Browsing: Return Trips

July – August, 2006

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THOMAS GLAVE describes himself as “a Jamerican” to reflect both his Jamaican and his American heritage. Indeed, he often has difficulty reconciling these two identities: traveling back and forth between the two countries, he often wonders “which passport to use on this trip or that one, Jamaican or U.S.-which citizen will I be this time (re-)entering ‘my’ country?”

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Thoughts on news of the day

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THE POLITICAL DUST STORM kicked up by the Oscar-winning film Brokeback Mountain, however predictable, found right-wingers railing that yet another symbol of American “family values,” the cowboy, was being desecrated. A typical Christian blogger screamed: “Now they’re out to destroy the American legend of the cowboy. God help us, and John Wayne forgive us!”

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… a fast-moving novel about the artists and writers who flocked to Luhan’s salon in New Mexico in the 1930’s. …

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Today we tend to take lesbian images for granted. While k d lang, Ellen DeGeneres, and Melissa Etheridge are visible lesbian icons, there is no uniformity to the lesbian image because, unfortunately, lesbians are still held up next to straight women rather than next to other lesbians to construct categories of normal. Tiraz True Latimer’s Women Together / Women Apart doesn’t make this mistake. …

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THE CHALLENGE for any writer of a memoir is to make the story interesting to someone else who, unlike a psychotherapist, isn’t being paid to hear it. A writer’s fame can guarantee an audience, but those lacking fame often resort to hyperbole and sensational drama. This is not true of Wade Rouse in his coming-of-age memoir, America’s Boy. …

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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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