Why we started a Queer Book Club at St Kilda
In May, Readings St Kilda is launching a new Queer Book Club dedicated to reading fiction and select non-fiction books that represent all aspects of LGBTIQ life. Here book club convenor Amy Vuleta tells us why.
(This blog post is an edited extract from Amy’s interview with Time Out Melbourne.)
A friend of one of our staff members approached us with the suggestion of a book club dedicated to reading books that represent LGBTIQ life. The store manager at St Kilda Readings and I are both avid readers of queer literature, and so we didn’t need much more convincing to get the idea off the ground.
Queer content is definitely becoming more apparent in mainstream literature, however I think it is still relevant to be able to engage with a book as a specifically ‘queer’ text. I think that we need to read through that lens if we’re going to understand the particular perspective that the book is being both written and read from. Queer stories have traditionally been hidden/in-hiding, and as a result, with this history of influence, they are coded in a certain way.
While this is probably changing to some extent in literature and the arts, reading queer texts in this way can be both a political act, and also something embarked on for the joy of it - I think its fun to read queer literature with the awareness that it’s always going to be giving a wink to something else, just beneath the surface.
The first book we’re reading is Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas, which I thought might be a nice jumping off point for us all. Christos is intensely popular with mainstream audiences and he’s writing about Melbourne, so I thought it might be a book that we could all find some common ground in to start with. We’re following up with Ghost Wife by Michelle Dicinoski and then, after these first two, we’ve got a couple of foundational gay writers - Gore Vidal, Patrick White, and Christopher Isherwood - as well as a graphic novel by the contemporary American memoirist, Alison Bechdel.