Show me the books he loves and I shall know the man far better than through mortal friends - Silas Weir MitchellSometime ago I read Double Bond by Nick Nolan; I liked a lot that book, but it would have for sure a better read together with its prequel, Strings Attached. Unfortunately in that moment, the both books were self-published by the author, and so not so easy to retrieve. I was glad to find out that both books are now re-released with new covers and hopefully wider distribution. Of course it was my pleasure to ask Nick if he wanted to do an Inside Reader List in the occasion of the re-release Double Bond.
Inside Reader’s List for Nick Nolan
1) Perfect Freedom (and anything else) by Gordon Merrick. In the 1970’s, Gordon Merrick was the Aaron Spelling of sticky gay fiction. His books are guilty pleasures brimming with blazing hot men, unbelievably explicit sex, sappy love (“Oh, Darling, I’ve missed you!” “Oh, Darling, I’ve missed you, too!”), and arching melodrama. Perfect Freedom takes place in the South of France pre-WWII, and is a bawdy coming-of-age story about a delicious youth who—once deflowered—becomes as insatiable as a satyr on Viagra. So if you’re planning a summer vacation, be sure to pack any (or all) of Merrick’s works in your Louis Vuitton luggage—then once you get poolside, order a double and switch off your iPod.
Paperback: 456 pages
Publisher: Alyson Books; 1st Alyson Ed edition (July 15, 1999)
Amazon: Perfect Freedom
2) Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir by Paul Monette. Paul Monette succumbed to AIDS in 1995; thus was silenced one of our most articulate and brave voices. However, Borrowed Time will serve future GLBT generations as a vivid time capsule for that tragic and toxic era when lots of nice, educated people actually believed that homosexuals were perverts, and AIDS was ‘God’s Punishment.’ This book served as the greatest single inspiration for me to become a writer, while giving reassurance to thousands of gay men suffering (or providing comfort to someone) with AIDS that they were not alone. If I were teaching ‘Gay History 101,’ this would be required reading.
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Mariner Books (June 1, 1998)
Publisher Link: http://www.hmhbooks.com/catalog/titledetail.cfm?titleNumber=1182773
Amazon: Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir
This "tender and lyrical" memoir (New York Times Book Review) remains one of the most compelling documents of the AIDS era-"searing, shattering, ultimately hope inspiring account of a great love story" (San Francisco Examiner). A National Book Critics Circle Award finalist and the winner of the PEN Center West literary award
3) The Best Little Boy in the World by Andrew Tobias. Having come of age as a brow-beaten, Irish Catholic gay boy in the late 1970’s (am I that old?), I devoured this lighthearted autobiography about a queer kid who’d been trained to willfully deny just about everything human about himself; I was sure that Andrew Tobias had somehow channeled me while writing it. I’m recovered now, thanks to a string of good therapists, a partner who chastises me should I momentarily regress into my BLBITW routine, and this book.
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books (May 11, 1993)
Publisher Link: http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780345381767
Amazon: The Best Little Boy in the World
The classic account of growing up gay in America. "The best little boy in the world never had wet dreams or masturbated; he always topped his class, honored mom and dad, deferred to elders and excelled in sports . . . . The best little boy in the world was . . . the model IBM exec . . . The best little boy in the world was a closet case who 'never read anything about homosexuality.' . . . John Reid comes out slowly, hilariously, brilliantly. One reads this utterly honest account with the shock of recognition." The New York Times. "The quality of this book is fantastic because it comes of equal parts honesty and logic and humor. It is far from being the story of a Gay crusader, nor is it the story of a closet queen. It is the story of a normal boy growing into maturity without managing to get raped into, or taunted because of, his homosexuality. . . . He is bright enough to be aware of his hangups and the reasons for them. And he writes well enough that he doesn't resort to sensationalism . . . ." San Francisco Bay Area Reporter
4) The God in Flight by Laura Argiri. The closest hardcover in my library to a Victorian gothic novel, the God in Flight regales the forbidden, star-crossed passion between a swarthy, handsome Greek college professor and his Adonic 16 year old student (think Romeo and Juliet mashed up with the old ‘Flipper’ TV series, with Porter Ricks and Sandy engaged in unspeakable love). The sexual frustration is palpable and Argiri’s language is fragrant, albeit ponderously detailed in places—but if my house were on fire, this tome would get tucked under my arm.
Paperback: 496 pages
Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics) (May 1, 1996)
Amazon: The God in Flight
In 1878, while attending Yale University and trying to escape his father's abusiveness, Simion Satterwhite meets art professor Doriskos Klionarios, and they begin a tumultuous love affair scorned by their society.
5) War Against the Animals by Paul Russell. War Against the Animals is a page-turner about a melancholy, middle-aged AIDS survivor who falls for a studly and naïve young redneck who’s under the control of his scheming older brother. Russell’s writing here is as taut as a trampoline bounced upon from above and below. This is an elegant, challenging, and subtly erotic read that’s long on longing and short on nothing. You’ll find yourself forgetting to exhale.
Paperback: 358 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (August 12, 2004)
Publisher Link: http://us.macmillan.com/waragainsttheanimals
Amazon: War Against the Animals
Widely praised for his deft prose and brilliant characterizations, Paul Russell has become increasingly regarded as one of the finest contemporary American novelists. Now, withWar Against the Animals, he returns with his richest, most accomplished, and most compelling work yet. Living in small town in upstate New York, middle-aged Cameron Barnes has, after almost dying, recently recovered a measure of health and is trying to find a way to reenter the world outside. As part of this, Cameron hires two local brothers in their early twenties, Jesse and Kyle, to renovate a barn on his property. Kyle sees an opportunity in Cameron, pushing his brother Jesse to befriend him and take advantage of Cameron's boredom and directionlessness. Caught between the opposing worlds embodied by Cameron and Kyle, Jesse is torn by the demands of his brother, the expectations of his family and community, and his own mix of volatile, contradictory emotions.
6) An Arrow’s Flight by Mark Merlis. My own novels are adaptations of fairy tales, so I adored this brilliant, tongue-in-cheek deconstruction of the story of mythic Achilles’ son Pyrrhus, who works as a naked go-go boy in ancient Greece. The inventive prose in An Arrow’s Flight is as irreverent as it is clever, and I’d wager that you’ll laugh as much as your loins will stir. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Dazzling.
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Stonewall Inn Editions (September 24, 1999)
Amazon: An Arrow’s Flight
The award-winning An Arrow's Flight tells the story of the Trojan War and Pyrrhus, the son of the fallen Achilles, now working as a go-go boy and hustler in the big city. Magically blending ancient headlines and modern myth, Merlis creates a fabulous new world where legendary heroes declare their endowments in personal ads and any panhandler may be a divinity in disguise. Comical, moving, startling in its audacity and range, An Arrow's Flight is a profound meditation on gay identity, straight power, and human liberation.
7) Death in Venice by Thomas Mann. Sad, poignant and homoerotic, Mann’s descriptions of turn-of-the-century Venice in the throes of a cholera epidemic have haunted me for decades. I did a book report on Death in Venice in high school: relaying the aging, stifled Aschenbach’s twisted obsession for twink Tadzio in front of a batch of Republican/Christian teenagers was my first act of coming out (Mrs. Carruth, my beloved English teacher, beamed at me throughout the entire presentation).
Paperback: 96 pages
Publisher: Dover Publications (August 10, 1995)
Publisher Link: http://store.doverpublications.com/0486287149.html
Amazon: Death in Venice
Celebrated novella of a middle-aged German writer's tormented passion for a Polish youth met on holiday in Venice, and its tragic consequences. Powerful evocation of the mysterious forces of death and disintegration in the midst of existence, and the isolation of the artist in 20th-century life. New translation and extensive commentary.
8) Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx. I read a reprint of Brokeback Mountain in the New Yorker while at the gym one day. And while perspiring profusely on the eliptical machine (“…the motel room smelled of sweat and semen…”) I was captivated, stunned and depressed—not only because of the story’s pathos, but also for the realization that I will never attain, as a writer, that perfectly-pitched voice with which Ms. Proulx’s writing sings.
Paperback: 64 pages
Publisher: Scribner; Original edition (November 1, 2005)
Publisher Link: http://books.simonandschuster.com/Brokeback-Mountain/Annie-Proulx/9780743271325
Amazon: Brokeback Mountain
WINNER OF THE VENICE FILM FESTIVAL GOLDEN LION AWARD. Annie Proulx has written some of the most original and brilliant short stories in contemporary literature, and for many, Brokeback Mountain is her masterpiece. Ennis del Mar and Jack Twist, two ranch hands, come together when they're working as sheep herder and camp tender one summer on a range above the tree line. At first, sharing an isolated tent, the attraction is casual, inevitable, but something deeper catches them that summer. Both men work hard, marry, have kids because that's what cowboys do. But over the course of many years and frequent separations this relationship becomes the most important thing in their lives, and they do anything they can to preserve it. Brokeback Mountain was originally published in the New Yorker -- it won the National Magazine Award and was included in the O. Henry Stories 1998. In gorgeous and haunting prose Proulx limns the difficult, dangerous affair between two cowboys that survives everything but the world's violent intolerance.
9) Boulevard of Broken Dreams (the life, times and legend of James Dean) by Paul Alexander. James Dean was gay. There, I said it. And Paul Alexander asserts in Boulevard of Broken Dreams that this very cornerstone of his persona became the foundation of his brief, legendary career. In his three starring roles, Dean portrayed the ostracized outsider so convincingly because he WAS one: Jimmy was a brilliant, gay farmboy whom the Hollywood machine molded into a ‘hetero’ leading man (with Dean’s eager complicity, of course). Meticulously researched and composed, the outraged reviews on Amazon only serve to confirm the book’s juicy validity. Ha!
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Plume (May 1, 1997)
Publisher Link: http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780452278400,00.html?strSrchSql=0452278406/Boulevard_of_Broken_Dreams_Paul_Alexander
Amazon: Boulevard of Broken Dreams (the life, times and legend of James Dean)
This is the first biography of James Dean to look beyond the Hollywood-manufactured cliché to the volatile polarities, conflicted sexuality, and childhood trauma of the person himself. James Dean's legendary status as a Hollywood icon is reconsidered in Boulevard of Broken Dreams, which explores the process by which he became the electric and exciting actor who came to stand for a whole generation's feelings of rebellion. What no one knew at the highlight of his career was that Dean had suffered agonies of torment over his own sexual ambivalence and the concealment that Hollywood studio mores made necessary. Author Paul Alexander talks to Dean's contemporaries, unearths all available source material, and re-creates not only the closed and closeted world of Hollywood in the '50s but the bucolic serenity of Dean's hometown in Indiana as well. This revisionist, passionate portrait, based on many new and documented sources and featuring shocking photographs, argues that Dean's angst-ridden compliance—in public—with rigid sexual expectations helped fuel the fury and electricity of his acting. Its conclusions will be a revelation to film buffs, gay readers, pop-culture aficionados, and everyone concerned with the ethics of image versus reality.
10) On Writing by Stephen King. Stephen King is frank, funny and fascinating in this narrative, while allowing us to see how he throws the levers behind his prolific ‘Wizard of Oz-ish’ curtains. If you aspire to write, you MUST read this book; there are lots of tips and good advice here—plus it’s compelling to read King’s own tribulations (the sections on his brush with death, as well as his sobriety, are especially candid). One piece of advice from On Writing that I’ve never forgotten: after you’re absolutely, positively convinced that your novel is finished, tuck it in a drawer and don’t look at it for three months before re-writing it again … and that’s exactly where my third novel is at this very moment.
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Pocket (May 22, 2001)
Publisher Link: http://books.simonandschuster.com/On-Writing/Stephen-King/9780671024253
Amazon: On Writing
"Long live the King" hailed Entertainment Weekly upon the publication of Stephen King's On Writing. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer's craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King's advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported near-fatal accident in 1999 -- and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it -- fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.
About Nick Nolan: Nick Nolan was born and raised in Los Angeles. After working nights and weekends selling furniture to put himself through college, Nolan went on to direct a group home for homeless and abused GLBT youth. During his scant spare time, he began writing. Inspired by the works of writers Armistead Maupin, Paul Russell, and Paul Monette, he penned his debut novel, Strings Attached, the first in a planned trilogy. Shortly after its release, Strings Attached was named the 2006 Gay/Lesbian Book of the Year by ForeWord Magazine, hit #1 in Gay Fiction on Amazon.com, and spent nearly a year in that genre's Top 10. Two years later Nolan's second thriller Double Bound won Book of the Year awards for Gay/Lesbian Fiction by both ForeWord Magazine and ReaderViews.
In 2009 Nick was delighted to sign with AmazonEncore, so that his two novels might reach a wider audience. AmazonEncore released an edited and improved Strings Attached on March 9, 2010, and Double Bound will follow on May 25.
Nick, his partner and their two beloved dogs divide their time between their home in the San Fernando Valley and their cabin high in the mountains of California. A third novel is expected soon.
Strings Attached by Nick Nolan
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: AmazonEncore (March 9, 2010)
Amazon: Strings Attached
Closeted teenager Jeremy is sent to live with wealthy relatives after his mother enters rehab. Struggling to fit into the posh world of Ballena Beach, Jeremy joins the high school swim team, dates a popular girl, and begins to think he may have landed in paradise—until his great aunt Katharine starts to dictate his every move … and a late-night phone call insinuates that his father’s accidental death was not so accidental after all.
As Jeremy grows accustomed to the veneer of a fabulous life, so grows his need for answers—as well as the danger of immeasurable harm. Weaving together a murder mystery, sexual ambiguity, and characters with hidden identities and agendas , Nick Nolan offers readers a deliciously witty page-turner about the “puppet” who wishes only to be a real boy. Strings Attached is also a surprisingly heartfelt story about coming-of-age and coming out—not necessarily in that order.
Double Bond by Nick Nolan
Paperback: 339 pages
Publisher: AmazonEncore (June 1, 2010)
Amazon: Double Bond
Named 2008 'Book of the Year' by both ForeWord Magazine and ReaderViews, this adaptation of Jack and the Beanstalk is a modern tale of passion, deception, and danger: Because of Katharine Tyler's investment in a Brazilian island resort, she sends her handsome young nephew Jeremy with his lover Carlo to assess its progress. And though hunky ex-Marine Arthur Blauefee serves as their bodyguard, the trio strives against a charming trickster, sensual temptation, a kidnapping, and an unexpected double-cross, where Aunt Katharine plays puppet-master before getting tangled in her own strings. Although DOUBLE BOUND features the central characters from 2006 Book of the Year winner STRINGS ATTACHED, this is Arthur's story: his heartbreaking youth, his precarious days as a gay US Marine, then his treacherous--and deliciously fulfilling--journey to Brazil, where he is challenged to heroism, while agonizing between his conscience, and his blistering desire for the one man he's forbidden to love.