Out today from FSG is Lost and Found in Johannesburg [Kindle] (published internationally as Dispatcher) by Mark Gevisser, the award-winning biographer and Teddy-winning filmmaker who is an Open Society Fellow working on The Global Sexuality Frontier. Growing up gay, white, and Jewish during apartheid, Mark kept to himself and was keen on maps, fixated by the mysterious blank areas that separated his family's neighborhood from where their black servants lived. As a double outsider he developed an eye for boundaries, and transgression. His father married the daughter of an anti-Semite, Mark eventually marries his partner, a man of color, and they move to Paris. On a visit back to work on this memoir, he is the victim of a violent home invasion, bound, gagged, and held hostage at gunpoint. Throughout the book, he poignantly confronts the gap between assumptions and reality. Teju Cole: "Outstanding. A genuinely strange, marvelous, and complex account of a self and a city. Does for Johannesburg what Pamuk did for Istanbul." Claire Messud: "Mark Gevisser’s extraordinary memoir asks profound questions – about race, sexuality, faith and politics -- while examining both his own history and that of his beloved Johannesburg. The result is unlike any other book I know. It is illuminating, unsettling, engrossing, often funny, and, in a word, brilliant." Dinaw Mengestu: "A story as complex and beautiful as any memoir I've ever read."
For gay novels from South Africa try:
Michael Power, Shadow Game (banned for its interracial gay love in 1972, reissued)
Damon Galgut, A Sinless Season (1982)
Stephen Gray’s Time of Our Darkness (1988)
Mark Behr’s Embrace (2000)
K Sello Duiker, The Quiet Violence of Dreams (2001)
Michiel Heyns, The Children's Day (2002)
Guy Willoughby, Archangels (2002)
Michiel Heyns, The Reluctant Passenger (2003)
Barry Levy, Burning Bright (2004)
Craig Higginson, The Hill (2005)
Fred Khumalo, Seven Steps to Heaven (2007)
Damon Galgut, In a Strange Room (2010)
Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) painter, sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, writer... the world's greatest genius did it all without a university education, denied to him as a lowerclass bastard. At twenty-four he was twice arrested for sodomy, in April and June, after which he became increasingly secretive about his affairs with men, including a young falconer named Bernardo di Simone, according to Michael White. His notebooks cover 5,000 pages and foretell inventions or discoveries to come centuries later: bicycles, calculators, military tanks, helicopters, hang gliders, the double hull, solar power, and plate tectonics. Other drawings are erotica, including an erect angel (qui) based on his tempestuous boyfriend, a hellcat named Salai, to whom he bequeathed the Mona Lisa.
Henry James, four centuries later and 400 times more repressed, wrote some of the world's finest fiction. His gayest works are the novel The Bostonians (excluded from his collected works due to its queerness) and the long short story The Pupil. Undiminished even in the age of txtng, he is the subject of Colm Toibin's IMPAC Dublin winner The Master and the reigning spirit of Alan Hollinghurst's Booker winner The Line of Beauty. Exactly one year ago, the Pulitzer judges named as a finalist Michael Gorra's superb Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece [Kindle], which was also a NBCC nominee and a best book of the year at The New Yorker, WSJ, the Guardian, and The Millions.
You deserve it. Get George Platt Lynes: The Male Nudes (my favorite, after the jump) or see him in front of the camera in When We Were Three: Travel Albums of George Platt Lynes, Monroe Wheeler and Glenway Wescot 1925-1935. He is the basis for the photographer in Donald Windham's novel Tanaquil.
Always a favorite recommender on Thebes queer lit poll, Peter Gadol studied with Seamus Heaney and Helen Vendler at Harvard from which he graduated magna cum laude. Four years later Crown published his first novel, Coyote (1990), followed by The Mystery Roast (1993), Closer to the Sun (1996), a PEN West prize nominee The Long Rain [Kindle] (1997), Light at Dusk (2000), and the Lammy-nominated Silver Lake [Kindle] about two gay architects and their dangerous overnight guest. Fifty today, Peter is working on American Modern, a novel about 20th century design.
Rick Whitaker's audacious new fiction An Honest Ghost [Kindle] is a Publishing Triangle nominee, a Lammy finalist, an ALA Over the Rainbow book, and a TLS book of the year. Previously he wrote a memoir about his experiences as a hustler, Assuming the Position, and a book about reading gay American writing, The First Time I Met Frank O'Hara. I wish he would write about his experiences as an adoptive single dad -- not easy, given his published history as a sex worker -- though of course I respect any privacy decisions in not writing about family.
Fiction: The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt
Nonfiction:Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation, Dan Fagin
History: The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832, Alan Taylor
Biography: Margaret Fuller: A New American Life, Megan Marshall
Poetry:3 Sections, Vijay Seshadri
Drama: The Flick, Annie Baker
Music: Become Ocean, John Luther Adams
Bizarrely, the fiction finalists were not Lahiri, McDermott, Kushner, Ozeki, or any of the other nominees for the National Book Award or the NBCC... they were The Son by Philipp Meyer and The Woman Who Lost Her Soul by Bob Shacochis. The Reporting prizes and full citations here.
In 1991 John Gielgud became the fourth person in the universe to EGOT, having won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony. Also the winner of multiple BAFTAs and Golden Globes and a special Olivier Award, Gielgud was and is still considered one of the world's finest actors. A consummate performer of Shakespeare on stage and screen, he was equally at home in historical dramas such as Brideshead Revisited (and Caligula), experimental works such as Beckett's Catastrophe, and contemporary comedies like Arthur. In 1953, he was arrested and convicted of cottaging in Chelsea Mews. Unlike today's finger-wagging moralists (see George Michael's career after his entrapment for cruising, thanks largely to homophobic record execs and radio programmers), the post-War public did not scorn him; rather, at his next appearance on stage he was given a standing ovation. Indeed, that same year he was knighted. Although Gielgud was out and discussed his homosexuality in his autobiography, when he died at ninety-six in 2000, many obituaries degayed his life and omitted his partner of almost four decades, Martin Hensler. When criticized, the Washington Post defended their decision saying he was known for being an actor, not for being gay. Their long tribute included the details that he loved to garden and enjoyed trashy commercial paperback novels. Read his books An Actor and His Time and Backward Glances.
My sister Angela is every kind of awesome, and more. At three, upon hearing she was going to get a baby brother, she urged our parents to name me Julia Child. From that summit of prescience, her insights have grown wiser every day. She and her partner of 22 years met by sitting next to each other at the SF lgbt film fest, Frameline. (See what happens when you support queer film!) They live in Berkeley.
Continually, for centuries, white Westerners have projected their gay fantasies on the Arab, Persian, and Ottoman other. In The Homoerotics of Orientalism [Kindle] USC professor Joseph A. Boone examines books, art, photography, and film to consider why. His second chapter covers "Beautiful Boys, Sodomy, and Hamams," with sections on The Hypervirile Male Other, The Cruel Pasha, and The Dancing Boy. His thousand-year survey of literature spans the Rubbiyat to many favorites like Flaubert, Gide, Maugham, and Lawrence Durrell, to a few non-favorites like Norman Mailer's Ancient Evenings and the stereotypes in al-Aswany. His final chapter looks at movies, gay images in pop culture, and porn. The 500-page book is heavily illustrated throughout with 250 b&w images and 22 color plates.
Boone's previous books include Queer Frontiers: Millennial Geographies, Genders, and Generations and Tradition Counter Tradition: Love and the Form of Fiction.
Shortlisted for both the Booker and the NBCC, Ruth Ozeki wins the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.
Mystery / Thriller
After the jump, winners in HIstory, Science, Poetry, Graphic Novels, and YA
Frank Murphy was mayor of Detroit (1930-33), governor of Michigan (1937-39), U.S. Attorney General (1939-40), the final Governor-General of the Philippines (1933-35), and a Justice of the Supreme Court (1940-49) appointed by Franklin Roosevelt. Never married, he was romantically involved with Edward G. Kemp, his housemate for most of his adult life. Read more about him in Deb Price and Joyce Murdoch’s excellent book Courting Justice.
Born and raised in Missouri, playwright Lanford Wilson was a founding member of New York's Circle Rep, which first presented many of his dramas. His best-known works include Balm in Gilead, Hot L Baltimore, Fifth of July, Talley’s Folly, and Burn This. Among his many honors are the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award, the Obie Award, and the Pulitzer Prize. In 2004 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He died of pneumonia at 73 in 2011.
Deborah A. Batts grew up in Philadelphia then attended Radcliffe College and Harvard Law School. In 1994 Bill Clinton appointed her to the federal bench, making her the first openly gay federal judge in U.S. history. She is shown above with her portrait, which is the first portrait of a black woman and first of an out person on the walls of Harvard Law School. Now 67, she took senior status two years ago.
A favorite on Thebes' poll in 2012 and again in 2013, and a local bestseller in Los Angeles, Richard Kramer's smart, funny, affecting gay novel These Things Happen [Kindle] gives voice to multiple narrators as fifteen year-old Wesley navigates first love and four parents -- mom, stepdad, dad, and dad's partner George, who to my mind is the book's winningest character. The story's heart and snap is no surprise to followers of Kramer's impressive career in television, writing / directing / producing many series including My So-called Life, Thirtysomething, and Tales of the City. Indeed, this story is ready to become a series for HBO produced by Oprah. Read it now before the show kicks Modern Family asunder.
Someone had an inspired idea to illustrate this New York novel with art by James McMullan (get his brand new Leaving China: An Artist Paints His World War II Childhood) but it's wrong to denude the cover of its many marquee blurbs and reviews. NYT: "Funny and captivating." PW: "Kramer's triumph." Lambda: "Compulsively readable." Julia Glass: "A fresh, brave love story." Michael Cunningham: "Incisive, wise, funny, moving." Cathleen Schine: "Artful, thoughtful, and extremely funny... wonderful." Daniel Mendelsohn: "wise and wide-eyed, sage and sensitive, extremely funny and, in the end, disarmingly touching."
Former enfant terrible Slava Mogutin, 40, still lives to provoke. Born in Siberia (and, according to Wikipedia, “the first openly gay personality in the Russian media”) now a New Yorker (after Amnesty International and American PEN helped get him political asylum), the writer and photographer is permanently at war with the establishment. A constant critic of Moscow’s leaders, Mogutin has written seven books in Russian, winning the Andrei Bely Prize in 2000. He aims for a similar shock value in his hatred of establishment gays, and he loves to antagonize his audience, once describing himself as a "cave-based, homo terrorist, pinko commie fag, and propagandist of brutal violence, psychic pathology and sexual perversions." Happily, he brings all that angry energy to his photography, which appears regularly in art, fashion, alt, and porn magazines. His best photo books are Lost Boys and NYC Go-Go. Last month he released his first book in English, Food Chain.
The Paris Review links to this trove of snapshots capturing a whole lot of drag in Kansas City in the 1960s. Is it amazing that the queens pose on the street? Or, in the wake of Some Like It Hot and Milton Berle and a million frat boy revues or military theater nights (like the one in Bitter Eden), would straight onlookers have seen nothing more than nutty hijinks?
Click to enlarge.
A short piece in today's Guardian by Damien Walter finds the universal in calls for science fiction literature to reflect post-binary gender and embrace the queer. He argues such novels have already established cross-over appeal. Two of the three below appeared on Thebes' annual poll.
"...However accurate a queer future might be, SF authors must continue to pander to the bigotry of conservative readers if they want to be 'commercial.'
"Which is of course nonsense. The science fiction novels of Iain M Banks [like Use of Weapons] were bestsellers many times over, in part because the future they explored was openly queer. Citizens of Banks' future society the Culture have the ability to change their sex at will, and frequently shift between sexes and gender roles. Kim Stanley Robinson's 2312 became both a bestseller and multiple award winner with a vision of the future that included fluid non-binary gender. And Nicola Griffith's historical epic Hild, nominated for this year's Nebula awards by members of the SFWA, is built around a bisexual protagonist."
Expat American literary young men colliding in Gertrude Stein's orbit in Paris, Hemingway took an immediate dislike to gay novelist Glenway Wescott for his artificial affectations [from Wisconsin, he acquired an English accent] and his "fake" fiction. In The Sun Also Rises he lampooned Wescott as Robert Prescott until Max Perkins made him change the overly obvious last name to Prentiss. Wescott's major novels, before he ceased writing them at 44, are The Grandmothers, based on his own family, Apartment in Athens [Kindle], about a Greek family forced to host a German officer, of which Susan Sontag said in The New Yorker it is “among the treasures of 20th-century American literature,” and The Pilgrim Hawk [Kindle], which David Leavitt chose as a favorite of 2011. Late last year came his gay-inclusive stories, A Visit to Priapus. One area in which Wescott trumped Hemingway: His relationship with MoMA curator Monroe Wheeler lasted 68 years, from 1919 to his death at 85 in 1987. After you read the novels, try Jerry Rosco's Glenway Wescott Personally: A Biography or get Continual Lessons: The Journals of Glenway Wescott, 1937-1955 and A Heaven of Words: Last Journals, 1956-1984.
Reader Daniel recommends the really wonderful When We Were Three: Travel Albums of George Platt Lynes, Monroe Wheeler and Glenway Wescott 1925-1935.
Camp out with some old-school gay humor. Arthur Wooten's novel of misadventures in middle-aged gay dating, On Picking Fruit [Kindle], inspired Edmund White to say, "If gallantry in our day is defined as facing adversity with screams of laughter, then this is the most gallant book I know of." Its sequel is Fruit Cocktail [Kindle]. Three generations of Southern zany types converge in Birthday Pie [Kindle], and Leftovers examines a 1950s divorced woman's zeal for Tupperware. Dizzy: A Fictional Memoir goes backstage with Broadway royalty. Wooten's site says, "All of his books have been adapted to film, television and/or stage."
Of 178 new Guggenheim fellows named today, special congratulations go out to Victoria Redel, whose gay-inclusive new story collection was named one of Six Great Books To Read by Reader's Digest, and to Christopher Castellani, whose third novel in his Maddalena trilogy is a current finalist for the Ferro-Grumley Award.
The complete list of fiction fellows is:
Chloe Aridjis, Book of Clouds won the Prix du Premier Roman Etranger in France.
Hari Kunzru, Gods Without Men
Julie Orringer, The Invisible Bridge
Victoria Redel, her new story collection is Make Me Do Things, her novel Loverboy became a movie with Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick, Campbell Scott, Oliver Platt, Marisa Tomei, Matt Dillion, and Sandra Bullock. Her other fiction is The Border of Truth and Where The Road Bottoms Out. She has written several volumes of poetry. See her site.
Peter Rock, My Abandonment
Claire Watkins, Battleborn won five literary awards and was a finalist for two others.
Now the bad news. That's only seven fiction fellows. As the world amps its preoccupation with moving images and nonfiction narratives, works of literary imagination continue to suffer and lose ground, even at the most erudite levels. Compare these categories of Guggenheim fellows one and two decades ago:
1994: 10 fiction**, 3 nonfiction, 5 film, 4 video & audio
2004: 11 fiction++, 7 nonfiction, 9 film, 3 video & audio
2014: 7 fiction, 10 nonfiction, 14 film & video
++including Manil Suri and Susan Choi
Next time we're listing lesbian accomplishments let's remember Social Security, unemployment benefits, minimum wage, the 40-hour work week, overtime pay, and anti-child labor laws -- all of which came into being under the leadership of Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins. The first woman ever to hold a US Cabinet position, only she and Harold L. Ickes lasted in their posts for FDR's entire presidency. Born in Boston in 1880, Perkins double majored in physics and chemistry at Mount Holyoke and got her Masters in political science from Columbia in 1910. As Governor, FDR made her New York's first State Commissioner of Labor. She married Paul Wilson, a manic depressive who was frequently institutionalized, and she lived with her lover, heiress Mary Harriman Rumsey, in Georgetown. A power couple par excellence, they hosted dinner parties said to gather at one table Eleanor Roosevelt, Will Rogers, Margaret Bourke-White, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, and unknown Appalachian folk singers. Rumsey died from a riding accident the week before Christmas 1934. Hiding the true nature of her grief, Perkins carried on with the congressional fight for Social Security, which was enacted in August 1935. Perkins lived to 85 in 1965. Her memoir The Roosevelt I Knew is degayed but biographer Kirstin Downey includes her lesbian relationships in The Woman Behind the New Deal: The Life and Legacy of Frances Perkins [Kindle]. Lucy Jane Bledsoe chose it as one of her top reads of 2011.
Michael Alenyikov's gay novel-in-stories about brother love and jealousy, Ivan and Misha [Kindle], won the Northern California Book Award, the Gina Berriault Award, and was a finalist for Publishing Triangle's debut fiction award. Born in Kiev, the fraternal twins are raised in New York, where their father who was a doctor is now a doorman, and a gambler, and bipolar. Their mother is dead. When Misha gets a boyfriend, Smith, Ivan feels betrayed. Then things get worse.
Alenyikov was raised in Brooklyn, graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School, attended Queens College, and moved to San Francisco more than twenty years ago.
"I look at my gay friends who are in the closet and I think they’re sniveling little cowards, and then they watch how I get treated, and I can’t blame them," says Fred, a rare, out steelworker in Indiana. Like soldiers and firefighters, steelworkers tackle dangerous feats in hellish conditions between long stretches of idleness. So they talk, aiming for macho swagger, and they expect reciprocation. Trapped with a hostile audience, closeted workers have it doubly tough. When they're found out, the harassment becomes sport, relentless, and extends to vandalizing their lockers and cars. The victims have little recourse because their union doesn't protect them. In thirty-years of shrinking clout, the United Steel Workers brass has had to pick carefully its most useful battles, never queer rights. Alone, closeted employees develop great inner strength and, it seems, blinders: they often think they're the only one. Former auto mechanic, now professor of English, author Anne Balay describes how she met these people who didn't want to be found, and how easy it was to draw them out to a sympathetic ear. Changing names, Balay covers forty lives in Steel Closets: Voices of Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Steelworkers. She says, "their stories moved me, shook me up, and redefined heroism for me."
With good reason, the god of fire Hephaestus' / Vulcan's forge is a popular subject to paint or sculpt. Above, Lombardo and Giordano. After the jump, Velázquez , Tintoretto, Floris, Vasari, and Vries.
At least two gay/inclusive novels (Eng, Flanery) and two hetero books that made Thebes' annual list (Knausgaard, Bakker -- impressively back here for his second novel after winning this prize for his first) are among the ten finalists on today's shortlist for the $138,000 IMPAC Dublin Award.
Ten White Geese by Gerbrand Bakker, (Dutch)
Questions of Travel by Michelle de Kretser (Sri Lankan/Australian)
Absolution by Patrick Flanery (American)
My Struggle: Book One by Karl Ove Knausgaard (Norwegian)
Three Strong Women by Marie NDiaye (French)
Traveler of the Century by Andrés Neuman (Argentinian)
The Light of Amsterdam by David Park (Northern Irish)
The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan (Irish)
The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng (Malaysian)
The Sound of Things Falling by Juan Gabriel Vásquez (Colombian)
The winner will be announced June 12. The IMPAC Dublin is among my very favorite prizes, with previous winners Tóibín, Pamuk, Petterson, Bakker, and Edward P. Jones. But they need more women. For the past thirteen years a male writer has won and this year eight of the ten finalists are men.
Seven months ago Sen. Alan Simpson came to our wedding reception and toasted my brand-new husband as "a smooth-talking son of a bitch." Now this. USAToday reports the ad "will run in Colorado, Oklahoma and Wyoming TV markets, as well as on the Sunday morning talk shows in Washington."
Two books of note out today:
Readers who depend on character development, evocation of place, or change over time may resist super-short stories of two or three sentences, but everyone interested in today's literature ought to try Lydia Davis, winner of the 2013 International Booker. No one cares more deeply about word choice and shades of meaning. Proving my point, in the March 17 New Yorker, Dana Goodyear captured Davis's reaction to her book club's current novel by a popular author -- unnamed because "I don't like to knock other writers on principle" -- in which Davis writes down phrases that don't work in order to puzzle out why they've failed. Goodyear:
"She opened the notebook and read a sentence about an acute intimacy that had eroded into something dull. 'Acute is sharp and then eroded is an earth metaphor,' she said. She read another: ' "A paper bag stuffed with empty wine bottles." I thought about that. You'd think he could get away with it, but he can't, because "stuffed" is a verb that comes from material. It's soft, so it's a problem to stuff it with something hard... Whenever I read this kind of thing, it tells me the writer is not sensitive to the full value of the idea of comparison,' she said."
Okay? Get her new collection Can't and Won't [Kindle] or her opus The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis [Kindle]. Employing that same degree of hyper-attention, Davis is also a translator of Flaubert, Proust, Blanchot, and Denon.
Peter Matthiessen's tenth and final novel In Paradise [Kindle] follows an international group of intellectuals at a week-long spiritual retreat in a former Nazi concentration camp in 1996. No word yet if the 256-page book acknowledges gay men killed in the Holocaust or if any of the contemporary characters are lgbt.
Announced today, the six titles on the shortlist for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize are:
The Iraqi Christ by Hassan Blasim
Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami
A Meal in Winter by Hubert Mingarelli
This is a vital award, worth your attention. Previously honored are Pamuk, Kundera, Sebald, and Petterson. Last year's winner was Ten White Geese [Kindle] by Gerbrand Bakker whose terrific gay novel The Twin [Kindle] won the IMPAC Dublin.
Earlier today in London the judges of the former Orange Prize announced this shortlist of six novels:
The winner receives approximately $49,860 on June 4.
Notables cut from the longlist are the current Booker and Governor General's winner The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood, The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert, The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout, Almost English by Charlotte Mendelsohn, and The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner.
He was born in England, came to America at seven, and, in his twenties, had an affair with Grandpa Walton when that actor was in his thirties: Even now there's so much we don't recall about Harry Hay who started The Mattachine Society in 1950 in Los Angeles. To grasp the bravery of founding a gay rights group at that time, remember it was illegal for homosexuals to gather in public. A woman accompanied them for cover, or they met in private. Depending on your view, Hay is the most interesting or the most difficult of the movement's founders because he was permanently opposed to gay assimilation. He was also a longtime member of the Communist Party, a founding member of Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition, and a cofounder of Radical Faeries. (Happy, carefree NSFW fairy photo after the jump.) He met his life partner at fifty-one and died at ninety in 2002. Read a collection of his own writings, Radically Gay: Gay Liberation in the Words of Its Founder or his biography, The Trouble With Harry Hay [Kindle] by Stuart Timmons.
Today he would be 102. For his centenary, Los Angeles dedicated a Silver Lake staircase in his honor, The Mattachine Steps. We visited them in January and were very grateful to the person who added the much-needed homemade sign beneath the staid, gray official marker that says Mattachine but doesn't say gay.
A favorite on Thebes' queer lit survey, R Zamora Linmark's Leche [Kindle] is about a young gay Filipano-American returning to the country where he was born and coping with his dual identities. Or, as Kevin Killian says, the novel "takes that old exile-returns cliché and fucks with it till it cries out in ecstasy." Critic Nicholas Boggs said, the book "is a riotous ride through modern-day Manila featuring encounters with a larger-than-life cast of characters including a (perhaps) bisexual cabbie, an activist nun, an acclaimed movie director, and President Corazon Aquino’s actress daughter, also known as the Massacre Queen of the Philippine Cinema.” A two-time Fulbright recipient, Linmark has also written poetry and plays and has taught at the University of Miami and the University of Hawaii.
From Colm Tóibín's introduction to Lynne Tillman's new essay collection, What Would Lynne Tillman Do?
"There is a game in David Lodge’s novel Small World in which the highly educated characters vie with each other to name famous and canonical books that they have not bothered to read. (The winner, by the way, has not read Hamlet.) For anyone writing now, or indeed for many readers, there is a serious edge to this game. Increasingly, the canon, the accepted list of great and good books, seems like merchandise, something created to be consumed, carefully packaged for you and all your family. The canon seems concerned to hold on to power, the power of the middle ground. Other voices, other systems of seeing, are excluded with something close to deliberation; they are reduced to being marginal, eccentric. Slowly then what is out of fashion moves out of print.
"For anyone serious about writing, it is often the book that has been forgotten or dismissed, the writer you found on your own, the story or poem or presence that has been too strange for others, that has mattered most, that has made you in its likeness. Creating space for your own work involves creating space for the work that made a difference to you. This is why artists write essays; they do so to reposition the way we read or the way we respond so that the work they do can be read or seen more clearly. It is the same reason, if there is a reason, plants grow toward light."
The full essay includes descriptions of Colm torturing Lynne by singing Joni Mitchell in their small car.
A trailblazer way ahead of the zeitgeist, Rob Epstein alone or with Jeffrey Friedman, won two Academy Awards, three Peabodys, four Emmys, and a Guggenheim Fellowship, among many other honors, for his/their gay documentaries The Times of Harvey Milk, Common Threads - Stories from the Quilt, The Celluloid Closet, and Paragraph 175. Then they decided to try narrative features, making the Allen Ginsberg obscenity trial movie Howl, starring James Franco, Jon Hamm, Jeff Daniels, and Mary-Louise Parker, which grossed $617,334. Last year saw their first non-gay feature, the biopic Lovelace starring Amanda Seyfried as the porn starlet, Sharon Stone as her monstrous mother, and again James Franco as Hugh Hefner. It grossed $356,582. (To compare, The Celluloid Closet grossed $1.4 million in 1996.) More than a year ago they announced a movie about Anita Bryant, starring Uma Thurman, which does not appear to have begun production. In December, for World Aids Day, HBO aired their new short The Battle of amfAR. In February, TCM screened their 90-minute special offering an inside look at the Oscars. Masters of the documentary, Epstein and Friedman have written a how-to book called The Art of Nonfiction Movie Making.
Auspicious from the start, in 1985, Joseph Olshan saw his first novel Clara's Heart win the London Times/Jonathan Cape Young Writers Competition, get great reviews, and three years later become a movie starring Whoopi Goldberg as a Jamaican housekeeper in Rye, New York who transforms a boy's life. In 1994, he published his best-known gay novel Nightswimmer, the story of Will Kaplan's struggles to reconnect with life, and a new boyfriend, a decade after his partner Chad either drowned or intentionally disappeared. In 2008 he released his eighth novel, The Conversion, again about a gay man untangling memory and doubt in the aftermath of his lover's death (this time in Paris and Tuscany, an American translator mourning a famous older poet). Yet again Olshan earned impressive reviews comparing his work to that of Graham Greene and Andre Aciman. His most recent book Cloudland is a mystery inspired by the real, unsolved serial murders of six women in the Connecticut River valley of New Hampshire and Vermont, where he lives. His work has been translated into sixteen languages.