Browsing: Stage Hands

March – April, 2007

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CHRISTINE M. CANO begins her fascinating book on just how Proust’s novel was published with a remark by Anatole France that seems doubly cruel, considering that Proust had once considered France his mentor: “Life is too short, and Proust is too long.” However, that is how many people regarded In Search of Lost Time when Proust tried to find a publisher for his enormous manuscript in the fall of 1912.

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Short reviews of Cast Out & The New Gay Teenager, and the movie: Fighting Tommy Reilly.

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A painter and photographer who’s acclaimed by some critics as the best portrait artist in American history, Thomas Eakins is today a very hot property. His 1875 painting The Gross Clinic, which depicts Dr. Samuel Gross performing surgery, is still in the news. Purchased by Thomas Jefferson University in 1878 for $200, the Philadelphia Museum of Art has recently fended off a bid for the painting rumored to be $68 million. Once considered too gory for general display, illustrating as it does Eakins’ thorough understanding of anatomy, it is now considered by some to be the greatest 19th-century American painting.

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BRITISH QUEER CINEMA? What’s that? This substantial collection of academic essays appears under a title that is less self-evident than it may appear, in respect of all three of its terms.

Pretty much all the contributors are obliged to discuss the knotty term “queer,” conceding that the word has invariably been applied to Amer-ican and continental European filmmaking, with the single exception of the late Derek Jarman’s oeuvre. They make such a meal of this rather unnecessary problem-establishing what “queer” is, and/or insisting it can’t be defined, and then meas-uring selected movies against sundry definitions and non-definitions-that the reader simply wants to say: “Get on with it!” Ultimately, characters, actors, directors, and writers are shunted under collective umbrella terms such as “lesbian/gay/ queer” anyhow. Everything I found interesting in these pieces had nothing to do with abstract or definitional crises.

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The following is excerpted from a piece that became something of an instant Internet classic following its publication after the off-year election on November 7, which saw the defeat of two-term Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. The notoriously homophobic senator took the national spotlight when he denounced same-sex marriage in such a way that he soon acquired the nickname “Man-on-Dog Santorum.” Author-blogger Dan Savage comments here on a contest he ran to find the best definition of “santorum” as a common noun. [Ed.]

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TENNESSEE WILLIAMS DIED just when AIDS was starting to explode (1983)—eight years after his Memoirs were published (1975), to more than one hostile review from a critic offended by the frank sexuality of the text. ( “If he has not exactly opened his heart,” went one notice, “he has opened his fly.”) Now New Directions is republishing them with an introduction by John Waters and an afterword by Allean Heale.

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JUST AT A MOMENT when the study of gay history and literature is flourishing, social critics have declared the death of the GLBT subculture due to the rapid assimilation of gay people, especially those born after Stonewall. The last major gay civil rights battle, marriage, should be won within a generation. Does this mean that the hidden gay worlds some of us inhabited well into the 1970’s are now nothing more than artifacts to be studied? Or do stories from those years resonate with a human significance beyond time and place and circumstance? These questions are raised by Brett Josef Grubisic’s ambitious first novel, The Age of Cities.

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PUBLIC OPINION on same-sex marrage and adoption show enormous variation from one European country to the next, according to a large-scale survey that covered all 25 current members of the European Union (EU), two countries in the process of joining, and two candidate countries. For all of the countries surveyed, under half of the sample populations favored same-sex marriage and a third approved of gay adoptions, but this finding may be misleading in light of this high level of variance.

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WHEN REVIEWING a recent book for The New York Review of Books, writer Larry McMurtry opened by indulging in the old thought experiment of deciding what one author’s works he would take with him to the proverbial desert island. His choice was none other than Gore Vidal. Noting that Vidal’s oeuvre encompasses 46 books that cover the gamut from historical novels to satirical plays and screenplays, literary essays, and political memoirs, McMurtry explained that Vidal has “a prose style that should be the envy of the dwindling few who realize that prose style matters.”

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SUSAN GUBAR is a professor of English at Indiana University, the recipient of several awards for writing and scholarship, and the co-author (with Sandra Gilbert) of The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination. Her latest book, Rooms of Our Own, a novel that’s an homage to Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, examines contemporary women’s issues as they relate to feminism, gender roles, literature, and education in the 21st century.

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