This month, our choices focus on issues of gender, something I’ve wanted to do ever since the book club started. While I’ll return to purely lesbianic tales next month, I feel that trans issues and discussions about gender in general are topics we don’t include enough of (on this site or in society), and this won’t be the last time I include them in the club. Feel free to give me your suggestions of gender-related books I should include next time!
1) The Collection: Short Fiction from the Transgender Vanguard, edited by Tom Leger (2012)
Hard to introduce this one without basically just repeating the title: it’s a collection of short fiction (shocker!) from the newish Topside Press, a publisher formed specifically for trans books. The stories come from 28 up-and-coming North American authors, and it’s this idea of seeing new talent and hearing a variety of perspectives that seems really exciting to me. It’s gotten rave reviews from Lambda, Publisher’s Weekly, the Lesbrary, and more. Also: it has a sweet cover.
2) First Spring Grass Fire, Rae Spoon (2012)
Musician Rae Spoon’s first book, this is a slim volume at under 150 pages. Toeing the line between fiction and autobiography (as so many of my favorite queer books do), it tells the story of “a young person growing up queer in a strict Pentecostal family in rural Canada.” A coming of age tale, First Spring Grass Fire should appeal to fans of Ivan Coyote; that is, fans of lyrical, relatable prose full of themes of identity and gender and place and awesomeness. I’m pumped to read this one whether it’s chosen or not. Here’s a book trailer for it full of pretty animation and pretty Rae Spoon music!
3) Stone Butch Blues/Drag King Dreams, Leslie Feinberg (1993/2006)
So here’s the thing: Stone Butch Blues was always a definite in my mind as I considered what to include in these choices, but now that I’m doing further research, it appears it’s out of print. Does anyone have any other information on this that I’m just missing? It appears to only be available in used print copies where you can find them, and with no e-reader variety, which I know is how many of you procure your books. (There are e-reader editions available for the previous two books.) If I am correct in this research, then what the hell is with that, world? Why you hate queer classics?
Alas, if this is too difficult to find, I’ll also offer up the option of Feinberg’s much more recent novel, Drag King Dreams. While Stone Butch Blues follows the life of Jess Goldberg, who defies what people expect of gender in a blue-color environment of the 1950s through the 1970s, Drag King Dreams takes place in a post-9/11 world in New York City, where our butch bartending protagonist is spurred to action by her transvestite friend’s murder. While this one also unfortunately isn’t available for e-readers, there are paperback copies available on Amazonwhich don’t cost a million dollars, so at least there’s that.
So with that, there’s technically four choices. Whaddaya think?
I’ll post the winner early next week. Also keep an eye out for a discussion on Calling Dr. Laura!
Now that we’ve been doing this for a while, I’d also love to ask for some feedback at this point about the book club. What are things you like? What else would you like to see? Some months it seems there’s great discussion at the Goodreads group, while the official discussion post here garners little attention. Are the discussion posts at the end of the month here still worthwhile? Should we set a firmer date for when they post so people don’t miss them? Have the book choices themselves been decent? Throw your thoughts at me!