Sunday, April 24, 2011

What hole have I been hiding in?

OK, yes, I've been dealing with some minor but pesky health issues and yes, menopause has destroyed my sleep which in turn makes it a huge effort to do, well, almost anything beyond dragging myself to work every day, and yes, I've been trying to get some writing done...the result of all of which is that I haven't been following literary news very closely, or pushing myself to get to literary events, which is mostly fine but not entirely. Nothing excuses how out of touch I've become with developments in LGBT fiction. Never fear: I'm on it! I'm going to do my best to get to the May 12 reading at Bluestockings bookstore by some of this year's Lambda Literary Award finalists. (Here's a list of all the readings in various cities.)

And I'm all over this. The Lambda Literary Foundation just awarded its Mid-Career Novelist Prize to Susan Stinson and Alex Sanchez. Neither of whose work--oh the shame, the shame--I have read. An omission I am correcting as we speak. I've actually already had some of Sanchez's books on my to-read list, especially since last autumn's spate of LGBT youth suicides drew my attention to Young Adult books for our precious queer kids. I read some, but not yet his, and this award reminds me to get to that soon.

And Susan Stinson--what fucking hole have I been hiding in not to have known of or read her work? Sure, you never know whether you're going to like a book, and absolutely, I have been misled many times by glowing blurbs and even awards. But I've just spent some time on her website and I gotta tell you (and don't tell Teresa), I think I'm in love. Based on her own characterizations of her work and what she explores in it, and the lauds of some pretty impressive others. And based on the short piece, "Drink," featured on her homepage. Hot damn! It's dazzling! Her latest novel, Venus of Chalk, just took a top spot on my to-read list.

I was one of the fellows at the first annual Lambda LGBT Writers' Retreat in Los Angeles four summers ago, and I tried for a while to stay in the loop. Obviously, my efforts lagged. With limited time and energy, it's usually write or hang with writers and writing has to take priority. Still, as I've been thinking about lately since this spring's round of rejections dashed my hopes for an arts colony residency in July, while writing is a solitary business it's not good to be too isolated. There's a certain stimulation, a certain quickening of the blood and loosening up of new ideas, that happens, or can, in the company of writers, at least interesting, exciting, progressive writers. LGBT writers exploring some of the same terrain I'm trying to. So, to Alex Sanchez and Susan Stinson: congratulations, looking forward to reading your work, and thanks for spurring me to get back out into the world a bit.