Recently published, B. Ruby Rich's New Queer Cinema: The Director’s Cut inspired John Waters to say "I thought I knew a lot about gay movie history until I read New Queer Cinema and realized what a dunce I was. Ruby Rich has to be the friendliest yet toughest voice of international queerdom writing today."
Even the most obsessive moviewatcher can find some unknown gay movies in Darwin Porter and Danforth Prince's Fifty Years of Queer Cinema: 500 of the Best GLBTQ Films Ever Made (2010). Their selections go beyond predominantly American and British fare to include some great foreign gay films.
Actor Simon Callow wrote the introduction to Steven Paul Davies' Out at the Movies: A History of Gay Cinema (2008), but that didn't sway director Jenni Olson (author of The Queer Movie Poster Book) who criticized Davies' work as a weak imitation of Vito Russo. If you're not looking for that much analysis you may benefit from the book's many plot recaps.
The Wrap's Alonso Duralde a few years ago published 101 Must-See Movies for Gay Men and now the paperback is just $5.98. Whereas the other books concentrate on films with gay relationships, many of the movies here are more broadly camp or coded -- everything from Auntie Mame to Jackass. Readers have found Alonso's smart, opinionated voice as entertaining as his subject.
For readers who won't be celebrating Memorial Day weekend in the Pines, there are two new books 1) about the gay architect who gave the island its look with houses like the one above, Fire Island Modernist: Horace Gifford and the Architecture of Seduction by Christopher Rawlins and 2) Tom Bianchi's snaps of the men who loved them.
New York magazine writes:
Gifford’s was a gay architectural vernacular that eschewed camp—“butch,” Rawlins calls it. “But in its muscular austerity,” he writes, “a hypermasculine form of drag could also be discerned.” As time went on, the houses became more elaborate, with conversation pits and make-out lofts—a form of sexed-up cocaine modernism. Gifford, a fixture in the community, embodied this pre-AIDS boundarylessness.
The NYT also covered the book with this doozy from the Department of Oh, Please:
“My line to people is that the Pines is to gay people what Israel is to Jews,” Andrew Kirtzman, a longtime Pines resident and real estate developer, said recently. “It’s the spiritual homeland. There’s just a sense of history in the air, almost tangible but not quite. You just feel like you’re part of some kind of grand creation meant solely for gays.”
It's unfair of the NYT to saddle a good book with that quote, yet its ridiculousness is outdone by the article's 60+ author Guy Trebay who offers: "And what once looked like licentiousness, flamboyance and bacchanalian behavior seems tame in an era of adolescent sexting and phones with downloadable hookup apps." An orgy at the meatrack was "tame" compared to a downloadable app? bro srs gafc
Please focus instead on Paul Goldberger saying Fire Island Modernist is an "important book, at once a work of architectural and social history." And Charles Kaiser: "Rawlins deftly melds biography, architectural criticism and social history to provide a rich portrait of Horace Gifford, and a vivid explanation of how the architect’s design aesthetic contributed to the formation of modern gay culture."
“I was the young, lonely gay boy in the Midwest who had no idea paradise existed,” Mr. Bianchi said. “Everything about the Pines was new, the very idea of a place where you could play on the beach and hold hands with a guy and be with like-minded people and dance all night with a man.”
Difficult to remember in an era of marriage equality and widespread social acceptance of gay people, Mr. Bianchi added, is the social and political tenor of those decades when in many places it remained illegal for two men to dance together in public, when stereotypes of gay men as “sick deviants, weak and ineffectual and involved in sterile, unimportant relationships” still held sway.
In the Pines, Mr. Bianchi said, “We as gay men were finally able to let go of the judgments we’d internalized, to take each other’s hands and help each other explore.”
Sexual desire, like gravity, he added, is an irresistible “force holding us to the planet.” The period his book documents, in the last moments before a random virus laid waste to a generation of gay men, “was a very sexy and a very sexual time.”
“But it wasn’t a shallow experience whatsoever,” he said. “I met some pretty incredible people. We certainly loved.”
Ending a debilitating, decades-long fight, the Boy Scouts of America today voted by a large margin to allow openly gay scouts in their troops. (They continue to ban gay adults as scout leaders.) Great as this news is for equality lovers, it's also important that the bigots opposed to the change received a decisive defeat from their own organization, 61%-38% of 1,400 voting members.
Although it's ideal that the reversal has come from within the BSA, I still think the Supreme Court was wrong in its decision thirteen years ago to uphold the ban against gay scouts. Four justices agreed with Evan Wolfson, representing James Dale who was expelled in 1990, as do Andrew Koppelman and Tobias Wolff, authors of the 2009 book from Yale, A Right to Discriminate?: How the Case of Boy Scouts of America v. James Dale Warped the Law of Free Association. But in 2000 then-conservative Andrew Sullivan agreed with the majority on the exclusionary ruling, telling Salon: "The court’s decision is, in fact, a good one for gay people. It enshrines the basic principle of freedom of association, which protects minorities above all. I’m sad that the Boy Scouts have decided to embrace bigotry, but in a free country they have every right to."
Take a look at Lisa Henderson's important new book Love and Money: Queers, Class, and Cultural Production [Kindle], which NYU published earlier this year:
"Love and Money argues that we can’t understand contemporary queer cultures without looking through the lens of social class. Resisting old divisions between culture and economy, identity and privilege, left and queer, recognition and redistribution, Love and Money offers supple approaches to capturing class experience and class form in and around queerness."Contrary to familiar dismissals, not every queer television or movie character is like Will Truman on Will and Grace—rich, white, healthy, professional, detached from politics, community, and sex. Through ethnographic encounters with readers and cultural producers and such texts as Boys Don’t Cry, Brokeback Mountain, By Hook or by Crook, and wedding announcements in the New York Times, Love and Money sees both queerness and class across a range of idioms and practices in everyday life. How, it asks, do readers of Dorothy Allison’s novels use her work to find a queer class voice? How do gender and race broker queer class fantasy? How do independent filmmakers cross back and forth between industry and queer sectors, changing both places as they go and challenging queer ideas about bad commerce and bad taste?"With an eye to the nuances and harms of class difference in queerness and a wish to use culture to forge queer and class affinities, Love and Money returns class and its politics to the study of queer life."
Mr. Barnett was the author of The Body and Its Dangers (1990), a collection of stories in which many of the characters are afflicted with aids. The book was a winner of the PEN/ Ernest Hemingway Citation. Mr. Barnett worked for the Gay Men's Health Crisis, helped to establish the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, and taught aids education to students of English as a second language at the 23d Street Y.M.C.A.
He is survived by his mother, Margaret Barnett of Joliet, Ill.; four sisters, Debby, Cindy, Donna and Rhonda, and two brothers, Dale and Ricky.
This obit is woefully inadequate for someone so talented. (As is this post, but I'm away from my copy of his book.) In addition to the PEN award, The Body and Its Dangers also won the Lambda for fiction. Publishers Weekly said,
Barnett's willingness to venture into explosively emotional terrain with empathy, candor and balance is perhaps best revealed in his stunning "The Times As It Knows Us," where men sharing a summerhouse appear to have created family within the gay community--yet even this proves illusory.
Reviewing it for the Times Meg Wolitzer wrote,
The urgency of Mr. Barnett's characters, and their simple good will toward all that is human, carry considerable weight. He portrays their awareness of fragility with such candor and melancholy that they almost seem to be holding their own hearts in their hands.
Three years ago Christopher Bram wrote about Allen in the excellent queer lit rescue project The Lost Library: Gay Fiction Rediscovered [Kindle] conceived and edited by Tom Cardamone. For serious readers, this book is a must for its 28 essays and its bibliography citing further works by more than 80 gay authors.
Achebe, Kadaré, Munro, Roth... and Davis? Yes, Lydia Davis has won the fifth Man Booker International Prize. Announced an hour ago in London, the award honors Davis's slippery, super-short work. Many of her stories are less than a page and some are only a couple sentences.
The five judges -- Elif Batuman, Aminatta Forna, Yiyun Li, Tim Parks, and Christopher Ricks -- said her "writings fling their lithe arms wide to embrace many a kind. Just how to categorise them? They have been called stories but could equally be miniatures, anecdotes, essays, jokes, parables, fables, texts, aphorisms or even apophthegms, prayers or simply observations." Ricks added, "There is vigilance to her stories, and great imaginative attention. Vigilance as how to realise things down to the very word or syllable; vigilance as to everybody's impure motives and illusions of feeling." All the best of her nine volumes are gathered in The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis [Kindle]. Davis is also a tireless translator, best known for her Proust and Flaubert.
Will it be a scandal that American writers have won the biannual award twice in a row, and North American authors have won three of the five times? Unrealistically, I hoped the Swiss writer Peter Stammwould win. Last week the Guardian did a tremendous service asking each of the ten finalists which one of their books they would recommend to new readers. Of course Marilynne Robinson named all three of her three novels. In two parts here (Ananthamurthy, Appelfeld, Davis, Husain, Lianke) and here (N'Diaye, Novakovich, Robinson, Sorokin, Stamm).
After three consecutive years of winning best actor at Speech and Drama Teachers Association Drama Festival during high school in Los Angeles, Paul Winfield received an offer of a scholarship to Yale. It was 1959 and he turned it down. Nine years later he played Diahann Carroll's boyfriend on the groundbreaking tv series Julia. In 1972, he earned a best actor Oscar nomination for his starring role in Sounder, and lived with his co-star Cicely Tyson for a year and a half. After that, he split for San Francisco where he met Charles Gillan Jr., an architect and set designer on "Married … With Children," "Who's the Boss?" "Mad About You" and "The Nanny." They stayed together for 30 years. Returning to LA, he again played opposite Cicely Tyson in A Hero Ain't Nothin But A Sandwich and yet again when he starred as Martin Luther King Jr. in the miniseries King, for which he and she were both nominated for Emmys. In the 80s and 90s he appeared in twenty-five films including Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, The Terminator, Presumed Innocent, Dennis the Menace, and Mars Attacks! Although open in his social life, he was closeted in public, yet played gay characters in Mike's Murder and Relax... It's Just Sex. Winfield appeared in recurring story arcs on L.A. Law, Touched by an Angel, and Picket Fences, for which he won an Emmy in 1995. Suffering from diabetes, he died of a heart attack at 64 in 2004, two years after his partner.
(AP photo via)
After winning the IMPAC Dublin Prize for his gay first novel The Twin, Gerbrand Bakker last night won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize for his second novel, published in the UK as The Detour and here in the US as Ten White Geese. Don't miss either of these wonderful books. Peter Cameron said, "I loved Gerbrand Bakker’s beautiful novel The Twin, but nothing could have prepared me for the singular experience of reading Ten White Geese. Mr. Bakker illuminates the beautiful, tragic darkness at the core of every life with a meticulously honest compassion that is both heartbreaking and revivifying. This book stopped me in my tracks, and moved me beyond words."
Bakker explained the book's origins: "I've been to North Wales often, I know the land, and I'd always thought I would like to write something about it. But you need more. And then the three things came together – the Emily Dickinson poem, Ample Make This Bed, which is the motto, and this Dutchwoman, sitting in a completely strange landscape. That was the moment I realised I could write it. I like quiet environments – then things start to happen. If I set a novel in a big city, maybe nothing would happen – it doesn't inspire me."
He now joins a tiny club of authors who have won both the IMPAC and the IFFP: Orhan Pamuk and Per Petterson.
Big month in the Michael Carosone - Joseph LoGiudice household: They've adopted a two-year old Shih Tzu and co-edited a new essay collection called Our Naked Lives: Essays From Gay Italian American Men.Blurbed by Michael Musto, David Bergman, and Michelangelo Signorile, the book features these authors and possibly more:
Michael Carosone, John D'Emilio, Charles Derry, George Di Stefano, Joseph A. Federico, Joseph A. LoGiudice, Michael Luongo,David Masello, Tommi Avicolli Mecca, Joe Oppedisano, Frank Anthony Polito, Felice Picano, Michael Schiavi, Frank Spinelli, and Tony Tripoli.
Many of the writers recount struggles to balance their homosexuality with their complicated, tradition-bound Italian-American heritage. Happily, in most cases the rejecting families eventually come round to acceptance and affirmation.
Joseph says, "The book centers broadly on the intersection of sexuality and ethnicity and how they clash with one another. Specific themes surround familial issues, conflicts with Roman Catholicism, father-son disputes, gender stereotypes, and the separation of gay and Italian American identities."
Their first book event is at the B&N at Broadway & 82nd St on Tuesday, June 25 at 7:00.
Comic Liz Feldman has shared in four daytime Emmy wins for Ellen's talk show but many lesbians love her best for her own no-budget web broadcasts from her kitchen table, This Just Out. The delightful amateurism has entinced big indie stars like Tegan and the ladies of the L Word to be interviewed with goofy, earnest questions. No surprise, her manner is several parts Ellen, along with some Michael Cera, a little Rachel Maddow, and a snatch of Sarah Silverman. The internets hasn't seen much of Liz lately because after a stint with Leno, she's gone from success to success: writer-producer on Hot in Cleveland and writer-supervising producer on 2 Broke Girls. Last year she proposed to singer-songwriter Rachael Cantu, who accepted.
It wouldn't take Perry Mason to figure out Raymond Burr was "acting" when he invented heterosexual details about his life in order to hide his gay relationships. His alleged first wife, "Annette Sutherland," was supposedly a British actress who died in the plane crash that killed Leslie Howard, but, as you've already guessed, British Equity has no record of an actress with that name and the fatal plane had only three women on it, all of them otherwise accounted for. Later Burr claimed to have had a son who died at ten of an incurable disease, possibly leukemia, and he even said he took a year off to travel the country with him as his dying wish. Yet his publicist at the time said Burr was working steadily that entire year, 1953, and that Burr "never mentioned any wife or son." However, one short-lived marriage can be documented.
Happily, Burr did have a very long relationship with fellow actor Robert Benevides. They met on the set of Perry Mason, together bought an island in Fiji where their passion for orchids eventually became a business back in California, sold their Fiji land in 1983, and spent their time on their farm in Sonoma, where they later started a vineyard. Among his many movie roles, his menacing turn as the killer in Rear Window came three years before his beloved television series Perry Mason which ran for 271 episodes from 1957 to 1966, and remained so popular it was later revived in 26 tv movies. Burr's next series, Ironside, ran for 195 episodes from 1967 to 1975 and it too spawned a tv movie comeback in 1993, the year Burr died of cancer. One of his nieces fought with Benevides over Burr's vast estate, questioning his right to it. They were together thirty-one years. Read Michael Starr's Hiding in Plain Sight: The Secret Life of Raymond Burr.
When you hear wonderful David Rakoff's debut novel (coming July 16) spans the entire 20th century yet is only 128 pages, it's easy to assume it was unfinished at his death last August at 47. The more relevant aspect, which the publisher has understandably downplayed, is that the book is a novel in verse. This, and the panoramic timeframe, may also explain David's atypically unwieldy title Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish [Kindle]. Doubleday says,
If you're missing any of his three previous collections of humor essays, stock up now: Fraud [Kindle], Don't Get Too Comfortable, and Half Empty [Kindle].
"The characters' lives are linked to each other by acts of generosity or cruelty. A daughter of Irish slaughterhouse workers in early-twentieth-century Chicago faces a desperate choice; a hobo offers an unexpected refuge on the rails during the Great Depression; a vivacious aunt provides her clever nephew a path out of the crushed dream of postwar Southern California; an office girl endures the casually vicious sexism of 1950s Manhattan; the young man from Southern California revels in the electrifying sexual and artistic openness of 1960s San Francisco, then later tends to dying friends and lovers as the AIDS pandemic devastates the community he cherishes; a love triangle reveals the empty materialism of the Reagan years; a marriage crumbles under the distinction between self-actualization and humanity; as the new century opens, a man who has lost his way finds a measure of peace in a photograph he discovers in an old box—an image of pure and simple joy that unites the themes of this brilliantly conceived work."
Born in 1904, the upper class Parisian Daniel Guérin became an ardent leftist and socialist in part by having sex with tough guys. He said, "It was there, in bed with them, that I discovered the working class, far more than through Marxist tracts." In the 1930s he became a political and union organizer after hating the colonialism he saw during his travels in Southeast Asia and the Mid-East. In the late 1940s he lived in the United States and was appalled by the treatment of black Americans and, back in France, he fully supported the Algerian drive for independence. Of his many books best known is Anarchism: From Theory to Practice, published in 1965, with later editions carrying an introduction by Noam Chomsky. He did not begin his activism on behalf of gay rights until the 1970s, especially as part of the Front Homosexuel d'Action Révolutionnaire [FHAR], a group from which he later broke. People discouraged by today's apolitical comsumerist gays may do well to remember that a quarter-century ago Guérin was disgusted by the apolitical hedonist gays whose "superficial pursuit of pleasure" was "a million miles from any conception of class struggle." Which is not to say he became anti-sex in his later years. His last significant relationship was with a man sixty years his junior. He died at eighty-three in 1988.
Interesting artistic decision or blatant sell-out? Broadway is not my thing so you be the judge of Harvey Fierstein's comments on Michelangelo Signorile's radio show confirming that "no one's gay" in the new musical version of the movie Kinky Boots about big men who do drag. Sure, it's based on a true story but a gay character could be there somewhere. Perhaps the more compelling dynamic would have been to depict a mix of sexualities on stage, to highlight their differences and surprising similarities, etc etc. I'm skeptical that the choice to exclude and erase is really all that brave and progressive. But the establishment loves it -- Kinky Boots is the most-nominated show (13!) at the Tonys three weeks from tonight.
Signorile recaps on HuffPost:
"Fierstein says he wrote and clearly portrays Lola as heterosexual, yet not one critic or reviewer has picked up on it, assuming that the character must be gay because he’s doing drag.
“I mean, he’s not gay,” Fierstein said in an interview on my SiriusXM radio program about the character based on a true story which was made into a 2005 British film of the same name. “I wrote this character as a heterosexual transvestite. He’s very clear that that is what he is. I thought this was a really interesting character to put up on the stage...rather than arguing the same arguments I’ve argued in 'La Cage,' to do something different. The really interesting thing to me is that not one critic -- not the gay critics, not the straight critics, -- not one critic picked up on him being straight. Not one. They all talked about, ‘Harvey’s gay liberation message or whatever.’ There’s no gay liberation message in this! No one’s gay in this! It’s so interesting to me that our prejudices are so strong that we hear what we think we hear.”
"Because your gay friends have it all figured out. And you don't."
"At my wedding? We gave guests Cheez-Its and a mini bottle of water. Keith & William gave us two tickets to Italy. And $40,000."
Basically, the season finale was an all-gay SNL. Also, because this was Bill Hader's last episode, Stefon got a send-off with a send-up of The Graduate's wedding. With a very special surprise groom.
Radcliffe Institute fellow and author of The Night Is Young: Sexuality in Mexico in the Time of Aids, Hector Carrillo penned this opinion piece for the NYT asking how the recent great strides for lgbt rights in Central and South America -- including Tuesday's judicial ruling that may lead to marriage equality throughout Brazil -- can be reconciled with "the stereotype of Latin culture as a bastion of religiosity and machismo?"
"Since the 1970s, protest movements helped end military dictatorships or long periods of one-party rule; this democratic opening empowered left or center-left governments that have strongly emphasized human rights and individual freedom... gay and lesbian activists piggybacked on this wave of democratization.
"The recent expansion of same-sex marriage rights has come about in part through alliances of left-of-center legislative majorities with progressive executives... judges have played an important role in advancing the cause of gay equality, as evidenced this week in Brazil, where the National Council of Justice, which oversees the judiciary, ruled that notary publics may not refuse to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies. (Judicial appeals, or legislative action, could reverse the decision.)
"These achievements were not inevitable; for decades the left, with ideological roots in class struggle, could be as patriarchal and homophobic as the capitalists and soldiers it condemned. So to understand why the politics changed, we must also look to society.
"In the 1990s, I interviewed dozens of Mexicans, straight and gay, in Guadalajara, the country’s second largest city. They spoke about how they wanted their lives to differ from their parents’. Women wanted to be recognized as sexual beings, with legitimate desires and the ability to pursue them. Men felt the old models of machismo were constraining, not empowering. As the anthropologist Matthew Gutmann found in Mexico City around the same time, this was the first generation of Mexicans for whom machismo was a dirty word.
"This desire for individual autonomy — which in some ways lagged behind the sexual revolution in the United States — extended to gay and lesbian people. The emergence of aids as a global epidemic coincided with a period of energetic democratization. Of course, increased visibility generated homophobic reactions, but it also motivated gays to declare their identities and organize politically."
Here's the essay in full.
For more, read these:
Changing Men and Masculinities in Latin America, Matthew Guttmann
Chicana Lesbians: The Girls Our Mothers Warned Us About, Carla Trujillo
The Faith Healer of Olive Avenue, Manuel Munoz
And get the current PEN Faulkner winner Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. Only yesterday on FB, Garth "Mitko" Greenwell and Bob "Selfish and Perverse" Smith were raving about the seven wonders in Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club.
Describe your ideal reading experience (when, where, what, how):
Hilary Mantel: "I’d like to be at home, in my apartment by the sea in Devon, just a few yards from the waves, sitting in the sunshine by a window, smiling, and picking up some vast immersive novel, like Sarah Waters’s Fingersmith [Kindle]: a book which, when it was new, I read as if I were a child, utterly thrilled and beguiled by it. In my ideal reading day there would be no time limit, no e-mails stacking up, and dinner would appear on a floating tablecloth, as if brought by spirit hands. In practice, this never happens. I read in snatched hours on trains, or late at night, or purposively and on a schedule, with pen in hand and a frown of concentration. But when I think harder . . . my ideal reading experience would involve time travel. I’d be 14, and in my hand would be the orange tickets that admitted to the adult section of the public library. Everything would be before me, and I would be ignorant of the shabby little compromises that novelists make, and I would be unaware that many nonfiction books are just rehashes of previous books by other writers. My eyes would be fresh. I would be chasing glory."
For five years the EU has failed to pass the lgbt Anti-Discrimination Directive drafted by the European Commission in 2008. Today, marking the annual International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO), the EU's Fundamental Rights Agency released the results of its first massive online survey of 93,000 lgbt Europeans and the findings are grim:
Study these interactive maps, charts, and graphs of the survey's findings.
Although the most discrimination was found in Eastern European countries, ILGA's communications manager Juris Lavrikovs implied a backlash in western countries that have seen "tremendous" lgbt advances. "Look at France, which used to be considered a very liberal, very open country. Now it is scary for a gay couple to walk hand in hand in Paris because of the increase in violence."
Tomas Raskevicius of the Lithuanian Gay League said, "Lithuania has one of the highest suicide rates in Europe. We have this real feeling that a lot of suicides are connected to homophobic bullying. The authorities don't talk about it out loud, and the daily harassment and remarks in the streets and public places is very widespread."
One of the countries keen to join the EU is the former Soviet republic of Georgia. Today in the capital Tbilisi, a few dozen people gathered for IDAHO. The head of the Georgian Orthodox Church called the pride rally "an insult" and - nonsensically - "a violation of the majority's rights," sparking 10,000 anti-gay protesters to demonstrate against the small pro-gay group. The antigay faction became increasingly enraged and eventually stormed the police ranks who had been protecting the lgbt marchers. As the gay group was hurried away, the mob threw rocks at their buses. BBC has footage.
Need a laugh? Booker winner Howard Jacobson has become the first author to twice win the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize, the UK's only award for funny literary novels. Having won the inaugural prize in 2000 for The Mighty Walzer, he's got it again now for Zoo Time, about a blocked novelist in love with his wife and her mother. It beat these four finalists:
Yay! In the queer spirit of Gertrude Stein writing The Autobiography of Alice B Toklas (if that book had not ended up being about Stein), Booker finalist and Granta Best Young Novelist alum Philip Hensher's eighth novel is a semi-fictionalized memoir hybrid evoking his husband Zaved Mahmood's Bengali childhood. Now Scenes from Early Life [Kindle] has won the Royal Society of Literature's Ondaatje Prize, beating Zadie Smith, Patrick Flanery, Liam Carson, Sarah Moss, and Gavin Francis, author of Empire Antarctica: Ice, Silence & Emperor Penguins, who wore a kilt to the black tie event. (Hensher wore a double-breasted maroon velvet jacket with a green crushed velvet shawl collar. Liam Carson wore a bright cobalt blue dinner jacket with a bolo string tie held by a chunk of turquoise.)
This years judges were Julia Blackburn, Ian Jack, and Margaret Drabble, who called Hensher's novel "an unostentatious tour de force."
You will have noticed the finalists include both fiction and nonfiction -- the £10,000 prize honors any book that captures the spirit of a place. Among prior winners are great modern masterpieces such as Rory Stewart's The Places In Between and Edmund de Waal's The Hare with Amber Eyes. Other winners are Adam Nicolson, Graham Robb, Hisham Matar, James Meek, and Louisa Waugh.
The award is named for its benefactor Christopher Ondaatje, OBE, business shark, philanthropist, adventurer, and former Olympic bob-sledder for Canada. He also funds the Ondaatje prize in portraiture and is the older brother of novelist Michael.
The Commonwealth Prize for fiction has announced this year's five regional winners who will compete for the overall prize announced on May 31.
Canada & Europe: Lisa O'Donnell, The Death of Bees
Africa: E.E. Sule, Sterile Sky
Asia: Nayomi Munaweera, Island of a Thousand Mirrors
Pacific: Michael Sala, The Last Thread
Just since 2009 when she turned 70, pioneering queer filmmaker Barbara Hammer has had a retrospective of her work at MoMA in New York, the Tate in London, and the Jeu de Paume in Paris; her short called "A Horse Is Not a Metaphor" won a Teddy at the Berlinale; her brilliant and inspiring book Hammer!: Making Movies Out of Sex and Life [Kindle] won a Publishing Triangle Award, won a Lammy, and was a favorite on Thebes' queer lit poll; and this year she won a Guggenheim. All deserved, and all infinitely more gratifying when you remember she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2006. Her decades of creating dozens of experimental work to record queer lives (Dyketactics, A Gay Day, Superdyke Meets Madam X, etc.) reached a new high in 1992 with her first feature documentary Nitrate Kisses, acclaimed at Sundance, festivals worldwide, and at the Whitney Biennial. She says, “I choose film and video to make the invisible visible. I am compelled to reveal and celebrate queer and other people whose stories have not been told. I make a multi-level cinema that engages audiences viscerally and emboldens them intellectually. My current work has turned towards recovering missing histories of lesbian artists and is inspired by the words of Gayatri Spivak who cautions against an uncritical archivism leading to nostalgia.” The MoMA curator wrote:
... she came out as a lesbian, an act that helped radicalize her approach to directing. Galvanized by the second wave of feminism in the 1970s, she soon became a pioneer of queer cinema. Hammer has since directed more than eighty films, using avant-garde strategies to explore lesbian and gay sexuality, identity, and history, along with other heretofore unrepresented voices. In the 1970s her films dealt with the representation of taboo subjects through performance, and in the 1980s she began using an optical printer to make films that explore perception. In the 1990s she began making documentaries about hidden aspects of queer history.
Barbara was born in Hollywood, graduated from UCLA, and earned two masters degrees at SFSU. She has lived in New York City for many years and still teaches each summer at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland.
Riding the hype of the HBO movie on May 26, Tantor today releases a new paperback of Behind the Candelabra: My Life With Liberace with a brand new afterword by the now-straight Scott Thorson. They've also issued an ebook and an audio read by Peter Berkrot.
Director Soderbergh told New York: “I wanted to make something really intimate. I liked the Sunset Boulevard aspect of Lee and Scott—older, younger; powerful, not powerful. With some show business thrown into it. During his career, Liberace was the most successful act to play Vegas—he made up to $400,000 a week during the seventies—but he was very private. The film is about a part of his life that he didn’t share with anyone; it is an act of imagination, but I wanted it to be sincere. I didn’t want it to be unkind, because everyone loved Liberace. He was the nicest man.”
Not quite. A famous gay author posted on FB how mean Lee was, but now I can't find the link.