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What They Say About Back Men, And Four Other Books To Heat Up Your Summer Beach Reading

by Rob Smith July 04, 2016

The Fourth of July is upon us, and it’s the perfect time for the four B’s: booze, boys, beaches and BOOKS! We’re pretty sure you can handle the first three, but if you need some help with #3, Queerty has got you covered as always.

Here are Five Books To Heat Up Your Summer Beach Reading:


#1 – A Little Life

A Little Life is bleak. Seriously, like step in front of a moving bus after you’ve finished reading the last page bleak. BUT if you can get through the punishing subject matter and relentlessness of its execution, you’ll find an engaging and deeply moving exploration of male friendship over the course of decades. Jude, Malcolm, J.B., and Willem start A Little Life as scrappy up-and-comers dealing with post-undergrad life in New York City.

As the decades pass and more is revealed about each man and the horrific backstory of one in particular, they each grow quite differently by the end of the novel. These four men – some gay, some straight, some stubbornly unwilling to label their sexuality – will alternately infuriate you and make you fall a little in love with each. You know, just like your real friends.

A Little Life will break your heart, but, as in life, a little heartbreak is always worthwhile in the end.



#2- Dangerous When Wet

Jamie Brickhouse’s delicious, dishy gay memoir about coming of age as a gay man in 80’s New York City, dealing with alcoholism, and negotiating his relationship with his domineering Mama June should be at the top of your list. It’s fun and light, but doesn’t skimp on the drama, especially when dealing with the author’s struggles with alcoholism and eventual HIV diagnosis.

However, one read through our revealing interview with Brickhouse and you’ll know he’s not exactly feeling sorry for himself – and neither should you. The gay memoir is a genre we really enjoy, and if you’re a fan, we suspect you’ll dig Dangerous When Wet too.


#3 – Is It True What They Say About Black Men?

Is It True What They Say About Black Men? is not a great book. It meanders, the writer “tells” and doesn’t “show,” and the jumps in timeline are more confusing than anything else. It also fails to live up to that sensational title. And yet, with all these faults, it is intensely fascinating.

Jeremy Helligar’s memoir about his travels and sexual and social experiences with other men across the globe is unlike most books out there right now, and he gives a hell of an interview. Though it lacks the editor that could’ve made this OK book good or even great, it’s a worthwhile read because it’s so utterly different than most gay memoirs that hit the shelves.

It’s good for at least a chuckle or two, and if you’re old-school and are seen reading the actual book on the beach, that title and cover will make for a hell of a conversation starter.


#4 – The Frog and Toad Collection

Since Frog and Toad have been a stealthy gay couple all this time, why not celebrate their union by catching up on all their adventures over the years? Sure, you’ll look just a bit silly for reading a kid’s book on the beach, but if someone asks you, it can make for another conversation starter.

All you have to do is reference this article that takes you through all the ways Frog and Toad were working out their couple issues through the decades under the guise of “friendship.” Bert and Ernie aren’t the only stealth gays in an LTR, so this summer pay homage to the OG’s with The Frog and Toad Collection.



#5 – Faggots

Faggots is not a memoir, but Larry Kramer’s seminal work about the lives of a certain type of gay men living in New York City in the 70’s. They are well-dressed, well-heeled, oversexed, party way too much, and have so much sex in the backrooms of bars and their beach houses on Fire Island Pines that they have a very hard time connecting to each other for relationships or true companionship. If it sounds a little familiar, well, that’s the point.

While Kramer’s satire is dead-on, his execution is a bit overwrought, and his intended message (the sex-obsession of gay men hinders true intimacy) is delivered with the subtlety of cologne purchased from a mall kiosk. Still, there’s a reason this book has never gone out of print, and why it still enrages and provokes decades later.

Rob Smith
Rob Smith


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