The Literary Horizon: The Letter Q, Beyond Binary

And now for a little genre-mixing—today’s selections both focus on queer experience, but through radically different approaches. The first is a collection of nonfiction advice, while the second explores queer identities through speculative fiction, the genre born to explore the human condition. And both of them are coming out next week!

The Letter Q edited by Sarah Moon

Life-saving letters from a glittering wishlist of top authors.

If you received a letter from your older self, what do you think it would say? What do you wish it would say?

That the boy you were crushing on in History turns out to be gay too, and that you become boyfriends in college? That the bully who is making your life miserable will one day become so insignificant that you won’t remember his name until he shows up at your book signing?

In this anthology, sixty-three award-winning authors such as Michael Cunningham, Amy Bloom, Jacqueline Woodson, Gregory Maguire, David Levithan, and Armistead Maupin make imaginative journeys into their pasts, telling their younger selves what they would have liked to know then about their lives as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgendered people. Through stories, in pictures, with bracing honesty, these are words of love and understanding, reasons to hold on for the better future ahead. They will tell you things about your favorite authors that you never knew before. And they will tell you about yourself.

via Amazon

What a brilliant idea. Who couldn’t have benefited from a letter from their older selves? (Well, me, since my letter would undoubtedly contain a punch to the face.) And the fact that David Levithan has a letter in there alone would make me read it.

Lelia Taylor at Buried Under Books enjoyed it and found it important; the folks at Kirkus Reviews enjoyed it, but pointed out that it covers mostly middle-class and white success stories.

The Letter Q will be published on May 1 (although it’s already available on Amazon).

Beyond Binary edited by Brit Mandelo

Speculative fiction is the literature of questions, of challenges and imagination, and what better to question than the ways in which gender and sexuality have been rigidly defined, partitioned off, put in little boxes? These seventeen stories explore the ways in which identity can go beyond binary from space colonies to small college towns, from angels to androids, and from a magical past to other worlds entirely, the authors in this collection have brought to life wonderful tales starring people who proudly define (and redefine) their own genders, sexualities, identities, and so much else in between.

via Amazon

Despite the fact that speculative fiction is born to break boundaries and explore, it can sometimes be too white, too male, and too straight. This anthology aims to correct that. The fact that the fantastic Brit Mandelo is editing this anthology is reason enough to pick it up, but she won my heart when she specifically mentioned asexuality while talking about the project. Ace representation is rare enough, but I’ve never found it in speculative fiction.

Charlie Jane Anders at io9 enjoyed it, pointing out it avoids the trap of most anthologies by having even the poorer stories still be thought-provoking; the folks at Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review.

Beyond Binary will be published on May 5 (although it’s already available on Amazon).

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