Don't take the title, "What Gay Men Read," too literally, because trying to find out what any group reads in a general sense is not always simple. But I haven't seen any research on this, and I've always wondered. So I'm going to ask a few friends of mine who aren't authors and really do focus on reading for pure enjoyment. In other words, the only investment they have in a book is what they paid for it and how much they are going to get out of it.
The following list is from a longtime friend, Al Troglio. I've known Al about twenty years now, and he even worked for me part time when Tony and I owned a small business back in the 90's. He's a Fordham University graduate, he worked for the federal government until he retired early in the 90's, and he's always been an avid reader for as long as I've known him. I don't like to mention ages, so I'll just say he's in the bracket between 50 and 70. I have his permission to print this, and mention his name.
Nelson Demille ....The Lion
Nelson demille..........The Panther
John Grisham..........The Racketeer
Erik Larsen.......,.,,.,.,.The Devil In The White City......fabulous
Erik Larsen...............In the garden of the beasts......also great
Linda Stasi..............The Sixth Station
Stephen King............Rose Madder
Jamie O'Neill............At Swim. two boys.....my favorite
Michael Cunningham......A Home At The End of The World
I'm familiar with some...I love A Home At The End of The World...but not all. But now that I've seen the list I'll probably check them out. As a side note, I wouldn't have listed any of my books even if he'd mentioned them. I don't hock my friends to read my books because that would be a cheesy thing to do and I wouldn't have many friends if I did things like that. But I do know he's read some of my books, and that he does read gay erotica, too.
Cleis Press Wins Award
I've been a huge fan of Cleis Press, and the women who own it, as a reader and author for a long time. They've been producing excellent LGBT books for as long as I can remember, and I've been *lucky* enough to have been in some of them. I even have one short story coming out soon, edited by Shane Allison, in an anthology I'll post more about later. But that has nothing to do with this post.
I wanted to post about the award Cleis won because it's prestigious and it honors them for all the hard work they've done so far. From what I've seen, they've managed to move forward into digital publishing and all the changes that have been happening in the past ten years smoother than most big publishers.
Felice Newman and Frédérique Delacoste are recipients of a national honor as outliers and publishers who were unrelentingly independent. They dared to publish books no one else was courageous enough to print.
Over 100 members of the avant garde arts communities in New York City and San Francisco are recipients of this year’s Acker Award, named for novelist Kathy Acker.
Cleis Press was started by Felice Newman and Frédérique Delacoste in 1980, and they've been a staple for LGBT books all my life, and I mean that almost literally. You can read more about them here, where there are other links about the Acker Award and Cleis Press.
I've posted a few things...not much so far...about a new series I'm doing with Riverdaleavebooks.com titled, "Fangsters." The release date for the first book in the series is April 30 of this year. One of my goals as a writer is to remain relevant in a business where everything changes all the time, and in trying to do that I've found I have to try different things in order to move forward. Though I have written a few erotic short vampire stories in the past that were published in anthologies, I never actually wrote a full length gay erotic vampire novel...or anything crime oriented. I haven't written much mystery, horror, or suspense either. So this book gave me a chance to do all these things and more, and I absolutely loved writing it.
The book is set in the New York/Northern New Jersey area where I grew up, and a lot of the characters in the book are very loosely based on people I knew, places I knew, and situations I knew. I also wanted to give it a new adult feeling, so I based the first novel on the younger members of an Italian American vampire clan that revolves around organized crime. Sometimes I get a little "Jersey Shore," with the characters, and sometimes I get into some of the old Italian folklore I grew up with. (I'm part Sicilian and Tony's almost full Italian American.)
I'll post more about the book as I get the cover and more info about release dates. I've sent copies out to reviewers and so far I've heard good things back from them. But most of all, it's still a love story and this time there's something different about that love story I never did before. If I said anything else I'd be giving out spoilers, but I can say it's something that I was allowed to do because this is supernatural, and it's something a lot of gay men I know do in real life.
Here's a short excerpt, in raw form, that's never been published anywhere.
“You need to stop by Frankie’s tonight,” Angelo said. He’d just come in from the backyard, where he’d been trying to feed the deer again. This time he had a large bag of stale taralles in his hand, which Anton had always considered the vilest of human foods of all time. If you weren’t Italian you couldn’t even pronounce them…tad-ahlls.
The sun had gone down and Anton had just come downstairs for a glass of blood his mom had left for him on the counter. This was a Thursday evening, the night she went to the Jewish Center in Irvington to play bingo with her girlfriends. “WTF? You’re feeding them taralles now?” Anton asked, glancing at the bag in his dad’s hand.
“Fuck you,” Angelo said. “They like them. You should have seen them go right after them when I threw them into the bushes.”
Taralles reminded Anton of stale round pretzels with less taste. They were, indeed, hard enough to break windows and crumbled into sawdust if someone stepped on them. Anton hadn’t been born in Italy and all this Italian culture had been ingrained in him since he’d been turned. It wasn’t natural; he’d been born in New England and didn’t feel that way. He was always amazed at how his dad, and the rest of the Italian American vampires in his clan, couldn’t let go of the past and all the foods they couldn’t eat anymore. “What time should I be at Frankie’s?” Anton asked, finishing a second glass of blood. Since he’d met Leo, his appetite had almost tripled. “I wanted to get to the club early tonight. I’m picking up Digger first because he fucked up the CTS.”
“Fuck the club and fuck Digger,” Angelo said, setting the bag of taralles next to a box of extra-long ziti in the pantry. “That fucking Digger’s going to fuck up every car he gets because he’s got shit for brains. I don’t know how Sonny puts up with his bullshit sometimes.” He turned and pointed directly at Anton. “If you were a fuck-up like that, you’d wind up back in Sicily.”
“It’s wasn’t Digger’s fault this time,” Anton said. Digger and Anton had been driving in downtown Newark a few nights earlier and a group of young men had tried to carjack them at a red light. Digger wanted to go after them and teach them a lesson they’d never forget. But Anton didn’t want him to get into trouble and he figured losing a car was nothing compared to starting a shitstorm with the police. The rule of thumb had always been to maintain a low profile. So they let the thugs take the car and reported what had happened to the police like any other normal law abiding citizen would have done. When the car was found the next day, stripped and almost beyond recognition, no one could actually blame Digger for what had happened.
“Fuck that,” said Angelo. “Maybe not this time, but wherever Digger goes there’s some kind of fucking trouble. He’s got the evil eye following him everywhere.”
Anton rolled his eyes. His dad still maintained the same old superstitions from Italy, too. It never seemed to occur to him that because he was a vampire he was actually worse than the so-called evil eye. But there was no point in arguing with him. “What time?” he asked, grabbing his car keys from the counter. He wanted to get out of the house before his younger brother came down.
“Be there in an hour,” Angelo said. “And make sure that fucking Digger doesn’t say or do anything stupid. Tell him to keep his fucking mouth shut for once. This is important for two reasons. One, it’s a situation that needs immediate attention. Two, we’re working you both into the corporation slowly and it’s something we think you can handle.”
Anton smiled at the way Angelo referred to his business dealings as “the corporation.” In a legal sense, everything was incorporated for tax purposes…at least on the surface. But most corporations didn’t deal in drugs, guns, prostitution, or gambling the way his dad’s did. As he turned to leave, he said, “Okay. We’ll be there. I’ll put duct tape over Digger’s mouth.”
On the way out, he passed his brother, Dino, in the front hall and nodded. Instead of saying hello or good-bye, Dino sent him a sarcastic glance and said, “I heard you up talking before the sun came up this morning. It sounded like you were talking to someone special.” He made and exaggerated face and laugh. “Do you have a special snowflake in your life now?” He made his voice go up, with an offensive effeminate quality, on purpose.
“Fuck you,” Anton said. “Mind your own fucking business.” He’d been on the phone with Leo. He thought everyone had gone to bed by then. He never would have eavesdropped on Dino’s private conversations and he expected the same in return.
“Are you going to bring him home to meet mom and dad,” Dino asked. “Can I be the flower girl at your gay wedding?” He lifted his arm and let his wrist dangle.