Friday, July 29, 2022

Nine books about the beauty & complexities of chosen families

Gabe Montesanti is a queer, Midwestern roller derby player. She earned her BA in mathematics and studio art from Kalamazoo College and her MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Washington University in St. Louis. She has had work published in Belt Magazine, Brevity, The Offing, and Boulevard Magazine. Her piece, "The Worldwide Roller Derby Convention" was recognized as a notable essay in The Best American Essays 2020. Her roller derby memoir, Brace for Impact, came out from The Dial Press in May, 2022.

At Electric Lit Montesanti tagged "nine books, by authors whose sexualities and gender identities span the gamut, [that] portray the beauty and complexity of chosen family," including:
Just Kids by Patti Smith

I had just finished studying in New York City for a term when I was introduced to Just Kids by Patti Smith. My experience living in a townhouse in Chelsea with twenty other budding artists meant that I could relate to Smith’s longing to find a community at the Pratt Institute. We were both 19, just kids, when we found ourselves in New York.

Smith’s book primarily details her profound relationship with the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, who died of AIDS in 1989. The two become an inseparable pair, and the artists and writers who surround Smith and Mapplethorpe at art openings and in the Chelsea Hotel become somewhat of a surrogate family. There’s a certain grittiness in Just Kids I hope will resonate with my readers, too.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Just Kids is among Fiona Sturges's ten best music biographies, Christopher Bonanos's six best New York City biographies, Barbara Bourland's ten essential books about contemporary artists, Dana Czapnik's favorite novels featuring kids or young adults coming of age in cities, and Dan Holmes's twenty best memoirs written by musicians.

--Marshal Zeringue