Written by Maggie Lange
Here are some juicy new books to cling to as you roll over to the cool side of the sheets. They’re by writers with radical minds and pumping hearts—often queer, nb, trans, poc, but always hot, feminist, sex-forward, and smart. Some will ignite your desire for new places, some will impart the big warm sensation of feeling understood, some of them will light a fire under your butt to bother your senators, and I promise all of them will turn you on.
If you like your summer flings smutty and bold, Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl is your new babe. Re-released last month, Paul is a genre-fuck and a hot dose of super-smart super-queer prose. Paul/Polly is a lusty young gender-chameleon, who can change their sex at will to pursue their many desires.
Andrea Lawlor’s Paul reads like a perfect, weird, hot one-night stand in the 90’s. As this queer community works and fucks their way through identities in the era of ACT UP and Gender Trouble, it’s a thrill to notice how their moment shaped how we navigate queer politics, identity, and desire now.
The role that our erotic self plays in our politics and the way our politics inform our erotic lives are what’s at play in Adrienne Maree Brown’s Pleasure Activism. If you haven’t read Brown’s new book yet, they I guess you aren’t one of the three cuties I saw carrying it around L.A. recently. This project explores all the ways that pleasure can be had and claimed in this terrible world. My copy is spattered with excitable exclamation points: “erotic anarchy?!” Tell me more, Adrienne Maree! The book is permissive, freeing, and emboldening. (For more academic fixes, the thin Feminism for the 99% fits very well in a purse and Full Surrogacy Now loads up your brain with radical things to say at the rooftop bbq, if that’s the sort of crowd you’d like to seduce.)
A crush I had once talked a lot about intensity matching and how it was necessary for a good coupling. I think you can intensity match with books, which is why I read Time is the Thing the Body Moves Through in like two hours. The first word of T Fleischmann’s new book is “SUMMER” and sex is everywhere. It’s all over the city, it’s all over the forest, it’s all over the farm. The book collides memoir with meditations on ice, sustaining friendship, and artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres. It’s pulsingly alive because it’s written in the can’t-stop-fucking heat of an overwhelming new crush. The pair in this story are so into each other that when they realize they’re both going to New York for the summer, they change flights to fuck on the plane. The intensity is dialed all the way up in this one. An ideal quickie!
If you’re hunting for a book that luxuriates a little slower, that’s how I read Lisa Locascio’s Open Me. The discovery of sex and vulnerability are written with eerie precision in this novel about a quiet wallflower who finds herself accidentally abroad in Copenhagen after graduating high school. Locascio’s got a wild talent for showing the full-bleed spectrum of distractions, experiences, and attractions that contribute to this revelatory moment in someone’s life. The paperback is out June 18, so you can drip pool water on it then.
I’m fairly shallow and love to be noticed by smart babes, so I want the covers of my books to be as alluring as the insides. Sexographies has a color-block pear (Paul has a color-blocked cherry) and I think both are getting at the same thing: lots of sex in these pages! We’re being bold, yet coded, yet knowing about it!
Gabriela Wiener’s Sexographies, a sex-reporting memoir, translated from Spanish by Lucy Greaves and Jennifer Adcock. It came out last year, and it addresses everything: the fear of threesomes, jealousy, seducing a dom, donating eggs, sex bars so discrete you walk past them twice. Wiener writes with brutal focus and sharp arguments and she sets a perfect scene.
“We flee like cowards to the orgy room, a good place to hide.”Sexographies
If you’d like a book that will respect a short attention span and a high-key summer mood, it’s Gabrielle Civil’s Experiments in Joy. It’s a mix-tape of transcribed performance, letters, and memoir, written with the bright, friendly fervor of a pen pal. Experiments in Joy is a letter of devotion to many kinds of love, but mostly the love of a creative collaborative community.
So many books to take home and sprawl with! So many books to pose alluringly with at the beach!
Maggie Lange writes, reads, and snoozes in Los Angeles.