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The Pat Parker/Vito Russo Library book discussion group meets on the first Tuesday of the month at 8:00pm (except when noted). We meet at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Community Center, 208 West 13th Street (near Seventh Avenue) in NYC. Ask at the information desk for the room number.

We're a friendly group, always open to new members. If you'd like, you can just read the book and join us at the Community Center. We'd be pleased to meet you. If you have questions or want more information, you can send e-mail to Howard@HowardWill.com. (If you send an e-mail, make sure you include the words "book club" early in the subject line because if you just say "Hey" or "I've got a question" it'll just get deleted because it looks like spam.)

I've created a FaceBook group called "Book discussion group at The Center in NYC". Please join it for a little discussion before and after the group, or to contact others in the group:

Facebook CenterBooks (group)

Upcoming books

May 2: "Just Kids," by NYC memoir by Patti Smith (220 pages)

Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe weren't always famous, but they always thought they would be. They found each other, adrift but determined, on the streets of New York City in the late '60s and made a pact to keep each other afloat until they found their voices --or the world was ready to hear them. Lovers first and then friends as Mapplethorpe discovered he was gay, they divided their dimes between art supplies and Coney Island hot dogs. Mapplethorpe was quicker to find his metier, with a Polaroid and then a Hasselblad, but Smith was the first to fame, transformed, to her friend's delight, from a poet into a rock star. Mapplethorpe soon became famous too--and notorious--before his death from AIDS in 1989. Smith's memoir of their friendship, Just Kids, is tender and artful, open-eyed but surprisingly decorous, balanced by her powers of observation and memory for everyday details like the price of automat sandwiches and the shabby, welcoming fellow bohemians of the Chelsea Hotel, among whose ranks these baby Rimbauds found their way.

We don't meet during the summer, but we'll probably go to a few movies on June 6, July 6, and August 1.

Sept 5: "Queen of the Night," new novel by Alexander Chee (576 pages)

Lilliet Berne is a sensation of the Paris Opera, a legendary soprano with every accolade except an original role, every singer’s chance at immortality. When one is finally offered to her, she realizes with alarm that the libretto is based on a hidden piece of her past. Only four people could have betrayed her: one is dead, one loves her, one wants to own her. And one, she hopes, never thinks of her at all. As she mines her memories for clues, she recalls her life as an orphan who left America for Europe and was swept up into the glitzy, gritty world of Second Empire Paris. To survive, she transformed herself from hippodrome rider to courtesan, from empress’s maid to debut singer, all the while weaving a web of romance and political intrigue. Featuring a cast of characters drawn from history, The Queen of the Night follows Lilliet as she moves closer to the truth behind the mysterious opera and the role that could secure her reputation -- or destroy her with the secrets it reveals.    

Oct 3: "Black Deutschland," contemporary novel by Darryl Pinckney (294 pages)

Jed --young, gay, black, out of rehab and out of prospects in his hometown of Chicago-- flees to the city of his fantasies: Berlin. He's chosen to become the figure that he so admires, the black American expatriate. Newly sober and nostalgic for the Weimar days of Isherwood and Auden, Jed arrives to chase boys and to escape from what it means to be a black male in America. But personal and political phistory can't be avoided with time or distance. Whether it's the judgment of the cousin he grew up with and her husband's bourgeois German family, the lure of white wine in a down-and-out bar, a gang of racists looking for a brawl, or the ravaged face of Rock Hudson flashing behind the face of every white boy he desperately longs for, the past never stays in the past. An intoxicating novel of appetite, identity, and self-construction, Black Deutschland tells the story of an outsider, trapped between a painful past and a sad future, in Europe's brightest and darkest city.

Nov 7: "God in Pink," Iraq Muslim novel by Hasan Namir (240 pages)

2015 Lambda Literary Award winner, Best Gay Fiction. A revelatory novel about being queer and Muslim, set in war-torn Iraq in 2003. Ramy is a young gay Iraqi struggling to find a balance between his sexuality, religion, and culture. Ammar is a sheikh whose guidance Ramy seeks, and whose tolerance is tested by his belief in the teachings of the Qur'an. Full of quiet moments of beauty and raw depictions of violence, God in Pink poignantly captures the anguish and the fortitude of Islamic life in Iraq. "This book should be on everyone's shelf -- religious and non-religious alike. It is a raw, passionate, gritty tale of not only these two men who chose different paths, and are still making choices, but also of the many people around them who make their own life decisions to love, hate, accept, kill, tolerate or repel them." —Philadelphia Gay News Hasan Namir was born in Iraq in 1987 and this is his first novel.

Dec 5: "What Belongs to You" by Garth Greenwell (208 pages)

On a warm autumn day, an American teacher enters a public bathroom beneath the National Palace of Culture in Sofia, Bulgaria. There he meets Mitko, a charismatic young hustler, and pays him for sex. He returns to Mitko several times over the next few months, drawn by loneliness and risk, and finds himself ensnared in a relationship in which lust leads to mutual predation, and tenderness can transform into violence. As he struggles to reconcile his longing with the anguish it creates, he’s forced to grapple with his own fraught history, the world of his southern childhood where to be queer was to be a pariah. There are unnerving similarities between his past and the foreign country he finds himself in, a country whose geography and griefs he discovers as he learns more of Mitko’s own narrative, his private history of illness and exploitation. Fabulously well reviewed first novel by the NY Times (Sunday and weekly), New York magazine, New Yorker, Atlantic, OUT, and long-listed for the National Book Award.

Here are the Books Under Consideration to be read in the future.

Mission Statement

Welcome to the Pat Parker/Vito Russo Center Library Reading Group at the LGBT Community Center. As our founder Mel always reiterated, this is a friendly group which is always happy to have new members. Being a friendly group means we encourage everyone to participate without fear of confrontation and with respect from fellow members. We have the following guidelines to help this effort as well.

Guidelines

(1) All attendees are expected to have read the book and be willing to talk about it.

(2) Every participant is entitled to express his or her own opinion as it pertains to the book.

(3) The format of the meetings consists of an initial opening round where each attendee talks about the work for a few minutes without interruption or cross talk. Once everyone has had the opportunity to individually address the book, the discussion is then opened to all for a general discussion of the book. This is an important organizing element of this group to make sure that every one gets an opportunity to express himself or herself without comment.

(4) After the initial opening round, It is perfectly acceptable to express a dissenting opinion to something another member of the group has said about the book as long as it is in a respectful and constructive manner.

(5) Please refrain from personally attacking another member of the group over an opinion they have expressed about the book.

(6) Inflammatory language or inappropriate behavior directed towards another member of the group during the discussion will not be tolerated. If this type of language or behavior persists, the person who is responsible for displaying it may be asked to leave.

(7) Please respect the authority of the facilitator.

(8) Please try to stay on topic during the discussion. Feel free to introduce new information that may be relevant to the discussion of the book (e.g., historical facts, biographical information of the author, book background, etc.).

History of The Group

The complete list of our discussion group appears below.

1994
"The Culture of Desire," Frank Browning
"The Well of Loneliness," Radcliff Hall
"Conduct Unbecoming," Randy Shilts
"A Place at the Table," Bruce Bawer
"Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold," E. Kennedy & M. Davis
"Dancing on Tisha B'av," Lev Raphael and "The Bar Stories," Nisa Donnelly
"A Smile in His Lifetime," Joseph Hansen
"Stone Butch Blues," Leslie Feinberg
"My Father and Myself," J. R. Ackerley
"Giovanni's Room," James Baldwin
"Cherry Grove, Fire Island," Esther Newton

1995
"The Motion of Light in Water," Samuel Delany
"Dancer From the Dance," Andrew Holleran
"Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas," Gertrude Stein
"Swimming Pool Library," Alan Hollingshurst
"Jeb and Dash: A Diary of Gay Life, 1918-1945," Ina Russell," ed.
"Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil," John Berendt
"Before Night Falls," Renaldo Arenas
"Created Equal: Why Gay Rights Matter," M. Nava and R. Dawidoff
"A Different Life," James Merrill
"Becoming a Man," Paul Monette
"Chamber Music," Doris Grumbach

1996
"Weekend," Peter Cameron
"New York Gay History: 1890-1940," George Chauncey
"Empathy," Sarah Schulman
"Maurice," E. M. Forester
"Martin and John," Dale Peck
"Closet Case," Robert Rodi
"Virtually Normal," Andrew Sullivan
"Flesh and Blood," Michael Cunningham
"The Folding Star," Alan Hollinghurst
"Virtual Equality," Urvashi Vaid
"Skinned Alive," Edmund White

1997
"Torsos," John Peyton Cooke
"Angels in America," Tony Kushner
"The Boys on the Rock," John Fox
"Stranger Among Friends," David Mixner
"User," Bruce Benderson and "City of Night," John Rechy
"Midlife Queer," Martin Duberman
"While England Sleeps," David Leavitt
"Eighty-sixed," David Feinberg
"Wonderbread and Ecstasy," Charles Isherwood and "Love Junky," Robert Plunket
"Rise and Fall of Gay Culture," Daniel Harris
"Gay Spirit," Mark Thompson," ed.
"Sea of Tranquility," Paul Russell

1998
"Stuck Rubber Baby," Howard Cruise
"Celluloid Closet," Vito Russo
"Movie Lover," Richard Friedel
"Ready to Catch Him Should He Fall," Neil Bartlett
"Life is Not a Dress Rehearsal," David Brodney
"American Studies," Mark Merlis
"Mysterious Skin," Scott Heim
"Easy Way Out," Stephen McCauley
"Sexual Ecology," Gabriel Rotello
"Funny Boy," Shyam Selvaduri
"Gossip," Christopher Bram
"Billy Budd," Herman Melville and "Frisk," Dennis Cooper

1999
"Palimpsest," Gore Vidal
"How Proust Can Change Your Life," Alain de Botton
"Querelle," Jean Genet
"Dreyfus Affair," Peter Lefcourt
"Berlin Stories," Christopher Isherwood
"Life Outside," Michaelangelo Signorelle
"To the Lighthouse," Virginia Woolf
"Don't Get Me Started," Kate Clinton
"The Best Little Boy in the World Grows Up," Andrew Tobias
"Kiss of the Spider Woman," Manuel Puig
"The Other Side of Silence," John Loughery
"Confessions of a Mask," Yukio Mishima

2000
"The Hours," Michael Cunningham
"My Life with Noel Coward," Graham Payn
"Was," Geoff Ryman
"Sacred Lips of the Bronx," Douglas Sadownick
"Young Man from the Provinces," Alan Helms
"Farewell Symphony," Edmund White
"Cities of the Plain," Marcel Proust
"Tom: The Unknown Tennessee Williams," Lyle Leverich
"The Lost Language of Cranes," David Leavitt
"Brideshead Revisited," Evelyn Waugh

2001
"The Coming Storm," Paul Russell
"The Turn of the Screw," Henry James
"Allan Stein," Matthew Stadler
"The Spell," Alan Hollinghurst
"The Elusive Embrace: Desire and the Riddle of ID," Daniel Mendelsohn
"Original Story by: A Memoir of Broadway and Hollywood," Arthur Laurents
"An Arrow's Flight," Mark Merlis
"The Sheltering Sky," Paul Bowles
"Endangered Species," Louis Bayard
"The Notorious Dr. August: His Real Life and Crimes," Christopher Bram
"Love Speaks Its Name: Gay and Lesbian Love Poems," J.D. McClatchy (ed.)

2002
"Flaneur: A Stroll Through the Paradoxes of Paris," Edmund White
"Intimate Companions: George Platt Lynes, Paul Cadmus, and Lincoln Kirstein," David Leddick
"The Night Listener," Armistead Maupin
"Autobiography of Red," Anne Carson
"The Golden Age," Gore Vidal
"The World of Normal Boys," K. M. Soehnlein
"The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay," Michael Chabon
"Lies: A Diary (1986-1999)," Ned Rorem
"Out for Good: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement," Clendinen and Nagourney
"Ravelstein," Saul Bellow
"Death in Venice," Thomas Mann

2003
"Behind the Screen: How Gays and Lesbians Shaped Hollywood, 1910-1969," William Mann
"The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression," Andrew Solomon
"True Enough," Stephen McCauley
"Other Voices, Other Rooms," Truman Capote
"Edinburgh," Alexander Chee
"Price of Salt," Patricia Highsmith
"Fingersmith," Sarah Waters
"Running with Scissors," Augusten Burroughs
"The City of Your Final Destination," Peter Cameron
"The Long Firm," Jake Arnott

2004
"The Soul beneath the Skin: The Unseen Hearts and Habits of Gay Men," David Nimmons
"The Picture of Dorian Gray," Oscar Wilde
"The Danish Girl," David Ebershoff
"Salam Pax: The Clandestine Diary of an Ordinary Iraqi," Salam Pax
"Leaves of Grass," Walt Whitman
"City of Night," John Rechy
"Middlesex," Jeffrey Eugenides
"Women in Love", D. H. Lawrence
"The Married Man," Edmund White
"The Book of Salt," Monique Truong

2005
"Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books," Azar Nafisi
"The Invention of Love," Tom Stoppard and "A Shropshire Lad," A. E. Housman
"Dorian: An Imitation," Will Self
"War Against the Animals," Paul Russell
"Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" and "A Streetcar Named Desire," Tennessee Williams
"Lives of the Circus Animals," Christopher Bram
"The Master," Colm Toibin
"The Immoralist" and "Corydon," Andre Gide
"Three Junes," Julia Glass
"A Single Man" and "Prater Violet," Christopher Isherwood

2006
"The Line of Beauty," Alan Hollinghurst
"Less Than Zero," Bret Easton Ellis
"The Bostonians," Henry James
"Myra Breckinridge " by Gore Vidal
"The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain and the essay "Come Back to the Raft Ag'in, Huck Honey!" by Leslie Fiedler
"Eustace Chisholm and the Works" by James Purdy
"Our Lady of the Flowers" by Jean Genet
"The Beauty of Men" by Andrew Holleran
"The Blackwater Lightship " by Colm Toibin
"Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic" by Allison Bechdel

2007
"Speciman Days" by Michael Cunningham
"Pilgrim Hawk" and "A Visit to Priapus" by Glenway Wescott
"Acqua Calda" by Keith McDermott
"The Confusions of Young Torless" (or "Young Torless") by Robert Musil
"The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln" by C. A. Tripp
"Late and Soon" by Robert J. Hughes
"Moby Dick" by Herman Melville
"My Lives: A Memoir" by Edmund White
Poetry by C. P Cavafy
"The Member of the Wedding" and "The Ballad of the Sad Cafe" by Carson McCullers

2008
"Christopher and His Kind" by Christopher Isherwood
"Stretching My Mind: Collected Essays of Edward Albee" by Edward Albee
"Nightwood" by Djuna Barnes
"Falconer" by John Cheever
"The Exquisite Corpse" by Alfred Chester
"Night Watch" by Sarah Waters
"Grief" by Andrew Holleran
"Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches" by Audre Lorde
"Two Lives: Gertrude and Alice" by Janet Malcolm

2009
"Hotel de Dream" by Edmund White
"Fellow Travelers" by Thomas Mallon
"Selected Poems" by W. H. Auden, edited by Edward Mendelson
"In the City of Shy Hunters" by Tom Spanbauer
"Call Me By Your Name" by Andre Aciman
"The Worlds of Lincoln Kirstein" by Martin Duberman
"Exiles in America" by Christopher Bram
"The Indian Clerk" by David Leavitt
"Mothers and Sons" by Colm Toibin

2010
"The Carnivorous Lamb" by Agustin Gomez-Arcos
"Not Without Laughter" by Langston Hughes
"The Left Hand of Darkness" by Ursula Le Guin
"Cakes and Ale" by W. Somerset Maugham
"Selected Poems" by Frank O'Hara
"A Perfect Waiter" by Alain Claude Sulzer
"Sexing the Cherry" by Jeanette Winterson
"Lake Overturn" by Vestal MacIntyre
"The Skin of Our Teeth" by Thornton Wilder

2011
"Portrait of a Marriage: Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson" by Nigel Nicolson
"The Conversion" by Joseph Olshan
The poetry of Fredrico Garcia Lorca
"Breakfast at Tiffany's" by Truman Capote
"Great Speeches on Gay Rights" edited by James Daley
"The Counerfeiters" by Andre Gide
"Rimbaud: The Double Life of a Rebel" by Edmund White
"Funeral Rites" by Jean Genet
"To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee

2012
"Selected Poems" by James Merrill (edited by McClatchy and Yenser)
"Howl" by Allen Ginsberg
"By Nightfall" by Michael Cunningham
"Edward II" by Christopher Marlowe
"Blithe Spirit," "Hay Fever," and "Private Lives" by Noel Coward
"Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward" by Justin Spring
"Blue Boy" by Rakesh Satyal
"In a Strange Room" by Damon Galgut
"Giovanni's Room" by James Baldwin

2013
"Dark Reflections" by Samuel Delany
"Maurice" by E. M. Forester
"Carry the One" by Carol Anshaw
"The City and the Pillar" by Gore Vidal
"The Charioteer" by Mary Renault
"Memoirs of Hadrian" by Marguerite Yourcenar
"A Separate Peace" by John Knowles
"An Arab Melancholia" by Abdellah Taia
"The Unreal Life of Sergey Nabokov" by Paul Russell

2014
"Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol" by Gyles Brandreth
"Queer" by William Burroughs
"The Maids" and "The Balcony" by Jean Genet
"The Talented Mr. Ripley" by Patricia Highsmith
"Faggots" by Larry Kramer
"The Stranger's Child" by Alan Hollinghurst
"Berlin Stories" by Christopher Isherwood
"The Song of Achilles" by Madeline Miller
"In One Person" by John Irving

2015
"Billy Budd" by Herman Melville
"Flesh and Blood" by Michael Cunningham
"A Fast Life: The Collected Poems of Tim Dlugos"
"Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father" by Alysia Abbott
"Another Country," by James Baldwin
No meetings in June, July, or August
"The Persian Boy" by Mary Renault
"Reflections in a Golden Eye" by Carson McCullers
"The Magician's Assistant" by Ann Patchett
"The Empty Family" by Colm Toibin

2016
"Rubyfruit Jungle" by Rita Mae Brown
"Totempole" by Sanford Friedman
"The Selected Poems" by May Sarton
"Barrel Fever" by David Sedaris
"Quarantine" by Rahul Mehta
"Necessary Errors" by Caleb Crain
"Don't Let Him Know" by Sandip Roy
"Local Souls," three novellas by Allan Gurganus
"The Bell," classic 1958 British fiction by Iris Murdoch

2016
Jan 3:
"Gay Berlin: Birthplace of a Modern Identity," a history of sex by Robert Beachy (336 pages)
Feb 7: "On the Move," contemporary autobiography by Oliver Sacks (416 pages)
March 7: "The Color Purple," modern classic novel by Alice Walker (300 pages)
April 4: "Lost Boi," gender-bending retelling of Peter Pan by Sassafras Lowrey (240 pages)
May 2: "Just Kids," by NYC memoir by Patti Smith (220 pages)

We don't meet during the summer, but we'll probably go to a few movies on June 6, July 6 (or so), and August 1.

Sept 5: "Queen of the Night," new novel by Alexander Chee (576 pages)
Oct 3: "Black Deutschland," contemporary novel by Darryl Pinckney (294 pages)
Nov 7: "God in Pink," Iraq Muslim novel by Hasan Namir (240 pages)
Dec 5: "What Belongs to You" by Garth Greenwell (208 pages)

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