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Who’s Yer Daddy?: Gay Writers Celebrate Their Mentors and Forerunners

by Adela M. Brito
Contributor
Wednesday Dec 5, 2012
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In Who’s Yer Daddy?: Gay Writers Celebrate Their Mentors and Forerunners, an anthology of essays, thirty-nine gay authors discuss the individuals who have made an impact on them-their inspirational "daddies," so to speak. The essayists credit writers, poets, performance artists, teachers, and friends, while others write about their real fathers, who encouraged their literary pursuits.

The entries in this anthology are as diverse as the writers themselves. In "My Mother’s Grave is Yellow," Dale Peck writes about the novels and short stories of Shirley Jackson that wowed him. Rick Barot, in his essay "Botticelli Boy," cites the artist Botticelli, specifically his painting "Portrait of a Young Man," and the poet Walt Whitman as his muses. Allistair McCartney mentions Tennessee Williams’s plays, Herman Melville’s "Moby Dick," Oscar Wilde’s "Portrait of Dorian Gray," J.D. Salinger’s "Catcher in the Rye," and Sylvia Plath’s "The Bell Jar" in the essay "Teenage Riot: Notes on Books that Guided Me through a Profoundly Hormonal Time." The editors of this collection also contribute pieces. David Goff piece is called "My Radical Dads," while Jim Elledge’s "The Little Girls with Penises" takes the prize for best title. "Thirteen Ways of Looking at my Father" by K.M. Soehnlein, a novelist and essayist, closes the collection. He shares short anecdotes about his father as well as listing authors from all genres who also provided inspiration and encouragement.

Latino writers contributed very powerful essays to this collection. In "Latin Moon Daddy," Charles Rice-Gonzalez credits the author Jaime Manriquez as his literary inspiration. Rice-Gonzalez tried to find his voice as a youngster, and it was Manriquez who helped him define himself as a queer, Latino New Yorker, a growing group that has made strong contributions to the literary arts. Rigoberto Gonzalez, in "Beloved Jotoranos," writes about seven influences, including the writers, Arturo Islas, Michael Nava, Richard Rodriguez, and Gloria Anzaldua, and his former professor, Francisco Alarcon.

This reader was especially moved by the essay "Making a Man Out of Me" by Richard Blanco. Blanco provides an interesting take on the term inspiration. He credits his homophobic Cuban grandmother and her years of constant verbal abuse as a driving force for his poetic efforts. In this case, it was pain and not encouragement that provided fuel for the writer.

This collection will not only give the reader a glimpse of where writers seek and find inspiration, but also provide a list of writers and literary works to explore on their own. These essays are touching, inspirational, and illuminating. This reviewer highly recommends "Who’s Yer Daddy?" to readers of all genres.

Terrace Books
312 pages
Hardcover: $26.95
e-book:$16.95
http://uwpress.wisc.edu

by Jim Elledge & David Groff

Adela Brito, a freelance writer and editor, has been writing about music, books, and the arts since 2000. Visit her at: www.musicalbites.com
and www.foureyesedit.com.

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