Jon Macy has won the 2010 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Erotica for his graphic novel, Teleny and Camille. The book is an adaptation of the 1893 anonymous erotic novel, Teleny, attributed to Oscar Wilde and his circle of writers and poets. Another Northwest Press title, Glamazonia: The Uncanny Super-Tranny, by Justin Hall, was also a finalist, for Transgender Fiction.
Macy started work on Teleny and Camille in 1996 and completed several chapters before taking a break from the project. He returned to it in 2003 and devoted the next seven years to completing it, releasing it in a limited print run in the spring of 2010. The book was remastered and published by Northwest Press later that year, making its debut at Comic-Con International in San Diego in July.
Although the book seems, to the casual reader of the source material, to be a faithful recreation of the novel in a graphic format, Macy made significant changes to the story and settings to enhance the core love story and to translate the importance of the style and political movement of the time for modern readers.
Macy changed the name of the book to Teleny and Camille to focus on the love story between the two leads, and omitted large portions of the book that strayed from that core. Aesthetic changes were made to furnishings and attire to cement the avant-garde status of the main characters and ensure that they would translate for modern readers.
Some changes were made to restore the intent of the authors. For instance, the book, as originally written, takes place in London but when the book was published by a French publisher in the 1950s, the setting was changed to Paris. Macy returned the story to its English roots.
In addition, Macy honors the spirit of the “round robin” origin of the novel, which was passed from author to author and written in turn. He laments the ever-present tragedy in gay fiction that lingers to this day which prevents gay relationships from being successful and celebrated, and adds his own alternate ending in which the doomed lovers cheat death and triumph over society’s condemnation of their love.
“There are two things that this award brings that I’m especially grateful for,” says Macy. “The first is the recognition of the book’s success as an erotic work. Unlike comedy or drama, which can evoke laughter or tears and be more easily identified as successful efforts, erotica is much trickier. Having the book named as the best gay erotica in 2010 is truly an honor.”
“Secondly,” Macy continues, “I truly hope that this award brings more attention to the original prose novel, which is largely unknown in the U.S. The Aesthetes formed gay identity for us; almost every cliché and stereotype about gay men originated with these pioneers. This novel was written by them and about them, so it is a powerful historical document for the gay community.”
“These are the first two books that Northwest Press produced,” says publisher Charles “Zan” Christensen, “and to have them both nominated for a Lambda is truly humbling. Winning the Lambda Award has the potential to open doors for Teleny and Camille; it is currently not available through our main distributor to the U.K. and Europe due to worries over customs issues. This award reinforces the artistic merit of the project, and will hopefully convince distributors and retailers to help us make it more widely available.”
This is the first Lambda Literary Award nomination and win for Macy, and the first nomination for Hall.
The Lambda Literary Awards ceremony was held at the School of Visual Arts Theater in Chelsea and hosted by Lea DeLaria, and attended by such literary figures as Edward Albee, Terence McNally, Val McDermid, and Samuel Delany. Mad Men star Bryan Batt was among the attendees, nominated for a Lambda Literary Award for Gay Memoir/Biography for his book She Ain’t Heavy, She’s My Mother.
Northwest Press was one of the sponsors of the awards, which are produced annually by the nonprofit Lambda Literary Foundation.