The Lambda Literary Awards are given by the Lambda Literary Foundation each year at BookExpo America. This year the Ceremony will be in Chicago Thursday, May 31, 2001. Contact www.lambdalit.org. LLF produces the Lambda Book Report (Subscriptions $29.95 a year. POB 73910, Washington DC 20056)
In a tie, the winners were Gay Spirituality by Toby Johnson and It's Never About Whast It's About by Krandall Kraus and Paul Borjas.
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The Silence of Sodom
by Mark Jordan
University of Chicago Press, 322 pages, hb, $25.00
The beginning of this book is precious! The author asks: What if one night the Holy Spirit revealed to the priests in the Vatican that they should change the Church's stance on homosexuality? Who'd bring it up the next morning over coffee with the Pope?
Then he says: Maybe the Holy Spirit is revealing this every night and nobody ever has the nerve to say anything?
Addressing the perplexing question of how the Catholic Church can be at once so homophobic and so homoerotic, Emory University Professor Mark Jordan examines the Church's complex bureaucratic language about sexual morality, noting the rhetorical devices that have been used to maintain silence about homosexuality as though no Catholic priest would ever have had any knowledge of it at all. Contrasting the official silence, as Jordan points out, is the obvious overlap between Catholic culture and gay culture and the blatant homosexuality within religious life.
For those who've been Catholic seminarians or religious, there's a poignancy to the discussion, a mix of nostalgia and anger. The Church after all had promised so much, and delivered so little, especially when it came to offering guidance to the gay boys it naturally attracted. The book is a nice blend of personal anecdote and serious scholarship, a profound meditation on the spiritual meaning of being gay in spite of the power of religion to confuse the issue.
It's Never About What It's About
by Krandall Kraus & Paul Borja
Alyson Books, 178 p, $12.95
Subtitled "What We Learned About Living While We Were Waiting to Die," this is a thought-provoking, soulful exploration of how life can change for the better when one faces one's mortality with courage and openness. Kraus and Borjas tell how they went looking for answers to the big questions and began living more meaningful and conscious lives, learning to connect the frustrating outer world of other people and things with the inner world of heart, mind, and soul.
A delightful book, that deals with the big questions with the same sort of tongue-in-cheek wisdom and simplicity of words as those in the title. It's about "smelling the roses," but so much more than that too.
Krandall Kraus is author of the classic The President's Son and the wonderful mystical novel Bardo. His mystery romance Love's Last Chance is also nominated for a Lammy this year in that category.
ed Catherine Lake
Queer Press, 189 pages, $14.95
ReCreations: Religion and Spirituality in the Lives of Queer People, edited and with an introduction by Catherine Lake, is an anthology of a variety of literary forms: fiction, essay, poetry, biographical sketch, some specifically about religion, many with the broader focus we call spirituality. Most of the pieces are fairly short and so there can be a great many of them, 56 in fact. The collection is a marvelous demonstration of diversity.
ReCreations is a product of Canada, and this seems to show in the array of different voices from different religions, different races, different sexes, different countries, different ways of being homosexual and lesbian. The accounts demonstrate the richness of queer people's quests for meaning and fulness of life.
One of the themes is the conflict between the lives of queer people and the traditional religious structures, but the discussion is much bigger than church. The sections are titled Witness, Exile, and Sanctuary. These are themes in the book and in queer people lives that lead us beyond church to a fuller spirituality. Toby Johnson has an essay in the collection.
by Toby Johnson
Alyson Books, 276 pages, $13.95
Gay Spirituality: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness by White Crane editor Toby Johnson has been reviewed in these pages previously.
This book has occasionally garnered an enthusiastic response. In a tongue-in-cheek fit of such enthusiasm, Dennis Paddie called for Katy and Matt to invite Johnson to speak to the nation on the TODAY Show. And, in RFD, White Crane contributor Bruce (Swami) Grether opined that people's just reading the book would save the world. Johnson has received many positive comments and emails.
On the other hand, the mainstream gay press hasn't paid any attention and Gay Sex & Spirit, the Australian parallel publication to WCJ, panned the book as too general and vague. But it's done pretty well, it was on the Blade's Bestseller List last summer, and Alyson has requested a follow-up title from Toby. White Crane is proud to be a recipient of Johnson's success with this book--in the form of an increase in subscriptions with Gay Spirituality being listed as how you heard about WCJ.
Toby's soft science fiction romance Secret Matter (which imagines interdimensional Visitors--with very pro-gay consciousness--coming from an alternate Earth on which Adam and Eve didn't eat the apple) won a 1990 Lammy for Gay Men's Science Fiction/Fantasy.
by Gloria E. Anzaldua
Routledge, 320 pages, $18.95
Considering the interview process an intermediate form of writing, as well as a means of self-discovery, feminist theorist and lesbian Chicana writer Gloria E. Anzaldúa has given a multitude of interviews over the past 20 years. Ten of these, the earliest dating from 1982, are collected here by AnaLouise Keating. These interviews shed light on Anzaldúa's theories of convergence and the mestizaje, her use of the term New Tribalism, her spiritual views, the role of hallucinogenic drugs in her creativity, her literary influences, and the genesis of her various books, especially her best-known works, This Bridge Called My Back and Borderlands/La Frontera.
Especially interesting is what Anzaldua calls conocimientos --alternate ways of knowing that synthesize reflection with action to create knowledge systems that challenge the status quo. Here is a political, revolutionary vision based in a mystical, spiritual understanding of life and the universe.
Contained in these pages are the kind of world-encompassing, sweeping ideas that demonstrate the gay and lesbian contribution to the spiritual evolution of the world. A prophetess of the new order, Gloria E. Anzaldua is a winner of the Before Columbus Foundation American Book Award, the Lambda Lesbian Small Press Book Award, a NEA Fiction Award, and the Sappho Award of Distinction.
Last update June 21, 2001