Browsing: In Search of Lost Time

January – February, 2010

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[L]et us try to summon up inspiration from our illustrious ancestors, those forefathers who had they opened their mouths, would have made our cause great a few years earlier, had they had the guts to cry out “here I come, ready or not” to all and sundry, the world at large and stood there long enough to have their toesies counted, would not have placed us in the mess we’re in today. I am of course talking about Leonardo and Michelangelo and Napoleon (who had a small one) and Socrates and Aristotle…

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MARGOT CANADAY’S The Straight State: Sexuality and Citizenship in Twentieth-Century America argues that the last century’s evolving perception of sexuality changed the concept of American citizenship. She pursues her thesis with a rigorous review of the archives to illuminate how federal policies were increasingly inflected with an awareness of non-normative sexualities.

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WRITES EDMUND WHITE in his new memoir City Boy: My Life in New York in the 1960’s and ’70’s, “[Susan] Sontag once said to me … that in all human history in only one brief period were people free to have sex when and how they wanted-between 1960, with the introduction of the first birth control pills, and 1981, the advent of AIDS.” White’s move from Ohio to Manhattan in 1962 put him at the beginning of this unique period in the cultural history of the last century, allowing him to record his own experiences against a backdrop of a city just awakening to the possibilities of sexual freedom.

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In The Sealed Letter, Donoghue takes on the real lives behind a scandalous English divorce case of the 1860’s, a time when divorce was rare and shocking when it occurred.

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NO ONE TALKS about gay literature anymore. The topic sounds quaint, hardly cutting edge. And indeed its moment may well have passed. Edmund White says that it “has come and gone as a … serious movement.” Yet, I think we need to talk about gay literature again, because the silence may tell us a good deal about how we live now. My approach to the topic, however, may seem a little recherché: I want to discuss gay literature as a minor literature.

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Reviews of the books Something to Declare : Good Lesbian Travel Writing, Interruptions: A Novel, The Resurrection of the Body: Pier Paolo Pasolini from Saint Paul to Sade, Sordid Truths: Selling My Innocence for a Taste of Stardom, and the film The Country Teacher.

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Ardi may also knock a brick or two out of another wall-that of conventional evolutionist dogma. Some scientists can be no less dogmatic than scripturalists when they set their feet in concrete on a position that they believe to be settled. Already there are hot debates about which prehistoric primates Ardi was related to, and what sex might have been like in Ardi’s world. We GLBT people can add our own questions about sexual orientation and gender differences that may have left their fossilized footprints upon that distant horizon.

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IN THE OPENING essay of The Importance of Being Iceland: Travel Essays in Art, Eileen Myles neatly summarizes her career as a writer: “I’m a poet and a novelist, one-time college professor, among other things. Generally as many things as possible.” It is that spirit of openness-the willingness to consider what’s surrounding her at any moment, and its potential for being absorbed into her own writing-that shapes Myles’ visceral explorations of other artists’ works in this book of art criticism.

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I am a recently separated United States Army Captain, a fiscal conservative, a lifetime member of the Republican Party; and I am angry. I am mortified that these characteristics align me with the forces of sexual discrimination that permeate our nation’s politics and its armed forces.

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