October 21, 2014

Michael Denneny: On Working in Publishing During the 1970s, Starting ‘Christopher Street Magazine,’ and the Future of Gay Literature

Posted on October 20, 2014 by in Features, Interviews

“[...] 1978 was a banner year for gay writing; it really marked the dawn of the new gay literary movement that would swell into a torrent over the next fifteen or twenty years.” 

When I started in publishing more than twenty years ago, answering phone calls at a customer service desk, the only gay man in the industry whose name I knew was the renowned editor Michael Denneny. This says as much about Michael as it does about me. I’d been hired for the position literally off the street when I walked in and asked if the company had any job openings for someone with no experience. Michael, on the other hand, had been operating his famed Stonewall Inn Editions imprint out of St. Martin’s for years and produced some of the best-known gay titles of the 1980s and the early ’90s, including books by Randy Shilts, Larry Kramer, Ethan Mordden, Larry Duplechan, Malcolm Boyd, Michael Nava, Paul Monette, and Quentin Crisp, among others. I can’t remember where I’d first heard about Michael or how I’d even come to know about an editor in New York when I was a publishing newcomer in California, but he was what you’d call today a brand: someone known almost more for who he was than the books he published. Put another way, he stood out. In case you’re wondering, this is not standard stuff in publishing circles. Most editors spend their career, however distinguished, unknown to the average person—sometimes even unknown to their fellow publishing colleagues. Michael was different and so were his books.

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‘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…)

Watch the Book Trailer for Neil Patrick Harris’ New Book

Posted on October 15, 2014 by in Videos & Trailers

This month, Crown Archetype is releasing actor Neil Patrick Harris’ unconventional “memoir” Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography. (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…)

Brontez Purnell: On His New Book ‘The Cruising Diaries,’ Silencing the Critics, and the Joys of Writing About Sex

Posted on October 11, 2014 by in Features, Interviews

We have reached a strange moment in gay politics. There’s a strange commemoration and valorizing of the AIDS movement, vis-à-vis recent films like The Normal Heart and the documentary How to Survive a Plague. Whatever you think of these films individually, or the history they tell, part of the reason they managed to get so much attention and accolades is the spike in marriage equality. The excesses of gay male sexual culture is safely tucked away in history, for audiences who already think the riotous sex, and the deaths, have ended. In popular culture, all of the gay fucking happens not in glory holes and back rooms, but under the canopy of the nuptial bed. (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…)

Jonathan Lethem: On Summoning the Black Academic Queer in His Novel ‘Dissident Gardens’

Posted on October 4, 2014 by in Interviews

“I’ll name Baldwin as my influence till the cows come home–I have–but people will not talk about my work in those terms.”

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Saeed Jones: On His New Poetry Collection ‘Prelude to Bruise,’ Art vs. Rhetoric, and Camp Aesthetics

Posted on September 30, 2014 by in Features, Interviews

Writer and editor Saeed Jones’ new collection of poems Prelude to Bruise (Coffee House Press) is a darkly visceral examination of the often riotous nature of identity, desire, family, and sex, and the ways in which these things shape and warp us. Beautiful, haunting and heartbreaking—Jones’s poems are an emotional punch to the gut. A lyrical shock to the system. (more…)

‘A Gathering Storm’ by Jameson Currier

Posted on September 27, 2014 by in Fiction, Reviews

A Gathering Storm by Jameson Currier is the story of a hate crime. In a small, unnamed university town in the American South, on a Monday night in September, a gay college student named Danny meets two other men in a local bar; after they leave, they drive Danny to a remote spot, beat him, tie him to a fence, and leave him to die. Once he is discovered—after suffering exposure outdoors overnight—and taken to a local hospital, word of the hate crime spreads, and the residents of the town and university suddenly find themselves at the center of a media frenzy, as the news quickly reverberates beyond the local community. (more…)