Browsing: In Search of Lost Time

January – February, 2010

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In the introduction to her fascinating study, James Baldwin’s Turkish Decade, Magdalena Zaborowska opens with a striking quote from the writer: “Perhaps only someone who is outside of the States realizes that it’s impossible to get out.”

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On balance, the biggest difference between the two books is their readability. Hart’s memoir is lighter and easier going, a book that you want to read to the end. Agabian’s book, while well-written and insightful, could have ended forty pages before it did. Both are worthwhile contributions to the growing body of personal memoirs from everyday people with an exceptional past.

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News of the queer and quirky

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AS IF peering through a kaleidoscope of twisted history and distorted time, I could not help but become drawn in by the characters and images that J. J. Sagmiller has created in this delightful romp through the raucous world of early 18th-century London theatre.

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THIRTY-SOMETHING S. Bear Bergman has already lived several lives and is leaving a trail of documents for us fortunate readers to decipher. A performance artist, memoirist, educator, and more, Bergman’s elegantly written collection of essays chronicles life as a gender non-conformist-on the “transmasculine spectrum”-with a laugh-out-loud sense of humor.

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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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