A fat dog overjoyed with the plastic steak in its mouth. How Neil Young sounds like an alley cat. People-watching on the subway. Overheard snippets of conversations. The PR job, full of positive words, thatâs starting to bring him down after fifteen years. The pills he must now take to maintain his body. An eight year relationship yet no shared apartment. These are some of single-sentence paragraphs of stray observations and journal notes that build up to a portrait of the uneasy stasis that is Clifford Chaseâs life in New York City during the early months of 2001. (more…)
Celebrated novelist Rabih Alameddineâs long-awaited new book An Unnecessary Woman, released last month by Grove Press, isÂ a stunning character portrait, an astute snapshot of contemporary Beirut, and a lyrical testament to the power ofÂ literature. The novel maps the peculiar inner-life of a reclusive Lebanon-based bibliophile, Aaliya Saleh, while also ârevealing Beirutâs beauties and horrors along the way. â (more…)
Today, two poems by Julian Delacruz. (more…)
“A parking ticket in the morning always feels portentous. Is this going to be a ‘bad day?’ or, since itâs Monday, a bad week? As if there were such a thing. I eat good food, I hang out with friends. But a parking ticket is the ďŹash of a hex.”
âThe Banal and the Profaneâ is a monthlyÂ Lambda LiteraryÂ column in which we lift the veil on both the writerly life andÂ the publishing industry. In each installment, we ask a different LGBT writer, or LGBT person of interest in the book industry, to guide us through a week in their lives.
This monthâs âBanal and Profaneâ column comes to us from writer Conner Habib. (more…)
Acclaimed actor Ben Gazzara died two years ago this month. Magnus Books editor Don Weise recalls working with Gazzara on his memoirs and reflects onÂ the actor’s substantialÂ legacy.
âDarling, stop being a cocktease and send me your goddamn edits.â No, this wasnât Truman Capote phoning. It was movie tough-guy Ben Gazzara eager to get started on the rewrite of his memoirs, In the MomentÂ (Carroll & Graf). Of all the projects Iâve been involved with, this one was my happiest and most memorable. On first glance (even the second and third) I might have seemed an odd match for a macho, free-wheeling character like Ben. I was known for publishing LGBT titles, a lot of it fiction. Yet here was an actor writing about his storied fifty-plus-year career on stage and screen, best-known for playing he-man roles: an abusive husband, a heroin addict, strip club owner, a porn producer, assorted gangsters, Charles Bukowski, a sadistic closet case, and a homophobic father whose gay son is dying of AIDS. Not exactly guys from my neck of the woods, still I love each of these performances. One of Benâs gifts as an actor was being able to humanize difficult and sometimes violent men. Did that appeal to me as a gay man? I donât know, but I felt certain that any actor capable of delivering one mesmerizing performance after the next was capable of delivering a knock out memoir.
A church and a bar are two very different institutions, but Marie Cartier, in Baby, You Are My Religion: Women, Gay Bars, and Theology Before Stonewall (Acumen Publishing Limited), proposes that the bar, and specifically the gay bar, served both a communal and spiritual function for many queer women in the mid-twentieth century, pre-Stonewall. (more…)
In his well-reviewed debut Enter, Night, a chilling and atmospheric throwback to Stephen Kingâs Salem’s Lot fused with the gothic leanings of an early V.C. Andrews novel, author Michael Rowe added both depth and dimension to the otherwise overplayed vampire mythos, injecting it with some much needed viability. (more…)
‘Butch Queens Up in Pumps: Gender Performance and Ballroom Culture in Detroitâ by Marlon M. Bailey
For most of the lgbt community, knowledge of Ballroom culture in America begins and ends with Jennie Livingstonâs 1990 documentary Paris is Burning. While the filmâs release was one of the defining moments of lgbt culture with its masterful (though not unproblematic) depiction of the genius and spectacle of Ballroom performers balanced with the reality of urban poverty, racism, and the AIDS epidemic they faced, its subject matter has largely been frozen in time as 80s nostalgia and aestheticized in the lgbt imaginary. The snarky quotes, over the top fashions, and Madonnaâs appropriation of Voguing have stuck in lgbt culture, but the filmâs messages about black lgbt life seem to have faded from memory. (more…)
Almost a year ago, when I first heard Robert Siekâs poetry at a reading at the Bureau of General Services â Queer Division in New York, I immediately responded to his brazen, sharp-tongued, surprising and intimately detailed work. One poem in particular, a sendup of online dating entitled âGood Wording and Perfect Punctuation,â stuck with me. Itâs that striking, lonesome opening detail of a landlordâs rained on couch on a lawn that sparked. In his vibrant and blunt debut Purpose & Devil Piss, Siekâs poems have a way of hooking you in with the specificity of daily lifeâs doldrums (commuting, car battery lugging, grocery shopping, mail opening, dishwashing, working, and working out) and the speakerâs inner thoughts and lively, sometimes brooding associations. These thick-blocked poems recall Bishop in the way that they unravel ordinary events in a stream of detail and âfilthy remindersâ that make them end up otherworldly. I think of the collectionâs title as a sort of division one can face in the everyday: Purpose (the what-we-have-to-do-to-get-by) and Devil Piss (the fanciful and dark ruminations we all may harbor). The title poem, shaped different visually (in couplets: the past and present self) from the others, appears towards the end as a sort of demented prayer (âIâm the first man on earth, / no worries, no pastâ). In fact, many of the poems in the book end on ambiguity and prayer: âThank God for turkey dinners / on Saturday afternoons and new family members to care forâ / proof that something happened hereâ and in the evocative âHoliday,â a beautifully described still-life of an urban neighborhood on the eve of Obamaâs inauguration, that cleverly pleads âletâs pray for change.â (more…)
Until last year, Rick Whitaker was best known as a memoirist and literary critic. His previous books, Â Assuming the Position:Â A Memoir of Hustling and The First Time I Met Frank OâHara: Reading Gay American Writers, revealed the authorâs penchant for considering his own life through the prism of literature, especially the output of queer writers such as OâHara, Virginia Woolf, James Baldwin and others. In his inventive new novel, An Honest Ghost (Jaded Ibis Press, 2013), he takes the notion of literary subjectivity a step further by constructing a narrative entirely out of sentences borrowed from other writers–queer and otherwise. John Ashbery named An Honest Ghost one of his âBooks of the Yearâ for 2013 in the The Times Literary Supplement; it also made âmust-readâ lists in both Slate and Readers Digest. (more…)