We Set the Night on Fire is the title of my forthcoming book. The official publication date is June 13, right smack in the middle of Pride Month, but it’s already getting great reviews, including an excellent one from Kirkus. According to Aspiring Author, Kirkus is the “gold standard” of the publishing industry. “While notoriously unbiased, Kirkus reviews can also be notoriously harsh, so earning a positive review can be quite the feat for any author.” You can see what they have to say below.
The book is hot, I promise you—a memoir about life as an activist, from the forces that shaped me—an immigrant family fleeing pogroms and poverty, the McCarthy years, the Civil Rights movement, anti-Vietnam War protests, Second Wave feminism—through Stonewall, co-founding the Gay Liberation Front and later work with the Oakland Women’s Press Collective.
You can pre-order it now. My dear queer friend Nena Rawdah, who used to run a bookstore here in Portland, is opening a new one in Vancouver. Please support her new venture—order from her by clicking this link and get a 17% discount off the cover price.
Here’s the review:
“The autobiography of a co-founder of the Gay Liberation Front/A gay rights activist’s funny and thoughtful memoir
On June 28, 1969, Shelley was giving two gay Bostonians a tour of Greenwich Village in New York City when they ‘came upon a group of men throwing things at cops.’ When the women asked what was going on, Shelley answered, ‘It’s just a riot…we have them all the time.’ It was only later that she realized that the women had passed through the famous riot at the Stonewall Inn that marked a major transition in the movement for gay rights. A graduate of the Bronx High School of Science and the City College of New York, Shelley was a tough, precocious New Yorker who began to identify as a lesbian after having an affair with a woman she met in a judo class. At a young age, the author was confident enough in her sexuality to become a public speaker for the New York chapter of a ‘lesbian organization’ called Daughters of Bilitis, a role she wore proudly despite having to hide it from her employer. ‘Although I was out as spokesperson for the DOB, I couldn’t be out at work,’ she writes. ‘I was still living a double life.’ It was through this organization and its male counterpart—the Mattachine Society—that Shelley helped found the radical Gay Liberation Front, a group famous for organizing the march that alchemized the ire of the Stonewall riot into a decades long movement. Shelley’s frank, conversational tone, wry sense of humor, and keen eye for detail make the text feel like an intimate conversation with a radical friend. At times, her rapid-fire introduction of characters and stream of narration are confusing, but the book is a well-paced, highly informative page-turner about a history that is rarely told.”