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I have never mentioned a book’s cover in a review, but this time I must. The leafy photo of a tender, teenage Ashbery picking cherries in the family orchards was taken by his father Chet, an accomplished photographer as well as a farmer. Its use as the entire cover, with a superimposed “postcard home” bearing the title, is a choice of genius, presumably by jacket designer Sarahmay Wilkinson.

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The attacks on Alger Hiss came from none other than the future president Richard Nixon, who was hoping to win his first term in the U.S. Senate. Also attacking Hiss was the notorious Senator Joseph McCarthy, whose purge of suspected Communists was in full swing, and his lawyer Roy Cohn, a closeted gay man.

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The irony that lies behind a fascinating new collection of the two men’s letters, The Luck of Friendship (expertly edited by Peggy L. Fox and Thomas Keith), is our knowledge that Williams wanted both commercial and literary success.

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MAGNUS HIRSCHFELD (1868–1935) was hailed in the press as the “Einstein of Sex” during an American lecture tour in 1930. He was a leader among the pioneering sexologists of the late 19th century, and the first openly homosexual one.

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Call Me by Your Name seems far more old-fashioned than [Brokeback Mountain]. Although set in 1983, the film of André Aciman’s novel is reminiscent of the sort of thing that happens in novels of the 19th-century Russian writer Ivan Turgenev. (Indeed, the first chapter of Aciman’s new novel, Enigma Variations, is a rewrite of Turgenev’s First Love, with a gay twist.)

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Édouard Louis: It would be naïve to say that I am not a part of the bourgeoisie: I went to school, I studied, I have more money than my parents, I live in Paris, I travel. So all the evidence is that I am bourgeois. …

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“The bonds between the two friends were so strongly rooted in intellectual, psychological, societal and spiritual affinities that they created together a single life. … Their mu­tuality in living was so authentic that this book should have been a biography of Marguerite Yourcenar and Grace Frick, with a subtitle: Inventing a Single Life.”

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Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine began a tumultuous relationship, full to the brim with brawls, alcoholic foolishness, and above all a sexual passion that brought them to the heights of ecstasy and the depths of despair.

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