Toronto
3 min

Mincing for dummies

This season's books offer more self than help

NO SURPRISES. So many themes, so many authors, a finite number of combinations. Credit: Mia Hansen

Looking over the cornucopia of new gay books, I didn’t know this many faggots could read, let alone write. As my mother would say: At least they’re not sitting at home on the welfare.



It seems to me that the gay books this season are really trying to cover all the bases. I mean, does anybody actually need the Rev Brent Hawke’s new wedding planner, Enter Passing? Like God cares about prenuptial smudge dancing and rainbow cummerbunds.



Or how about that Scott Thompson and Rip Taylor book on extreme juicing? I stupidly hoped it was going to be a drag queen lush version Girl, Interrupted, but it turns out to be the latest Hollywood weight maintenance scam. Can’t gay people do anything for themselves anymore?



Here’s my list of the picks.



• The Brat: What Happened To My Boyfriend And Me When Our Precious Baby Turned Into A Filthy, Destructive, Wailing Succubus. By Dan Savage.



As sequels go, it’s pretty good. The best part is when Dan and the husband throw a birthday bash for Barney Frank and the brat gets out a Billy doll and starts showing Hillary Clinton the best method of massaging the perineum during a fist fuck. Too funny. Another good part is Savage’s chapter on the spanking debate, “Put Daddy’s Paddle Back Where You Found It.”



• The End of Gay: Revised Edition. By Bert Archer, with an introduction by Anne Heche.



I might be in a conflict of interest here, since Berty and I are friends, but I think it’s very brave of him to do a complete, public turn around on all his ideas – and in less than a year! Now he’s advocating a return to old school identity politics. You know, tight jeans and white singlets for boys, plaid shirts and deck shoes for girls, voting NDP, boycotting Coors products, Queer Nation, etc.



Heche’s introduction is surprisingly lucid, for an actor. I felt she was being a bit too mean-spirited about “this lesbian chic” until I realized she was misspelling “chick.”



• Wake Up, Mary – You’re Fat! By Mark Tewksbury.



Probably the best of the lot. I never knew skinny people suffered from so much oppression. Tewksbury offers a sharp analysis of how North American corporations conspire to make people overeat, and how cultural icons like Fred Flintstone, Burl Ives, Santa Claus, and the A&W Root Bear have become the only available symbols of nurturing, jolly masculinity. Skinny boys can belly laugh too!



There is an absolutely heart wrenching anecdote in the middle of the book where Tewksbury recounts coming home from The Gap in tears because they don’t make cable knit sweaters in size 0.



• Getting The Boyfriend Within To Move The Hell Out. By Brad Gooch.



I know, I know, another self-help book. But I actually found this one useful. To be honest, once I discovered my “inner boyfriend,” all he did was eat chips, steal quarters from my laundry money and pull the cat’s tail till it was pink and hairless. He was so rude to my friends that I had to fake schizophrenia to get back on certain mailing lists, and I’ve only just started to sneak back into the Barracks following the pooh-fight incident.



So this book was a godsend. Gooch describes a simple step by step program for losing your inner loser – yelling in the mirror, breaking your furniture in a rage, calling all the friends you’ve been ignoring and telling them what a jerk you are, etc. Step #8, forming a blowtorch talking circle, might be a bit extreme for some readers, but the making-up-after part is very Bruce LaBruce.



• The Stockwell Day And Deborah Gray Paper Doll Book. Illustrated by Steve Walker.



The perfect Christmas stocking stuffer for the Auntie Tom in your life. Mark my words, this one will sell out faster than last year’s J Edgar Hoover invisible ink calendar. Until I opened the book, I assumed Stock was a boxers man, not a briefs guy. Apparently, conservative doesn’t mean dull anymore! And his wet suit page is really, um – accurate. The Debby Does Dorval section is nicely drawn, but I don’t think Ms Gray is really suited for that Québécois weather girl look. Leather thigh highs? Mais non. There’s an introduction by Mark Kingwell, but at least the page is perforated.



Well, those are my picks. I also liked A River Runs Through It – Let’s Build Condos! by Kyle Rae, a monograph on the films of Tony Randall by Mark Kingwell (he’s really pumping them out) and Mincing For Dummies.