Text and live photos © Robert Barry Francos
Book cover images from the Internet
It was a cold evening last night, March 25, as I drove to the feminist-focused Bent Pages bookstore at 391 Van Duzer St., on Staten Island. It is directly across from the Cup (nee the Muddy Cup), and diagonally from music scene legendary bar, Martini Red.
This spot is a sort of trifecta for JD Glass: Her band, Life Underwater, which includes her partner Shane, has performed at the (Muddy) Cup, she had DJ’d at Martini Red, and now she has read from her newest book, X, at the Bent Pages.
When I arrived, JD was deep in discussion with co-speaker Sarah Schulman at a local restaurant, so after dropping in to say hello to her, I spent some time hanging out with Shane and a friend in the warmth of her car, waiting for the magic moment.
At 7:30, as JD and Sarah arrived, we disembarked from the car and all headed into the compact bookstore, which was packed. All were eager to hear the speakers read.
First up was Sarah Shulman, a multiple award winning author and activist who was reading from her newest novel, The Child. Currently, Sarah teaches at the College of Staten Island (CSI), where JD attended for a while a few years ago. Sarah is a prolific writer of novels (The Mere Future [forthcoming 2009], The Child, Shimmer, Rat Bohemia, Empathy, People In Trouble, After Delores, Girls, Visions and Everything, The Sophie Horowitz Story), nonfiction books (The Twist: Familial Homophobia And Its Consequences [forthcoming], The Gentrification Of The Mind [forthcoming], Stagestruck: Theater, AIDS, and The Marketing Of Gay America, My American History: Lesbian and Gay Life During The Reagan/Bush Years), and plays Carson McCullers, Manic Flight Reaction, The Burning Deck, and Enemies: A Love Story.
In The Child, from which Sarah read a chapter, a gay man is entrapped by the police after a sting in a bathroom. It was humorous and terrifying at parts.
Then JD Glass read a chapter from her newest novel, X. She is also the author of Lambda Literary Award finalist Punk Like Me, its follow up Punk And Zen, Lambda Literary and Ben Franklin Award finalist Red Light, and American Goth (I have read – with enormous pleasure – all of these previous novels). She also has the forthcoming Yuri Monogatari 6 anthology with a side story from American Goth (Sakura Gun (London)), and graphic novels Sakura Gun, and Legacy Of Stone, an anthology work in progress with fellow author Gabrielle Goldsby.
This new book, X, is different from her previous exercises in a number of ways. The first four were dark modern gothic novels with a supernatural bent. This new one is more of a cyberpunk mystery. Also, as JD pointed out to a round of humor and applause, this novel is not in first person narrative (the crowd reaction a positive acknowledgement of growth of the author’s style). I look forward to reading it.
Next, Sarah came up and read the acknowledgement part of the book, which focused on her struggles to get it published, followed by an open discussion with JD and Sarah over many topics, such as JD’s separation from her present publisher, the media, government, and cultural changing views of lesbians and gays in the Obama era, and what I found most interesting, the question of what makes a fiction “lesbian” (e.g., the author, the story, the characters), and on which store bookshelf should it be found. Sarah also described her debt of thanks to musician Diamanda Galas for her contribution in getting it out. It was a lively discussion from the authors and many in the audience.
For an interview this blog did with my good friend JD Glass, check the FFanzeen Blog archives: December 8, 2007 (Part 1); February 19, 2008 (Part 2).
[JD Glass and Sarah Schulman discuss over dinner]
[The book table]
[Sarah Shulman reads a chapter]
[JD Glass reads from her book]
[JD leads the discussion]