Browsing: Return Trips

July – August, 2006

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IN THE GAY ARCHIPELAGO, anthropologist Tom Boellstorff of the University of California, Irvine, sets out to define, interpret, and reflect upon what it means to be gay in Indonesia. …

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GAVIN BUTT’S BACKSTAGE exposé of the New York art world of the 1950’s careens between artsy jargon and artsy gossip. He rather defensively lays out his thesis in a lengthy introduction peppered with breathless 55-word sentences stating his themes. Doubtless the author is on his guard because he incorporates hearsay, rumor, and urban legend into dissection of this pivotal post-World War II Manhattan subculture.

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ODESSA, IN WEST TEXAS, feels like the remote edge of something in the way you might imagine Vladivostok: far from anywhere, exotic, but not the kind of exotic that attracts tourists. It’s an oil town, mainly. Buildings are tacky, functional. The land is flat, dry, barren, with a local culture to match: the big deal in Odessa is, famously, high school football. West Odessa, bleaker still, is the scrubby outskirts where they put the “adult” stuff that Odessa doesn’t want.

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A “RICE QUEEN” is generally defined as a white man who’s attracted to Asian men, while a “potato queen” is an Asian man who’s attracted to white men. The terms are often used disparagingly, with rice queens seen as sexual imperialists and potato queens as self-hating race traitors. For this reason, it takes some nerve for an author to come out as either on the cover of a book. But the authors of the two books under review have done just that …

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[Edmund] White shared his thoughts about his new book just prior to its April release at his home in the Chelsea section of Manhattan, where he has lived with Michael Carroll since 1995.

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A GATHERING OF ANGELS, by gay Texas poet Larry Dean Hamilton, relates a remarkable life story through a lyrical, sometimes dreamlike prose style. …

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“WHEN THE FIRST Christian pervert, St. Paul, made nature a crime against Christianity, civilization was finished,” writes poet Harold Norse in “Nocturnal Emissions” (1973). “Had he been handsome instead of hideous, the whole course of history might have been happier.” Norse’s opinion is shared by novelist Gore Vidal who, in Live from Golgotha (1992), presents Paul as a sexually maladroit troll obsessed with the handsome, teenaged Timothy.

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“YES, ABSOLUTELY, this was the greatest day of my life,” declares Trisha Driscoll, the fourteen-year-old outer suburbanite narrator of Michelle Tea’s latest whirlwind street-girl adventure, Rose of No Man’s Land. …

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FUNNY, MOVING, FURIOUS, and dazzling, Eleanor Lerman’s Our Post-Soviet History Unfolds (Sarabande, 2005) sounds the note of the times, the era of American Imperialism, the days of our Bush-filled lives. Lerman is able to capture brilliantly the wacky and weary sense of stymied idealism of a generation that grew up hoping for better things for America.

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Reviews of Getting Bi:  Voices of Bisexuals around the World, Bi Men:  Coming Out Every Which Way, High Pink:  Tex-Mex Fairy Tales, and Inside Out:  Straight Talk from a Gay Jock.

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