This week, a poem by Eric Joonho. (more…)
Christmas for me—and I’ll go out on a limb and venture that I’m alone on this one—means James Purdy. As the author of some of the most inventive and distinctive and surreal fiction anyone has ever written, he stands alone among gay novelists, even if he didn’t self-identify as such. At the time of his death at age ninety-four in 2009, I was his editor. Working together over four books (one new, three reissues) I developed a special fondness for him unlike any I’ve felt for another writer. So much so that on a few Christmas Eves I made the trek from my apartment on the Upper West Side out to his place in Brooklyn Heights to bring him groceries and say hello. Purdy had no family as far as I could tell and he lived alone, basically cooped up in his one-room apartment. He seldom left home, even if he ran out of food, which is why groceries were appreciated. I would sit with James, listening to his stories from fifty years of writing, until his devoted friend and all-around literary champion, John Uecker, would arrive to spend Christmas with him. (more…)
There’s a new luxury condo building coming to Tribeca—a glass 60 foot skyscraper, with a Jenga-like design that the architect’s firm calls “houses stacked in the sky.” This building was on my mind a bit reading the poems in Adam Fitzgerald’s The Late Parade (Liveright). There’s a clean, sturdy but jagged structuring to the work, and the way the poems look, but also a tremendous amount of risk and adventure in the lyric—a vigorous accruing of language. (more…)
Scanning the table of contents for A Visit to Priapus (University of Wisconsin Press), I had my doubts. Don’t get me wrong. When it comes to Glenway Wescott, or any writer I love, I’m always happy to have more, and A Visit to Priapus contains both previously uncollected and previously unpublished matter. But I feared that nine short stories, dating from 1928 to 1971 wouldn’t quite add up to a satisfying whole. That’s especially because Wescott’s output can be so neatly divided into two distinct periods: a regional, purple-prose period from 1924 to 1929, and a more urbane, pared-down period after 1939, when Wescott finally overcame a decade-long spell of writer’s block. And then what about the mix of genres in A Visit to Priapus? Besides the nine aforementioned short stories, there are two essays and an “experimental story,” the latter dating from 1923, when Wescott was a mere 22. (more…)
University of Minnesota Press is reporting that José Esteban Muñoz, an author and academic in the fields of queer theory and cultural studies, has died. Muñoz died on Wednesday, December 4th in New York City. He was 46 years old. Cause of death has yet to be released.
Muñoz was a professor and former Chair of the Department of Performance Studies at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, as well as the author and editor of several books that grappled with issues of race, gender, and sexuality including Cruising Utopia: The Politics and Performance of Queer Futurity and Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics.
“This is my own story, told in many voices,” says the narrator of Rick Whitaker’s new novel, An Honest Ghost (Jaded Ibis Press). The sentence, like every other in the book, has been lifted from a volume in Whitaker’s own library, or that of his fictional protagonist–the reader is subtly encouraged to confuse the two. What results is an impressionistic portrait of literary subjectivity that cuts both ways, revealing the opportunities for pleasure and refuge available to the inveterate reader, despite the insufficiency of even the best crafted sentence to stand against life’s tendency towards chaos and vacancy. (more…)
December is upon us and so are a slew of new and noteworthy LGBT books.
There’s a danger in writing about performance art: something will be lost and something added in each retelling of the event. Liveness is swapped for the nostalgia of not being there still, or for never being there. The written word or the photograph, or even the video, will never capture the moment, will never stand in for being there. In the case of extreme performers such as Ron Athey no archive can replicate the audience’s thumping hearts at the sight of his flowing blood or the smell of his bodily fluids just feet away. (more…)
Best-selling gay romance writer T. J. (Travis John) Klune (Bear, Otter, and the Kid) recently popped the question to fellow popular romance author Eric Arvin (Woke Up in a Strange Place) at the 2013 GayRomLit conference (GRL) in Atlanta, Georgia. (more…)
The poems of Carl Phillips are not an easy read; that is their innate pleasure. Over time, they become, to this reader at least, mesmerizing stories to which one returns often for their constant and distinct voice, as well as their inevitably erotic gravitational pull. Phillips gets the sex just right, as few poets actually do. Paul Monette did; Anne Sexton, Thom Gunn, Auden, did. Phillips understands that desire is not a separate component from love–or its lack–but rather a multiplicity of physical and emotional choices which impart the knowledge and actions of retrospect. In his newest volume, Silverchest (FSG), all his elemental fires are burning at once. (more…)