Authors on the Books that Helped Them Come Out Reading may be a solitary experience, but for some of us, it let us know that we were not alone. While everyone’s story is different, many of us are united by our love of books and our belief that they have the power to bring us together and to show us that when we’re different, as Nicola Griffith writes, “we can be glad to be so.” Growing up gay can feel like an excruciatingly isolating experience, particularly without the resources to understand what it is exactly that makes you so different. Books gave us not only a sense of who we were, but who we could be. So whether you hid a copy of A Boy’s Own Story under the bed or kept Fingersmith in your sock drawer, between the covers we were able to find a world for ourselves within the world.
by Maureen N. McLane What a strange, vital, careening book—what a book for now. Yet also, what a fascinating document of the early 20th century. A Poet in New York, “New York in a Poet,” as Lorca himself glossed it: this is clearly one of the great works of transnational modernism, a cracked Andalucían mirror held up to New York’s crazed, vibrant, and disgusting face. The best poetry is “news that stays news,” as Pound put it. This book seems to me news I can use—registering the skyscrapered canyons of the city, its savage underbelly everywhere humming with reptilian life (all those iguanas and crocodiles running around in the poems), the titanic fraudulence of Wall Street, the vomiting crowds of a Coney Island Sunday. Here’s a book that reminds us, as Sandy violently reminded us, that Manhattan is an island, that Brooklyn and Queens have extensive shorelines, that this is a fragile land engulfable by oceanic waters and estuarial overflow. This is a river- and shore-minded book. It looks for sailors; it loves the contingent arrival, the polyglot port, the lowlife bustle, the glance, the sneer. Like Whitman, Lorca is alert to the rhythms of waves and tides. In this as much as in its more obvious hailing of Whitman as camerado, Lorca is a true heir to the beautiful, at times ornery psalmodist of Mannahatta.