Synopses of the Books
Maurice (novel, 1971), by E. M. Forster
Written over many years while Forster was already established as one of the English language’s most nuanced and perceptive novelists, but not published during his lifetime because he feared censure for a book exploring romances among homosexual men. This novel is about love, but also about conventional society’s cruel intrusions into our individual emotional lives, and the author’s own self-censorship is an important aspect of the story.
Rubyfruit Jungle (novel, 1973), by Rita Mae Brown
A coming-of-age adventure with Molly Bolt, a narrator as feisty as Scout Finch or Huckleberry Finn. Considered audacious when first published for its unapologetic, unrepressed portrayal of lesbian experience, the novel remains startlingly wild and fun even as our society has become more open. Not a book intended to advance a political cause but rather an exuberant testament to the revolutionary impact of a creative spirit.
Zami: A New Spelling of My Name (memoir, 1982), by Audre Lorde
A highly inventive memoir by a Black poet who grew up in Harlem, the child of Caribbean-born parents. Transcending typical nonfiction, Lorde proposes and demonstrates a new genre, which she calls biomythography, combining history, biography, and myth. Following the author’s quest for education, authenticity, and love from the 1930s through the 1960s, Zami offers the witness of a writer who (as she said) “dedicated both her life and her creative talent to confronting and addressing injustices of racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia.”
The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood (memoir, 2014), by Richard Blanco
A briskly paced and dramatically shaped autobiography by the first openly gay US Poet Laureate, who grew up in Miami, home of Florida’s Cuban-American community. Pivoting upon the author’s teenage years and his gradual understanding that his emotional and romantic inclinations were different from many of his peers, the story also shows an exceptionally bright and alert youth discovering the artistic skills and sensitivities that would make him an exceptional writer.