The most exquisitely hewn experiences in the LGBTQI+ community, expertly told by those who were there and those who, crucially, continue to be there in these increasingly fractured times.
The Argonauts, by Maggie Nelson
A genre-bending, form-defying memoir, blending autobiography and rigorous theory-making on sex and gender. This is a landmark modern queer classic on gender fluidity, nontraditional family-making and the freedom to love. The kind of book you’ll press into people’s hands, speechlessly mouthing “please, please just read it.”
An Apartment On Uranus, by Paul B Preciado
A fiercely intelligent and intensely political collection of essays on everything from neo-fascism to technocapitalism, written during Preciado’s own experience of gender transition. What unites this collection is the concept of “Uranism”, a utopian vision of an identity and a space free from the state’s power to define what constitutes normality and dissidence.
In The Dream House, by Carmen Maria Machado
After devouring her short stories in previous years, we knew Carmen Maria Machado’s memoir was going to be worth waiting for. With rich and luminous prose, this stunning memoir creates a stunning picture of a soured relationship and all the attendant emotional intricacies. Inventive, refreshing and frank throughout, we were totally engrossed by one of the most affecting reads of the last few years.
Gay Bar: Why We Went Out, by Jeremy Atherton Lin
Weaving personal account with social history, this evocative and important document of the erasure of queer spaces is compelling and illuminating, flitting between the emerging and disappearing scenes of Los Angeles, San Francisco and London. A love letter, a series of rich descriptions, a map for hedonism, and an indispensable guide to an ongoing story
Love Letters: Virginia Woolf & Vita Sackville West
This little book of letters and diary entries showcases Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West — two of the most brilliant writers of their time — at their most flirtatious and intimate. If you’re a Virginia Woolf fan (and you should be!), this is a perfect kind of literary indulgence.
How To Write An Auto-Biographical Novel, by Alexander Chee
A thoroughly enjoyable and perceptive collection of semi-autobiographical essays. Chee covers the joys of drag, tongue-in-cheek novel writing tips, odd-jobs between books, activism, the AIDS crisis, sexuality, race, and what it was like to be taught by Annie Dillard.
I Remember, by Joe Brainard
I Remember: Joe Brainard£14.99
A deceptively simple concept for a memoir, if that’s even the right definition: to simply write down memories as they come to mind, starting each sentence “I remember…” Funny, confessional, and genuinely original.
Modern Nature, by Derek Jarman
Part diary, part nature writing, part memoir, part witness statement to the AIDs crisis, Modern Nature is not quite like anything else you’ll ever read. Jarman’s diary entries cover his own relationship with his diagnosis, his sexuality, his film work, and his improbable, experimental garden in Dungeness.
Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel
Fun Home: Alison Bechdel£12.99
Alison Bechdel is one of the greats, no doubt about it. All her ‘graphic memoirs’ are brilliant, but Fun Home is the place to start. It’s both a coming-of-age and a coming-out story, exquisitely self-reflective and profound, but it’s also a beautifully realised family history. Bechdel’s family grew up in a funeral home, in the long shadow of Alison’s emotionally distant father: the undertaker of the funeral home and relentlessly literary local high school teacher, and, as it turns out, a much more complicated man than any of them realised. This is a profound, meditative, genre-defining graphic novel and absolutely worth your time.
We Are Never Meeting In Real Life, by Samantha Irby
Behind all the hilariously histrionic and varied description of bodily movements, awful life choices, horrendous dating encounters, pet disasters and thoroughly modern malaise, there is a beautiful and graspable love story that gently shows its face as these diamond-sharp essays progress. Heart-melting in places, but Irby herself would undoubtedly refute it.
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