Books

Book Club Meeting Dates for our 2023 Winter/Spring Term:

Saturdays online on Zoom: Jan. 14th, Feb. 18th, March 18th, April 29th, May 20th

Time: 11 AM Eastern / 10 AM Central / 8 AM Pacific Time

View Our Previous Book Club Selections Here


January 14, 2023
My Government Means to Kill Me by Rasheed Newson


Born into a wealthy Black Indianapolis family, Earl “Trey” Singleton III leaves his overbearing parents and their expectations behind by running away to New York City with only a few dollars in his pocket. In the city, Trey meets up with a cast of characters that changes his life forever. He volunteers at a renegade home hospice for AIDS patients, and after being put to the test by gay rights activists, becomes a member of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP). Along the way Trey attempts to navigate past traumas and searches for ways to maintain familial relationships—all while seeking the meaning of life amid so much death. Vibrant, humorous, and fraught with entanglements, Rasheed Newson’s My Government Means to Kill Me is an exhilarating, fast-paced coming-of-age story that lends itself to a larger discussion about what it means for a young gay Black man in the mid-1980s to come to terms with his role in the midst of a political, social, and sexual reckoning.


February 18, 2023
Hurts So Good: The Science and Culture of Pain on Purpose by Leigh Cowart


An exploration of why people all over the world love to engage in pain on purpose–from dominatrices, religious ascetics, and ultramarathoners to ballerinas, icy ocean bathers, and sideshow performers. By participating in many of these activities themselves, and through conversations with psychologists, fellow scientists, and people who seek pain for pleasure, Cowart unveils how our minds and bodies find meaning and relief in pain–a quirk in our programming that drives discipline and innovation even as it threatens to swallow us whole. 


March 18, 2023
Rated RX: Sheree Rose with and after Bob Flanagan edited by Yetta Howard


“The thing that people don’t understand is that Bob was my invention,” says Sheree Rose, the oft-overlooked partner of the late “supermasochist” performance artist Bob Flanagan. Unpacking this statement is at the heart of this important collection, which seeks to recuperate and showcase Rose’s contributions as performer, photographer, writer, and cultural innovator. While Rose is mostly known for blurring the boundaries between art and lived experience in the context of her full-time, mistress-slave relationship with Flanagan, Rated RX shifts focus from Flanagan to Rose, presenting a feminist project that critically reassesses the artistic legacies of Sheree Rose. Curated with attention to queer-crip subjectivities and transgressive feminisms, Rated RX includes essays by and interviews with scholars, artists, and Rose’s collaborators that address gender politics, archival practices, minority embodiment, and disability in Rose’s work as well as more than eighty photographs and rare archival materials reflecting Rose’s recent and past performances. Offering a necessary corrective, Rated RX is the first collection to underscore Sheree Rose as a legendary figure in performance art and BDSM subcultural history, reflecting her lifetime of involvement in documenting the underground and the transformative role her work plays in sexual, subcultural, and art exhibitionism.


April 29, 2023
Blue Movie by Stephan Ferris


Blue Movie is one written and cast from the darkest corners of the Internet. In it, readers will witness the brutal unmaking of a human, the terrifying collapse of hope, and the drug-fueled spiral leading to disaster. A sadistic Nazi, a dungeon death, and an arrest for murder are just a few of the shocking moments in this collection of nearly 80 scenes from the life of a sexual outlaw. And, of course, there are surprises around every corner, including a naked, wandering, and blood-covered zombie on the sidewalks of Brooklyn. Stephan Ferris, an activist attorney also known as gay adult star Blue Bailey, stares down the devil–himself–and gets his hellish existence refocused on recovery and serving his community. But are the monsters gone? Has the terror ended? We are left knowing only that everything could shatter into shards in one white cloud of smoke.


May 20, 2023
Vulgar Genres: Gay Pornographic Writing and Contemporary Fiction by Steven Ruszczycky


Long fixated on visual forms, the field of porn studies is overdue for a book-length study of gay pornographic writing. Steven Ruszczycky delivers with an impressively researched work on the ways gay pornographic writing emerged as a distinct genre in the 1960s and went on to shape queer male subjectivity well into the new millennium.  ​Ranging over four decades, Ruszczycky draws on a large archive of pulp novels and short fiction, lifestyle magazines and journals, reviews, editorial statements, and correspondence. He puts these materials in conversation with works by a number of contemporary writers, including William Carney, Dennis Cooper, Samuel Delany, John Rechy, and Matthew Stadler. While focused on the years 1966 to 2005, Vulgar Genres reveals that the history of gay pornographic writing during this period informs much of what has happened online over the past twenty years, from cruising to the production of digital pornographic texts. The result is a milestone in porn studies and an important contribution to the history of gay life.

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