Celebrate LGBTQ Pride Month with Books by Sarah Waters, Jeanette Winterson, and Armistead Maupin

4 Jun

In honor of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Pride Month, I thought I’d look at three of my favorite authors who have written some great fiction focusing on LGBT characters, and who just happen to also be gay themselves.  Stop by the library and check out one of their books this month!  You can also see a display of LGBTQ resources in the glass display cases in the second floor vestibule.

Armistead Maupin

tales-of-the-city

I’ve never been to San Francisco, but I fell in love with the city when I was a teenager reading Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City.  The series started out as a serial in The San Francisco Chronicle in the late 1970’s and focuses on a diverse group of residents with a variety of orientations, who live in an apartment building at 28 Barbary Lane.  Although the characters are clearly meant to represent the archetypes that you would have bumped into in the city at the time (innocent Mary Ann, hippy Mona, and lady’s man Brian) you will still find yourself caring about their lives throughout the years.  The sweet, caring, and proudly gay Michael Tolliver, or Mouse as he is known to his friends, was my favorite.  The Days of Anna Madrigal, the ninth and final book in the series, was just published in January.  I stayed up late to watch the television adaptation of Tales of the City starring Laura Linney and Olympia Dukakis, when the miniseries first aired on PBS in 1993, but you can borrow it on DVD from BCCLS libraries.  When I was in Graduate School, I was delighted to meet Maupin when he was doing a reading and talk at Harvard for a standalone novel The Night Listener.  The Tales of the City series is best read in order since some of the characters, especially Mary Ann, change considerably through the span of the years the novels cover.

Jeanette Winterson

passion
I read Winterson’s Venetian set The Passion as part of a literature class in college and quickly devoured her other works including two of my other favorites of hers: Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit and Sexing the Cherry.  Her first novel Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit brings in autobiographical elements and the character’s name like Wintereson’s is Jeanette, however, for those wanting a more direct memoir you can read her 2011 autobiography Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?.  Both deal with the ramifications of coming out as a lesbian in a very religious family.  If you like reading books with straightforward narratives, then Winterson may not be your favorite author, but I find her work’s mix of intertextuality, metafiction, manipulation of history, satire, and magical realism intriguing and often insightful.  She has won two Lambda Literary Awards for Written on the Body and Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?.  I’m looking forward to reading her latest novel The Daylight Gate, which deals with the witch trials in the 1600’s.

Sarah Waters

fingersmith

I coincidentally picked up Sarah Waters’ first novel when I was at a book signing for Jeanette Winterson’s The Power Book.  At the time I was unfamiliar with Waters’s work, but the description on the back cover of a young woman who leaves her family’s oyster restaurant after she falls in love with a male impersonator and becomes a music hall performer herself, hooked me.  Tipping the Velvet is still my favorite of her works, but I would recommend checking out her other books as well.  As you might have noticed from previous blog posts I’ve written, I enjoy historical fiction, especially those set during Victorian times.  Sarah Waters’s first three novels Tipping the Velvet, Affinity, and Fingersmith are all set during that period.  They bring some of the social issues as well as the atmosphere of the time to life along with the imaginings of the lives of lesbian characters who could have lived during that period.  Her two most recent books The Night Watch and The Little Stranger are set in the 1940’s.  Her next novel The Paying Guests is scheduled to be released in September and is set during the 1920’s.  Tipping the Velvet and Fingersmith were turned into UK miniseries and are available from BCCLS libraries.

When asked about being a lesbian writer, Waters said something in an interview I feel holds true of all three of these authors, “It’s right there at the heart of the books. And it’s both at the heart of the books and yet it’s also incidental, because that’s how it is in my life, and that’s how it is, really, for most lesbian and gay people, isn’t it? It’s sort of just there in your life. So I feel it makes absolute sense to call me a lesbian writer, but at the same time, I’m just a writer.”

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

5 Responses to “Celebrate LGBTQ Pride Month with Books by Sarah Waters, Jeanette Winterson, and Armistead Maupin”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Selections from the Hoboken Public Library’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club Part 2: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, American Gods, Hyperion, and Orlando | Hoboken Library Staff Picks - August 20, 2014

    […] For the book club’s first female author we decided to go with not just a fantasy classic, but a classic work of literature, Virginia Woolf’s Orlando.  Many of the group had seen the movie adaptation, but were curious to read the novel that inspired it.  The group was mixed in their reaction to Orlando with some praising it highly and others finding it difficult stylistically to get through.  However, everyone found a lot to talk about and discuss in this thought provoking novel.  What gives this classic its fantasy twist is that Orlando not only has an extraordinarily long life (living from the time of Queen Elizabeth into the twentieth century), but that half way through the novel he magically changes gender and becomes female.  Orlando explores the notions of both gender and sex and the expectations society places on men and women.  It therefore leads us to question the ideas that come with an insistence on a gender binary.  We can see the seeds of what many contemporary women authors write about when dealing with gender planted in Orlando and it resonated with me as a precursor to Jeannette Winterson and Sarah Waters works, both of whom I wrote about in June for our Pride month blog.  […]

  2. Selections from the Hoboken Public Library’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club Part 2: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, American Gods, Hyperion, and Orlando | Hoboken Library Staff Picks - January 21, 2015

    […] For the book club’s first female author we decided to go with not just a fantasy classic, but a classic work of literature, Virginia Woolf’s Orlando.  Many of the group had seen the movie adaptation, but were curious to read the novel that inspired it.  The group was mixed in their reaction to Orlando with some praising it highly and others finding it difficult stylistically to get through.  However, everyone found a lot to talk about and discuss in this thought provoking novel.  What gives this classic its fantasy twist is that Orlando not only has an extraordinarily long life (living from the time of Queen Elizabeth into the twentieth century), but that half way through the novel he magically changes gender and becomes female.  Orlando explores the notions of both gender and sex and the expectations society places on men and women.  It therefore leads us to question the ideas that come with an insistence on a gender binary.  We can see the seeds of what many contemporary women authors write about when dealing with gender planted in Orlando and it resonated with me as a precursor to Jeannette Winterson and Sarah Waters works, both of whom I wrote about in June for our Pride month blog. […]

  3. LGBTQ Pride Month Memoirs: Alan Cumming, Portia De Rossi, and George Takei | Hoboken Library Staff Picks - June 3, 2015

    […] last year’s Pride Month, I looked at three of my favorite authors who are members of the LGBTQ community and who also focused much of their fiction on LGBTQ […]

  4. LGBTQ Pride Month Selections that Show Families Can Come in Many Shapes: Romeo, Romeo; Chutney Popcorn; and Any Day Now | Hoboken Library Staff Picks - June 1, 2016

    […] in past Junes I’ve written about some amazing LGBT authors and biographies of some of my favorite LGB actors, for this year’s post I wanted to blog about […]

  5. Lesbian Classics to Check Out for this Year’s LGBTQ Pride Month | Hoboken Library Staff Picks - May 31, 2017

    […] You can read about two of my favorite authors, Jeanette Winterson and Sarah Waters who both have written landmarks in lesbian literature in a previous Pride Month post. […]

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