange events occur, and the Dorothys begin to drop like flies. The mystery begins after the second Dorothy drops out of the play. The question "Who or what is behind the disappearing Dorothys?" is solved and wrapped up within the last three chapters. Although the ending is pretty predictable, the plot makes for a great story that is very well written. The plot is not so off-the-wall wacky that you believe it could never happen. With references to the musical Wicked, and shows like Project Runway, Gilmore Girls and CSI, it's up to date with today's teens.

John Amaechi: Interview

By Jeff Walsh

John Amaechi is the first NBA player to ever come out of the closet. His new book, "Man in the Middle," has started a dialogue about homophobia in the NBA, which was confirmed when another former player went on an anti-gay tirade when asked about hypothetically playing with an openly gay player on their team.

Not being a huge sports fan (which is a nice way to say I really don't like any sports), the book was a surprisingly easy, entertaining read. There were some amusing gaffes as a result, though. At one point, Amaechi talks about something putting him on the DL, and I kept thinking, "Umm, you've pretty much been on the down low for the duration of this book?!" Of course, he meant disabled list. There are a few sports terms that cross that line throughout, although contextually, it's more humorous than confusing.

Amaechi is currently working with the Human Rights Campaign as part of their coming out program, and recently spoke with Oasis about his life since the book's release.

Pat Nelson Childs: Interview

By Jeff Walsh

Pat Nelson Childs isn't a stranger to Oasis members.

He found the site when looking for avenues to promote his book, Orphan's Quest, but realized there was more he could do here in addition to book promotion. He's taken the helm of the Gay Like Me anthology project, and is an active member of the community here.

It did present a slight problem, though, as Pat happens to write in the small sliver of stuff that I just can't get into as a reader. I don't really do fantasy, sci-fi, comics, or anything like that. (I do have a small window available for sci-fi if it is about some dystopic future, but otherwise I can't read that sort of stuff.)

So, the workaround: we're going to get someone else to do the review at some point (there's already an excerpt available here). Pat and I had a chat about his planned trilogy of Orphan's Quest books, his coming out, his background, his being HIV-positive, and the ability to have sex with guys as a teenager without questioning your sexuality.

Cris Beam: Interview

By Jeff Walsh

"Transparent: Love, Family, and Living the T with Transgender Teenagers" tells two stories, the story of young minority trans girls coming to terms with themselves in Los Angeles, and author Cris Beam's journey from being someone who ran away from her own mother at a young age who becomes the foster mother of Christina, the main subject of the book. Cris and I recently chatted about how she started writing this book, what it taught her, and what she hoped people could learn from it.

The thing that was interesting to me in the book was... as much as I work with youth, it's all online, so there's a built-in distance. And reading your book, there was no way I would have been able to deal with everything. It was way too much drama for me.

Yeah, there was a lot of drama.

Was that something you had to learn to deal with, or do you just have a better tolerance than me?

There was a lot of drama, for sure. When Christina came to live with us, I was certainly overwhelmed a lot of the time, and made a lot of mistakes. So, it was definitely tough. I got used to it gradually, I think, because I was teaching at the school. So, I acclimated in a way.

Pet Shop Boys, Catalogue: Book Review

By Jeff Walsh

Unless you're a serious Pet Shop Boys fan, Catalogue is overkill. Of course, just the notion that a band would have enough material to fill 300+ pages that largely showcase how they have managed their public image over a career spanning more than two decades is really worth a visit for anyone interested in music, celebrity, or fame.

For me, they always had interesting cover art and presentation to their music, but until I saw them live very late in the game, I never knew how manicured the whole thing was. On their 'Nightlife' tour, they did a very polished set, working the crowd, but never really breaking a sweat. It was initially a bit oft putting, but then again, they were also wearing odd, spiky-headed wigs at the time, too. But the more I watched, it dawned on me that a sense of detachment was always part of their magic. This wasn't a band that would treat a concert as a jubilant experience where there was a shared magic between them and the crowd (if they do, they certainly wouldn't let on). No band-led singalongs, big cheesy smiles when a familiar intro chords progression washed over us. Nope.

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