GOOD Books is a weekly round-up of what we're reading and what we wish we were reading.
This, GOOD readers, is the Summer of Gay Love. With hundreds of gay couples rushing to tie the knot this Sunday in New York—the state's first day of gay marriage—and the nation’s first openly gay federal judge officially confirmed into that state's southern District, the gay rights movement is gaining momentum in a serious way. So we decided to come up with a totally romantic, totally gay reading list for you to enjoy while you revel in the excitement of watching New Yorkers finally legalize their commitment to one another.
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
By Michael Chabon
656 pages. Picador. $16.00
Set in the New York comic book craze that ran parallel to World War II, Adventures features two cousins who decide to create a comic of their own. Kavalier, freshly smuggled from Nazi-controlled Prague and attempting to help the rest of his family escape, and Clay, trying to deal with his sexual identity, invent the anti-fascist superhero appropriately dubbed The Escapist. Their comic blows up, and in the midst of its growth from a radio series to a Hollywood movie, Clay finds himself falling for The Escapist’s off-screen persona, Tracy Bacon. The two young men’s relationship ends almost as quickly as it began, but the romance that buds between them is one of the sweetest in any modern fiction novel.
By James Baldwin
176 pages. Random House. $14.00
Giovanni’s Room gives a sensitive insight into one man’s internal conflict about his own sexuality. David, an expatriate living in Paris, proposes to his girlfriend Hella just before she leaves on a trip to Spain. While she’s away, he frequents a club where Giovanni tends bar. Through mutual acquaintances, they meet and begin a tumultuous affair that eventually ends in death. The novel doesn’t wrap things up with a “moral of the story” ending, but that sort of ambiguity makes the plotline all the more realistic.
The Price of Salt
by Claire Morgan (Patricia Highsmith)
304 pages. W.W. Norton & Company. $13.95
Patricia Highsmith wrote The Price of Salt under the pseudonym Claire Morgan, possibly because the novel so closely resembled her personal life at the time. The novel features the romance between two women, Therese and Carol, who meet in a department store (I always thought Sears had a romantic vibe to it) in the midst of Carol’s divorce and subsequent custody battles with her ex-husband. Both The Price of Salt and Giovanni’s Room were published as serious novels during a time when the majority of gay and lesbian fiction fell under the pulp fiction genre, but unlike Giovanni’s Room, this particular novel has a happy ending.
by Dan Savage
256 pages. Penguin Group. $12.99
In The Kid, Dan Savage, the well-known columnist of “Savage Love”, recounts his own experience of “getting pregnant” with his boyfriend, Terry. The couple decides on adoption, and after being selected by Melissa, a homeless street kid with a drinking problem, they immediately face the common questions any couple have to deal with: Are they ready for a kid? Will they be good parents? Will their kid be healthy? The book is disarmingly funny, and Dan and Terry’s love portrayed throughout the book is enough to cause anyone to protest why the hell these parents still can't get married in most states.
The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln
By C.A. Tripp
384 pages. Simon & Schuster. $17.99
Presidents can be gay too, and Lincoln’s maybe-gay predecessor, James Buchanan, shouldn’t be getting all the credit. C.A. Tripp, a sex therapist and researcher, posits that Lincoln had not just one, but three romantic relationships with men throughout his life. Tripp doesn’t buy the poverty argument most historians give as the answer to why Lincoln was sharing his bed all the time; he also believes that Lincoln's tumultuous relationship with Mary Lincoln was directly correlated with Abe’s male coziness, and fondness for sex jokes. Almost 80 years ago, historian Carl Sandburg stated that he saw in Abe Lincoln “a streak of lavender and spots as soft as May violets.” And even if you cant buy into Tripp's historical perspective, you can still appreciate the possibility of Abe’s violet-y gayness.