Browsing: Book Review

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Brief reviews of Abuela in Shadow, Abel in Light; Places of Tenderness and Heat; House Fire; Queer Nature; Verdant; Dot & Ralfie; and Immoral, Indecent & Scurrilous.

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When this writer traveled to Boulder, Portland, Dallas, and St. Louis in the 1970s, gay men in those towns recognized that what I was doing before meeting them was “cruising,” even though few in their space and time knew how to do so.

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The Impossible Art ends with a magnificent examination of Mozart’s masterpiece Le nozze di Figaro, which Aucoin deems a work capable of transcending opera’s impossibility, indeed a work that “achieves an aerial view of the human soul.” That chapter, “Music as Forgiveness,” the shortest in the book, left me full of gratitude—to Aucoin for writing so beautifully and to Mozart for writing so heartbreakingly.

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FOR A 19TH-CENTURY author, Oscar Wilde is astonishingly present in today’s culture—far more mentioned and quoted than even a perennial favorite like Mark Twain. This, I believe, is due to a combination of factors.

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The Kingdom of Sand—a smarter reader than I might be able to explain the title—is a book without a traditional plot, and only a writer with Holleran’s skills could manage to hold his readers without the conventional twists and surprises of most novels.

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On the Queerness of Early English Drama is divided into two parts. The first, “Queer Theories and Themes of Early English Drama,” provides the theoretical underpinning of Pugh’s analyses of the plays discussed in the second part, “Queer Readings of Early English Drama.”

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Wanting to move “out of my Catholic cocoon,” D’Emilio chooses to attend a secular college and live away from home. His years at Columbia University, 1966–1970, are the most exciting part of the book, not least because they were tumultuous years in American history and on college campuses.

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THE BRITISH WRITER Neil Bartlett has constantly astonished me, first with his debut novel, Ready to Catch Him Should He Fall (1992), then with novels such as Skin Lane (2007; reviewed by me in the March-April 2009 issue), and now with Address Book, a collection of seven first-person short stories that take their titles from the address where each occurs.

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CARLA Guelfenbein’s eighth novel, skillfully translated by Neil Davidson, centers on the lives and loves of four women living in the neighborhood of Columbia University in the 1940’s and in the present time. One in Me I Never Loved opens with Margarita, a Chilean faculty wife observing her fifty-sixth birthday sitting on a bench at Barnard College waiting for Jorge, her physics professor husband, to appear on the arm of one of his students.

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IN THEIR INTRODUCTION to Bad Gays: A Homosexual History, authors Huw Lemmey and Ben Miller illustrate one of their central arguments with a trenchant contrast. Oscar Wilde has emerged as one of the key figures of the contemporary LGBT rights movement, they point out, as he “was one of the first men in British society to give a creative form to a sexuality that barely yet understood itself,” and they agree that he earned this place.

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