The Death of Hyacinth (1801) by Jean Broc in Musée d'Orsay's Masculin / Masculin.
The Death of Hyacinth (1801) by Jean Broc in Musée d'Orsay's Masculin / Masculin.
You would follow Eurydice to the underworld just to read a new story by Manuel Muñoz, but this is a busy travel day, so instead buy the recent anthology xo Orpheus: Fifty New Myths [Kindle] edited by Kate Bernheimer. Manuel's contribution is called "The Hand" and it's a little religious and a little creepy. Get his knockout, smart, gay collections The Faith Healer of Olive Avenue and Zigzagger, and find his brand new story in the current issue of Glimmer Train.
Reviews of the anthology, whose authors include Anthony Marra, Aimee Bender, Maile Meloy, Edith Pearlman, and 45 others:
"Demeter, a divorced mom, struggles with the half-year custody of her daughter. Narcissus, a tart-tongued partier, offers lodging to a bewitching street urchin named Echo. And a Vietnam veteran, in the spirit of Daedalus, builds an emotional labyrinth for his son. In this searing yet ebullient collection, contemporary authors and one graphic artist move beyond merely updating classic myths of multiple cultures by performing gut-rehabs while maintaining the stark, terrifying moments of fate-altering choices. Outsized appetites figure prominently—for power, perfection, or even one’s own children, as in the case of the Lamia-like narrator of Elizabeth McCracken’s stunning story, Birdsong from the Radio. The form is as inventive as the content. David B.’s The Veiled Prophet is a vivid, graphic serial. Imad Rahman’s The Brigadier-General Takes His Final Stand, By James Butt presents two compelling narratives, one found in the footnotes, each a clever take on Oedipus. Editor and award-winning author Bernheimer describes her anthology as a necessary farewell to the old world of myth and acknowledgment of a modern age in which humans are regarded as the new gods. But as these new myths attest, the frightening, timeless themes remain."--Booklist
"Vastly entertaining . . . Fascinating . . . A brilliant showcase of current talent within the short story . . . From Norse, Greek, and Roman myths to Native American coyote myths, there is something for everyone to read in this anthology, and it is definitely a must-read." —San Francisco Book Review
"Enthralling . . . A courageously wild declaration of a new beginning for the world's oldest form of storytelling . . . Bernheimer reignites the world of myth in her ingenious new anthology." —PW
Fallen Angel (1847) by 24 year-old Alexandre Cabanel in Musée d'Orsay's Masculin / Masculin.
The Mysterious Bath (1935) by Giorio de Chirico (1888-1978) from Masculin / Masculin.
A second, better version from 1938 of the mystery of clothed and naked men after the jump.
Growing up, John Amaechi always felt different: He was 6'10", mixed-race, with a Nigerian father and a British mother who raised him in Stockport, England, then he was doubly an outsider attending high school in the mid-1980s in Toldeo, Ohio and college at Vanderbilt and Penn State. So being gay was just one more distinction. Naturally he played basketball, but he was atypical in professional sports as well. In 2000, Amaechi turned down a $17 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers in order to play for $600,000 a year with the Orlando Magic. His reason? Three years before, Orlando had been the only team to consider picking him up after his European stint. He also played for the Chicago Bulls, the Houston Rockets, and the Utah Jazz before retiring in 2003. His career stats can be found here. Early in 2007 he became the first player associated with the NBA to come out, when ESPN Books published his autobiography, Man in the Middle. He is beautifully articulate. He owns a consulting company that provides motivational speakers and executive training, and he runs the ABC Foundation in Manchester which had hoped to build youth sports centers throughout the U.K. In 2011 he was appointed OBE in the Birthday Honours for his services to sport and the voluntary sector.
Who can resist a book about "Asian performance shaped by the homoerotics of orientalism [that] focuses on the relationship between the white man and the native boy"? Released last week, Brown Boys and Rice Queens: Spellbinding Performance in the Asias [Kindle] promises "Eng-Beng Lim unpacks this as the central trope for understanding colonial and cultural encounters in 20th and 21st century Asia and its diaspora. Using the native boy as a critical guide, Lim formulates alternative readings of a traditional Balinese ritual, postcolonial Anglophone theatre in Singapore, and performance art in Asian America. Tracing the transnational formation of the native boy as racial fetish object across the last century, Lim follows this figure as he is passed from the hands of the colonial empire to the postcolonial nation-state to neoliberal globalization. Read through such figurations, the traffic in native boys among white men serves as an allegory of an infantilized and emasculated Asia, subordinate before colonial whiteness and modernity. Pushing further, Lim addresses the critical paradox of this entrenched relationship that resides even within queer theory itself by formulating critical interventions around "Asian performance."
Lisa Duggan says, "Through fresh and compelling analyses, Eng-Beng Lim repeatedly shifts the lens through which we view our queerly postcolonial journey. Lim’s writing is always witty, sometimes hilarious, making this provocative new work of scholarship a pleasure and a revelation."
Jump for joy, it's almost over. This is the final week of pictures from Musée d'Orsay's Masculin / Masculin.
Today, Springtime by Koloman Moser (1868-1918).
Prodigy Virgil Thomson sprung from a junior college in Kansas City, Missouri to Harvard thanks entirely to a Mormon scholarship, awarded because he was friends with one of Joseph Smith's many grand-daughters. In Cambridge, he thrived. With the glee club he bopped to Paris, at the invitation of Bernard Fay, an influential gay man who would later become a Nazi collaborator, sending many to their deaths while saving Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas; for that story, see Janet Malcolm's Two Lives.
In fact, it was the musical Toklas who, from the shadows, guided the partnership of Stein and Thomson when he returned to live in Paris in the 20s. Together they created the landmark opera Four Saints in Three Acts, revolutionary for its all black cast, which finally premiered in 1934 in Hartford. [Read Steven Watson's Prepare for Saints: Gertrude Stein, Virgil Thomson, and the Mainstreaming of American Modernism].Thirteen years later, just before Stein's death, they created an opera about lesbian icon Susan B. Anthony, The Mother of Us All. By that time, Thomson had already composed music for three films, most memorably Pare Lorentz's The River, and was midway through his fourteen years as music critic for the New York Herald-Tribune. (He hated the work of Britten, Rachmaninoff, Shostakovich, and Sibelius, among others.) In 1948, he scored a b&w film about a Cajun boy, his pet raccoon, a hungry alligator, and the threat of an oil rig on the bayou, Louisiana Story, winning 1949's Pulitzer Prize for music.
Thomson lived for another forty years, at the Chelsea hotel with his partner Maurice Grosser, in diminishing circumstances. Of course, times changed, and his compositions were not played by American orchestras as often as he had counted on when he quit his job as a critic. He became something of a father figure to the next generation of gay composers and artists, most prominently Leonard Bernstein, Paul Bowles, John Cage, Lou Harrison, Frank O'Hara, and Ned Rorem. In 1966 Thomson penned his autobiography, won a National Book Critics Circle Award in 1982 for his reader, and was awarded a Kennedy Center Honor in 1983. He died in 1989, a year after Grosser. Anthony Tommasini has written the definitive biography, Virgil Thomson: Composer on the Aisle.
In 2000, Karl Soehnlein's first novel about a gay thirteen year-old in New Jersey in 1978, The World of Normal Boys [Kindle], rocked readers, charmed critics, hit The San Francisco Chronicle's bestseller list, and won a Lammy. The New York Times called it "rich and unflinching," and the Portland paper said it's "very cool and endearing." In 2005, he returned with a son's exploration of his father's past in You Can Say You Knew Me When [Kindle], which nearly every critic agreed was unputdownable, with the Chronicle citing its "remarkably stylish and witty prose" and the LA Times praising it as, "an astute novel of manners." In 2010, Soehnlein revisited Robin MacKenzie from his debut in Robin and Ruby [Kindle], which the Indie Next list called, "honest and searing...an important novel filled with passages to be read aloud, remembered and cherished." His next novel, which might take place in NYC during the very worst of the aids pandemic, is among my most anticipated of 2014/2015. Back in 2009, the NYT covered his and longtime partner Kevin Clarke's commitment ceremony, with some classic gay rom-com on their failed first meeting. This year, they married.
Yesterday while Boomers wallowed in their death memories of fifty years ago, the English led global celebrations of gay genius Benjamin Britten's 100th birthday, with the BBC reporting more than 100,000 children worldwide sang from the composer's work on Friday afternoon. See more at Britten 100 or hop over to The Red House, the Aldeburgh place he shared with Peter Pears for twenty years which is now home to the Britten Pears Foundation. Read appreciations at The Telegraph ("how he proved the sneerers wrong") or The Guardian (from Marion Thorpe, a friend for forty years) and get Neil Powell's gay-inclusive biography published three months ago, Benjamin Britten: A Life for Music [Kindle]. For more personal memories, try Ronald Blythe's really lovely new book, The Time by the Sea: Aldeburgh, 1955-1958 [Kindle].
In the past year and a half, Queer / Art / Film cofounder and cohost Adam Baran's nine-minute gay treasure, JACKPOT, about a teen who finds a stash of m/m magazines, has screened at nineteen film festivals, including Reykjavik, Mumbai, Hong Kong, and Miami, where it won best short. Finally, last week he posted it to Vimeo. You can watch it for free but please slide a dollar or more into his tip jar.
Listen to Bette Midler: "Bruce was the first man to put something in my mouth that made us both money." She and Vilanch began working together in 1970 after she read his Chicago Tribune review of her show saying she needed more jokes. She called him and said, So write me some jokes. Thirty-eight years later, in 2008, he co-wrote her Caesars Palace gig The Showgirl Must Go On. The Oscars' head writer and New Hollywood Squares star has won six Emmys. He's also created comic material for Richard Pryor, Joan Rivers, Lily Tomlin, Diana Ross, David Letterman, Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, Florence Henderson, and, recently, Tab Hunter. Vilanch has punched up many, many Hollywood scripts, including films that don't immediately seem to bear his razor humor, and he has acted in Mahogany, Ice Pirates, and The Morning After. He's also starred on Broadway as Edna Turnblad in Hairspray, for which he shaved off his signature thirty-year shaggy blond beard, and off Broadway in his own show Almost Famous. He is the subject of the A-list love explosion Get Bruce! and appears in Laughing Matters. Beyond being funny, Vilanch has been a tireless supporter of many aids and gay rights causes and appears in Christopher Hines' documentary about gay body image, The Adonis Factor [watch now].
Naming him to this year's Out 100 list, the magazine mentions his "upcoming memoir." Until then, get Bruce!: My Adventures in the Skin Trade and Other Essays.
Why are publishers releasing so many good gay books so late in the year that no one can include them in their best of 2013? It's tough for Glenway Wescott's A Visit to Priapus and Morrissey's Autobiography and most vexing of all for debut author Jason K. Friedman's Fire Year [Kindle]. I've just started this collection and greatly admire the author's abundant care and gentle humor in simultaneously converying his characters' inner and outer selves, and his skill with the believable surprising detail. As ever, it's a gift to find someone writing so intelligently about gay lives.
National Book Award finalist and one of The New Yorker's 20 under 40, Salvatore Scibona selected the book as winner of the Mary McCarthy Prize and offers a three-page introduction calling it "candid, cunning, brave, and wickedly funny... Love, lust, religious tradition, the new South, the transcendent promise of faith, the liberating hope of sexual awakening—he twists all of them together here in stories as true to our goofy joys as to our deepest intuitions."
PW's starred review: "These seven funny, fearless outsiders’ tales set in Savannah and Atlanta—some depicting bygone orthodox Jewish communities, others the rife-with-irony “New South”—gravitate toward taboo. One preoccupation of Friedman’s Mary McCarthy Prize–winning debut collection is the breakdown of traditional mores, but its standouts specifically tackle pent-up sexual desire. In “Blue,” a bar mitzvah celebrant recalls the religious awakening inspired by a plate of veal parmesan that extinguished his “fascination” with men’s bodies; the narrator of “Reunion” finds himself pursued by a onetime high school golden boy, for surprising reasons both friendly and libidinous; and in “There’s Hope for Us All,” a curator discovers an erotic secret behind his latest art exhibition—and another in his personal life. Throughout, Friedman’s warm, lively voice and characters fluently convey the region’s contradictions and just-roll-with-it humor. (The narrator of “Reunion” notes the Confederate flag hanging alongside the American one at a hometown karate tournament, then quips, “The hospitality of Southerners is exaggerated.”) In other stories in which people wrestle with grave religious concerns, Friedman tunes his pacing and diction to the moral issues at stake. Strengthened by the diversity in subject matter, the through-line of sexual coming-of-age and temptation gives this volume a satisfying coherence."
Alice Munro, 82, isn't going to Stockholm to collect her Nobel Prize next month, and in December 1947 neither did "the venerable master of French literature whose genius has so profoundly influenced our time," André Gide, 78, who was too ill to travel. (Read his full citation here.) The award capped a rollercoaster career that began with the publication of a novella when Gide was twenty-two in 1891, reached successive peaks with The Immoralist(1902), Strait Is the Gate (1909), and Lafcadio's Adventures (1914); plummeted with the publication of Corydon (1920), his nonfiction book in praise of homosexuality'; soared again with his best novel, The Counterfeiters [Kindle] (1925); and immediately shocked certain segments of the public again with his autobiography, If It Die (1926) with his joyful memories of teenage masturbating with the concierge's son under the dining room table or his adult lovemaking with an Arab youth on a sand dune in Algeria. While in North Africa, Gide also befriended Oscar Wilde. The following year he published Travels in the Congo, his greatly influential attack on French colonialism. That trip marked the end of his eleven year relationship with Marc Allégret, who had eloped with him when he was fifteen or sixteen and Gide was forty-seven. (Allégret's father had been the best man at Gide's never-consummated wedding and wasn't bothered at all by their affair; Gide's wife, however, didn't like being left behind and she burned all of his letters in retaliation. Marc Allégret went on to direct more than fifty films.) After spending the war and post-war years in Tunis, Gide returned to Paris where he died in 1951. In 1952, the Catholic church put all of his works on their Index of Forbidden Books.
August 1920: William Butler Yeats, Marc Allégret, and Gide photographed by Lady Ottoline Morrell
A National Book Award winner and Pulitzer finalist for his depression book The Noonday Demon [Kindle], Andrew Solomon's follow-up about variant children, Far From the Tree, has won the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and now the Green Carnation Prize for the best book by an lgbt author.
I was hoping the judges might declare a tie between that amazing book and Neil McKenna's wonderful, less trumpeted Fanny and Stella, a biography of two London men who dressed as women in 1870.
Said Solomon: "I am profoundly honored and utterly thrilled to have won this prize. When I was born, it was a crime, a sin, and a mental illness to be gay; now it is an identity, and a much celebrated one at that, as the very existence of this prize clearly demonstrates. My book is about how we can use that shift, of which gay people today are the fortunate beneficiaries, as a model for helping others with stigmatized differences to find dignity in them. I believe with all my heart in a prize that celebrates the particular contributions of gay literature, and that recognizes that human diversity, like species diversity, is necessary to sustain the world as we know and love it. I am delighted to play any part in putting forward that idea, and I thank the judges with all my heart."