Reportback: Our Delightful 2023 Book Party

by Barbara Beckwith

Members and book-lover friends gathered on Zoom on February 5th to celebrate, at our annual book party, the impressive array of books published in the past year by members. From the comfort of our homes, we enjoyed hearing seven enticing tidbits in a variety of genres: fiction (short story, novel, mystery, children’s), non-fiction, and poetry (English and bilingual).

The event was hosted con brio by Chairperson Willie Wideman Pleasants, reading emcee Jim Kates, and Charles Coe, who introduced guest speaker Christopher Castellani, former artistic director of Boston’s Grub Street writing center and novelist. His 2019 Leading Men’, with characters including Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams, is being adapted0 for film. Castellani shared his perspective dealing with the marketability of writers who draw on their personal experience, and how the reading public and now the publishing industry have become more receptive to gay literature. He ended with a call for all writers to know that all our writing, recognized or not by top-down agents and publishers, matters – which stimulated an animated post-talk Q&A conversation.

Chairperson Pleasants announced a surprise flash giveaway: whoever named five events that occur in February would get a complimentary copy of one of the readers’ books. Fiction writer Shannon O’Connor won, choosing Karen Winn’s Our Little World, enticed by its focus on two sisters “growing up and apart.”

Pleasants ended the COVID-proof (and weatherproof) Zoom by declaring her confidence that next year we’d go back to celebrating in person. The idea was met by claps, finger snaps, and raised thumbs 👍 in the chat. (if technology allows, our 2024 party could be hybrid so members who don’t live in the Boston area could Zoom in.)