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The Pleasures of Sadness
When gay literature became popular in the 1970s, the novels were all about urban gays living in the fast lane. Now we have books about gays living in the sticks.
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THERE ARE GAY STORIES—mythologies, poetry, cultural artifacts—that set gay people apart, giving a tone to our music, a palette to our art, a philosophy to our wandering. What are the great themes and recurring mythologies—those metaphors of truth that are impossible to convey rationally—that can get at the great questions? To paraphrase Gauguin: Who areMore
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            Taking the title of the collection from one of the stories included in the volume, Zuckerman notes that Guibert’s stories aim at suggesting experiences that, like powerful memories, continue to resonate with a person even as they fade into insubstantiality, “like a treasure lost in the depths.” However, as Zuckerman reminds the reader, theMore
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‘Sex Variants’ Were Everywhere
While “sex variant” was Henry’s term, the idea for the book came from Jan Gay, who had conducted 300 interviews with lesbians and gay men.
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Drs. Eliot and Dunham to the Rescue
Eliot and Dunham met in 1910 and would remain together “until death did them part” in 1969. It’s impossible to separate their 59-year relationship from the careers they built, even though they decided early on to guard against allowing their scientific careers to interfere with their personal relationship.
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Interpreting Trans, 19th-century Style
            In her new book Before Trans, Rachel Mesch adroitly walks the methodological tightrope of examining historical characters through the lens of transgender analysis, yet accepting their gender originality. Her writing is theoretically savvy without being academically ponderous.
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            Baron Friedrich Wilhelm Steuben joined the Prussian army when he was seventeen, eventually becoming an aide-de-camp to Frederick the Great, who was also rumored to have had homosexual leanings. (The conversation of Frederick’s inner court circle was peppered with homoerotic banter, and his residence included a Friendship Temple celebrating the homoerotic attachments of GreekMore
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Short Reviews
Short reviews of The Orange Spong; Let Them Eat Cake; and Moonflower, Nightshade, All the Hours of the Day.
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How to Mobilize L.A.
            Morris Kight lived a life dedicated to the biblical entreaty “Justice, justice shall you pursue.” His devotion to the value of every individual is inspiring, especially in times such as ours. Mary Ann Cherry has produced an account of a  pioneers of LGBT liberation whose achievements deserve to be acknowledged and remembered.
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Never Anyone But You is strongest once the two women retreat from Paris for Jersey and set up house away from the war.
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German, Jew, Muslim, Gay, which goes easy on academic jargon but contains extensive notes and a lengthy bibliography, offers a full look at a writer and thinker who successfully lived in and moved among different worlds. It should bring attention to a long-neglected figure and his writings.
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Matching Baggage
Memorial has a lot going for it. Composed as a non-chronological patchwork of short paragraphs and chapters, the novel is less punchy and more downbeat than the short story collection. Washington has described his approach to fiction as “traumedy.”
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Mirror, Mirror
In Fairest, [Talusan] describes in unflinching terms her experiences as a member of multiple minorities that don’t always intersect. Her self-depictions are often brutal, as she doesn’t shy away from describing her own internalized classism and racism.
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THE ILLICIT LOVE AFFAIR of world-famous piano virtuoso Vladimir Horowitz and the less successful pianist Nico Kaufmann is recreated vividly in Lea Singer’s The Piano Student. Over the course of their relationship, Horowitz and Kaufmann exchanged love letters, some with highly erotic content—which they both agreed to burn after reading them.
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Secrets on Ice
            The author shows her keen ear for Canadian speech in various registers, and the structuring of the plot as a series of scenes gives this novel a steady momentum. Polar Vortex is a cautionary tale for adults.
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LANGSTON HUGHES (1902–1967), one of the best-known writers of the Harlem Renais-sance, remains an endlessly fascinating, charismatic figure. He was born into a chaotic but well-educated and politically connected family, sometimes living with his mother or grandmother or family friends.
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             Quentin Bell’s Virginia Woolf: A Biography, which Gill rightly credits with the Virginia Woolf revival of the past half-century, contained other revelations that she seizes upon. The most infamous is the fact that Vanessa and Virginia were both molested as pre-teens by their half brothers, George and Gerald Duckworth, who were a decade older.
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Schwob did not operate at that level of artistic achievement. She produced photographs that allowed her to play with images of gender fluidity but that do not seem to have attracted much attention. In Paper Bullets, author Jeffrey H. Jackson asserts that her memoir, Aveux non avenus (“Disavowals,” 1930), “captured the interest of many inMore
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            Glaude summons disparate writing modes to accomplish his aims. The strongest is literary biography, in which he chronicles Baldwin’s hopes for the country that were always paradoxically tempered by apocalyptic doom. This seems to match Glaude’s mood as he reckons with his own “egregious” misjudgment of America as incapable of electing Trump.
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Innocent Sisters
     Belladonna opens with Bridget’s June 1956 graduation from a Catholic high school in St. Cyrus, Connecticut. Aiming to escape her family’s preoccupation with an older sister’s eating disorder, she leaves on a two-year program at the Academia Di Belle Arti in the fictional town of Pentila, near Milan. Independently, her classmate Isabella (Bella) Crowley—wealthy,More
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Frank Kameny’s Insight: Sue the Bastards
            The public restroom holds a particularly important place in the history that Cervini is recounting in The Deviant’s War. In August 1956, a young Frank Kameny—who had just delivered a paper at the American Astronomical Society’s annual meeting in San Francisco—entered a public restroom and was approached by another man.
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According to Rosanna Warren in her new biography, Max Jacob: A Life in Art and Letters, the military discharge established a pattern of expulsion and guilt that would characterize the story of Jacob’s life.
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ÉRIC JOURDAN’S Les mauvais anges, or Wicked Angels, was banned in France shortly after its publication in 1955, and the ban was only lifted thirty years later. The story of a sadomasochistic amour fou between two teenage boys was translated into English by Richard Howard in 1963 and titled Two.
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F OR FANS of cabaret performance (bless them!), Mark Nadler is a familiar name. He has performed in virtually every cabaret venue in New York City and has toured the world, winning many awards and rave reviews.
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B.T.W.
Quirky takes on news of the day.
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Readers’ Thoughts
Opinions from our readers.
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BY “MYTHOLOGIES” I mean something like what Roland Barthes had in mind in his book by that name: not myths in the sense of tall tales but something closer to metaphors or theories used to explain natural or social phenomena. Modern mythologies tend to be wrapped in a patina of science, or perhaps pseudo-science, asMore
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THE VOTE is a four-part PBS docuseries chronicling the women’s suffrage movement in the U.S. and their demands for national voting rights. The series’ premier broadcast this past July was timed as a prelude to August’s 100th anniversary celebration of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which states: “The right of citizens of theMore
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Chile Wakes Up to the Real Gabriela Mistral
            Few of Mistral’s poems have been translated, and she is not as well-known as her fellow Chilean and Nobel Prize winner, Pablo Neruda. But her letters to Doris are now available in English, edited and translated by Velma García-Gorena in 2018, so perhaps her reputation is growing in the English-speaking world.
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