Welcome to today's guest author, Jon Roemer. If you're a writer, and would like to curate a future Can't Wait to Read, contact email@example.com. We encourage you to visit your local library or bookstore and take a look at these new titles.
I like thinking about how books come to be. Even in summer. So in June, I'm looking to my favorite editors and imprints. I also like to mix things up, so I'm aiming for a novel, a collection of short fiction, a book on hidden queer history and a collection of wartime photography. My initial list included Naomi Wolf's Outrages, until Matthew Sweet at the BBC confronted the author about fundamental flaws in her research. (“I don’t think any of the executions you’ve identified here actually happened...") Ms. Wolf has since acknowledged the mistake while defending the book's premise. Another zigzag chapter in queer history.
Indecent Advances: The Hidden History of Murder and Masculinity before Stonewall by James Polchin
Pre-Stonewall, gay men were commonly depicted as both deserving victims and lurid aggressors. When they were assaulted or murdered, charges were often reduced to self-defense if the assailant could describe an "indecent advance." Polchin's book is timed for the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, as insight into the mindset of 1969. It's also relevant to the White Night riots ten years later, in response to the lenient sentence for the killing of Harvey Milk.
The Skin Is the Elastic Covering that Encases the Entire Body by Bjørn Rasmussen
Two Lines Press has delivered some remarkable discoveries. Rasmussen's coming-of-age story is "a feverish combination of stream of conscious, autobiography, collage, and narrative." Interesting. And it's rendered in translation. So much to dig into there.
Song for the Unraveling of the World by Brian Evenson
Brian Evenson is fearlessly precise. His novel Last Days was called "a brutal horror novel and a fine work of minimalist literary fiction.” Song for the Unraveling of the World is described as a collection of "small masterworks of literary horror." If I were a beach person, that'd be covered in sand and sunscreen.
We Came from Fire: Photographs of Kurdistan's Armed Struggle Against ISIS by Joey L.
Kurds have been in the thick of it for a long time, and these portraits of Kurdish militia members look fascinating. I'll benefit from the accompanying written history, too. This is the kind of book I like to return to when I need a good shaking up. There is a surprising amount of joy in these faces.
On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
I can be easily excitable, especially by the words "highly original." And when Tommy Orange (author of There, There) likes something, I'm on board. Vuong's novel sounds both artful and urgent: "At once a witness to the fraught yet undeniable love between a single mother and her son, it is also a brutally honest exploration of race, class, and masculinity."
Jon Roemer is a writer and editor based in San Francisco. His novel, Five Windows, will be out from Dzanc Books in September. He is founder and senior editor of an award-winning book publisher.