Reading Queer: Literary Festival Explores Gay "Cruising" Culture of the 1980s

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Courtesy Reading Queer via Facebook
This week in South Beach, artists and guests will take part in an interactive artistic and philosophical expression in the Reading Queer Series, which aims to inaugurate Miami as a center of queer literary culture.

The series kicked off at the Betsy Hotel in South Beach Saturday, August 23, and continues with the artist group Digital Hostage Collective's Cruising Hialeah or Ghosts of Public Sex Wednesday, August 27 from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Miami Beach Botanical Gardens.

See also: Former Miami Herald Reporter Reveals Gay Escapade in Havana

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Photographer Richard Sexton Coming to Miami to Discuss Latest Work, Creole World

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Courtesy of the Historic New Orleans Collection
Street scene near the Marché de Fer; Cap Haitien, Haiti, 2012; ©Richard Sexton, from "Creole World: Photography of New Orleans and the Latin Caribbean Sphere"
The concept of "Creole" is far more complex than most people who only had a passing interest in their 8th grade history courses might recognize. To most Miamians, it's a language spoken in Haiti and among the burgeoning Haitian population of the city. That's far too much of a simplification, even if you only want to look at Creole languages, which are defined in one Wikipedia line as "a stable, full-fledged language that originated from a mixture of two or more languages." And while that's a simplification as well, it should give you a sense of the greater scope of culture and people that the term "Creole" encompasses.

From the island of Haiti, to the parishes of New Orleans, to the mountainous villages of the Central American isthmus, the roots and tendrils of Creole identity in the Americas and the Caribbean have been growing and becoming more and more a part of their respective home cultures.

That process and the results thereof have been of great interest to Richard Sexton, a photographer and resident of New Orleans for almost 25 years, whose most recent work is called Creole World: Photographs of New Orleans and the Latin Caribbean Sphere. Saturday night, he'll give a reading at Books and Books in Coral Gables. New Times sat down and got acquainted with Sexton in order to get you acquainted with Sexton.

See also: Little Haiti Country Club Brings Community to Growing Art Scene, Won't Last Forever

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Bookleggers Celebrates Two-Year Anniversary With Free Books, Booze, Artists' Flea Market

Categories: Books

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Photo by Alex Markow
Book-lovers, rejoice! Bookleggers is celebrating its two-year anniversary this Saturday, and to show how much they love people who love books, they're giving everyone who goes to their birthday party two free books.

"Everyone gets two books free," says Bookleggers co-founder Nathaniel Sandler. "Free, flat out. Don't bring 'em back. Take the heavy ones."

See also: Indie Filmmaker Vincent Moon To Host Retrospective, Seek "Richness of Miami"

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Chris Colfer on His New Kids' Book, Gloria Estefan, and Rewriting History

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Brian Bowen Smith/FOX

Like many children, when Chris Colfer was a wee lad, he would doodle silly characters and write passages to his made up stories. As he grew up, he kept adding to those stories that once helped him get through adolescence. And now as an adult, he's able to share those same stories with the world.

"I promised myself that one day I would get it done, and thanks to Glee, the opportunity came and I jumped on it," Colfer told Cultist over the phone from New York City.

What he got done - aside from a successful run on Glee, winning a Golden Globe, writing a young adult novel (Struck by Lightning), writing a screenplay and producing his first major film - was finally getting around to bringing his fairy tale scribbles to fruition. The first installment in a now-growing series, The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell, was published in 2012, followed by The Enchantress Returns in 2013, and keeping the steady flow, The Land of Stories: A Grimm Warning was just released this week.

See also: Borscht Corporation Remaking Scarface, 15 Seconds at a Time

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Miami Beach Writer Michael Grunwald: "We Don't Educate Our People and Our Politics Suck"

Categories: Books, Culture

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Photo courtesy of Michael Grunwald
It's the Fourth of July a time to think about the economic policy of the United States and our nation's position in the world. Or you could just get really drunk, eat a pack (or five) of hotdogs and watch fireworks blow up in the sky. Yeah, everybody is probably taking the latter option.

But the economy is still not great, and people are unsettled. Local and state political leaders continue to commit unforced errors that make our state look bipolar on the national stage. Supporters of President Barack Obama are frustrated that he can't pass popular measures like increasing the minimum wage and reforming the broken immigration system. Obama's opponents, in contrast, view him as a radical failure.

With this political reality, no wonder people just want to stare up into the sky cross-eyed with a copious amount of meat in their guts.

But one Miami-based journalist and author wants you to understand that things could be worse -- much worse. And maybe, that's something to celebrate.

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Five Books By New Times Authors Out This Summer

Categories: Books

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Gail Ghezzi
Former New Times editor and novelist Ben Greenman.
New Times writers: We investigate your city. We review your live shows. We select the cream of the crop in the annual Best of Miami issue. And yes, we write your snarky blog posts.

But you can't pigeonhole us, man. We're real people, with goals and dreams. And in between tracking down the source of A-Rod's 'roids and reading haters' Facebook comments to our stories, some of us get a little writing done on the side. And the really good writers actually get stuff published in honest-to-god books.

Robert Andrew Powell's Running Away, profiled in this week's issue, is one of several recent or upcoming books by New Times alumni. Here are several others.

See also: Author Robert Andrew Powell Endures a Marathon and Wrestles His Demons in a New Memoir

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Author Robert Andrew Powell Endures a Marathon and Wrestles His Demons in a New Memoir

Categories: Books

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If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall," the Russian writer Anton Chekhov supposedly once said, "in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off."

In Robert Andrew Powell's new memoir, Running Away, the walls aren't equipped with rifles but with inspirational quotes. Chirpy and upbeat, they are the aphorisms of American self-help culture. The slogans from athletic shoe advertisements. The stuff of grade-school cafeteria posters. "To change one's life: Start immediately," reads one plastered on Powell's apartment wall. "Do it flamboyantly. No exceptions."

These platitudes might lack firepower, but they are nonetheless persuasive. And when Powell's life falls apart, he turns to them for meaning. As the quotes instruct, he dramatically ditches his life in Miami and drives cross-country to the city's climatological and spiritual opposite: Boulder, Colorado. There he attempts to shed his South Florida sloth and recast himself as a disciplined runner, like his successful businessman father. He trains obsessively in a feverish attempt to duplicate his dad's feat of qualifying for the Boston Marathon within his first year of running. He loses weight, drops time, wins admirers.

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Maya Angelou, Author and Poet Who Chronicled Southern Racism, Dead at 86

Categories: Books

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Miami Book Fair International
Maya Angelou, speaking at the Miami Book Fair International in 1986.
Maya Angelou, the multitalented storyteller known for her autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, died Wednesday at her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She was 86.

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Miami Is the Second Best Read City In the Country, Amazon Says

Categories: Books

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Alex Markow
Bookleggers and O, Miami: Just a few ways Miamians get lit.
So people in Miami are stupid, huh? Miamians aren't educated, eh? People in this city are barely literate, you say?

Sit down, haters. Amazon.com begs to differ.

The online retailer (which, old folks may remember, once primarily sold books) has ranked Miami at number two in its annual list of best-read cities.

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Knights Arts Challenge Finalist Amanda Keeley Plans to Stage Pop-up Bookstores

Categories: Art, Books, Culture

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Courtesy Amanda Keeley
Despite Miami's rapidly evolving art scene, most Miami locals can't afford to buy any of the abundant work on display. Knights Arts Challenge finalist Amanda Keeley says artist books are the best way to clear that hurdle. Keeley's project, EXILE Books, is a traveling pop-up store installation dedicated to selling, supporting, and promoting publications produced by artists.

"Artist's books are not a traditional catalogue about an artist's work; the book is conceived of as a work of art in and of itself," Keeley said via email. "Therefore, it allows the artwork to be mass distributed, be affordable, and accessible to a broad public. It gives the artist a strong voice, and it is this style of communication that I am drawn to."

See also: Knight Arts Challenge South Florida 2014 Finalists Announced

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