Browsing: Another Country

July – August, 2010

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WHAT’S WITH THE “GOOD” in the subtitle of your book? people ask me. Couldn’t you get the “best” writing? or (tongue in cheek) is it writing by “good lesbians”? The subtitle of Something to Declare echoes that of an earlier anthology, Wonderlands: Good Gay Travel Writing.

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“PARIS IS WHERE the 20th century was,” declared that eccentric raconteur and occasional aphorist, Gertrude Stein. Writers like Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Stein herself, artists like Picasso, Dalí, and…More

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THE DISCOURSE on homosexuality is a major part of current American culture, and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing. Thus, it is all the more noteworthy that a recent production of As You Like It that ran at the Brooklyn Academy of Music earlier this year, directed by Sam Mendes and cast with a bi-national troupe of American and British actors, seems to go out of its way to suppress the homosexual dynamics that are inherent in Shakespeare’s play. An eerie sense of homophobia comes across as this production unfolds.

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Materializing Queer Desire: Oscar Wilde to Andy Warhol by Elisa Glick
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AT THE END of this tantalizing, informative, erudite and resourceful book, English and Women & Gender Studies academic Elisa Glick quotes one of her illustrious predecessors, Rhonda Garelick, on the figure of the dandy: “Critics writing about dandies or their texts fall easily into dandyist style, and succumb to its charms.”

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Is the Rectum a Grave?: and Other Essays by Leo Bersani
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LEO BERSANI begins this collection of essays with a concise list of his three major interests: sexuality, psychoanalysis, and æsthetics. To readers not familiar with Bersani’s work, this list suggests that the book will be more traditionally academic—and dull—than it turns out to be. A better sense of what Bersani is about is found in the second of two interviews that conclude the collection.

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The Golden Age of Gay Fiction Edited by Drewey Wayne Gunn
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ASSUMPTIONS about what gay life and culture were like before Stonewall—that it was an era of all-consuming repression, secrecy, and shame—might lead one to conclude that depictions of gay people in film and literature were non-existent or, if they did surface, heavily coded. Many film historians have examined the movies of this period, but the history of gay literature, which arguably provides perhaps an even richer history, has not been explored as thoroughly. Of course, one must be willing to allow for a more expansive and inclusive definition of what constitutes “literature.”

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Socrates and Jesus: The Argument That Shaped Western Civilization by Michael E. Hattersley
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THIS EXTENDED ESSAY explores the competing visions of Socrates and Jesus, demonstrating how their debate, continued by their philosophical ancestors over two millennia, helped shape Western culture into the uniquely argumentative, individualistic force it would become by the time of the Enlightenment.

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The Summer We Fell Apart: A Novel by Robin Antalek
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What makes The Summer We Fell Apart a beautiful novel is its stellar characters-and the shimmering scenes it evokes to draw you into their lives as a participant. You find yourself really caring about the four Haas siblings, now that you understand how they became the dysfunctional adults that they are today, and you hope they’ll make it as they struggle through their lives.

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BETWEEN THE SUMMERS of 2007 and 2009, I traveled the country interviewing a diverse group of prominent, interesting, and accomplished gay Americans. Out of those interviews—102 in all—came a book, Travels in a Gay Nation: Portraits of LGBTQ Americans, which was published this spring by the University of Wisconsin Press. Throughout the project, diversity was my guiding principle.

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