September 2015

Looking back at the three titles I completed for The Challenge this month, I realized things were pretty gay — and that wasn’t even on purpose. As the year draws to a close, my list of remaining titles shrinks. In the meantime, here are this month’s completed books.

rainbow boys rainbow road, rainbow high, alex sanchez, gay
A book you started but never finished: Rainbow Road, by Alex Sanchez
brideshead revisited waugh gay romance
A classic romance: Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
vanishing rooms melvin dixon gay new york city
A book that scares you: Vanishing Rooms, by Melvin Dixon

 

Since there were only three this month, and they all have a pretty clear theme, I’ll touch on each of them.

Rainbow Road:
Boy, oh boy… Bless Susan from Waldenbooks all those years ago, my first personal bookseller who somehow knew exactly what I needed to read and never judged me. She put Rainbow Boys (book one in this trilogy) into my apprehensive hands and I am so appreciative. She also put Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton into my hands… which… maybe I shouldn’t have read at that age! — but she must have known I was a precocious reader. Susan also gave me The Perks of Being a Wallflower and a few others that really left distinct impressions on me. (Thank you, Susan! Wherever you are!) Rainbow Road was published the fall of my freshman year of college, and I suppose since I came out in the spring of my senior year of high school, I guess I felt that I didn’t really -need- the book anymore. I had only made it to page 26 and stopped. It took me a little while to pick this book up again for this challenge, and as someone mentioned: it looks like it could be a cheesy Lifetime movie. While I put such stock in these books when I first read them, I realize how drastically gay literature has changed over the last 10 years. There have been a few brand new gay YA books this year that I’ve read. Somehow they left me feeling… well… normal? Now that I’m older, I think that reading these ‘coming out’ books have a very different feel than when I was actually growing up and experiencing the feelings explored within the pages. Rainbow Road was in many ways frustrating (character and story-wise) but so nostalgic that I couldn’t help but want to finish it. They definitely do not resonate the same way they used to… and now I question whether or not to keep them in my collection at work or to weed them for fresher titles. Shocking, I know!

Brideshead Revisited:
I remember watching a bit of the TV mini series with Jeremy Irons at some point, and while I remember bits and pieces, it was very different to read. So much of the friendship between Sebastian and Charles is subtle and touching (and heartbreaking)… I hadn’t remembered how much of the book was focused on how bloody drunk Sebastian was all the time! Honestly, I was a bit bored with the relationship between Charles and Julia… but maybe that’s because he should have been with Sebastian… Oh, the fanfic that could be written! Speaking of fanfic… (well, sort of) apparently there’s a new YA retelling of Brideshead Revisited?? “Even In Paradise” by Chelsey Philpot. Charlotte Ryder instead of Charles… Hmm… we’ll see how THAT turns out!

Vanishing Rooms:
Finding a book that scares me is a challenge in itself. Thanks to reading Stephen King at such a young age, I don’t think I’ve ever found a book that actually scares me… makes me cringe? — Yes. Haunted me? — well… this one maybe will. It’s an older book, but it’s about a young black dancer who is living in New York City with his white southern journalist boyfriend… who share some interesting sexual exploits… The boyfriend is brutally raped and murdered in a hate crime, and the main character moves in with a female dancer from his studio and develops a relationship with her. Something about the first chapter captured me and forced me to read on. While it’s certainly a bit dated, a lot of what Dixon writes still resonates today, not only with regards to inequality between gay and straight members of society, but also the racial divide. I do feel like there was a lot of back story for each of the main characters that should have been explored more in-depth, but at the same time, I appreciate the brevity of the story. I can see why Dixon was noted as being the next Toni Morrison before his death in 1992 due to complications from AIDS. It was truly an emotional novel. Did I cry? No. Did I cringe? Yes. Did it scare me? In some ways… so I suppose I can call that a completed item.
The end is near! After this month, only FOUR titles remain in the 2015 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge. All that remains: book three of a trilogy, a book based on its cover, a book a friend recommends, and a book based on or turned into a TV show.  Gosh, what am I going to do if I finish ahead of schedule??

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