Did you know Mark Doty was married to a woman? Odds are steep that you did not. As he explains, "You will perhaps see why a writer who has had a good deal to say about other periods of his life has considered this material unwriteable: it seems Gothic, ridiculous. To narrate those years seems inevitably to accuse Ruth, and to invite me to offer justifications for my own foolishness in marrying her." His remarkable essay, "The Unwriteable," is the lead and best piece in Granta #110: Sex, which went on sale yesterday. Doty's thirteen-page piece is nonstop revelations, which I won't spoil. His age at the time. Her age. The age of another male in her life. The guy with whom he had an intense sexual affair at the time. Why that ended. On and on. Surely people will pressure Doty to expand this to a book.
The issue's other featured contributors are Jeanette Winterson, Jennifer Egan, Tom McCarthy, Adam Foulds, Carl Phillips, Herta Muller, Philip Boehm, Yann Faucher (photographs), Dave Eggers (four animal drawings), and a one page and a half page excerpt of Roberto Bolano's Antwerp that frankly seems included for bragging rights that Bolano is included. One essay missing from the issue is Michael Cunningham's exploration of vampires. A shame.
The other standout piece is an excerpt from James Lord's memoir My Queer War, which FSG releases next week. This wonderful chapter shows an amenable young Lord being picked up by and having sex with Jerry, a fellow GI, who upon discovering Lord is already 20 says, "Late starter.... Don't get me wrong, but you've got a lot to learn." He takes him in to Boston on a Saturday night where the bar at the Hotel Statler is packed with 150 servicemen, "not one lady or girl among them, only a handful of civilians." Jerry confirms, "Yes, they're all gay." James goes home with a 30 year old (who offers Rachmaninov's second piano concerto as "Rocky Two") and then his adventures really begin.
Last night was New York's launch party for the issue at Soho's Coco de Mer. Above, the incomparable Patrick Ryan [red shirt] excites some of the models. I talked to Joe Cross for fifteen minutes before learning he was the star of Running with Scissors and had been in Milk. When I asked what he liked to read, Joe laughed, "...magazines, labels on expensive soaps, tags on mattresses." I talked to Michael Lucas for ten minutes without touching on his movie career (porn, his own company) but we found common ground in Berlin's Museum of Film and his love of biographies. He told me many funny / scary stories from Marlene Dietrich by her daughter Maria Riva, which he highly recommends.