Posts Tagged ‘GLBTQ’

Mama Black Widow

August 15, 2012

Author:  Iceberg Slim

Title: Mama Black Widow: A Novel

Genre: African-American, Urban Lit, GLBTQ

Publisher/Publication Date:  Old School Books, 1998

Number of Pages:  240

Geographical Setting:  Southside Chicago

Time Period:  1930s-1970s

Plot Summary:  Mama Black Widow tells the tragic tale of Otis Tilson, a 40-year-old gay drag queen living on Chicago’s south side during the racially turbulent 70s.  Much of the novel is told in a realistic way by Otis about how his family moved to Chicago from the south in the 1930s, and the hard times they had to endure from then on.  Most of the novel is spent examining Otis’s mother “mama,” a vile, manipulative, downright evil woman who basically destroys every member of the Tilson family.  She drives her husband away, coerced one of her daughters into prostitution, and a lot of innocent people suffer greatly by her hands.  The author of this novel, Iceberg Slim (former pimp) writes in a way that is both shocking and insightful.  The language is often blunt, candid, and very, very offensive.  Sex scenes are described in explicit detail, and tone often changes from jovial to deadly serious.  Issues such as integration, trade unions, Chicago’s underground gay scene, police brutality, and hatred for the white man are discussed at length throughout the novel.  Slim even admits in the introduction that he is not the greatest writer, but he writes for the common people, and “tells it like it is.”

Subject Headings: Chicago (Southside)–Police (Brutality)–House of Corrections–Plantations–Trade Unions–Black Power–Bars (Gay)–Drag Queens–Cross-dressing–GLBTQ–Pimps–Drugs–Guns–Prostitution–Religion–False Preachers–Sex–Erotica–Rape–Pedophiles–Martin Luther King, Jr.–Street Cars–The El

Appeal: Realistic, Shocking, Character-Driven, Blunt, Candid, Erotic, Frantic, Intense, Dramatic, Serious, Political, Steamy, Graphic, Comical, Gut-Wrenching, Tragic, Sad, GLBTQ, Sexy

3 Appeal terms that best describe this book:  Serious, Steamy, Graphic

3 Similar Non-Fiction works and authors:

Soul on Ice, Eldridge Cleaver

This non-fiction memoir by Eldridge Cleaver will appeal to Iceberg Slim fans for its ability to shock, outrage, and question the readers’ ideas of what it means to be black in America.  His memoir is both sincere, raw, and very engaging.  He says at one point, “I’m perfectly aware that I’m in prison, that I’ve been a rapist, and that I have a higher Uneducation.”  Cleaver made indeed be too offensive to some, but he always savagely honest.  He tells the truth and he knows it.

Manchild in the Promised Land, Claude Brown

Claude Brown is a young, streetwise criminal growing up in Harlem in the 1940s and 50s.  This novel does an excellent job of describing northern black ghettos in New York in a turbulent, thrilling way.  Everything from pimps, drugs, street vendors, local shop owners, police brutality, gangs, sex and violence, and the gay underground are discussed in this book.  This book is however, quite inspiring and affirmative because Claude Brown is one of the lucky few who “made it” in this brutal world.

Out and Proud in Chicago: An Overview of the City’s Gay Community,  Tracy Baim

This handy reference book guides the reader through Chicago’s long and rich history of the gay community.  Those interested in Slim’s descriptive scenes of obscure bars and drag clubs will enjoy the multiple photographs presented within these pages (both in color and black & white).  The book draws on many scholarly, historical, and journalistic sources and covers time periods from pre- WWI to WWII-1960s, and 1970s to the present day.

3 Similar Fiction works and authors:

Blow Your Mind, Eric Pete

The description of the book reads,”In this erotic novel of sex and revenge, Eric Pete takes the consequences of dark sexual fantasies one step further.”  This story is about Tanner Coleman, his wife Bianca, and her wild sister, pumpkin.  When a man named Henry shows up and blackmailed Tanner, their lives are changed forever in a truly twisted way.  Not for the squeamish, this hardcore erotic, steamy, violent novel will appeal to Slim fans for its challenging dialogue, absurd situations, and the pessimistic world view that “we all die, and it will probably be sooner rather than later.”  Very popular!

Drag Queen, Robert Rodi

Considering the titles mentioned above, Rodi’s novel Drag Queen is a bit more light-hearted and comical, but also very engaging.  One review describes it as “The Parent Trap meets Priscilla, Queen of the Dessert.”  Gay attorney Mitchell Sayer has just found out from his mother that he has an identical twin, who happens to live not far from him in Northern Chicago.  The thing is, Mitchell’s brother is now named “Kitten Kaboodle,” gown-wearing, stillet0 strutting star of Tam-Tam’s “All-girl” review.  Furious, Mitchell tries to force Kitten into “the real world,” but Kitten feels she has a few lessons to teach as well.  Comical, insightful, and full of the Chicago landmarks Slim famously paints throughout his books.

Last Exit to Brooklyn, Hubert Selby, Jr.

This graphic, brutally raw novel of characters living in Brooklyn during the 60s and 70s examines the anger and rage of many diverse individuals in a time where justice seemed non-existent.  Considered a classic of modern American writing, this book, as Slim would describe it, “tells it like it is.”  There are crooks, hoodlums, pimps, prostitutes, drag queens, gay men and women, police riots, and strikes galore.  Gritty and serious, blunt and brutally honest.  Truly essential.

Stuck Rubber Baby

August 8, 2012

Author:  Howard Cruse

Title: Stuck Rubber Baby

Genre: Historical Fiction. Gay Fiction. Graphic Novel

Publisher/Publication Date:  DC Comics, 2010

Number of Pages:  210  (Black & White)

Geographical Setting: The fictional city of Clayfield, in the American South

Time Period:  Late 1950s, early 1960s

Plot Summary:  This is the story of Toland, a homosexual man coming to terms with his sexuality in a time when even greater tensions were being explored in the American deep south, that is, African-American civil rights.  Toland is a complex, apathetic man who is desperately trying to be “normal” by saying that his gay thoughts are “just a phase” and by dating a political activist woman named Ginger.  Toland’s world explores the horrifying issues of the time through intense dialogue, disturbing images, and hateful language expressed by the KKK and the more subtle racism of his family members.  Drawn in a realistic, riveting style, Howard Cruse does a fantastic job of creating a city that the reader can instantly recognize as being in the south, yet is entirely fictional.  Indeed, the entire graphic novel reads as if it were an autobiography of sorts.  Still, despite the complex issues being discussed, the novel finds time to enlighten the reader with jazz and blues facts of the time, contains humor, and is very candid and not didactic when discussing sexual issues.

Subject Headings:  Civil Rights–American South–Inter-racial Relationships–Homosexual Issues–Jim Crow Laws–KKK–Politics–Adoption–Abortion–Lynchings–Jazz–Blues–Gay Bars–Drag Queens–Hammond Organs–Religion–Atheism–Alcoholism

Appeal: Striking, Realistic, Brutal, Warm, Angry, Sympathetic, Complex, Political, Violent, Insightful, Serious, Sad, Soulful, Grim, Candid, Blunt, Intense, Dramatic

3 Appeal terms that best describe this book:  Serious, Candid, Realistic

3 Similar Non-Fiction works and authors:

Fun Home.  Alison Bechdel

This graphic novel is the memoir of Alison Bechdel, popular GLBT author of the comic Dykes to Watch out For.  One can tell Bechdel is a fan of Cruse’s work (she admits so in the introduction to Stuck Rubber Baby), and her style is similar in that her story is reflective, redemptive, and very moving.  Fun Home is the story of Alison coming to terms with her father admitting he is homosexual as well late in his life.  The story is complex, but it is also humorous at times, and very compelling in tone.  A must in GLBT graphic novels, and literature in general.

Heroes of Blues, Jazz, and Country.  Robert Crumb

Those who have read Stuck Rubber Baby will inevitably notice Cruse’s devotion to two things: drawing everything in pain-staking detail, and his obsession with the history of Jazz and Rhythm and Blues music.  Robert Crumb’s drawings have always been drawn in a realistic style as well, and this graphic novel is a fun history of said musicians that many people may not be aware of.  Bios of the musicians are provided as well, along with full color photographs.

Juicy Mother: Celebration.  Jennifer Camper

This collection of  GLBT stories describes itself as “an alternative-to-alternative comics.”  What is most intriguing about this graphic novel is that every contributor is either GLBT, or a person of color.  The stories range for the serious to the silly, including such stories as an Arab Muslim lesbian searching for her identity to a Latina teen’s goofy encounter with aliens.  Both touching and bizarre, comical and insightful, there is a story in this collection that will appeal to all readers!

3 Similar Fiction works and authors:

Strangers in Paradise Pocket Book, Vol. 1.  Terry Moore

Katchoo is a beautiful young woman who is in love with her best friend, Francine.  Then along comes David, who Katchoo falls in love with as well.  What results in a complicated love triangle this is both complex and amusing.  Though not as serious as Cruse’s work, readers will love getting to know these sympathetic characters as the develop and change over time.  And, just when everything seems to be going well, the mob decides to but in!  Truly interesting and leisurely paced like Cruse’s work.

A Single Man.  Christopher Isherwood

Stuck Rubber Baby is told in a flashback format from Toland’s point of view, reminiscing about growing up gay in the American South.  Though this fictional work takes place is a different part of the country, Isherwood’s protagonist George is sympathetic, nice, gay, and leads a surprisingly poignant, yet sad life.  After the death of his partner, George must learn to survive in a world where he a complete outsider, both internally and externally.  Comical and very wry, this examination of what it means to be homosexual in the modern world is incredibly moving.

Tales of the City (#1)  Armistead Maupin

These are the tales of the many denizens of 28 Barbary Lane, some straight, some not, but always hilarious, intricate, and fun.  This is the latest incarnation of the popular serial that later became a popular television event.  The tone is indeed a lot different from Cruse’s work, but the humor and attention to realistic details and colorful characters is there.  Striking and bold, witty and quite entertaining.

 

Mama Dearest

April 25, 2010

Author: E. Lynn Harris

Genre: African American/GLBTQ

Publication Date: 2009

Number of  Pages: 387

Geographical Setting: New York City

Series: Yes. Third in the Basil and Yancy Series

Plot Summary: Singer and actress Yancy Harrington Braxton is finishing a low-budget tour of Dreamgirls, but she is determined to reclaim her stardom. She thinks the best way to achieve this is to star in her own reality T.V. show. This is not easy when she is surrounded by people who will stop at nothing to make sure she does not succeed. Her scheming, conniving, just been released from prison, mother Ava, does not want Yancy to succeed in anything, which is not surprising as it was Yancy who sent her mother to prison when she testified against her in a shooting incident, and Ava is not about to let Yancy forget it! Ava lets Yancy believe that she has set her up with a T.V. producer, but it turns out he is a drug dealing criminal. Yancy’s involvement with this criminal lands her in prison until an unknown benefactor posts bail for her. Yancy is amazed that somebody would make such a kind gesture and it makes her even more determined to change her diva ways and become a better person. Yancy is surrounded by a cast of colorful characters, including Dani, one of the young gay men in her Dreamgirls cast. Dani and Yancy have a strong friendship and are always there for each other. We meet other lovers and ex-lovers of both Yancy and Ava along the way, one of them being Basil Henderson a bisexual NFL tight end who appears in the other books in this series.

When Yancy was in college she fell in love with Derrick, but when she discovered she was pregnant she gave the baby up for adoption. Unbeknown to Yancy Derrick adopted their baby daughter, naming her Madison B. Madison B is now a very popular and successful young singer. Yancy and Madison B discover their relationship during the making of their own realityT.V. shows. Yancy discovers she has strong maternal feelings for Madison B and realises she would really like to try and be a mother to her. But is it too late? Will the sins of  Ava and Yancy carry on from one generation to the next? Will Madison B give Yancy a chance?

Subject Headings: African-American actors and actresses; African-American women singers; African-American Fiction – 21st century; Entertainment industry; Mother and daughter.

Appeal: character centered, strong secondary characters, multiple story lines, fast-paced, dramatic, sexuallyexplicit, strong language, steamy, romantic, family relationships, friendship, glbtq, bisexual, plot twists.

3 Terms Best Describe this book:  hopeful, dramatic, character-centered

Similary Works/Authors:

Fiction:

1. Baby Momma Drama by Carl Weber (strong characters, plot twists, relationship issues, drug dealing, dramatic).

2. Drop Dead Beautiful by Jackie Collins (although not an African-American author, her books have strong similarities to the entertainment world as Mama Dearest. They are full of steamy sex, family relationships, hopefulness, powerful female characters, fast-paced).

3. One in a Million by Kimberla Lawson Roby (dramatic, hopeful, plot twists, family relationships, steady pace).

Non-Fiction:

1. Encyclopedia of African American Actresses in Film and Television (biographical, stardom, television,entertainment world).

2. Pursuit of Happyness by Chris Gardner (family relatsionships, hopefulness, rise to fame, parent-child relationship).

3. Freedom in this Village: Twenty-five years of Black Gayt Men’s Writing by Isaac Jackson (black, gay male literature, authors, biographies, essays).

Jane