Browsing: Winter Reading

November – December, 2008

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Commentary on current events

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IN A POEM called “The Dump,” one of the last published by the late Thom Gunn, he describes a dream in which he wanders around a lifetime’s worth of ephemera left behind by a departed friend and fellow author. He sees vast mounds of paper, collections of every note and draft and manuscript the writer ever produced. But he also peruses the more common refuse of the man’s life: “I went in further and saw/ a hill of match covers / from every bar or restaurant/ he’d ever entered.” I thought of this poem as I read Donald F. Reuter’s Greetings from the Gayborhood, because …

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DEL MARTIN, whose name was inextricably tied to that of her life partner, Phyllis Lyon, for 55 years, died on August 27 in San Francisco at the age of 87, after several years of declining health. The couple was married in San Francisco in early 2008, the first couple to be hitched officially after the California Supreme Court overturned the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

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FOR SOME TIME NOW, familiarity with the works of Klaus Mann (1906-1949) in the English-speaking world has been limited to a small but devoted cadre of readers. Understandably, Klaus Mann, a noteworthy literary figure on both sides of the Atlantic from the 1920’s to the 1940’s, will forever be obscured by his much more famous father, Thomas Mann. Nevertheless, …

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DANCE HALL ROAD opens with a teenager, Jimmy Drake, handing Adrian Drury a picture of an electric chair. What young Adrian has done isn’t clear, but one girl is dead and another is injured.

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THE RECENT DEATH of Heath Ledger, who made his way into gay cultural history by playing a cowboy with homosexual tendencies in Brokeback Mountain, brings to mind the odd but ongoing presence of the cowboy in gay imagery for more than half a century. The image of the cowboy is a powerful one in American history. Since the emergence of gay magazines in the 1950’s, there has been a brisk use of cowboy imagery in the marketing of their allure.

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AIDEN SHAW’S 1996 novel Brutal was, with apologies to Thomas Hobbes, a nasty, brutish, and short book about Paul, an HIV-positive male prostitute. It was a memorable effort by a writer who made his name in gay porn.

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