Show me the books he loves and I shall know the man far better than through mortal friends - Silas Weir MitchellStephan is one of my LiveJournal friends, and also a judge for the Rainbow Awards. Not yet a published author, I believe we will see soon maybe an historical essay? In any case, Stefan's list is for sure an interesting dig for new "out of the ordinary" books.
Stephan Schmetterling's Inside Reader List
1) The German Officer's Boy by Harlan Greene. "A highly original and compassionate account of how the fires of a forbidden love engulfed Europe. Harlan Greene has brought to life 'the boy who started World War II' in a headlong narrative both tender and terrifying." - Katherine Govier. I read this is in one evening- that is how utterly amazing this book was.
Hardcover: 216 pages
Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press; 1 edition (February 1, 2005)
Publisher Link: http://www.uwpress.wisc.edu/books/2817.htm
Amazon: The German Officer's Boy
Prelude to Kristallnacht: desire and duty collide in a dangerous love story. What really happened that afternoon in November 1938, when the young Polish Jew walked into the German embassy in Paris and shots rang out? The immediate consequence was concrete: Nazis in Germany retaliated with the "Night of Broken Glass," recognized as the beginning of the Holocaust. Lost and overlooked in the aftermath is the arresting story of Herschel Grynszpan, the confused teenager whose murder of Ernst vom Rath was used to justify Kristallnacht. In this historical novel, award-winning writer Harlan Greene may be the first author to take the Polish Jew at his word. Historians have tried to explain away Herschel Grynszpan's claim that he was involved in a love affair with vom Rath; Greene, instead, traces the lives of the underprivileged and persecuted Herschel Grynszpan and the wealthy German diplomat Ernst vom Rath as they move inevitably towards their ill-fated affair. In spare, vivid, and compelling prose, Greene imagines their world, their relationship, and their last horrific encounter, as they tried to wrest love and meaning from a world that would itself soon disappear in a whirlwind of disaster and madness.
"In the room he heard a shout. Of joy? Recognition? . . . He flung the paper down and ran, pushing the door open, ready to shout, but stopped when he saw the blood on the carpet and the pale blond man thrashing on the floor.
And then there was the boy. Never before had Nagorka seen such an expression. The young man looked up, distraught and horrified from beneath his tousled hair and dark brows, his eyes circles of fear. The gun fell from his hand."—excerpt from The German Officer's Boy
2) Full Circle by Mike Seabrook. This book has it all for me: military/historical accuracy, great characters, beautiful love story, and the most tragically ironic ending I have ever read.
Paperback: 235 pages
Publisher: Gay Men's Press (March 1997)
Publisher Link: http://www.gmppubs.co.uk/cgi-bin/web_store/web_store.cgi
Amazon: Full Circle
An RAF bomb-aimer in World War Two, shot down over the Atlantic, Brian Hales has already had to overcome a crisis of conscience when his lover Ronnie ended their relationship and went to prison as a pacifist. The risks of attempted escape are his next hurdle, bringing him into conflict with his superior officers in the prisoner-of-war camp where he eventually finds himself. But his most disturbing experience is still to come, when he finds himself falling in love with a young German guard. Praised by London's Gay Times for his "psychologically spot-on narratives", Mike Seabrook has brought his keen insight for personal relations in an all-male world to bear on the complexities of friendship with the enemy.
3) Boy I Love by Marion Husband. Normally, I can't stand the standard happy endings that accompany romances. I prefer more realistic or tragic endings. I'm just odd that way. That said, this book delivered on the realism I so wanted and yet, it so tugged at my heart-strings that I actually WANTED one of those happily ever afters for the star couple. That is how much I fell in love with characters and with story.
Paperback: 276 pages
Publisher: Accent Press, Ltd. (April 25, 2009)
Publisher Link: http://www.accentpress.co.uk/category-3/9781905170005.html
Amazon: Boy I Love
Superbly written with engaging characters that are simultaneously strong and weak, compassionate and flawed. The book is a controversial but compulsive read and readers will find their sympathies tugged in unusual directions as they engage with the lives of the characters. The Boy I Love is the first of a two book series – the second book, Paper Moon is set in World War 2 and follows the life of Mick, now a war poet, his son and Robbie, son of Paul and Margot. The story is set in the aftermath of World War One. Paul Harris, still frail after shellshock, returns to his father’s home and to the arms of his secret lover, Adam. He discovers that Margot, the fiancée of his dead brother, is pregnant and marries her through a sense of loyalty. Through Adam he finds work as a schoolteacher; while setting up a home with Margot he continues to see Adam. Pat Morgan who was a sergeant in Paul’s platoon, runs a butcher’s shop in town and cares for his twin brother, Mick who lost both legs in the war. Pat yearns for the closeness he experienced with Paul in the trenches. Set in a time when homosexuality was ‘the love that dare not speak it’s name’ the story develops against the backdrop of the strict moral code of the period. Paul has to decide where his loyalty and his heart lies as all the characters search hungrily for the love and security denied them during the war.
4) Whistling in the Dark by Tamara Allen. While book has been featured on a few Inside Reader lists already, it is one of my favorites in the sweet romance/historical fiction catergory that I couldn't dream of not listing it.
Paperback: 340 pages
Publisher: Lethe Press; New edition (January 3, 2009)
Publisher Link: http://lethepressbooks.com/gay.htm#allen-whistling-in-the-dark
Amazon: Whistling in the Dark
His career as a concert pianist ended by a war injury, Sutton Albright returns to college, only to be expelled after an affair with a teacher. Unable to face his family, he heads to New York with no plans and little money—only a desire to call his life his own. Jack Bailey lost his parents to influenza and now hopes to save the family novelty shop by advertising on the radio, a medium barely more than a novelty, itself. His nights are spent in a careless and debauched romp through the gayer sections of Manhattan. When these two men cross paths, despite a world of differences separating them, their attraction cannot be denied. Sutton finds himself drawn to the piano, playing for Jack. But can his music heal them both, or will sudden prosperity jeopardize their chance at love?
5) The Phoenix by Ruth Sims. This is another book that has already been featured as well, but it, too, is another favorite. When I read it I kept hoping somehow that Kit would somehow meet Oscar Wilde- certainly fueled some interesting daydreams, I'll say.
Paperback: 372 pages
Publisher: Lethe Press; New edition (February 1, 2009)
Publisher Link: http://lethepressbooks.com/gay.htm#sims-the-phoenix
Amazon: The Phoenix
At fourteen, Kit St. Denys brought down his abusive father with a knife. At twenty-one his theatrical genius brought down the house. At thirty, his past—and his forbidden love—nearly brought down the curtain for good. A compelling Victorian saga of two men whose love for each other transcends time and distance—and the society that considers it an abomination. Set in the last twenty years of the 19th century, The Phoenix is a multi-layered historical novel that illuminates poverty and child abuse, theatre history in America and England, betrayal, a crisis of conscience, violence and vengeance, and the treatment of insanity at a time when such treatment was in its infant stage. Most of all it is a tale of love on many levels, from carnal to devoted friendship to sacrifice.
6) A Heart Divided by J. M. Snyder. This story is short, taking place in the space of two days, but it draws you in and keeps you with the wonderful writing and the tender love story.
Paperback: 124 pages
Publisher: Amber Quill Press, LLC (May 12, 2009)
Publisher Link: http://www.amberquill.com/AmberAllure/HeartDivided.html
Amazon: A Heart Divided
Confederate Lieutenant Anderson Blanks has grown weary of the War Between the States. He is all too aware of the tenuous thread that ties him to this earth—as he writes a letter home to his sister, he realizes he may be among the dead by the time she receives the missive. His melancholy mood is shared by other soldiers in the campsite; in the cool Virginia night, the pickets claim to hear ghosts in the woods, and their own talk spooks them. Andy knows the “ghost” is nothing more than a wounded soldier left on the battlefield, dying in the darkness. With compassion, Andy takes the picket’s lantern and canteen in the hopes of easing the soldier’s pain. After a tense confrontation with the soldier, Andy is shocked to discover none other than Samuel Talley, a young man Andy’s father had chased from their plantation when the romantic relationship between the two boys came to light. The last time the two had seen each other, Sam had been heading west to seek his fortune, and had promised to send for Andy when he could. Then the war broke out, and Andy had enlisted in the Confederate Army to help ease the financial burden at home. Apparently Sam had similar ideas—he now wears the blue coat of a Union solider. Sam is severely wounded and infection has begun to set in. Andy can’t sneak him into his own camp for treatment because all Union soldiers are taken prisoner. But Andy’s Confederate uniform prevents him from seeking help from the nearby Union camp, as well. It’s up to Andy to tend his lover’s wound and get Sam the help he needs before it’s too late...and before Andy’s compatriots discover Sam’s presence...
7) Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. This work was my first introduction to the world of queer theory and literary criticism and was the foundation of my senior thesis. The section on Charles Dickens "Our Mutual Friend" confirmed my thought that there was something lovely going on between Eugene Wrayburn and Mortimer Lightwood and blew my mind with what was written on the rival relationship between Eugene and Bradley Headstone.
Paperback: 244 pages
Publisher: Columbia University Press (June 15, 1985)
Publisher Link: http://cup.columbia.edu/book/978-0-231-08273-0/between-men
Amazon: Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire
Hailed by the New York Times as "one of the most influential texts in gender studies, men's studies and gay studies," this book uncovers the homosocial desire between men, from Restoration comedies to Tennyson's Princess.
8) Queering Gothic in the Romantic Age: The Penetrating Eye by Max Fincher. This is another work I used for my senior thesis- chiefly the section concerning John Polidori's homoerotic novella "The Vampyre".
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan (June 26, 2007)
Publisher Link: http://www.palgrave.com/products/title.aspx?PID=275869
Amazon: Queering Gothic in the Romantic Age: The Penetrating Eye
Queering Gothic in the Romantic Age is a provocative study of how the 'penetrating eye' of the Gothic villain is a metaphor for the gaze that inscribes and polices desire in Gothic writing, especially given the vigilance over same-sex desire in the Romantic period. Biographical and critical scrutiny about the sexuality of writers like Walpole, Beckford, Lewis, Godwin and Byron is less important than how such narratives of suspicion, interpretation of the body and gender help us to understand the queerness of Gothic.
9) Horrifying Sex: Essays on Sexual Difference in Gothic Literature by Ruth Bienstock Anolik. Yet another work that influenced my senior thesis. The section on Bram Stoker's "Dracula" was invaluable.
Paperback: 276 pages
Publisher: McFarland & Company (July 2, 2007)
Publisher Link: http://www.mcfarlandpub.com/book-2.php?id=978-0-7864-3014-7
Amazon: Horrifying Sex: Essays on Sexual Difference in Gothic Literature
The Gothic moment in literary history arose in the age of the Enlightenment, and the Gothic fascination with the unknown reflects the Enlightenment’s response to the limits of reason. Traditionally, the emblem of the unknown that lurks in the Gothic is the supernatural, the monstrous, and the inhuman. Often overlooked is the observation that Gothic texts are also haunted by figures that represent the mystery of sexuality. This collection of essays sharpens that observation and asserts that Gothic anxieties about sexuality are likewise rooted in fear of the unknown, represented by sexual practices and desires that either lie hidden or deviate from cultural norms. The first three sections refer to popular as well as marginalized Gothic texts to portray the three prototypes of sexual "deviance": the female sexual Other in "The Fatal Woman"; the male sexual Other in "The Satanic Male"; and the homosexual Other in "Homosexual Horror." The fourth section covers literary works that celebrate sexual difference and question the idea that the sexually "deviant" is socially Other.
10) Other Russias: Homosexuality and the Crisis of Post-Soviet Identity by Brian James Baer. I found this while working at the library and, admittedly, it was the cover that caught my eye: a photograph of two soldiers kissing in the snow surrounded by birches. I immediately checked it out and I am so glad I did. It was an amazing read and fueled my desire to research further on Russian homosexuality and identity.
Hardcover: 228 pages
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan (April 14, 2009)
Publisher Link: http://www.palgrave.com/products/title.aspx?PID=325281
Amazon: Other Russias: Homosexuality and the Crisis of Post-Soviet Identity
This book examines the unprecedented explosion of homosexual discourse in post-Soviet Russia and details how homosexuality has come to signify a surprising and often contradictory array of uniquely post-Soviet concerns.
About Stephan: I'm an aspiring historical fiction short story writer (male/male stories) and also an aspiring essayist on homosexual history and I wrote my senior thesis on the use of homoeroticism in the Victorian vampire Stories of John Polidori, J. Sheridan Le Fanu, and Bram Stoker". I am also very much an antique queer Oscar Wilde sort of man in a female body. Education: B.A. in History, A.A. in Behavioral Science, A.S. in Library Science, and a Library Technology Certificate.