Opening up with a tale of backroom deals between politicians and far-right, fundamentalist Christian groups, White traces the early history to the present of various high profile Christian leaders and their plans to destroy any rights of gays and lesbians.
Conspiracies abound through out Holy Terror, and would make anyone terrified of being gay or lesbian in America if you take what White is saying truly seriously.
However, this book was written in 2006 and while most editions update to present new information, this book does not. Six years ago the future of gay and lesbian rights looked bleak. Since then there have been huge strides forward, such as the abolishment of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, some states legalizing marriage equality, and the Democrats adding the support of equal marriage in their party platform.
While I believe the intent of Holy Terror is good and true, White includes chapters comparing the Christian Right to Nazis. As someone who feels that the only time one should make a Nazi comparison is when a group of people are being specifically targeted and killed for who they are, I think the book was over the top and lost a lot of credibility.
Holy Terror would work well in a public library setting, but, because it does not reflect the current state of the gay and lesbian affairs, it would do well in a history section rather than current affairs.
Reviewer: Talia Earle, MLIS Student
St. Catherine University, Minnesota
These 67 biographical sketches of deceased individuals and seven of couples oriented toward same-sex relationships stretch from 2400 B.C.E. to the recent past from all over the world.
Aldrich, a professor of European History at the University of Sydney (Australia) writes in a clear, straight-forward style. The pairs focus on those who are eternally linked in history, such David and Jonathan; the individual sketches often describe multiple relationships.
Lavishly illustrated with portraits, paintings, photographs and other illustrations, the book is printed on heavy paper, giving the illusion that the illustrations are plates.
Ranging from two to four pages, the sketches each have sources listed at the back of the volume next to a comprehensive name index leading to the individuals mentioned in the sketches. Several other persons are included in most of the sketches, and cultural and historical background enhance the information.
The mystery is the reason behind Aldrich’s decision of people to highlight. Many are famous (Sappho, Michelangelo, Walt Whitman, Christopher Isherwood, Oscar Wilde, T.E. Lawrence, Del Martin, Harvey Milk), but others are not. Most subjects lived in Europe, but Egypt, Israel, China, the USA, Australia, Brazil, Japan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, India, and Iran are also represented.
Although occupations are extremely varied, the subjects are primarily poets, writers, photographers, painters, and other artists. Several are soldiers, emperors, or kings. Less common are a philosopher, religious (a monk, a friar, a nun, a cardinal), sexologists, a politician, a diplomat, teachers, a sinologist, and even a criminal and a waiter. Most of the subjects are men; only 17 sketches of women are included.
Arranged somewhat chronologically, the sketches begin with “Ancient Ancestors,” followed by the Middle Ages and the Enlightenment, “Founding Fathers and Mothers” mostly from the 19th and early 20th centuries, “The Fin-de-siècle and Belle Époque,” and ending with the recent past. Other sections are more topical: “Women Who Loved Women,” sex and politics, male beauty, “Radicals and Activists.” Some sections are geographical: “Love in the Levant,” “Japonisme,” and “International Lives in the Modern Era.”
Every library with any interest in the lives of LGBT folk will want to add this beautiful book to their collection.
Reviewer: James Doig Anderson, Professor Emeritus Library and Information Science, Rutgers University
Julie A. Greenberg. Intersexuality and the Law: Why Sex Matters. New York University Press, 2012. Hardcover. 169 p. $32. 978-0-8147-3189-5 Bold Strokes, 2011. Paperback. 273p. $16.95. 978-1-60282-232-0.
An important addition to the growing number of books examining intersexuality, this book’s goal “is to help shed light on which legal strategies may most effectively end discriminatory practices against people with an intersex condition and potentially assist other marginalized groups.” Julie A. Greenberg, Professor of Law and former Associate Dean at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and an internationally recognized expert on the legal issues relating to sex and gender identity, is well qualified to define how the law impacts the lives and treatment of intersex people in our country.
According to Greenberg, “Approximately one in fifteen hundred to one in two thousand births involve a child who is born with genitalia so noticeably atypical that a specialist in sex differentiation is consulted and surgical alteration is considered.”
Greenberg approaches her topic from the standpoint of the intersex activist movement, clarifying how the law can be used to enhance the lives of those with an “intersex condition.” In contrast to other social justice movements, she considers whether the intersex movement can form beneficial coalitions with other movements.
Clear and useful definitions for a range of terms that are often misunderstood (including transgender, transsexuality, gender identity, and sexual orientation) enhance this discussion of the sociological and legal issues affecting intersex people.
In describing the medical practices carried out against intersex infants, Greenberg explains the assumptions that surgeons make about “normal” genitalia. She then examines the legal strategies that could be used to challenge these practices.
A large portion of the book is dedicated to explaining the parallels between the legal challenges of the intersex community and the transsexual community. She writes that, to date, the most litigated area in regards to sex determination is the establishment of a person’s sex in order to marry. She also discusses identity documents and sex classification as these are used to determine housing opportunities and restroom use.
Greenberg also presents an overview of the intersex movement and its history. She states that the goal of her book “is to help shed light on which legal strategies may most effectively end discriminatory practices against people with an intersex condition and potentially assist other marginalized groups.” This is a valuable book and should added to every collection.
Reviewer: Morgan Gwenwald, Outreach Librarian
Sojourner Truth Library, SUNY New Paltz
In this collection of essays from 1984 to 2011 by an American gay author, most of the writings have appeared elsewhere, primarily in the New York Review of Books. The one on Reynolds Price which is not listed as previously published also appeared there. White explains in the Preface that the title of the collection comes from the French expression monstre sacré, meaning someone who, despite faults and eccentricities, is above criticism.
The essays are not scholarly nor do they employ any form of literary theory, but they are learned, witty, and insightful. Also they are frequently full of detail about the lives of their subjects. For example, the reader learns about the personal relationship between William James and Howard Sturgis in the chapter entitled “Portrait of a Sissy” and that Edith Wharton had a kinder view of the Sturgis novel Belchamber than did James.
These are the views of an important generation, the one born in the pre-Stonewall period but largely coming to adulthood in the period of the gay rights and sexual liberation movements before moving into the time of AIDS and the present. The essays on Truman Capote and David Hockey are particularly good at giving a direct look in on that world. The other essays do so indirectly by showing what White values in literature and in a life.
It is hard to imagine the exact use of such a collection of essays in an academic library because budgets are being cut and almost all of the essays can be gotten from subscription databases. A library may want to retain the essays in one piece as history, a way of representing Edmund White’s views of a gay world now passing.
Clearly an academic library wanting to hold all of Edmund White’s writings would want the book. It would also be a good addition to any public library collection where the essays are not easily gotten from other sources.
Reviewer: David Woolwine, Associate Professor
Library Services, Hofstra University, Hempstead
I was only 14 years old when the Lawrence v. Texas decision came down, but I can remember the news reports on that day. Even then I realized what an important decision it was.
At that time, however, my 14-year-old self had no idea how a late night arrest for homosexual sodomy in Houston, Texas, in 1998 would help change a history of gay discrimination in the United States forever. This is the case that made same-sex sexual activity legal throughout the United States.
Dale Carpenter, the Earl R. Larson Professor of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Law at the University of Minnesota Law School, does a fantastic job of presenting a well-rounded take on the issues at stake. The first part of the book, “Before the Arrest,” details the different players in the case, briefly explores sodomy laws in the world, explains the history of gay rights in Houston. The second section, “The Arrest,” details the arrest at Lawrence’s home under the charge of “homosexual conduct.”
“After the Arrest” clarifies the various court proceedings over the four years of this case’s lifespan. This is the part in which where the narrative really comes alive.
The highlight of the book is Carpenter’s illumination of the Lawrence legal team’s internal thought process. Lawrence and Garner, the men arrested on the charge of homosexual conduct, were far from the perfect poster children. Men of different races, separated in age by over 20 years, not in a committed relationship, and with criminal records, they were considered low-class. The legal team’s challenge was to keep the issue of gay rights and sodomy laws front and center while avoiding what many of the lawyers considered a potential public relations nightmare.
At times, it can feel as though the book is too segmented because the discussion of the arrest and the case doesn’t begin until almost a quarter of the way through the book. A more mixed discussion may have made this book more engaging for general audiences.
The point-by-point examination undertaken by Carpenter allows, however, for an in-depth study of the issue that both casual and professional scholars can appreciate.
This book is recommended for any person interested in the legal history of gay rights or the evolution of queer status over time. Also, this is a perfect book for any library collection that has an extensive collection of case histories, legal narratives, or queer interest items. Accessible to all audiences, Flagrant Conduct does not require prior information to understand all of the issues and forces at play in this seminal court case.
Reviewer: Mack Freeman
This young adult novel/contemporary faerie tale begins with a hate crime committed against 22-year-old Jeremy, a recent college graduate during the economic crisis who lives in a questionable part of New York City. Jeremy is saved by a mysterious figure, who he cannot remember seeing. Jeremy’s guardian also happens to be a centuries-old gargoyle.
The novel examines the relationship between Jeremy and his guardian and friends, as he tries to find his way in the world. For many adults in their early twenties, the story is a familiar one. Jeremy’s trying to find a job while thousands of dollars in debt and only finding employment in the food industry is a universal narrative. On top of this, Jeremy is also gay and searching for love.
This book is recommended for ages 13 and over because of some graphic scenes of violence and language. It will be a welcome addition in public libraries with a GLBT teen section or in a high school library.
Suggest this to patrons who express interest in fantasy, GLBT fiction, and/or contemporary literature.
Reviewer: Talia Earle, MLIS Student
St. Catherine University, Minnesota
Reborn a vampire and sired by the Queen of the Rosso Lussaria, Epiphany was the Queen’s beloved pet and sexual partner, at least for the first part of her rebirth. When she is cast from the Queen’s protection, losing her protection from the more experienced vampires called Elders, Epiphany must remain as inconspicuous as possible to avoid becoming a target.
Approaching her 200th year, Epiphany is called to face the challenges to elevate her clan status to that of an Elder, bringing her to the same political standing as the very vampires she dreaded and feared. The challenges become more dangerous than anyone could imagine as Epiphany becomes a pawn and a motivation for those seeking to overthrow the Queen.
A political espionage-esque tone overlays the romance in the tale, and the harsh vampire politics are always just underneath the surface of the love, strife, lust, and hate faced by cross-level romances among jealous former lovers and want-to-be lovers. The numerous graphic sex scenes, realistically portrayed, belie the fantasy nature of this romance novel, complete with magical swords, vampires, and Dracules.
The backstabbing, fighting for power, greed, and hierarchy are all metaphorically adept at portraying any governmental or political organization, symbolically bringing to light the very underpinnings of treason and politics occurring today.
The novel can be classified as lesbian erotica with sizzling scenes that demonstrate how vampires and Dracules both enjoy the physical sensualities of the human body. Yet the plotting and planning leads it to be also considered a romance/mystery.
Pennington draws the readers in from the beginning, causing them to empathize with Epiphany and wondering why she was cast out and then brought back. The beginning creates such questions as why the Queen who sent her away becomes Epiphany’s strongest supporter and whether Vasco is a true friend or only following orders. Friendships, alliances, mythical beings, and love underscore the plot from start to finish.
Whether readers are seeking a book on vampires or romance, this novel meets both needs. It is recommended for libraries that collect in these areas.
This showcase of GLBT comics from the past forty years is absolutely fascinating, especially in giving the reader a wide variety of topics impacting the GLBT community. Arranged chronologically, the comics are split into three sections: pre-AIDS, the AIDS epidemic, and contemporary comics.
The comics before the AIDS epidemic were more light- hearted, less concerned with serious topics. When AIDS began affecting the GLBT community, the comics take a much darker tone as shown in both the subject matter and the art. In comparison, the more contemporary GLBT comics speak more about trans and bi topics, living with HIV, and being a survivor.
No Straight Lines exposes the reader to a wide variety of artistic styles and voices. An excellent introduction by editor Justin Hall gives a short overview of the history of queer comics.
Because the comics include explicitly sexual topics, this collection is suggested for a mature audience. The collection would be best suited for an academic or public library to expand their GLBT section and could be suggested to patrons who are interested in comics, GLBT history, and/or DIY culture.
Reviewer: Talia Earle, MLIS Student
St. Catherine University, Minnesota
The aliens have landed, and Craig Mencken, a freelance journalist for a struggling car magazine in Denver, is annoyed. No, the aliens are not destroying cities or threatening to blow up the planet. They are not doing much of anything except for ignoring people and getting in the way.
Two aliens have moved into Craig’s home which is why he is annoyed at them. They raid his refrigerator, lie around on his couch and bed, and refuse to acknowledge Craig’s existence. Everyone is wondering why the government is not reacting to the invasion.
As the aliens continue to land all over Earth, Mr. Morrison, the owner of the car magazine, assigns Craig to write an “interview” with the aliens to boost the magazine’s circulation. Craig prepares a list of questions, and one of his resident aliens provides the answers. No one believes the published interview because it is in car magazine, but it brings Craig to the attention of an FBI agent and causes him to be reunited with his ex-lover Scott who is involved with a shadowy group called “The Company.” Craig is drawn into its clutches.
Aliens are central to the novel and space ships are mentioned, so The Survivors can properly be called a science fiction story. The ideas and themes that are explored, however tangentially, are what make it an interesting read. The aliens treat humans with an indifference that mirrors our indifference towards despised groups such as the homeless. The issue of coordinated action versus blind rage is central to the second half of the novel. Should the people of earth suffer in silence or is vigilante action justified when the government does not protect its citizens. The issue of overpopulation also comes into play.
While this novel is lighthearted at the beginning, it turns rather dark towards the conclusion. The Survivors is recommended for public libraries as well as academic libraries. (Review from advance reader’s copy.)
Reviewer: Paul Hubbard
Retired Public Reference Librarian
Sequel to Martin’s Love in the Balance, this novel continues the stories of four characters introduced in the earlier book as well as introducing new women in these stories of friendship, second chances, love, and passion.
Based on the true story of the May 5, 1992, murder of Susan Pittmann and her lesbian partner Christine Puckett by their homophobic neighbor James Brooks, Martin shows the ripple of this anti-gay event on the families and friends of the victims.
In addition to Sharon’s struggles with her friends’ murders, two other strongholds in their LGBT community, Sage and Deanne, are dealing with their own family problems, including a Native American daughter who is facing prejudice at school because of her heritage and her lesbian mothers. Sharon has also split with her previous lover and is with a new, younger lover, Kim who fails to understand Sharon’s loss. With many frustrations in her new relationship, Sharon is unable to deal with the “or worse” side of the partnership.
When the killer asks for an early release date, Sharon’s friends worry that she will once again start drinking through her depression.
Martin shows strong female characters striving to overcome adversity while supporting each other with strength and tough love. The characters draw in the reader through their suffering and triumphs. The emotions flowing throughout the novel ride on a roller coaster as the lives of the couples weave together.
Those who like Fannie Flagg and the television show Army Wives will be drawn into this story. This book will be a good addition to any chick lit collection for adults or mature young adults especially those who like love scenes. (Reviewed from an advanced readers copy.)