The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!
A full-hearted homecoming story of reckoning with the past as it hits you hard and fast all while trying to carve a way forward–when for so long it looked like the only way was straight. Bounces around the lives of late 30s queer Latino and his former classmates and family to map out the landscape of the suburbs and the inner lives America so often pushes aside. Astute, enraged, and charming as hell.
The Town of Babylon by Alejandro Varela, (List Price: $27, Astra House, 9781662601033, March 2022)
Reviewed by Luis Correa, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia
The closeted son of a nobleman has his life completely up-ended in one day. After being informed of his betrothal to a noblewoman of a neighboring country to cement a trade alliance, Val is forcibly outed by his abusive ex-lover in the worst possible way. Fortunately for him, the neighboring country is much more accepting than his own and the ambassador’s response to this new information is to switch Val’s intended marriage partner to the brother of the previous woman. The story from there unfolds on two plot lines: the very sweet romance between Val and his husband-to-be and the very bloody political intrigue that erupts due to objections to the political alliance their marriage represents. Overall excellent and I highly recommend it.
A Strange and Stubborn Endurance by Foz Meadows, (List Price: $27.99, Tor Books, 9781250829139, July 2022)
Reviewed by Kelly McLeod, The Haunted Book Shop in Mobile, Alabama
It is just weeks after the legalization of gay marriage in the U.S. in the summer of 2015. We meet two men who grew up together in the D.C. suburbs and are at opposite ends of what it means to be a gay man at this time in American history. Both are involved in obsessive cross-generational friendships. Sebastian has a complicated relationship with one of his out and proud high school students. Oscar is spending time with a Stonewall generation novelist on the decline. Sebastian is anxious to settle down and assimilate. Oscar is infuriated by what he sees as the death of gay culture in favor of what he views as colorless banality. I loved everything about this book. It is beautifully written and full of profound insights on what happens when a formerly ostracized segment of society becomes incorporated into the general population and what that means, good and bad, for the individuals that are part of it. Stunning!
Let’s Get Back to the Party by Zak Salih, (List Price: $16.95, Algonquin Books, 9781643752075, June 2022)
Reviewed by Kelly Justice, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia
Three cheers for Albert Entwistle! I snuggled into this heartwarming "it’s never too late" coming-out story right away and loved watching this gentle man bloom. Albert is painfully lonely, staying far in the back of the closet and avoiding human connections all his adult life. But forced retirement at age 65 pushes him to completely change his life, and he finds that everyone he knows has been rooting for him all along.
The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle by Matt Cain, (List Price: $15.95, A John Scognamiglio Book, 9781496737755, June 2022)
Reviewed by Serena Wyckoff, Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, Florida