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The Pat Parker/Vito Russo Library book discussion group meets on the first Tuesday of the month at 8:00pm (except when noted). We meet at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Community Center, 208 West 13th Street (near Seventh Avenue) in NYC. Ask at the information desk for the room number.

We're a friendly group, always open to new members. If you'd like, you can just read the book and join us at the Community Center. We'd be pleased to meet you. If you have questions or want more information, you can send e-mail to Howard@HowardWill.com. (If you send an e-mail, make sure you include the words "book club" early in the subject line because if you just say "Hey" or "I've got a question" it'll just get deleted because it looks like spam.)

We usually go for a late, cheap diner dinner after the meeting to continue a more general discussion. Everyone is always welcome.

I've created a FaceBook group called "Book discussion group at The Center in NYC". Please join it for a little discussion before and after the group, or to contact others in the group:

Facebook CenterBooks (group)

Upcoming books

Dec 5: "What Belongs to You" well-reviewed contemporary novel by Garth Greenwell (208 pages)

An American teacher enters a public bathroom beneath the National Palace of Culture in Sofia, Bulgaria, where he meets Mitko, a charismatic young hustler, and pays him for sex. He returns to Mitko several times over the next few months, drawn by loneliness and risk, and finds himself ensnared in a relationship in which lust leads to mutual predation. As the teacher struggles to reconcile his longing with the anguish it creates, he’s forced to grapple with his own southern childhood where to be queer was to be a pariah. Fabulously well reviewed first novel by all major outlets and long-listed for the National Book Award.

Jan 2, 2018: "Eminent Outlaws: Gay Writers Who Changed America" non-fiction by Christopher Bram (372 pages)

After World War II, a group of gay writers established themselves as cultural figures in America: enfant terrible Truman Capote; poitical and sexual chronicler Gore Vidal, Broadway playwrights Edward Albee and Tennessee Williams; novelist and social critic James Baldwin, English/American novelist Christopher Isherwood, exuberant Allen Ginsberg, sexy Edmund White, populist counterculture author Armistead Maupin, scandalous playwright Mart Crowley, and award-winning Tony Kushner. Bram weaves these men's ambitions, affairs, feuds, loves, and appetites into a single sweeping narrative.

Feb 6: "The Sheltering Sky," classic American novel by Paul Bowles (350 pages)

In this classic work of psychological terror, Paul Bowles examines the ways in which Americans apprehend an alien culture—and the ways in which their incomprehension destroys them. The story centers on Port Moresby and his wife Kit, a married couple originally from New York who travel to the North African desert accompanied by their friend Tunner after WW II. The journey, initially an attempt by Port and Kit to resolve their marital difficulties, is quickly fraught by the travelers' ignorance of the dangers that surround them.

Mar 6: "Arctic Summer," fictionalized biography of EM Forster by Damon Galgut (352 pages)

Damon Galgut’s third novel, a fictionalized biography of English author E.M. Forster, focuses on Forster’s many years in India and the process of writing his masterpiece, A Passage to India. This finely wrought novel also addresses Forster’s unforgiving childhood in England and the homosexuality he feared and repressed throughout his life. Psychologically acute without being sentimental, Forster’s relationships are described with compassion. Galgut is a master at constructing strange, compelling landscapes, and Arctic Summer shifts seamlessly between staid England, vibrant Cairo,and absurd India.

Apr 3: "Fire Shut Up in my Bones," memoir by Charles Blow (240 pages)

A moving memoir of how one of America's most innovative journalists found his voice by coming to terms with a painful past. NYTimes columnist Blow mines the compelling poetry of the African-American Louisiana town where he grew up. Blow's attachment to his mother -- a fiercely driven woman with five sons -- cannot protect him from secret abuse at the hands of an older cousin. It's damage that triggers years of anger and self-questioning. Finally, Blow escapes to a nearby state university, where he joins a black fraternity after a brutal hazing and enters a world of racial and sexual privilege that feels like everything he's ever needed and wanted, until now,,,.

May 1: "A Glass of Blessings," 1958 classic British fiction by Barbara Pym (240 pages)

The central character and narrator, Wilmet, is a married woman with a comfortable though routine life. She does not need to work and enjoys a life of leisure. When not lunching or shopping she occupies her time, somewhat guiltily, with occasional "good works.". She becomes drawn into the social life of her church and after a service renews her acquaintance with a friend's attractive but ne'er-do-well brother, Piers. She develops a romantic interest in Piers until she becomes aware of his relationship with a young working-class man, Keith. Pym is not gay and does not usually include gay characters, but this is a terrific period British piece.

We don't meet during the summer, but we'll probably go to a few movies and have dinner afterward..

Sept 4: "A House Full of Daughters: A Memoir of Seven Generations," memoir by Juliet Nicholson (336 pages)

A family memoir that traces the myths and secrets of seven generations of remarkable women. We read "Portrait of a Marriage: Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson" by Nigel Nicolson a few years ago. This seems like a terrific followup. For many years Juliet Nicolson accepted the legends around her family -- the dangerous beauty of her flamenco-dancing great-great-grandmother, the flirty manipulations of her great-grandmother, the infamous eccentricity of her grandmother Vita Sackville-West, her mother’s Tory-conventional background. But then Nicolson, a distinguished historian, started to sift fact from fiction, uncovering details and secrets long held just out of sight. This is one woman’s investigation into the nature of family, memory, and the past.

Oct 2: "The Dream Life of Astronauts," short stories by Patrick Ryan (270 pages)

These nine stories set in Cape Canaveral, showcase Ryan’s masterly understanding of regret and hope, relationships and family, and the universal longing for love. The collection balances heartbreak with wry humor as its characters try to make sense of the paths they find themselves on. A would-be Miss America auditions for a shady local talent scout over vodka and Sunny D; a NASA engineer begins to wonder if the woman he’s having an affair with is poisoning her husband; a Boy Scout troop leader, recovering from a stroke, tries to protect one of his scouts from being bullied by his own sons. Set against landmark moments—the first moon launch, Watergate, the Challenger explosion—these private dramas unfurl in startling ways.

Nov 6: "The Child's Child," contemporary British novel by Barbara Vine (320 pages)

Adult siblings Grace and Andrew inherit their grandmother's sprawling London home and move in together. The arrangement is odd but ideal for the affectionate pair—until Andrew brings home a handsome new boyfriend. When he and Andrew witness a murder outside a London nightclub, things begin to unravel, and the lives of everyone in the house are disrupted. Grace escapes into reading a long-lost novel from 1951, never published because of its taboo subject matter. This is a brilliantly constructed novel-within-a-novel about family, betrayal, and disgrace.

Dec 4: "The Naked Civil Servant," classic autobiography by Quentin Crisp (240 pages)

A comical and poignant memoir of a gay man living life as he pleased in the 1930s. In 1931, gay liberation was not a movement—it was simply unthinkable. But in that year, Quentin Crisp made the courageous decision to "come out" as a homosexual. This exhibitionist with the henna-dyed hair was harrassed, ridiculed and beaten. Nevertheless, he claimed his right to be himself—whatever the consequences."As soon as I stepped out of my mother's womb...I realized that I had made a mistake", Quentin Crisp declares, giving a small hint of the witty and wry approach he takes toward the life he describes with uninhibited exuberance in this classic autobiography, which is both a comic masterpiece and a unique testament to the resilience of the human spirit.

Jan 8, 2019: "Mislaid," humorous contemporary novel by Nell Zink (256 pages) - note date change...

A funny and startlingly original novel from an exciting new voice about the making and unmaking of the American family that lays bare all of our assumptions about race, sexuality, and desire. In 1996 Viriginia, freshman Peggy, an ingénue with literary pretensions, falls under the spell of Lee, a blue-blooded professor, and they begin an ill-advised affair that results in an unplanned pregnancy and marriage. The two are mismatched from the start—she’s lesbian, he’s gay—but it takes a decade of emotional erosion before Peggy runs off with their three-year-old daughter, leaving their nine-year-old son behind.

   

Here are the Books Under Consideration to be read in the future.

Mission Statement

Welcome to the Pat Parker/Vito Russo Center Library Reading Group at the LGBT Community Center. As our founder Mel always reiterated, this is a friendly group which is always happy to have new members. Being a friendly group means we encourage everyone to participate without fear of confrontation and with respect from fellow members. We have the following guidelines to help this effort as well.

Guidelines

(1) All attendees are expected to have read the book and be willing to talk about it.

(2) Every participant is entitled to express his or her own opinion as it pertains to the book.

(3) The format of the meetings consists of an initial opening round where each attendee talks about the work for a few minutes without interruption or cross talk. Once everyone has had the opportunity to individually address the book, the discussion is then opened to all for a general discussion of the book. This is an important organizing element of this group to make sure that every one gets an opportunity to express himself or herself without comment.

(4) After the initial opening round, It is perfectly acceptable to express a dissenting opinion to something another member of the group has said about the book as long as it is in a respectful and constructive manner.

(5) Please refrain from personally attacking another member of the group over an opinion they have expressed about the book.

(6) Inflammatory language or inappropriate behavior directed towards another member of the group during the discussion will not be tolerated. If this type of language or behavior persists, the person who is responsible for displaying it may be asked to leave.

(7) Please respect the authority of the facilitator.

(8) Please try to stay on topic during the discussion. Feel free to introduce new information that may be relevant to the discussion of the book (e.g., historical facts, biographical information of the author, book background, etc.).

History of The Group

The complete list of our discussion group appears below.

1994
"The Culture of Desire," Frank Browning
"The Well of Loneliness," Radcliff Hall
"Conduct Unbecoming," Randy Shilts
"A Place at the Table," Bruce Bawer
"Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold," E. Kennedy & M. Davis
"Dancing on Tisha B'av," Lev Raphael and "The Bar Stories," Nisa Donnelly
"A Smile in His Lifetime," Joseph Hansen
"Stone Butch Blues," Leslie Feinberg
"My Father and Myself," J. R. Ackerley
"Giovanni's Room," James Baldwin
"Cherry Grove, Fire Island," Esther Newton

1995
"The Motion of Light in Water," Samuel Delany
"Dancer From the Dance," Andrew Holleran
"Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas," Gertrude Stein
"Swimming Pool Library," Alan Hollingshurst
"Jeb and Dash: A Diary of Gay Life, 1918-1945," Ina Russell," ed.
"Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil," John Berendt
"Before Night Falls," Renaldo Arenas
"Created Equal: Why Gay Rights Matter," M. Nava and R. Dawidoff
"A Different Life," James Merrill
"Becoming a Man," Paul Monette
"Chamber Music," Doris Grumbach

1996
"Weekend," Peter Cameron
"New York Gay History: 1890-1940," George Chauncey
"Empathy," Sarah Schulman
"Maurice," E. M. Forester
"Martin and John," Dale Peck
"Closet Case," Robert Rodi
"Virtually Normal," Andrew Sullivan
"Flesh and Blood," Michael Cunningham
"The Folding Star," Alan Hollinghurst
"Virtual Equality," Urvashi Vaid
"Skinned Alive," Edmund White

1997
"Torsos," John Peyton Cooke
"Angels in America," Tony Kushner
"The Boys on the Rock," John Fox
"Stranger Among Friends," David Mixner
"User," Bruce Benderson and "City of Night," John Rechy
"Midlife Queer," Martin Duberman
"While England Sleeps," David Leavitt
"Eighty-sixed," David Feinberg
"Wonderbread and Ecstasy," Charles Isherwood and "Love Junky," Robert Plunket
"Rise and Fall of Gay Culture," Daniel Harris
"Gay Spirit," Mark Thompson," ed.
"Sea of Tranquility," Paul Russell

1998
"Stuck Rubber Baby," Howard Cruise
"Celluloid Closet," Vito Russo
"Movie Lover," Richard Friedel
"Ready to Catch Him Should He Fall," Neil Bartlett
"Life is Not a Dress Rehearsal," David Brodney
"American Studies," Mark Merlis
"Mysterious Skin," Scott Heim
"Easy Way Out," Stephen McCauley
"Sexual Ecology," Gabriel Rotello
"Funny Boy," Shyam Selvaduri
"Gossip," Christopher Bram
"Billy Budd," Herman Melville and "Frisk," Dennis Cooper

1999
"Palimpsest," Gore Vidal
"How Proust Can Change Your Life," Alain de Botton
"Querelle," Jean Genet
"Dreyfus Affair," Peter Lefcourt
"Berlin Stories," Christopher Isherwood
"Life Outside," Michaelangelo Signorelle
"To the Lighthouse," Virginia Woolf
"Don't Get Me Started," Kate Clinton
"The Best Little Boy in the World Grows Up," Andrew Tobias
"Kiss of the Spider Woman," Manuel Puig
"The Other Side of Silence," John Loughery
"Confessions of a Mask," Yukio Mishima

2000
"The Hours," Michael Cunningham
"My Life with Noel Coward," Graham Payn
"Was," Geoff Ryman
"Sacred Lips of the Bronx," Douglas Sadownick
"Young Man from the Provinces," Alan Helms
"Farewell Symphony," Edmund White
"Cities of the Plain," Marcel Proust
"Tom: The Unknown Tennessee Williams," Lyle Leverich
"The Lost Language of Cranes," David Leavitt
"Brideshead Revisited," Evelyn Waugh

2001
"The Coming Storm," Paul Russell
"The Turn of the Screw," Henry James
"Allan Stein," Matthew Stadler
"The Spell," Alan Hollinghurst
"The Elusive Embrace: Desire and the Riddle of ID," Daniel Mendelsohn
"Original Story by: A Memoir of Broadway and Hollywood," Arthur Laurents
"An Arrow's Flight," Mark Merlis
"The Sheltering Sky," Paul Bowles
"Endangered Species," Louis Bayard
"The Notorious Dr. August: His Real Life and Crimes," Christopher Bram
"Love Speaks Its Name: Gay and Lesbian Love Poems," J.D. McClatchy (ed.)

2002
"Flaneur: A Stroll Through the Paradoxes of Paris," Edmund White
"Intimate Companions: George Platt Lynes, Paul Cadmus, and Lincoln Kirstein," David Leddick
"The Night Listener," Armistead Maupin
"Autobiography of Red," Anne Carson
"The Golden Age," Gore Vidal
"The World of Normal Boys," K. M. Soehnlein
"The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay," Michael Chabon
"Lies: A Diary (1986-1999)," Ned Rorem
"Out for Good: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement," Clendinen and Nagourney
"Ravelstein," Saul Bellow
"Death in Venice," Thomas Mann

2003
"Behind the Screen: How Gays and Lesbians Shaped Hollywood, 1910-1969," William Mann
"The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression," Andrew Solomon
"True Enough," Stephen McCauley
"Other Voices, Other Rooms," Truman Capote
"Edinburgh," Alexander Chee
"Price of Salt," Patricia Highsmith
"Fingersmith," Sarah Waters
"Running with Scissors," Augusten Burroughs
"The City of Your Final Destination," Peter Cameron
"The Long Firm," Jake Arnott

2004
"The Soul beneath the Skin: The Unseen Hearts and Habits of Gay Men," David Nimmons
"The Picture of Dorian Gray," Oscar Wilde
"The Danish Girl," David Ebershoff
"Salam Pax: The Clandestine Diary of an Ordinary Iraqi," Salam Pax
"Leaves of Grass," Walt Whitman
"City of Night," John Rechy
"Middlesex," Jeffrey Eugenides
"Women in Love", D. H. Lawrence
"The Married Man," Edmund White
"The Book of Salt," Monique Truong

2005
"Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books," Azar Nafisi
"The Invention of Love," Tom Stoppard and "A Shropshire Lad," A. E. Housman
"Dorian: An Imitation," Will Self
"War Against the Animals," Paul Russell
"Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" and "A Streetcar Named Desire," Tennessee Williams
"Lives of the Circus Animals," Christopher Bram
"The Master," Colm Toibin
"The Immoralist" and "Corydon," Andre Gide
"Three Junes," Julia Glass
"A Single Man" and "Prater Violet," Christopher Isherwood

2006
"The Line of Beauty," Alan Hollinghurst
"Less Than Zero," Bret Easton Ellis
"The Bostonians," Henry James
"Myra Breckinridge " by Gore Vidal
"The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain and the essay "Come Back to the Raft Ag'in, Huck Honey!" by Leslie Fiedler
"Eustace Chisholm and the Works" by James Purdy
"Our Lady of the Flowers" by Jean Genet
"The Beauty of Men" by Andrew Holleran
"The Blackwater Lightship " by Colm Toibin
"Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic" by Allison Bechdel

2007
"Speciman Days" by Michael Cunningham
"Pilgrim Hawk" and "A Visit to Priapus" by Glenway Wescott
"Acqua Calda" by Keith McDermott
"The Confusions of Young Torless" (or "Young Torless") by Robert Musil
"The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln" by C. A. Tripp
"Late and Soon" by Robert J. Hughes
"Moby Dick" by Herman Melville
"My Lives: A Memoir" by Edmund White
Poetry by C. P Cavafy
"The Member of the Wedding" and "The Ballad of the Sad Cafe" by Carson McCullers

2008
"Christopher and His Kind" by Christopher Isherwood
"Stretching My Mind: Collected Essays of Edward Albee" by Edward Albee
"Nightwood" by Djuna Barnes
"Falconer" by John Cheever
"The Exquisite Corpse" by Alfred Chester
"Night Watch" by Sarah Waters
"Grief" by Andrew Holleran
"Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches" by Audre Lorde
"Two Lives: Gertrude and Alice" by Janet Malcolm

2009
"Hotel de Dream" by Edmund White
"Fellow Travelers" by Thomas Mallon
"Selected Poems" by W. H. Auden, edited by Edward Mendelson
"In the City of Shy Hunters" by Tom Spanbauer
"Call Me By Your Name" by Andre Aciman
"The Worlds of Lincoln Kirstein" by Martin Duberman
"Exiles in America" by Christopher Bram
"The Indian Clerk" by David Leavitt
"Mothers and Sons" by Colm Toibin

2010
"The Carnivorous Lamb" by Agustin Gomez-Arcos
"Not Without Laughter" by Langston Hughes
"The Left Hand of Darkness" by Ursula Le Guin
"Cakes and Ale" by W. Somerset Maugham
"Selected Poems" by Frank O'Hara
"A Perfect Waiter" by Alain Claude Sulzer
"Sexing the Cherry" by Jeanette Winterson
"Lake Overturn" by Vestal MacIntyre
"The Skin of Our Teeth" by Thornton Wilder

2011
"Portrait of a Marriage: Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson" by Nigel Nicolson
"The Conversion" by Joseph Olshan
The poetry of Fredrico Garcia Lorca
"Breakfast at Tiffany's" by Truman Capote
"Great Speeches on Gay Rights" edited by James Daley
"The Counerfeiters" by Andre Gide
"Rimbaud: The Double Life of a Rebel" by Edmund White
"Funeral Rites" by Jean Genet
"To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee

2012
"Selected Poems" by James Merrill (edited by McClatchy and Yenser)
"Howl" by Allen Ginsberg
"By Nightfall" by Michael Cunningham
"Edward II" by Christopher Marlowe
"Blithe Spirit," "Hay Fever," and "Private Lives" by Noel Coward
"Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward" by Justin Spring
"Blue Boy" by Rakesh Satyal
"In a Strange Room" by Damon Galgut
"Giovanni's Room" by James Baldwin

2013
"Dark Reflections" by Samuel Delany
"Maurice" by E. M. Forester
"Carry the One" by Carol Anshaw
"The City and the Pillar" by Gore Vidal
"The Charioteer" by Mary Renault
"Memoirs of Hadrian" by Marguerite Yourcenar
"A Separate Peace" by John Knowles
"An Arab Melancholia" by Abdellah Taia
"The Unreal Life of Sergey Nabokov" by Paul Russell

2014
"Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol" by Gyles Brandreth
"Queer" by William Burroughs
"The Maids" and "The Balcony" by Jean Genet
"The Talented Mr. Ripley" by Patricia Highsmith
"Faggots" by Larry Kramer
"The Stranger's Child" by Alan Hollinghurst
"Berlin Stories" by Christopher Isherwood
"The Song of Achilles" by Madeline Miller
"In One Person" by John Irving

2015
"Billy Budd" by Herman Melville
"Flesh and Blood" by Michael Cunningham
"A Fast Life: The Collected Poems of Tim Dlugos"
"Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father" by Alysia Abbott
"Another Country," by James Baldwin
No meetings in June, July, or August
"The Persian Boy" by Mary Renault
"Reflections in a Golden Eye" by Carson McCullers
"The Magician's Assistant" by Ann Patchett
"The Empty Family" by Colm Toibin

2016
"Rubyfruit Jungle" by Rita Mae Brown
"Totempole" by Sanford Friedman
"The Selected Poems" by May Sarton
"Barrel Fever" by David Sedaris
"Quarantine" by Rahul Mehta
"Necessary Errors" by Caleb Crain
"Don't Let Him Know" by Sandip Roy
"Local Souls," three novellas by Allan Gurganus
"The Bell," classic 1958 British fiction by Iris Murdoch

2017
"Gay Berlin: Birthplace of a Modern Identity" by Robert Beachy
"On the Move" by Oliver Sacks
"The Color Purple" by Alice Walker
"Lost Boi" by Sassafras Lowrey
"Just Kids" by Patti Smith
"Queen of the Night" by Alexander Chee
"Black Deutschland" by Darryl Pinckney
"God in Pink" by Hasan Namir
Dec 5: "What Belongs to You" by Garth Greenwell (208 pages)

2018
Jan 2: "Eminent Outlaws: Gay Writers Who Changed America" non-fiction by Christopher Bram (372 pages)
Feb 6: "The Sheltering Sky," classic American novel by Paul Bowles (350 pages)
Mar 6: "Arctic Summer," fictionalized biography of EM Forster by Damon Galgut (352 pages)
Apr 3: "Fire Shut Up in my Bones," memoir by Charles Blow (240 pages)
May 1: "A Glass of Blessings," 1958 classic British fiction by Barbara Pym (240 pages)

We don't meet during the summer, but we'll probably go to a few movies and have dinner afterward.

Sept 4: "A House Full of Daughters: A Memoir of Seven Generations," memoir by Juliet Nicholson (336 pages)
Oct 2: "The Dream Life of Astronauts," short stories by Patrick Ryan (270 pages)
Nov 6: "The Child's Child," contemporary British novel by Barbara Vine (320 pages)
Dec 4: "The Naked Civil Servant," classic autobiography by Quentin Crisp (240 pages)

2019
Jan 8: "Mislaid," humorous contemporary novel by Nell Zink (256 pages) - note the date change to the second Tuesday in Jan 2019




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