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In the News: Rebecca Makkai, Frances Bean Cobain and Bob Stein

In the News: Rebecca Makkai, Frances Bean Cobain and Bob Stein

Author: Erika N. Turner

August 10, 2011

“Not only does ‘it’ get better; the books even get better.” – Rebecca Makkai

I had never heard of Rebecca Makkai before stumbling across a new video of her on Barnes and Noble’s site, but after watching it, I think she may become my new favorite author. In this video, Makkai takes Dan Savage’s nationwide phenomena and applies it to the literary world with her list of books for LGBTQ kids, teens and young adults. She begins with the dictionary, citing it as the first source of knowledge for gay youth, who use the book to define what they may not have been able to name before.  She follows with a host of other literature, including verses from the Bible often used against LGBT people, encouraging youth to educate themselves, make their own judgments, and find spaces of acceptance in the face of intolerance. Makkai distinguishes her list by informing the viewer of why she chose each book, how it could benefit their quest for self-acceptance, and where to look if the book is not enough. Makkai herself has published a book featuring gay youth, The Borrower, about a librarian who helps a ten-year-old boy who is struggling with his attraction for other boys.  Though I’ve yet to read the novel (it’s now on my list), I’d recommend you show this video to the young adults in your life – they’ll be grateful you did.

If you live in California, finding the books in the aforementioned list may not be too difficult. As California pioneers a new legislation that would require schools to educate students about the contributions of LGBTQ peoples to society, the state has now also become the center of LGBTQ literature, according to this news report by California State University, Fresno’s student newspaper The Collegian. Nearly 500 books of LGBTQ content were donated to the Arne Nixon Center for the Study of Children’s Literature at California State University, making CSU Fresno the owners of the largest collection of LGBTQ-related books in the United States. The collection includes fiction, non-fiction, picture books, graphic novels, translations, and more.

If you’re interested in getting a pretty cool and pretty gay tattoo and you’re stuck on ideas, try looking to the stars for inspiration. Former Disney princess Miley Cyrus recently got a tattoo depicting an equal sign on her finger to indicate her support for gay rights, causing controversy among many of her fans. Most recently, the daughter of Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love, Frances Bean Cobain, was revealed to have a portrait of late author, performer, and controversial gay pioneer Quentin Crisp tattooed on her shoulder.  The tattoo can be seen in photographer Heidi Slimane’s photo shoot with Cobain.

The struggle between technological advances in entertainment and good old dusty, two-ton books seems to have been waged for decades now. With the invention of television, video games, the Internet, and even smart phones, many continue to fear that we as a society are losing our interest in books. The answer for some is the recent invention of e-books, while others (like me) view e-readers as a horrific intrusion into the unplugged mind. Regardless of how any of us feel, however, the truth is that how we view literature, literally and figuratively, is rapidly changing:

The reality is we’re always going to have books but they are going to play a different role in culture. There will be collectible, expensive art books and books as objects. Rich people will be able to have expensive art objects but in terms of how most information will be moved around it will be electronic. Books will be beautiful objects, the same as when I’m in an antique store and buy a salt shaker — I buy the object, a unity of form…

In this article in Imprint, writer Buzz Poole chats with Bob Stein of the Institute for the Future of the Book about e-readers, book forms, and how reading may no longer be a solitary activity but just as interactive as the technology many feared would replace it.

Erika N. Turner photo

About: Erika N. Turner

Erika N. Turner is a writer, failed vegetarian, and lover of Amish cheese. She is studying East Asian culture and Japanese language in college and fancies herself a feminist and an activist. She hopes to create change by writing about the intersections of race, sexuality, gender, and class in everyday life.

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