Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Message of Love: Bibliography

Since I've got a few great group readings with other authors coming up, the next one being in a library, I thought I'd share a list of the nonfiction books that were basically my homework while writing Message of Love, the sequel to Every Time I Think of You.

In the interest of variety, I'll link as many books as I can to Alibris, which features all my books, and is a nice alternative to Amazon.com. Just don't buy the overpriced listed editions. I got most of these books used online, and had fun finding them.

Out & About
For scenery and setting, I enjoyed perusing several travel and nature books.

The Peterson Field Guides for Wildflowers (Roger Tory Peterson, Margaret McKenny, editors) and Eastern Trees (George A. Petrides, Janet Wehr, editors) gave me accurate information about the flora of the area. Living in California makes for a little distance from knowing which kinds of trees and plants Reid would work with in his classes, his job, and elsewhere. They're also the sort of books Reid would use a lot.

And while he might not have needed Botanical Latin (William T. Stearn editor), I found this 550-plus page hardback tome for a bargain, and loved browsing the Latin names for plants to include as the little private jokes between Reid and Everett.

Wild & Scenic Pennsylvania (photography by Steve Mulligan, text by Robert Hutchinson) provided luscious large-format images of the pastoral countryside of the Keystone State, particularly the riverside beauty of Philadelphia.

My indispensable guide book for my 2012 visit to the city of brotherly love was Moon Handbooks' Philadelphia (Karrie Gavin, Editor). It not only includes comprehensive listings, but definitive maps and historical tidbits.  Most of the information was relevant to the historic era of my character Reid and Everett's time in Philly (1980-1983), since I limited references to historic sites.

But what about historically accurate accessibility? I think a search under "Philadelphia 1980s" led me to the amazingly useful Rollin' On: a Wheelchair Guide to U.S. Cities by Maxine H. Atwater. Published in 1978 by Dodd, Mead & Company, my used copy is stamped from the Roanoke, Virginia Public Library and gave me accurate information about accessible tourist venues in Philadelphia (Independence Hall is featured on the cover!), plus Manhattan and other cities that I considered for Everett and Reid's travel possibilities.

John G. Nelson's Wheelchair Vagabond: a Guide and a Goad for the Handicapped Traveler, was quite specific about the practicalities of camping and traveling while using a wheelchair. Like with many of these books, I didn't crib information, but found it easier to envision Everett on a camping trip that I wanted to write, and how he and Reid can simply make that work.

Philly-based author Tom Mendicino gave me a gift copy of P. Louis DeRose's Images of America: Greensburg. Although I spent little time outside of Reid's parents' home and a shopping mall, it did give me some thoughtful background on the town's architecture and history.

And while I could have traced the look and feel of an early 1980s Gay Pride March in Manhattan (which Reid and Everett attend) through other media, I already had the gorgeously designed Gay Day: The Golden Age of the Christopher Street Parade (photos: Hank O'Neal, captions by Allen Ginsberg, preface by William S. Burroughs, essay by Neil Miller). From the short shorts to the lithe shirtless men and banner-carrying lesbians, Gay Day brought this bygone era to life, even if only for one scene in one chapter of my novel.

Sporty Spice
Part of Everett's transition from lacrosse player to wheelchair basketball enthusiast and gym-goer led me to several books. Wheelchair Champions: a History of Wheelchair Sports by Harriet May Savitz (a Pennsylvania author) provides a good overview of the organization of disabled sports from the 1940s through the 1970s, along with several historic photos.

So Get On With It: a Celebration of Wheelchair Sports (Marilee Weisman and Jan Godfrey, editors) includes 150 pages of black and white photos from the peak of 1970s athleticism; another priceless hardback used library book that I got for a few dollars.

As a focus aide for the summer camp chapters in Message of Love, I found a great reflection in Move Over, Wheelchairs Coming Through! It's written by Ron Roy, with dozens of B&W photo essays of kids and young adults being active in a variety of settings; photos by Rosmarie Hausherr.

And although Everett's basketball practices and games eventually became limited to a few chapters, the analytical armchair jock in me loved reading Playing and Coaching Wheelchair Basketball by Ed Owen. This spiral-bound 270-page manual explains everything to do with practices, competition, equipment and rules in the 1980s, along with charts, photos and more.

Think Piece
The passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990 led to a profusion of eventual scholarly and critical essays about our changing culture, and the demands being met –or not met– in the subsequent decades. While my character Everett would have voraciously read anything to do with the issues he comes to face, at the time of his college years, there really wasn't much material.

Even so, I wanted to get a scholarly perspective on disability, and its often overlooked legacy. The New Disability History: American Perspectives (Paul K. Longmore, Lauri Umansky, editors) focuses on deaf rights, and repression,  bureaucracy and social welfare. But it more deconstructs history, with lots of footnotes, some of which led me to more specific essays.

Marta Russell's Beyond Ramps: Disability at the End of the Social Contract provides a first-person critique of many cultural aspects of government complacency and institutional condescension, with smart essays like "Manifesto of an Uppity Crip."

No Pity: People with Disabilities Forging a New Civil Rights Movement provides a history and account of many personal stories that have larger implications. Yet the book is never too scholarly; the style is personal while offering personal perspectives on achievements in rights, accessibility and other topics.

The cover blurb cites Paul K. Longmore's Why I Burned My Book and Other Essays on Disability as "the soul of the disability rights movement." So it definitely was on my must-read list. That it was published by Temple University Press (where Reid attends college) and Longmore is a professor at my Masters alma mater, San Francisco State, only made it more of a must-read.  Longmore's topics range from his own disability to media depictions (Little House on the Prairie, The Wild, Wild West) healthcare fraud, assisted suicide, and lots of other serious issues I wasn't sure I could handle in a fictional book. Still, it put several issues in perspective.

No Restraints: an Anthology of Disability Culture in Philadelphia (Gil Ott, editor), is a large-print paperback anthology of essays, art, poems and photos by people with different disabilities. The writing varies, and offers personal perspectives.

A different anthology, Queer Crips: Disabled Gay Men and Their Stories (Bob Guter, John R. Killacky, editors) is one of the more prominent, yet out of print anthologies with perspectives on being deaf,  blind while being gay. Some of the contributors' writing applies my upcoming bibliographical post about fiction, but it's published by the scholarly Harrington Park Press, and was at the top of my must-read list.

The medical book Lifetime Care of the Paraplegic Patient (Sir George M. Bedbrook) is quite specific about all sorts of health issues, from bed sores to urinary tract infections, injuries, surgeries and a lot more, some of it kind of gross.
But it's what I had to explore to understand the full breadth of Everett's life and concerns.

Let's Talk about Sex, Baby
Crip nationalism, intersex erotics, autism and autobiographical narrative;  Sex and Disability (Robert McRuer and Anna Mollow, editors) is more of an esoteric and philosophical array of  think pieces on aspects of, and more disappointingly about, disability as a concept, versus a lived experience. Certainly, some will appreciate this collection, but the title's a bit of a misnomer.

Books that blended gay sexuality combined with disability have been more difficult to find. I had to combine studies. With essays and instruction shared in plain language, along with a resource guide and glossary, The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability (Miriam Kaufman, M.D., Cory Silverberg and Fran Odette, editors) is LGBT-inclusive in style, with a woman's perspective. The guide covers everything from lubricants to adaptable positions to STD info, even tantric and SM sex.

A book which actually ended up in my own book, a 1977 edition of The Joy of Gay Sex was surprisingly easy to find, and amusing to peruse. With its erotic illustrations, now-antiquated pre-AIDS "health" advice from Dr. Charles Silverstein and Edmund White, and quite '70s sexual attitudes, it's an appropriate add to my non-fiction bibliography, because my own fictional characters Reid and Everett end up getting a copy, at Giovanni's Room, where I'll be reading next month!  (May 31, 5pm, www.queerbooks.com)

They, like me, searched for a way to be together, personally, politically, and even sexually. How they managed to do that is in Message of Love.

I'll be reading an excerpt from it on April 21 with other Lambda Literary Award finalists at the San Francisco Public Library. 5:30pm. 100 Larkin St. www.sfpl.org  www.lambdalit.org.

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