Kicking off 2006 is a book that many gay male readers have been waiting 15 years for: a new novel from Joe Keenan, author of Blue Heaven and Putting On The Ritz.

My Lucky Star continues the outrageous adventures of Philip Cavanaugh and his former lover Gilbert Selwyn and advance word on the book is exceptionally good. Initially, the novel will be available as an American edition hardcover in mid-January, to be followed by a more affordable trade paperback in July.

High-profile touring authors in 2006 include Michael Cunningham and Sarah Waters, who are both appearing at the Adelaide Writers’ Week in March, but will also be making some Sydney appearances.

Sarah Waters will be promoting her fourth novel The Night Watch, which is due out in February and is somewhat different to her three Victorian era novels. It’s set in London during and after WWII at three specific points in time: 1947, 1944, and 1941. But the narrative is cleverly told in reverse order and succeeds in confounding the expectations of readers.

The Night Watch would also be an excellent introduction for gay men to Sarah Waters’s work, as one of the four main characters is a young man of ambiguous sexuality Waters’s enormous number of lesbian fans won’t be disappointed either: two of the other main characters are lesbian and the wartime setting makes for fascinating reading about how it changed women’s lives.

On the local front, most of the new books announced to date for 2006 are from small presses. Just out is The Park Bench by Melbourne writer Henry von Doussa, which is already selling briskly due to its strong cover and content about men who have sex at beats.

Court reporter Michael Campbell enjoyed great success with his debut crime novel Repercussions back in 2002 and in late January he will follow up with his new novel Perverted Justice. Once again it’s crime but this time set against the backdrop of Sydney’s iconic Luna Park.

And there’s more crime from the extremely prolific Claire McNab who will have two new books out within a couple of months of each other. The new Kylie Kendall mystery The Quokka Question was published in December and then in mid-February there will be a new Denise Cleever crime novel entitled Murder At Random. Neal Drinnan (Glove Puppet) will make a welcome return to print later in the year when his fourth novel Beggars Belief is published by US publisher Green Candy.

Meanwhile performing arts publisher Currency Press is branching out to publish Beneath The Sequined Surface: An Insight Into Sydney Drag by Carol Langley in late January. The book presents a short history of Australian and international drag, then profiles 10 of Sydney’s leading drag queens including Claire de Lune, Mitzi Macintosh, Verushka Darling, Portia Turbo, and Vanity Faire.

Porn star Aiden Shaw has written three very popular novels but in April Carroll & Graf will publish his memoir My Undoing. Although the book includes plenty of explicit detail on his life as a porn star, the publisher also promises that it includes much more than that. Shaw points out that being a porn-star can be very unfulfilling in terms of romance and the book explores a number of his rocky and unfulfilling relationships. He also discusses his HIV-positive status and how that affected his work in the sex industry.

Tom Spanbauer, very well known for his immensely popular novel The Man Who Fell In Love With The Moon, has a new novel due out in hardcover in May. Now Is The Hour is another big book at almost 500 pages and is set in the late 60s. It tells the story of a teenage boy’s gradual emancipation from the repressions of a strictly religious farming family in a small-minded community in Idaho during a time of explosive cultural change.

John Weir’s debut novel, The Irreversible Decline Of Eddie Socket, was published way back in 1989 and was one of the first novels to convey the horror of the AIDS epidemic. Due for publication in April, What I Did Wrong is his long awaited second novel, which is billed as another moving but also funny book about loss, survival, and sexuality in the post-AIDS era. Tom, a 42-year-old English professor, watched his best friend die years earlier and now finds himself sliding into middle age while questioning everything he thought he knew about his gay identity.

Finally, due in June, is Fun Home by Alison Bechdel of the popular Dykes To Watch Out For cartoon series. This book is something different – a darkly funny family memoir in the vein of Augusten Burroughs but it’s a graphic novel rather than prose.

Alison’s father was a historic preservation expert, an obsessive restorer of the family’s Victorian house, a third-generation funeral home director, a high school English teacher, an icily distant parent, and a closeted homosexual who was involved with male students and a family babysitter.

g&l bestsellers of 2005

Titles of interest to gay men

1 Running With Scissors, Augusten Burroughs, $22.95

2 The Arrival Of Fergal Flynn, Brian Kennedy, $22.95

3 Dead Europe, Christos Tsiolkas, $22.95

4 Mysterious Skin, Scott Heim, $22.95

5 Six Positions, Andy Quan, $24.95

Books of interest to lesbians

1 When Our Children Come Out, Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli $29.95

2 The Fall Guy, Claire McNab, $24.95

3 Lesbian Kama Sutra, Kat Harding, $45

4 The Rivals: Chris Evert Vs. Martina Navratilova, Johnette Howard, $32.95

5 The Funny Thing Is -¦, Ellen DeGeneres, $19.95

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