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curated by scott alexander hess novelist/teacher/queer new yorker
It was Salih's arresting cover that stopped me in my social media tracks. Scrolling through for new work to feature, I was beyond intrigued and also thrilled to see some great new queer work emerging in 2021. The novel is out on Feb. 16. 

What initially inspired the idea for the novel, and also, how much of your own personal perspective on the state of what it is to be gay in 2021 colors the message of the novel?
The novel’s spark comes from my own experience as a member of a sort of “hinge” generation of gay men. I was born in 1982 and came out in 2005: too late to belong to the community of men who bore the brunt of the AIDS plague, and too early to belong to a community of boys who grow up in an increasingly accepting culture. Let’s Get Back to the Party is an attempt to fictionalize the complexities of this experience, and of my generation’s relationship to the past and future of the gay and queer community. I wanted to explore different perspectives on what it means to “be” (and how to “be”) gay, and to see what happened when those perspectives were pitted against one another. I also wanted to see how self-destructive feelings of sadness and rage—all-too-common emotions for many queer people, myself included—shaped those perspectives. There is, of course, no one right way to be gay in 2021; what I hope the novel gets across is that, whatever our different politics and attitudes about the past and the future, here, in the present, we’re all in it together. 
Do you think the LGBTQ+ segment of the publishing market is evolving/changing and how? 
While I can’t speak to the publishing side of the market, I can absolutely say that, as a reader, it’s an incredible time for queer voices. They’re taking more of a prominent position: in review pages and critical discourse, on bookseller tables and library shelves. I can’t step into a bookstore or get lost online without discovering new writers and books, and I have to imagine that excitement, and the sense of community it brings, is even more magnified for readers just starting out on their respective journeys.
Who would you cast in the film version (or would you prefer a series and on what network) of the book?
I’ll politely dodge answering this question, if only because I wouldn’t want my own impressions to color the reader’s—and because I didn’t create Oscar and Sebastian with a particular individual in mind. They’re sort of Frankenstein characters: the voice of a friend, the limbs of someone I passed in the street years ago, the hair of an unidentified man in some online advertisement. I think, for example, of how I read Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient for the first time before seeing the film adaptation; when I read the novel again years later, I couldn’t think of anyone in the title role but Ralph Fiennes (and I never will). In a strange way, I miss the possibilities of that first reading, when the character could still be anyone I wanted. I will say, a miniseries would be ideal, and could widen the scope of the novel outside of the (deliberately) narrow perspectives of its two main characters.
I first discovered the uber-talented Todd Verow when I saw his film version of the transgressive Dennis Copper novel Frisk (we'd just been assigned to read Cooper in Grad School). I became an insta-fan, had the pleasure of interviewing him over the years, and was intrigued by his new love letter to 70s gay porn. Verow gave me a glimpse into the film, which is out this February 16 on digital and DVD. 
"As a child of the seventies growing up in Bangor, Maine (a town where gay people were beaten up and thrown off bridges) gay porn saved my life. When I saw those handsome unashamed men enjoying sex with abandon, I knew I was not alone. The pioneers in New York City made films not for money or fame or notoriety but for love. My film GOODBYE SEVENTIES is a love letter to them."

Check out Goodbye Seventies. 

Hot Lit Finale! 

  • Hot new social follow: @Gaychuz. This Mexican-based artist expertly mixes whimsy and sensual fun in his tantalizing illustrations. The road to free expression had it bumps, as Gaychuz reveals: "During my youth I had a very negative perception about homosexuality. For many years I denied who I was for fear of being left alone, abandonment, rejection and being singled out as a MARICON, (In México Maricón is one of the many ways to disparagingly refer to a homosexual man). This word was very painful for several years until I had a reunion with my sexual identity in 2015. Gaychuz represents an internal need to express that I am calm and happy with who I am, with my national identity, my skin, my body, with my origins and sexuality. I love Mexican men, I always admired their beauty but I could not feel free to express it until now. Gaychuz is my way."
  • Hot new flick: Never Rarely Sometimes Always is a stunning Indie from director Eliza with knock out performances from its young leads Sidney Flannigan and Talia Ryder. Set in Pennsylvania, it takes an unflinching look at a woman's right to choose. In a word: Brilliant. 
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Scott Hess Literary · 421 E 81st St · 3re · New York, NY 10028 · USA

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