Sunday, January 01, 2023

2022 in books (Martha & Shirley)

Martha and Shirley: Good news for 2023, book coverage will continue to community sites.  Book coverage didn't stop in 2022, many book reviews appeared in the newsletters and Isaiah offered "Trying to read about comics?" and "The Comic Book History of Animation: True Toon Tales of the Most Iconic Characters, Artists and Styles!,"   while Ruth offered "BECOMING RICHARD PRYOR," and "IF WE BREAK," Betty covered "Colton Haynes" memoir as did Stan in "My girlfriend is very happy,." doing their annual summer read Rebecca and Marcia offered "summer read: danforth prince and darwin porter's 'lana turner: hearts and diamonds take all' " and "Danforth Prince and Darwin Porter's Lana Turner: Hearts and Diamonds Take All,"  while in addition to doing "Book Talk" at THIRD, Dona also offered "Book Bargain (Dona)" and Ava and C.I. served up "P.P. Arnold's SOUL SURVIVOR: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY (Ava and C.I.)," "Media: Helen O'Hara, the lonely typist" and "Margaret Sullivan's tawdry and disappointing book (Ava and C.I.)."  The return we're excited about is where every week, a community site would offer a book review.  That took place in 2021 (refer to "Books") and we can't wait to see it return.

These are the ten books of the year per your votes.  It's an eclectic list.  The only rule was that you read the book this year.  It didn't have to be published this year, however.

1) Rasheed Newton's MY GOVERNMENT MEANS TO KILL ME.  Ty covered this novel for POLLY'S BREW.  It's the story of Trey who comes out as gay and seems to be living a great life full of promise when suddenly AIDS emerges on the horizon.  A powerful read.

2) Blake Crouch's UPGRADE.  Mike reviewed it for POLLY'S BREW and summarized the plot as follows:

Prisons now hold biologists, a result of gene splicing (to improve rice crops) that accidentally led to famine.  Logan gets out of prison and goes to work for the government's Gene Protection Agency where he hunts down former friends but, while on the job, he walks into a trap and ends up with an 'upgrade' on his brain.  Now which side does he choose?

3) Siddhartha Mukherjee's THE SONG OF THE CELL.  C.I. reviewed this the first week of November in the gina & krista round-robin.   It's a book that reminds you how far we've come and really makes you think.  Excerpt:

Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, doctors and scientists searched for a systematic way to explain human diseases.  But the best that they could achieve was an unsatisfactory surplus of explanations that ultimately relied upon gross anatomy: each disease was a dysfunction of an individual organ.  The liver.  The stomach.  The spleen. Was there some deeper organizing principle that connected these organs, and their diffuse and mystifying disorders?  Could one even think of human pathology in a systematic manner? Perhaps the answer was not to be found in visible anatomy but rather in microscopic anatomy.  Indeed, by analogy, eighteenth century chemists had already begun to discover that the properties of matter -- the combustibility of hydrogen or the fluidity of water -- arose from emergent properties of invisible particles, molecules and atoms that comprised them.  Was biology perhaps similarly organized?

4) Sandra Cisneros' WOMAN WITHOUT SHAME.  Community favorite Sandra Cisneros is someone whose writing we always enjoy, this volume of poetry is only the latest example.

My lover, 

the final summer he was bi,

introduced me to the teas.

Often hovered out of sight,

distracted by poolside

beauties, while I danced


with the room of men.

5)  Akwaeke Emezi's YOU MADE A FOOL OF DEATH WITH YOUR BEAUTY.  Ava and C.I. led a roundtable at the gina & krista round-robin for this novel with Beth, Gina, Mike, David and Polly participating.  Two months later, Beth held a second roundtable on the book because so many community members had since read the book.  Beth notes that there's enough interest for a third round-table and is planning to lead the third one at the end of January.

6) Sidik Fofana's STORIES FROM THE TENANTS DOWNSTAIRS. With her dazzling first novel, Fofana takes connects eight different stories.  As Yazz pointed out, the approach makes it easy for you read the book over time if you're busy, or in a single binge reading session.


7) Colton Haynes' MISS MEMORY LANE.  As noted in the opening of this piece, Betty and Stan both reviewed the book at their sites.  This is from the discussion they did with Ruth and Dona for "Book talk:"

Stan: I'll do it. Colton Haynes is an actor. He was popular on TEEN WOLF -- which I did not watch. Then he played Roy on ARROW, which I did watch. Early on, some photos of him leaked and he rushed to deny that he was gay, early on while he was on ARROW. Then, a few years later, he came out. The book is about his life growing up and how, when he gets into the acting business, he is encouraged to stay in the closet. You could even argue he is forced to stay in the closet.

Betty: I would agree with that, forced. There was a lot of homophobia that he encounters. It's there early on with a manager saying he's coming off gay and that's not meant to be a good thing. But it's present even once he's a hit on ARROW. In fact, one of the reasons that he leaves is because someone in the cast is very homophobic to him.

Stan: And I wonder who that is?

Betty: I do too.

Dona: He doesn't name the person?

Betty: No.

Stan: There are a limited number of people it could be. First off, it's not Greg Berlanti who was the show runner. Greg is gay. It's not Stephen Amell who played Arrow -- read the book and that's obvious.

Betty: I would argue it's obvious who it is if you read the book.

Stan: I'd agree with that. I hope I've interpreted that wrong but it does seem rather obvious and there are a limited number of people it could be.

Dona: Care to share?

Betty: We'd hate to implicate the wrong person. But who we both think it is? It's very disappointing, if accurate. It does go to why ARROW didn't really get spin offs, however.

Dona: Has Colton been in anything since ARROW?

Stan: AMERICAN HORROR STORY in 2017. But then he returned for ARROW from 2018 to 2020. Since then, he did an episode of DOLLFACE on HULU this year.

Dona: We could argue and agree that writing the book took up some of his time. I also believe he got married --

Betty: And divorced. He and Jeff Leathem divorced in 2019 and their relationship is covered in the book.

Dona: Okay. My question was, has coming out hurt his career?

Stan: I don't know that it helped and I don't know that it hurt. He was a good looking guy on a comic book show. Justin Hartley? He was the same on SMALLVILLE where he played Aquaman. I believe he's straight, by the way. He went on, several years later, to play Victoria's gay son on REVENGE -- and was great in the role. A few years after that, he's a lead on THIS IS US. That took time. Tom Welling was the star of SMALLVILLE and he's not really had a trailblazing career -- again, he's straight.

Betty: And then there's Alan Ritchson -- again, believe he's straight. He played Hawk on TITANS and Hawk on some other shows in the DC universe. He's now playing REACHER, the title role, on AMAZON. He looks like Reacher should, per the book, not the movie with the shrimp Tom Cruise. He's tall and muscular. If Colton were going to be an action actor, he'd need to bulk up some more.

Ruth: I am reading the book. Almost to the end. I would also point out that whether or not he himself was being 'dramatic' offline, there were people who thought he was -- especially in the lead up to the wedding.

Betty: I remember that. Was that homophobia? It's a question I wondered at the time. A straight couple can share as much on INSTAGRAM in the lead up and that's treated as normal and people go 'oh' 'ah' and more in delight. There was a huge backlash to Colton and some of that was homophobic. And some of that came from the gay community, to be honest. Gay men calling him various insults like the s-word that rhymes with "rut." Did that hurt his image or standing? I don't know.

Dona: Stan, how about this, where is the ARROW cast today?

Stan: Amell stars as a wrestler in a new show HEELS on STARZ. David Ramsey has directed episodes of SUPERMAN AND LOIS. The only thing I've seen Emily Bett Rickards do is discuss that ARROW might come back. That's all I know.

Ruth: Katie Cassidy, David's daughter, has been announced as the director of DADDY ISSUES. That is a feature film. My friend Treva was a David Cassidy fan and she passed that on last month.

Dona: So, except for the star, no one's really landed any big acting opportunities. Although Katie Cassidy being set to direct a feature film is big news. But I'm reminded of Rebecca's "." In it, she called out Tom Hanks for arguing that if PHILADELPHIA were made today an out gay man would be cast in his role. That's not the case. Rebecca points out how HULU wanted credit for doing LOVE VICTOR but wasn't pro-gay enough to cast a gay actor in the role of the lead character, a gay man named Victor.

Betty: I don't get that. I really don't. And that actor is awful. They should have cast it with a gay actor -- an out gay actor.

Stan: Until that happens, I think we're going to see a lot of actors and actresses who come out suffering.

Ruth: Which is why Julianna Margulies should not have taken the role she did on THE MORNING SHOW.

Stan: But, on that show, they also have the closet case playing a straight woman. Maybe that balances it out?

Dona: True. And maybe someone should ask executive producer Jennifer Aniston what she has against casting lesbians? Okay, we're going to wrap up. Thank you all for participating.  

8) Jamie Press' THE ULTIMATE DIABETIC COOKBOOK FOR BEGINNERS: EASY AND HEALTHY LOW-CARB RECIPES BOOK FOR TYPE 2 DIABETES.   Betty's father reviewed this book for POLLY'S BREW.  Like many Americans, Betty's father has Type 2 Diabetes, like many in this community.


9) Kit Heyam's BEFORE WE WERE TRANS.  Marcia and Hilda led a roundtable on this book for HILDA'S MIX.  This book takes a global, historical look at transgender persons.  The roundtable had dozens of questions and, just FYI, Keesha's question about specific, historical LGBTQ+ books on Africa, led to C.I. noting 2001's BOY-WIVES AND FEMALE HUSBANDS: STUDIES OF AFRICAN HOMOSEXUALITIES -- a book that missed out on this year's top ten by three votes.


10) Danforth Prince and Darwin Porter's LANA TURNER: HEARTS AND DIAMONDS TAKE ALL.  Marcia and Rebecca's summer read pick always registers with the community.



Martha and  Shirley have also done the year in books for 20212020,  201920182017, 201620152014201320122011, 20102009, 2008, 2007, 2006 and 2005.


Community year-in-review pieces:  Cedric's "They really believe this," Ann's "Trump and his snowball chance in hell," Wally's "THIS JUST IN! 1 MORE WTF MOMENT!" and Betty's "I'm guessing Elvis Presley wasn't available?," Ann's "Worst films of 2022" and Stan's "10 Worst films of 2022," Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "THE PEW loses it," "2022: The Year of WTF," Kat's "2022 in music," Ruth's "Ruth's Report: Networks and Streaming," Martha and Shirley's "2022 in Books (Martha & Shirley)," Stan's "2022 in film (Ann and Stan)" and Ann's "2022 in film (Ann and Stan)Trina's "Labor story of 2022," Mike's "Idiot of 2022," Marcia's "The Most Disgusting Person of 2022" and Elaine's "What album am I looking forward to most in 2023?."