Tag Archives: queer literature

The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

71iKMkHjSHL Title: The Argonauts
Author: Maggie Nelson
Publisher: Graywolf Press
ISBN: 978-1555977351
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoirs
Pages: 160
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 Stars

Well, I am sure that you wouldn’t have read anything like “The Argonauts” ever before. It is a memoir for sure but not the kind that you’d expect. It doesn’t start-off like that nor does it feel like you are reading a memoir, but a memoir it is. It is the story of Maggie Nelson and her relationship with the artist Harry Dodge. It is also the story of her life and what was, could have been and what eventually came to be. At the same time, Nelson also speaks of so many things that your mind will be pulled in a hundred different directions and you will only enjoy the ride as you read further.

The book didn’t seem strange to me at all (though a lot of people who I know of read it and thought that way). In fact, if anything it seemed very normal to me as she traversed the landscape of sexuality (Harry is neither man nor woman), how it felt (feels) to love Harry, how they got married facing a lot of criticism and yet at the core of this book all I read about was love. Maggie also becomes pregnant with a sperm donor at the same time as Harry takes testosterone and has breast removal surgery. I don’t even know if I can call this queer or anything else. Why must anyone label it?

“The Argonauts” moves beyond all of this. It is about love – maternal, paternal and more. It is about building a home and making a family just like yours and mine. The personal experiences of Nelson merge with the exploratory, bordering intellectual as well. The writing at any point does not feel sentimental. It is matter of fact and not meant to scandalize anyone. I loved the small parts of the book – single sentences that made so much sense when viewed within the larger picture. Also the notes in the margin will make the reading experience even better. “The Argonauts” to me is just an honest account of love, faith, and joys of family-making, which every reader will relate to and enjoy.

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The Gaysi Zine – Issue 04 – Queer Graphic Anthology

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Title: The Gaysi Zine – Issue 04 – Queer Graphic Anthology
Authors and Artists: Various
ISBN: 9770123456008
Publisher: Gaysi
Genre: Queer, LGBT Fiction and Non-Fiction
Pages: 122
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

The fourth Gaysi Zine is out! It is a graphic anthology and let me also tell you that it is the best anthology you might read in 2016. It is of course all about love and other issues but not just limited to the LGBT community (we are very inclusive you see). It is essentially all about different voices coming together, their stories, their losses, their hopes, their loves and all of this told in an all-graphic format.

I could not stop turning the pages and there were times when I also went back right to the top and started all over again. Gaysi Zine is not just a zine or an anthology – to a lot of us it is more than that – perhaps a reason to be hopeful, a reason to come out of the closet and not be pushed back again, a reason to smile and look forward to a new, bright and shiny day.

This anthology has 16 long pieces and so many short posters taken from times gone by – of events, of rebellion, of important landmark moments and more. Like any other reader, I had my favourites and here they are:

1. Going the Solo Route by Soumya Menon – It is okay to be single you know. It is absolutely alright to want to be single till perhaps you are found. This piece will liberate you in so many ways.
2. IlaSudyumna by Nandini and Upasana – a mythological story of man and woman and being androgynous. The art work in this is stunning. There is so much fluidity in this story and yet it is so stable.
3. Sexist things people say by Anushka Jhadav – kuch toh log kahenge…ab unka muh chup karao. Learn from this piece on how. It is funny and tongue-in-cheek.
4. The Case of the floating woman by Ravi, Adarsh and C G Salamander – this has to be my most favourite story. I don’t know whether this really happened or not but it is most heartbreaking and of course about love that still cannot be spoken about between two men. I could feel my eyes a little moist at the end of the story.
5. Bites by Karan Vohra – Love and its angst told in two pages. I have nothing else to say about this, but just this: Go! Pick up the anthology. Read this. Soon.
6. A Timeline of events in LGBT History: Educating the uneducated. You need to know.

Priya, Sreejita, Sakshi, Anuja, and Ojoswi (he also designed this awesome cover) together as a team have brought out yet again an issue to cherish and keep for years to come. I had so much fun reading this and more than anything else, as a gay man of course I could relate to each and every piece. It will be great to see this being bought and talked about as much as possible, after all we all need a chance to love and live the way we want to and every step in that direction counts. Go buy. Go read.

You can buy the zine here

Quarantine by Rahul Mehta

I do not like to read every new gay novel or short-story collection, unless it is highly recommended by someone I know. That’s how I like to pick my gay literature and to most extent I have been proved right. I was also of the belief that when gay writers write, they tend to over-exaggerate the sex scenes and play them to the hilt. I also think that it is somehow the “gay writer thing” to have to depict sexuality in the forefront, as though that is the only thing that matters – the fact that we sleep with other men.

Quarantine thankfully does not do that at all and this book was not recommended to me by anyone. It was sent by the publishers as a review copy and I am elated to review it. Not because Mr. Mehta is gay or not because this book is centred around gay men, but because there is honesty that rings true in this book, that everyone – irrespective of being gay or straight can relate to and that’s what matters.

There are nine short stories in the book and they shuttle between being based in the States and India. The characters are faulty – they are not perfect people, they are young and gay and only try to realize their dream. Rahul Mehta’s voice may not be unique, you may have read these stories set in different time periods with different characters, and yet there is this freshness that exudes itself from the stories. There are gay cliches and that was expected to a certain extent, but they go beyond that. They take the reader to the hearts of the characters.

For instance, in “Yours” we meet the unknown narrator who is trying to come to terms with his boyfriend Don’s liaison with an older African-American Man and the feelings he harbours for him at the same time. While another story is about lovers who end up going to a night club with the agenda of cheating on each other.  There are subtexts to every story which takes it beyond the queer realm – there are parents and siblings who are trying to get on with their lives, there are best friends who feel left out and alone and then there are relatives who with a simple smile and a shoulder to cry on make life seem simpler and easier to live. And yes at the end of it all, these are ordinary people trying to live their lives in a quarantine of emotions, love and sometimes hatred.

All I can say at the end is that this is a book one must not miss reading this Summer.

Book: Quarantine by Rahul Mehta; Random House India; ISBN: 9788184001358; PP: 248; Price: 399