In “Dear Queer Self,” the last book in his Creep Trilogy to be published in March 2022, author Jonathan Alexander asks, “Who do you think you are?” “How do you know?” 

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“Who do you think you are?” “How do you know?” These are questions asked and examined by author Jonathan Alexander in “Dear Queer Self: An Experiment in Memoir,” the final book in The Creep Trilogy, a series of creative nonfiction memoirs in which he grapples with how our relationship to our own past is always changing, how time is experienced differently by queer people, and how our identities continue to form and reform with new relationships, new experiences, and shifting political realities.

“Dear Queer Self is an intense, daring coming-of-age—and coming out—memoir.” — Foreword Reviews. Read the full review here.

The first two books in the trilogy were “Creep: A Life, a Theory, an Apology” (2017, Punctum Books), Alexander’s often humorous dive into owning one’s otherness as a queer man, and “Bullied: The Story of an Abuse” (November 4, 2021, Punctum Books), in which he looks at how the pressure of being queer inextricably shapes our lives, and the stories we tell ourselves to make our queerness bearable. 

Another related memoir, “Stroke Book: The Diary of a Blindspot” (October 26, 2021, Fordham University Press), followed (but was not part of the Creep Trilogy), in which Alexander considered how a lifetime in a society still toxic to queer people (recounted in “Bullied) has impacted his health as well as his perception of queer time. 

“Dear Queer Self,” finally, is an observation, reflection on it all, but specifically the critical years 1989, 1993, and 1996. An experiment in memoir, it is an attempt to tell the story—and this time, more of it—in such a way that it circles and circles—book by book—around the still beating heart of the matter. As Alexander explains, “Over time, we learn to tell our story differently because we see it differently, with more age, experience, and reflection.” 

“This is my attempt to tell my younger self that I’m still working on it,” says Alexander. “We’re all still working on life,” he says, reflecting. “For queer people, it doesn’t necessarily ‘get better,’ but viewed through our experiences, it does get richer. We learn to appreciate our complexity, our density.”

Though not published until March 15, 2022, “Dear Queer Self” is already generating considerable interest and is one of the most requested galleys on publishing industry digital catalog and review copy platform Edelweiss! 

“Dear Queer Self” also comes with its own YouTube playlist for each year featured in the memoir, 1989, 1993, and 1996.

“Dear Queer Self” Synopsis (via Acre Books)
“Dear Queer Self” is an unvarnished accounting of one man’ struggle toward sexual and emotional maturity. In this unconventional memoir, Alexander, who grew up in the Deep South during the 1970s and ’80s, addresses wry and affecting missives to a conflicted younger self. Focusing on three years—1989, 1993, and 1996—the book follows the author through the homophobic heights of the AIDS epidemic, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the election of Bill Clinton and the steady advancements in gay rights that followed. With humor and wit afforded by hindsight, Alexander relives his closeted college years, his experiments with his sexuality in graduate school, his first marriage (to a woman), and his budding career as a college professor. 

As he moves from tortured self-denial to hard-won self-acceptance, the author confronts the deeply uncomfortable ways he’s implicated in his own story, grappling with the fact that he not only rejected his erotic interests but convinced himself (and others) that his uncle had sexually abused him, a lie that explained his attraction to men. More than a coming-out story, Dear Queer Self is both an intimate psychological exploration and a cultural examination, a meshing of inner and outer realities—and a personal reckoning of how we sometimes torture the truth to make a life. It’s also a love letter, an homage to a decade of rapid change, and a playlist of the sounds, sights, and feelings of a difficult—but ultimately transformative—time.  

Comparable Titles
“A Boy’s Own Story” and “The Beautiful Room Is Empty” by Edmund White, “How We Fight For Our Lives by Saeed Jones, “In The Dream House” by Carmen Maria Machado.

About Jonathan Alexander
Jonathan Alexander is a writer living in Southern California where he is Chancellor’s Professor of English at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author, co-author, or editor of twenty-one books. His cultural journalism has been widely published, especially in the Los Angeles Review of Books for which he is the Young Adult editor, where founding editor Tom Lutz called him one of “our finest essayists.” He lives with his husband and cat, and when not writing, dabbles in watercolors and plays piano in a music ensemble with friends.  

More about Jonathan Alexander and his books on the Jonathan Alexander page at http://www.popularpublicity.comhttp://www.thecreeptrilogy.com and his website, http://www.the-blank-page.com.

About Acre Books
Acre Books is the book-publishing offshoot of The Cincinnati Review, a semiannual literary journal based at the University of Cincinnati, founded in 2003. To learn more about our parent mag, submit work, subscribe, or read its lively blog, click here. www.acre-books.com

Related: Being Queer is EVERYTHING! (That you “just happen to be” Gay is a Lie.)

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