SF LGBT Book Club
Join us at for lively and informative discussions of your favorite lgbt-themed novels and works of non-fiction in a warm and comfortable setting. Past selections have run from mainstream reads to offbeat prose; newest of the new releases to tried and true classics. Come and explore the world of literature with like-minded folks who don't mind getting their hands a little dirty. The Center/Books Inc. Book Group is free and open to everyone. We encourage inclusiveness and promote diversity.
The SF LGBT Book Club meets at 7PM on the 2nd Wednesday of each month at Books Inc. in The Castro.
For more information call 415.864.6777
February 2015 Selection: A daring and deeply moving novel set in Argentina in the time of the Generals--a time when the streets are empty at night, and people have trained themselves not to see. Richard Garay lives with his mother, hiding his sexuality from her and from society. Stifled by his job, Richard is willing to take chances, both sexually and professionally. But Argentina is changing, and as his country edges toward peace, Richard tentatively begins a love affair. The result is a powerful, brave, and poignant novel of sex, death, and the diffculties of connecting one's inner life with the outside world.
January 2015 Selection: After surviving the Dunkirk retreat, Laurie Odell, a young homosexual, critically examines his unorthodox lifestyle and personal relationships, as he falls in love with a young conscientious objector and becomes involved with a circle of world-weary gay men.
Originally published in 1959, "The Charioteer" is a bold, unapologetic portrayal of male homosexuality during World War II that stands with Vidal's "The City and the Pillar" and Isherwood's "Berlin Stories" as a monumental work in gay literature.
December 2014 Selection: From the author of "Fight Club," comes a dark, irreverent, hilarious, and brilliant satire about adolescence, Hell, and the Devil.
Madison is the thirteen-year-old daughter of a narcissistic film star and a billionaire. Abandoned at her Swiss boarding school over Christmas, she dies over the holiday, presumably of a marijuana overdose. The last thing she remembers is getting into a town car and falling asleep. Then she's waking up in Hell. Literally. Madison soon finds that she shares a cell with a motley crew of young sinners: a cheerleader, a jock, a nerd, and a punk rocker, united by their doomed fate, like an afterschool detention for the damned. Together they form an odd coalition and march across the unspeakable landscape of Hell--full of used diapers, dandruff, WiFi blackout spots, evil historical figures, and one horrific call center--to confront the Devil himself.
November 2014 Selection: Johnny Rio, a handsome narcissist but no longer a pretty boy, travels to Los Angeles, the site of past sexual conquest and remembered youthful radiance, in a frenzied attempt to recreate his younger self. Johnny has ten precious days to draw the numbers, the men who will confirm his desirability, and with the hungry focus of a man on borrowed time, he stalks the dark balconies of all-night theaters, the hot sands of gay beaches, and shady glens of city parks, attempting to attract shadowy sex-hunters in an obcessive battle against the passing of his youth.
October 2014 Selection:
After his wife dies in a car accident, bisexual writer and activist Steve Abbott moves with his two-year-old daughter to San Francisco. There they discover a city in the midst of revolution, bustling with gay men in search of liberation few of whom are raising a child.
Steve throws himself into San Francisco s vibrant cultural scene. He takes Alysia to raucous parties, pushes her in front of the microphone at poetry readings, and introduces her to a world of artists, thinkers, and writers. But the pair live like nomads, moving from apartment to apartment, with a revolving cast of roommates and little structure. As a child Alysia views her father as a loving playmate who can transform the ordinary into magic, but as she gets older Alysia wants more than anything to fit in. The world, she learns, is hostile to difference.
In Alysia s teens, Steve s friends several of whom she has befriended fall ill as AIDS starts its rampage through their community. While Alysia is studying in New York and then in France, her father tells her it s time to come home; he s sick with AIDS. Alysia must choose whether to take on the responsibility of caring for her father or continue the independent life she has worked so hard to create.
Reconstructing their life together from a remarkable cache of her father s journals, letters, and writings, Alysia Abbott gives us an unforgettable portrait of a tumultuous, historic time in San Francisco as well as an exquisitely moving account of a father s legacy and a daughter s love.
September 2014 Selection: When Adam Freedman -- a skinny, awkward, inexperienced teenager from Piedmont, California -- goes to stay with his older sister Casey in New York City, he is hopeful that his life is about to change. And it sure does.
It is the summer of 2006. Gay marriage and transgender rights are in the air, and Casey has thrust herself into a wild lesbian subculture. Soon Adam is tagging along to underground clubs, where there are hot older women everywhere he turns. It takes some time for him to realize that many in this new crowd assume he is trans--a boy who was born a girl. Why else would this baby-faced guy always be around?
Then Adam meets Gillian, the girl of his dreams -- but she couldn't possibly be interested in him. Unless passing as a trans guy might actually work in his favor . . .
Ariel Schrag's scathingly funny and poignant debut novel puts a fresh spin on questions of love, attraction, self-definition, and what it takes to be at home in your own skin.
August 2014 Selection: When Nicole Georges was two years old, her family told her that her father was dead. When she was twenty-three, a psychic told her he was alive. Her sister, saddled with guilt, admits that the psychic is right and that the whole family has conspired to keep him a secret. Sent into a tailspin about her identity, Nicole turns to radio talk-show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger for advice.
Packed cover-to-cover with heartfelt and disarming black-and-white illustrations, "Calling Dr. Laura" tells the story of what happens to you when you are raised in a family of secrets, and what happens to your brain (and heart) when you learn the truth from an unlikely source. Part coming-of-age and part coming-out story, "Calling Dr. Laura" marks the arrival of an exciting and winning new voice in graphic literature.
July 2014 Selection: A poignant and satirical tale of one man's struggle to overcome the ghosts of his past and make sense of the present. In this, his third novel, acclaimed author Mark Merlis artfully intertwines the pathos of loneliness with a subtle critique of the American political machine.
June 2014 Selection: Twenty years have passed since Mary Ann Singleton left her husband and child in San Francisco to pursue her dream of a television career in New York. Now a pair of personal calamities has driven her back to the city of her youth and into the arms of her oldest friend, Michael "Mouse" Tolliver, a gardener happily ensconced with his much-younger husband.
More than three decades in the making, Armistead Maupin's legendary Tales of the City series rolls into a new age, still sassy, irreverent, and curious, and still exploring the boundaries of the human experience with insight, compassion, and mordant wit.
May 2014 Selection: Rent boys, aristocrats, artists, and criminals populate this sweeping novel in which author Jonathan Kemp skillfully interweaves the lives and loves of three very different men in gay London across the decades.
In the 1890s, a young man named Jack apprentices as a rent boy and discovers a life of pleasure and excess that leads to new friendships, most notably with the soon-to-be-infamous Oscar Wilde. A century later in 1998, David tells his own tale of unashamed decadence from prison, recalling life as a young man arriving in the city in the mid-'80s just as the scourge of AIDS hit. Where their paths cross, in the politically sensitive 1950s, when gay men were the target of police and politicians alike, the artist Colin tentatively explores his sexuality while working on his painting "London Triptych."
Moodily atmospheric and rich with history, "London Triptych" is a sexy, resplendent portrait of the politics and pleasures of queer life in one of the world's most fascinating cities.
April 2014 Selection: Benjamin Alire Saenz's stories reveal how all borders--real, imagined, sexual, human, the line between dark and light, addict and straight--entangle those who live on either side. Take, for instance, the Kentucky Club on Avenida Juarez two blocks south of the Rio Grande. It's a touchstone for each of Saenz's stories. His characters walk by, they might go in for a drink or to score, or they might just stay there for a while and let their story be told. Saenz knows that the Kentucky Club, like special watering holes in all cities, is the contrary to borders. It welcomes Spanish and English, Mexicans and gringos, poor and rich, gay and straight, drug addicts and drunks, laughter and sadness, and even despair. It's a place of rich history and good drinks and cold beer and a long polished mahogany bar. Some days it smells like piss. "I'm going home to the other side." That's a strange statement, but you hear it all the time at the Kentucky Club.Benjamin Alire Saenz is a highly regarded writer of fiction, poetry, and children's literature. Like these stories, his writing crosses borders and lands in our collective psyche. "Poets & Writers Magazine "named him one of the fifty most inspiring writers in the world. He's been a finalist for the "Los Angeles Times "Book Prize and PEN Center's prestigious award for young adult fiction. Saenz is the chair of the creative writing department of University of Texas at El Paso.
PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction
Lambda Literary Award
Southwest Book Award
March 2014 Selection: Winterson's bold and revelatory novels have earned her widespread acclaim, establishing her as a major figure in world literature. It is a book full of stories about how a painful past, which Winterson thought she had written over and repainted, rose to haunt her later in life, sending her on a journey into madness and out again, in search of her biological mother.
February 2014 Selection: Both an exploration of character and a reflection on the meaning of history, "Memoirs of Hadrian" has received international acclaim since its first publication in France in 1951. In it, Marguerite Yourcenar reimagines the Emperor Hadrian's arduous boyhood, his triumphs and reversals, and finally, as emperor, his gradual reordering of a war-torn world, writing with the imaginative insight of a great writer of the twentieth century while crafting a prose style as elegant and precise as those of the Latin stylists of Hadrian's own era.
January 2014 Selection: In a kaleidoscopic narrative, "New York Times "bestselling author David Talbot tells the gripping story of San Francisco in the turbulent years between 1967 and 1982--and of the extraordinary men and women who led to the city's ultimate rebirth and triumph. "Season of the Witch "is the first book to fully capture the dark magic of San Francisco in this breathtaking period, when the city radically changed itself--and then revolutionized the world.
December 2013 Selection: The Indignities of Coach Class, the Torments of Low Thread Count, the Never-Ending Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil, and Other First World Problems
David Rakoff's collection of autobiographical essays, Fraud, established him as one of our funniest, most insightful writers. In Don't Get Too Comfortable, Rakoff journeys into the land of plenty that is contemporary North America. Rarely have greed, vanity, selfishness, and vapidity been so mercilessly and wittily portrayed.
Whether contrasting the elegance of one of the last flights of the supersonic Concorde with the good times and chicken wings of Hooters Air, portraying the rarified universe of Paris fashion shows where an evening dress can cost as much as four years of college, or traveling to a private island off the coast of Belize to watch a soft-core Playboy TV shoot, where he is provided with his very own personal manservant, David Rakoff takes us on a bitingly funny grand tour of our culture of excess, delving into the manic getting and spending that defines the North American way of life.
Somewhere along the line, our healthy self-regard has exploded into obliterating narcissism, and Rakoff is there to map that frontier. He sits through the grotesqueries of "avant garde" vaudeville in Times Square immediately following 9/11. Twenty days without food allows him to experience firsthand the wonders of "detoxification," and the frozen world of cryonics, whose promise of eternal life is the ultimate status symbol, leaves him very cold indeed (much to our good fortune).
At once a Wildean satire of our ridiculous culture of overconsumption and a plea for a little human decency, Don't Get Too Comfortable is a bitingly funnygrand tour of our special circle of gilded-age hell.
November 2013 Selection: Winner of a 2013 Lambda Literary Award
A "New York Times" bestselling novel of desire, secrecy, and sexual identity, "In One Person" is a story of unfulfilled love--tormented, funny, and affecting--and an impassioned embrace of our sexual differences. Billy, the bisexual narrator and main character of "In One Person," tells the tragicomic story (lasting more than half a century) of his life as a "sexual suspect," a phrase first used by John Irving in 1978 in his landmark novel of "terminal cases," "The World According to Garp."
"In One Person" is a poignant tribute to Billy's friends and lovers--a theatrical cast of characters who defy category and convention. Not least, "In One Person" is an intimate and unforgettable portrait of the solitariness of a bisexual man who is dedicated to making himself "worthwhile."
June 2013 Selection: From the Man Booker Prize-winning author of "The Line of Beauty" a magnificent, century-spanning saga about a love triangle that spawns a myth, and a family mystery, across generations.
In the summer of 1913, George Sawle brings his Cambridge schoolmate--a handsome, aristocratic young poet named Cecil Valance--to his family's home outside London. George is enthralled by Cecil, and soon his sister, Daphne, is equally besotted by him. That weekend, Cecil writes a poem that, after he is killed in the Great War and his reputation burnished, will become a touchstone for a generation, a work recited by every schoolchild in England. Over time, a tragic love story is spun, even as other secrets lie buried--until, decades later, an ambitious biographer threatens to unearth them.
May 2013 Selection: A beautiful novel about an unconventional relationship, "Jack Holmes and His Friend" charts the friendship of Jack Holmes and Will Wright from their arrival in New York on the eve of the wild 60s, over two decades through the first stirrings of gay liberation and the catastrophe of AIDS. Jack is gay, Will is straight, and Jack will always be devoted to Will, but he will also introduce him to women and help him explore a more free heterosexuality. Edmund White explores identity, sexuality, society, and the sweep of history in this sensitive story of a complicated intimacy.
April 2013 Selection: It was the summer Coltrane died, the summer of love and riots, and the summer when a chance encounter in Brooklyn led two young people on a path of art, devotion, and initiation.
Patti Smith would evolve as a poet and performer, and Robert Mapplethorpe would direct his highly provocative style toward photography. Bound in innocence and enthusiasm, they traversed the city from Coney Island to Forty-second Street, and eventually to the celebrated round table of Max's Kansas City, where the Andy Warhol contingent held court. In 1969, the pair set up camp at the Hotel Chelsea and soon entered a community of the famous and infamous--the influential artists of the day and the colorful fringe. It was a time of heightened awareness, when the worlds of poetry, rock and roll, art, and sexual politics were colliding and exploding. In this milieu, two kids made a pact to take care of each other. Scrappy, romantic, committed to create, and fueled by their mutual dreams and drives, they would prod and provide for one another during the hungry years.
Just Kids begins as a love story and ends as an elegy. It serves as a salute to New York City during the late sixties and seventies and to its rich and poor, its hustlers and hellions. A true fable, it is a portrait of two young artists' ascent, a prelude to fame.
February 2013 Selection: Achilles, "the best of all the Greeks," son of the cruel sea goddess Thetis and the legendary king Peleus, is strong, swift, and beautiful-- irresistible to all who meet him. Patroclus is an awkward young prince, exiled from his homeland after an act of shocking violence. Brought together by chance, they forge an inseparable bond, despite risking the gods' wrath.
They are trained by the centaur Chiron in the arts of war and medicine, but when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, all the heroes of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows. Little do they know that the cruel Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.
January 2013 Selection: Gore Vidal refers to this memoir of his first 39 years as a "palimpsest", pointing out how remembrances are shaped and reshaped with time. From the vantage point of his villa on the Italian coast, Vidal tells of his life as a novelist and dramatist, politician and critic, and discusses the figures he has known, including the Kennedys, Tennessee Williams, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jack Kerouac, Amelia Earhart, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Woven throughout are meditations on writing, history, acting, politics, and love. 91 photos.
December 2012 Selection: With the new millennium approaching, the eccentric town of Thebes grows even stranger. Mrs. Leontina Scales begins speaking in tongues after being clocked by a Catholic statuette. Her daughter, Tabitha, and her sons scheme to save their mother or surrender her to Jesus--whatever comes first. Meanwhile, choir director Jeremy Carr, caught between lust and ambition, fumbles his way toward Y2K. The ancient Sisters of the Sorrowful Mysteries join with a gay singing group. The Radical Radiants battle the Catholics. A Christmas pageant goes horribly awry. And a child is born.
Only a modern master like Gregory Maguire could spin a tale as frantic, funny, and farcical as "The Next Queen of Heaven."
October 2012 Selection: A handsome young sailor is unjustly accused of plotting mutiny in this timeless tale of the sea.
This Enriched Classic Edition includes:
A concise introduction that gives readers important background information
A chronology of the author's life and work
A timeline of significant events that provides the book's historical context
An outline of key themes and plot points to help readers form their own interpretations
Detailed explanatory notes
Critical analysis, including contemporary and modern perspectives on the work
Discussion questions to promote lively classroom and book group interaction
A list of recommended related books and films to broaden the reader's experience
Enriched Classics offer readers affordable editions of great works of literature enhanced by helpful notes and insightful commentary. The scholarship provided in Enriched Classics enables readers to appreciate, understand, and enjoy the world's finest books to their full potentia
September 2012 Selection: Nightwood, Djuna Barnes' strange and sinuous tour de force, "belongs to that small class of books that somehow reflect a time or an epoch" (Times Literary Supplement). That time is the period between the two World Wars, and Barnes' novel unfolds in the decadent shadows of Europe's great cities, Paris, Berlin, and Vienna a world in which the boundaries of class, religion, and sexuality are bold but surprisingly porous.The outsized characters who inhabit this world are some of the most memorable in all of fiction there is Guido Volkbein, the Wandering Jew and son of a self-proclaimed baron; Robin Vote, the American expatriate who marries him and then engages in a series of affairs, first with Nora Flood and then with Jenny Petherbridge, driving all of her lovers to distraction with her passion for wandering alone in the night; and there is Dr. Matthew-Mighty-Grain-of-Salt-Dante-O'Connor, a transvestite and ostensible gynecologist, whose digressive speeches brim with fury, keen insights, and surprising allusions. Barnes' depiction of these characters and their relationships (Nora says, "A man is another persona woman is yourself, caught as you turn in panic; on her mouth you kiss your own") has made the novel a landmark of feminist and lesbian literature.Most striking of all is Barnes' unparalleled stylistic innovation, which led T. S. Eliot to proclaim the book "so good a novel that only sensibilities trained on poetry can wholly appreciate it." Now with a new preface by Jeanette Winterson, Nightwood still crackles with the same electric charge it had on its first publication in 1936.
August 2012 pick: At Westish College, baseball star Henry Skrimshander seems destined for big league until a routine throw goes disastrously off course. In the aftermath of his error, the fates of five people are upended. Henry's fight against self-doubt threatens to ruin his future. College president Guert Affenlight has fallen unexpectedly and helplessly in love. Owen Dunne becomes caught up in a dangerous affair. Mike Schwartz realizes he has guided Henry's career at the expense of his own. And Pella Affenlight returns to Westish after escaping an ill-fated marriage, determined to start a new life. As the season counts down to its climactic final game, these five are forced to confront their deepest hopes, anxieties, and secrets. Written with boundless intelligence and filled with the tenderness of youth, ""The Art of Fielding" is mere baseball fiction the way "Moby Dick" is just a fish story" (Nicholas Dawidoff). It""is an expansive, warmhearted novel about ambition and its limits, about family and friendship and love, and about commitment--to oneself and to others.
July 2012 Pick: Tony Kushner's two-part masterwork is now available in a single edition.
"Playful and profound, extravagantly theatrical and deeply spiritual, witty, and compassionate, furious and incredibly smart . . . It's impossible to imagine anyone captivated by the beginning not wanting--needing--to go back for the end."--Linda Winer, "Newsday"
June 2012 Pick: In "My Queer War," James Lord tells the story of a young man's exposure to the terrors, dislocations, and horrors of armed conflict. In 1942, a timid, inexperienced twenty-one-year-old Lord reports to Atlantic City, New Jersey, to enlist in the U.S. Army. His career in the armed forces takes him to Nevada, California, Boston, England, and, eventually, France and Germany, where he witnesses firsthand the ravages of total war on Europe's land and on its people. Along the way he comes to terms with his own sexuality, experiences the thrill of first love and the chill of disillusionment with his fellow man, and in a moment of great rashness makes the acquaintance of the world's most renowned artist, who will show him the way to a new life. "My Queer War "is a rich and moving record of one man's maturation in the crucible of the greatest war the world has known. If his war is queer, it is because each man's experience is strange in its own way. His is a story of universal significance and appeal, told by a wry and eloquent observer of the world and of himself.
May 2012 Pick: A child of the 1950s from a small New England town, "perfect Paul" earns straight A's and shines in social and literary pursuits, all the while keeping a secret -- from himself and the rest of the world. Struggling to be, or at least to imitate, a straight man, through Ivy League halls of privilege and bohemian travels abroad, loveless intimacy and unrequited passion, Paul Monette was haunted, and finally saved, by a dream of "the thing I'd never even seen: two men in love and laughing." Searingly honest, witty, and humane, "Becoming a Man" is the definitive coming-out story in the classic coming-of-age genre.
April 2012 Pick: The acclaimed author of the novels "The South" and "The Blackwater Lightship"presents a new collection of short stories.
March 2012 Pick: At the age of 18, Paul Porterfield dreams of playing piano at the world's great concert halls, yet the closest he's come has been to turn pages for his idol, Richard Kennington, a former prodigy who is entering middle age.
February 2012 Pick: In the tradition of A Fine Balance and The Namesake, The Two Krishnas is a sensual and searing look at infidelity and the nature of desire and faith. At the center of the novel is Pooja Kapoor, a betrayed wife and mother who is forced to question her faith and marriage when she discovers her banker husband, Rahul, has fallen in love with a young, male Muslim illegal immigrant who happens to be their son's age. Faced with the potential of losing faith in Rahul, divine intervention, and family, she is forced to confront painful truths about the past and the duality in God and husband.