Laws tells us about the BiCon Book Group -
On Saturday & Sunday lunchtime, I will be running a 2-part Book Group focusing on bisexuality in fiction. It is not essential to come to both sessions as they will focus on different texts, but it is likely that there will be some continuity between them. Saturday’s session will focus on male & masculine bi identities & behaviours in fiction, and Sunday’s session will move on to consider female & feminine bi identities/behaviour. In both sessions, we will also look concurrently at not-so-binary identities, including trans, intersex and androgynous characters.
I have picked 1 or 2 core books for each area, and have also given suggestions of other supporting texts which I feel would be good to include.
It is not essential to read all of the core books and, indeed, you may wish to attend to discuss some of the optional material, having not read any of the core suggestions at all. That said, I recommend that attendees try to read Middlesex & at least 1 of each of other 2 pairs of core novels to get the most out of the discussion groups. Read as many of the other books as you would like, and please don’t hesitate to mention other novels you’ve read with similar themes on the day!
In addition to this, I may also bring a few other small pieces of reference material including short stories, essays & cartoons for attendees to take a look at. If you have something SMALL you would like to bring with you, please do. (Please restrict this to items which will not take more than a few minutes to read.)
The aim of these Book Groups is to consider the appearances &
presentations of bisexual characters, behaviours and identities in (fairly) modern fiction and consider what, if anything, these characters can tell us about bisexual experience. Below are a few of the many themes which you may wish to consider discussing in the sessions:
Importance or non-importance of gender
Race, ethnicity, nationality and religion
Hedonism, sybaritism and disordered lifestyles
Coming of age
Authorial knowledge and intent
Speculative fiction and the fantastic
Core: ‘Middlesex’ by Jeffrey Eugenides
Also: ‘Orlando’ by Virginia Woolf, ‘The Left Hand Of Darkness’ by Ursula Le Guin
Core: ‘Tommy’s Tale’ by Alan Cumming
‘The Buddha Of Suburbia’ by Hanif Kureishi
Also: any Lucifer Box novel from the trilogy by Mark Gatiss (‘The Vesuvius Club’, ‘The Devil In Amber’, ‘Black Butterfly’)
‘The Liar’ by Stephen Fry
‘Brideshead Revisited’ by Evelyn Waugh
Early Brett Easton Ellis novels (‘Less Than Zero’, ‘The Rules Of Attraction’)
Core: ‘Summer People’ by Marge Piercy
‘Stirfry’ by Emma Donoghue
Also: other Marge Piercy novels (inc ‘City Of Darkness, City Of Light’, ’Vida’)
‘The Corrections’ by Jonathan Franzen
‘Rubyfruit Jungle’ by Rita Mae Brown
Final note: I have tried to choose a reasonably diverse range of novels, none of which are obscure or difficult to come by. Most should be available through your local library. If you cannot find a particular novel on the list that you really want to discuss, then:
1) take a look on Amazon. Almost all of these should be available for a few pennies plus postage from Marketplace sellers, and quite a few of the titles are available for the Kindle or other e-readers;
2) ask a reputable second-hand book service to find the title for you;
3) try the magic of the Internet;
4) if you’ve tried all of the above and are still really stumped, get in touch with me – the BiCon organisers have my contact details. This should be a last resort, though.