October 22, 2014

‘Barring Complications’ by Blythe Rippon

Posted on October 21, 2014 by in Fiction, Romance

No doubt about it: June 26, 2013 will always be remembered as one of the pivotal moments in the historical fight for LGBTQI rights. The tide which gathered first with the Stonewall uprising swept away the obstacles to marriage equality when the US Supreme Court decided that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional. But can a new novel, a debut novel no less, do justice to such a monumental event? (more…)

‘Make Love to Rage’ by Morgan Robyn Collado

Posted on October 21, 2014 by in Features, Poetry

Rage / Making / Love. Trans, working-class, femme Columbian-Puerto Rican poet Morgan Robyn Collado splits her debut collection, Make Love to Rage, into these three sections that, when read alongside the book’s title, prompt essential questions: How does one “make love to rage,” how does one embrace their righteous furor at the injustices of  the world and turn it something new, rather than simply explode or burn out? And how can we imagine “rage making love”–anger begetting healing? (more…)

‘Alice + Freda Forever: A Murder in Memphis’ by Alexis Coe

Posted on October 18, 2014 by in Features, Nonfiction

It’s a story as old as Tennessee’s Chickasaw Bluffs: two young lovers who plan to elope are torn apart by their disapproving families, and bloodshed ensues. What makes the title pair of Alexis Coe’s Alice + Freda Forever worth writing about is the confluence of their era and their sex. In 1892, 19-year-old Alice Mitchell slashed the throat of 17-year-old Freda Ward, whom she had planned to marry and support by posing as a man before Ward’s sister intercepted their plans and forced her to cut off contact. The murder trial drew swarms of national reporters to Memphis, where Mitchell’s lawyers built a successful insanity defense on the premise that her belief that two women could live together as spouses was itself delusional. (more…)

‘Mausoleum of Lovers: Journals 1976—1991′ by Hervé Guibert, Translation by Nathanaël

Posted on October 18, 2014 by in Nonfiction, Reviews

It’s tempting to over-intellectualize the work of French novelist and photographer Hervé Guibert. Guibert saw his heady friend, the theorist Michel Foucault, almost every day from 1977 to 1984. Then, much to the chagrin of others, Guibert fictionalized Foucault’s AIDS-related death in To the Friend Who Did Not Save May Life (1990). To the Friend is one of Guibert’s last novels and the novel which made him a literary cause célèbre in France. Guibert died of AIDS shortly after a suicide attempt in 1991. (more…)

‘Petite Mort’ by Beatrice Hitchman

Posted on October 16, 2014 by in Fiction, Reviews

Petite Mort, Beatrice Hitchman’s debut novel, opens with a Le Monde article—Paris, 1967—announcing the discovery of a thought long-lost silent film reel from 1914. The article also mentions the mysterious fact that a crucial segment of the film is missing. Following this news brief, the novel moves back in time to 1909, where it effectively begins with two sisters, Adèle and Camille. The two are young, carbon copies of each other, sitting in a tree harassed by local boys, but saved, at the end of this first scene, by the town priest, Pere Simon. Very soon after, we discover that Père Simon plays a much larger role in Adèle’s life: exposing her for the first time to film, and coaching her with acting lessons. He is the impetus for her to run away, in 1913, to Paris, in search of a career on screen. Cinema, we discover, in these first brief chapters, is akin to religion for Adèle—a faith she believes will save her. (more…)

‘Blue Hanuman’ by Joan Larkin

Posted on October 15, 2014 by in Poetry, Reviews

“for I am a dirty bird/no wire cage can save”

-Joan Larkin, “Chicken”

Joan Larkin has been praised extensively for her “ruthless” and self-examining poetry (LA Times, David Ulin), devoid of the trappings of cliché and sentimentality. Writing in the same kind of documentary poetics similar to Carolyn Forche, Larkin has a gift for making the private public, telling and retelling the story, and owing the truth nothing emotive. From Ulin’s review of Blue Hanuman: “For her, poetry is a form of witness; she offers no false hopes, no resolutions, except to reflect, as honestly and directly as she can manage, the complicated, at times uncontrollable, messiness of being alive… this is poetry without pity, in which despair leads not to degradation but to a kind of grace.” (more…)

‘Not My Father’s Son: A Memoir’ by Alan Cumming

Posted on October 11, 2014 by in Bio/Memoir, Reviews

Multi-talented star of stage and screen, Alan Cumming has appeared in more than a hundred television, movie and theatre productions. Currently reprising his Tony award-winning role as the Emcee in the Broadway revival of Cabaret, the openly bisexual actor has never been shy about sharing aspects of his personal life. However, he takes things to new and unimagined levels in his memoir, Not My Father’s Son. With remarkable candour and clarity, Cumming leads the reader through concentric layers of personal revelations that shook his life in 2010. Yet in dealing with family mysteries spanning three generations, the breadth of the book is far greater than such a premise would suggest. (more…)

‘The War Within’ by Yolanda Wallace

Posted on October 9, 2014 by in Reviews, Romance

The lives of four people intersect on Jekyll Island, Georgia during one summer in The War Within. The story is divided into two sections, one historical and one contemporary. The first section gives us the story of a young, idealistic nurse who has volunteered for duty during the Vietnam War. Idealism gives way to realism as Meredith Chase and her enigmatic new-found friend, nurse, Natalie Robinson, navigate the dangers of war and of feelings for Natalie that leave Meredith thrown off-kilter. As the story begins, this history is recounted by Meredith as she and her granddaughter, Jordan, travel from Wisconsin to Georgia for their annual summer vacation. (more…)

‘Wilde in America: Oscar Wilde and the Invention of Modern Celebrity’ by David M. Friedman

Posted on October 8, 2014 by in Bio/Memoir, Reviews

In late 1881, Oscar Wilde, then twenty-seven, embarked for New York to begin a lecture tour covering thirty states and fifteen thousand miles. Over the next ten months the American press would publish nearly five hundred pieces about him, making him the most famous Briton in the United States with the exception of Queen Victoria. This happened despite the fact that thus far his published work was limited to a slim volume of negligible verse which sold poorly. Following his trip, he regaled British audiences with a talk he titled Impressions of America, that featured such now-familiar remarks as this on Niagara Falls: “Every American bride is taken there, and the sight…must be one of the earliest, if not the keenest, disappointments in American married life.” (more…)

‘The Prince’s Boy’ by Paul Bailey

Posted on October 7, 2014 by in Fiction, Reviews

With Dinu Grigorescu, Paul Bailey presents contemporary readers with a challenging narrator. Ailing while on the cusp of 60 in the spring of 1967 and certain that he has little time remaining, Dinu’s setting down a “memoir of a life half-lived.” Though mentioning in passing the lonely decades he endured in London after the mid-1930s, the heart of his recollection relates to what Dinu calls his “Parisian adventures.” A romantic with a “manliness denied [him] by nature,” Dinu’s an acutely sensitive esthete–when far younger and residing for a few months in a Montmartre garret (“a lavender-scented bower”), the poet manqué purchased a beret, no less, and envisioned himself writing in the mode of his literary heroes Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Proust, and Eminescu. As a narrating voice to spend time with, that precious temperament proves something of an acquired taste. And as with many acquired tastes, Dinu’s agonized and reflexively theatrical self-presentation may have limited appeal. (more…)