Browsing: Anniversaries

July – August, 2008

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Short reviews of It’s Late, I Can’t Breathe, Drifting Toward Love, and The Boy with Black Eyes.

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WHILE COCTEAU IS perhaps best known to Americans for two of the movies he wrote and directed- La belle et la bête (1946) and Orpheus (1949), which figure on most short lists of great French films-he started as a poet and always saw himself as such.

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A FROTHY COMEDY of parlor-room etiquette and sexual wish fulfillment, Phyllida and the Brotherhood of Philander is the bizarro cousin of a Jane Austen novel, in which Regency manners and nuptial expectations are turned inside out. Ann Herendeen’s novel is a lively romp in which girl meets boy, boy meets boy, and everyone falls in love and lives happily ever after.

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EIGHTY YEARS AGO, The Well of Loneliness was condemned by the English

courts as an obscene libel and “burned in the King’s furnace.” The book

was indicted and censored solely because of its lesbian theme, for its

prose has no spice or sleaze at all. Nothing very sexy goes on in it.

“She kissed her full on the lips” and “That night they were not

divided” are as hot as its descriptions of lesbian lovemaking get.

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In this book, Richard Canning, who teaches courses about AIDS literature to college students, has assembled eighteen short stories, written at what he calls “the epidemic’s darkest time of unknowing,” the early 1980’s through 1998. What is startling about these stories, especially for readers who lived through that era, is not how distant but instead how familiar they seem.

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The Stone Gods exemplifies what has come to be known as the eco-millenarian novel. In this case, Winterson cross-pollinates Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe with Nietzsche’s theory of “eternal recurrence,” a little Orwell, and a dash of quantum physics, to tell the cosmic odyssey of the renegade Sapphic scientist, Billie Crusoe and of her love for Spike, a sexy female robo-sapiens …

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I MUST CONFESS that I had never heard of Agustín Gómez-Arcos’ The Carnivorous Lamb before learning of this new translation of the book, which was originally published in 1975, but now I want to read all of his works. …

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AS THE FINAL LINE of Whitney Houston’s I Want to Dance With Somebody faded into the ether of disco lights and carcinogenic party fog, two men managed a furtive glance across the dance floor.

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Commentary on the issues of the day.

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