April 17, 2014

Hilton Als: Looking at ‘White Girls’

Posted on November 6, 2013 by in Features, Interviews

In his stunning new book, White Girls, New Yorker contributor and author Hilton Als plays the role of a modern day Alexis de Tocqueville by offering a singular and incisive take on the American cultural psyche. Using all the tools in his literary arsenal, Als’s collection blends fiction, non-fiction, and cultural critique to offer a deeply personal meditation on American literature, art, race, gender, and history. (more…)

Danny M. Hoey Jr. : Not So Distant Past

Posted on June 5, 2013 by in Features, Interviews

“[...] write your truth however painful it is or may be. You have to do that in order to create a narrative that is honest and true to your art or your idea of art. Let the pain guide you.”

In his debut novel The Butterfly Lady (Flaming Giblet Press, March 2013), author Danny M. Hoey Jr. illustrates the history and daily life of Gabriel Smith, a black cross-dresser living in Cleveland, Ohio. Gabriel’s daily attire—dress, makeup, a butterfly clip—elicits reactions from a community that at once reviles and accepts his eccentricity, a community circumscribed by the unique racial politics of the late 60s and early 70s, that therefore must make room for Gabriel, but only begrudgingly. The novel details Gabriel’s exchanges with the fixtures in his community, people who receive his love, and in some cases reject it violently. (more…)

Daniel Mendelsohn: Beyond Borders, Beyond Identities

Posted on December 25, 2012 by in Features, Interviews

 ”I learn things when people write intelligently about my books. That’s what you want as a writer, you want to be taken seriously and you want to be read intelligently. You can learn from an intelligent review—not necessarily a ‘positive’ review.”

Waiting for the Barbarians , the latest collection of essays by Daniel Mendelsohn, covers a broad swatch of the writer’s critical territory. Having established both his contemporary voice and classical eye over the past twenty years, Mendelsohn presents many of his recent thoughtful and brow-raising critiques in this single volume published by The New York Review Books—dissecting the nostalgia that vaulted Mad Men into the sphere of cultural phenomenon, chronicling the hubris that felled Julie Taymor’s tenure at the helm of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, and sectioning these selections under the headings “Spectacles, ” “Classica,” “Creative Writing, ” and “Private Lives.” (more…)

John Irving: Sexuality, Empathy, and Humanity

Posted on June 7, 2012 by in Features, Interviews

“There’s no question that I’ve always identified with a wide range of sexual desires.”

By now, John Irving trusts his audience to suspend its recognition of his set pieces—something like a regional stage director presenting a re-purposed backdrop. In his latest novel, In One Person (Simon & Schuster), those mainstays —an absentee father, wrestling mats, “sexual outsiders”— are transformed through a shift in point of view (third person to first) and tone (less darkly comic, more serious). Moreover, this time out, someone in Irving’s world fesses up to harboring bisexual desires. (more…)

Chad Harbach: The Strategies of Baseball, Friendship, and Love

Posted on February 6, 2012 by in Features, Interviews

“…these guys, whether or not they would ever admit it, I know they spend a lot of time looking at one another’s bodies, comparing bodies to one another, in very close contact. So you know, whether or not it’s ever conceived of as explicitly sexual, there’s a lot of sensual material there.”

The Art of Fielding (Little, Brown and Company), Chad Harbach’s bestselling debut literary jock novel—named one of the NY Times’ “10 Best in 2011”—opens with a gesture toward “bromance.” Young Henry Skrimshander’s aspirations don’t stretch much further than working up his next good sweat fielding grounders, until he meets Mike Schwartz—the baseball captain of the fictional Westish College. This intense friendship rescues Henry from laboring alongside his father, and delivers him unto the Westish College campus. Under Mike’s watchful tutelage, Henry becomes a baseball player whose feats attract admiration from the sleepy campus and MLB scouts alike.

Then there’s Owen Dunne, Henry’s first college roommate at Westish—a gift to Residence Life Directors and authors alike.  Biracial, handsome and GAY (in capital letters), Owen proves enough of a ballplayer to warrant a jersey number and roster spot for the baseball squad at Westish. Owen too finds love, though unlike the platonic ideal tossing between Henry and Mike, Owen seduces Guert Affenlight, the heretofore straight, middle-aged college President. (more…)

Ira Silverberg: Opinions from a Literary Life

Posted on September 21, 2011 by in Interviews

“I don’t have a problem with a place at the table, and I don’t have a problem with a place at the table for my clients, but I think it’s all about the work. Are you good, or are you not good?”

Ira Silverberg’s life in publishing owes much to the allure of a tall blond guy from Kansas, a “Junky” mother-in-law, and his taste for formally experimental fiction. His mother still laments the Bachelor’s degree he abandoned in the 80s. And yet, there began three decades worth of selling, buying, and marketing fiction.  (more…)

‘Black Fire: Gay African-American Erotica’ edited by Shane Allison

Posted on July 11, 2011 by in Erotica, Fiction, Reviews

When Marvin Richmond’s dreadlocked bottom boy Calvin kneels to the hand at his shoulder in “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” his mind performs the same trick erotica itself plays on its readers. (more…)