Bi The Book

Book reviews:
Queers In History
Haitian Bisexuality
Fausterella and Other Stories
All Lies and Jest

Queers In History
I mainly enjoyed “Queers in History: The Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Historical Gays, Lesbians and Bisexuals: The Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Historical Gays, Lesbians and Bisexuals, and Transgenders” by Keith Stern (2009) and was glad to see many bisexuals represented and will look some of them up further.
When reading history I hear in my head the rants of friends who take history seriously: that our contemporary labelling of sexuality wasn’t used the same way if at all in the past, that our information is limited and biased and that sexuality was and continues to be thought of differently in different cultures. Still, I wanted the book to give me a broad if not deep overview of bits of the past and I tried to read it holding the thought that this was just one view and I could read others.
The selection was almost entirely Western and  US entertainment based, perhaps not surprising given the author works in that milieu. There were many pictures where they could be used without copyright restrictions. I was reading the electronic version and so can’t comment on how they looked in the paperback (the Amazon kindle version currently sells for £1.72, the paperback  £13.59).
I was pleased to find some new leads for people I hadn’t heard of as being thought of as bi before. I was a bit miffed not to hear more in the space allowed and while bisexuality was mentioned clearly it wasn’t always taken seriously as a stage in someone’s life or long term. Each entry had a single reference for further reading. A few books covered many of them. Some suggested Wikipedia which I don’t accept as a reference from a book like this.
Overall, worth a read, and does include bisexuality, but I won’t be relying on it as a reference book.

Haitian Bisexuality
“Haitian Bisexuality : It’s My Life” By Teejay LeCapois published by Lulu Enterprises, December 15, 2010. Print or download.
I like self-publishing because I can easily read non-mainstream works. However, I think editors and publishers also do a good job weeding out stuff not worth the reading.
I was searching for bisexuality outside of the white and western and was hoping this book would be an introduction to many aspects of being bi in Haiti and amongst the Haitian diaspora.
I started reading a sex scene between an athletic east coast student Haitian-American woman with a big arse, an athletic east coast student Haitian-American man with a big cock who dressed in silk shirts, did occasional sex work and was attracted to larger women and some of their roommates and college friends who also fancied each other. Oral sex to orgasm featured, and ball licking, some penis in vagina sex and a lot of anal sex which was painful but screamingly enjoyable. Sex happened between the available gender combinations and in groups. We also found out the list of sports the college sponsored and that some of the characters planned to be police.
This same scene was then repeated with very minor variations for the 496 pages of the book. The sex scene wasn’t badly written but I didn’t need to read repeatedly and I was hoping for much more about being Haitian and bi. 57 other books are listed by the same author at Lulu. I don’t think I’ll be reading any of them.

Fausterella and Other Stories
All Lies and Jest
I’ve known Kate Harrad through the bi community for some years and was pleased she was starting to get stories published. I’d at least take a look, though liking a person didn’t mean I would want to read their stories if the writing didn’t keep my attention.
When I read the first, a reworking of Cinderella, it caught my imagination and I wanted to read more.
It wasn’t too long to wait until, “Fausterella and other stories,” was published for download. Some of the stories I’d read before, some were new. All were bite-size and twisted just the right amount: clever but not pretentious, unsettling but not gory.
This collection was quickly followed by the author’s first novel, “All Lies and Jest,” published in electronic format by Ghostwoods Books, a small “boutique” publisher.
We easily follow a narrator with a strong internal life which she reserves from the reader and which leads to some plot twists. The subcultures she explores in London are highly familiar to me in style and character types though translated to the worlds of people identified as unworldly beings or having a small but fervent religious cause. The narrator makes wry comments about the beliefs and character of those she meets and these read to me as neither loving nor nasty: more a gentle mocking from an understanding but not credulous observer.
Sexuality is understood as part of an adult world rather than distracting from, or comprising, the story and bisexuality is hardly remarkable.
Chapters are prefaced by actual nutty clippings from the internet and I was most amused to find one from someone I’d met visiting London some years ago – though I understand this “vampire” never actually met the author. Sometimes the world seems small and full of people taking themselves and their strangeness a bit too seriously. That probably includes me so this good story also makes me check myself just occasionally and wonder what inhabits the thoughts of my quieter friends.

Grant Denkinson