In the era of social medias, it’s become more and more uncommon now seeing people reading books.
I like to believe that half of those commuters who stare at their phone in the tube are actually reading eBooks, but maybe I’m too optimistic. I’ve been a book worm since when I was a kid: before Mickey Mouse, then Harry Potter until I eventually got a BA in foreign literatures (Yas me!). Here are 5 of the best books I’ve read that thread lovely webs of gay storylines.
The coming-of-age novel Call Me by Your Name was published in 2007 by American writer André Aciman, and it soon became one of the strongholds of gay literature. It follows the steps of a love affair between a 17-year-old American-Italian Jewish boy and a 24-years-old American Jewish scholar in Italy during the 1980s. It will keep your eyes stuck to the pages until the very last turn. There’s also a movie adaptation directed by Luca Guadagnino to be released in cinemas on Nov. 24th, 2017.
Those of you who might get scared in front of a book with more than 100 pages, this is the perfect one to start with. The White Book – thus called because Cocteau didn’t sign it – is a short story written in 1928. Most critics saw it as a confession by Cocteau of his own homosexuality, but others instead believe that in those 35-40 pages, the real aim of the writer was to highlight the level of social injustice and homophobia that a gay man faced in those years, to the point in which gay men themselves internalized and repressed their own self, unconsciously (as his own father did). A phrase that stuck with me was “Pas de chance” (French for “No Chance”), but to understand what it means, you’ll need to pick up the book and read it!
This is more than just a gay book, this is the legacy and autobiography of David Wojnarowicz – an American artist, who died of AIDS in 1992. He tracks back his own story, but in doing that he become the archetype of the gay man in that era – an account of suffering and painful experiences, but never void of will to live to the fullest.
The story of this book is quite curious. It was written in 1914, but never published until 1971 – after Forster’s death as he wished it to be. The starting point for the novel was an encounter with friend poet Edward Carpenter and George Merrill – his lover – whom he had met at their house in Derbyshire in 1912. E.M. Forster was part of the Bloomsbury Group – a group of intellectuals famous, among the others, for their embracing views towards sexuality (Virginia Woolf was among them) and this book is part of the legacy that the Bloomsbury writers left to us.
When City of Night was published in 1963, it became an enormous success paralleled by an equally enormous scandal. After more than 50 years, it now is regarded as a classic of American literature, not only gay. The reason why it was such a scandal it wasn’t the fact that it narrated the story of a male hustler – John Rechy himself – but because it made the most conservative among us face a truth they didn’t want to accept about society and its mechanisms, far from their polished and perfect existences. City of Night is as compelling as it is beautiful, and you’ll soon find yourself unable to get your eyes of its pages.
“What if I don’t like books?” you might say.
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