October 30, 2014

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…)

Christos Tsiolkas: On His New Novel ‘Barracuda,’ Australian History, and the Power of Hip-Hop

Posted on September 25, 2014 by in Features, Interviews

Australian author Christos Tsiolkas is perhaps best known in the U.S. for his novel The Slap, which chronicles life in a Melbourne suburb following an incident at a garden party in which a man slaps a child who is not his own (soon to be a television miniseries on NBC starring Zachary Quinto). Tsiolkas’ latest work, Barracuda (Hogarth), returns to the complicated world of class politics, family, nation and shifting cultural expectations to explore the rise and fall of a queer athlete from the wrong part of town. Danny Kelly’s struggle with failure and the shame that springs from it offers a brilliant glimpse into the adolescent psyche as well as illuminating the perennial calculus of fitting in. (more…)

‘A Several World’ by Brian Blanchfield

Posted on September 23, 2014 by in Poetry, Reviews

“We came in here to pretend.” So begins Brian Blanchfield’s “Open House,” a playfully serious poem about a gay couple who, in the course of a spring walk, encounter an up-market house they cannot afford. Their finances do not prevent them from running room to room as they imagine themselves making space for Hart Crane and Eileen Myles in a study or removing awful drapes from a window overlooking the bay. It’s a game couples play all the time, though the queer spin here signals other themes, namely the limits to which the American Dream is available to gay men, whose recent past consigned them to urban rentals in clogged asphalt jungles. That the game turns partially earnest (“we weren’t faking exactly”) suggests the poem’s jaunty veneer masks a darker truth: the dream is seductive—and forever out of reach. Its voice may possess a biting wit that includes references to Diaghilev and Nijinsky, Bouvard and Pecuchet, and the ironic appropriation of legal terminology and Latin phrases, but in the end he must admit he and his lover, who “blew in notional,” imagine a future that is “not us, not any more.”  (more…)

Read Peter Cameron’s Afterword for the Novel ‘Totempole’

Posted on September 23, 2014 by in Excerpts, Features

This month, NYRB Classics is re-releasing Sanford Friedman’s 1965 novel Totempole. The novel details the romantic relationship between its protagonist Stephen Wolfe and a male North Korean prisoner of war. (more…)

‘Queer and Trans Artists of Color: Stories of Some of Our Lives’ by Nia King

Posted on September 22, 2014 by in Nonfiction

In my former review of Nia King’s work, I mentioned her media presence, via her website, tumblr, and her podcasts We Want the Airwaves: QPOC Artists on the Rise, in which she interviews queer and transgender artists of color. She successfully used indiegogo to raise enough money to transcribe interviews from her podcast and is now publishing them as a book, in order to share these artists’ stories, knowledge and oral histories. (more…)

“Toy” by Evan J. Peterson

Posted on September 22, 2014 by in Poetry Spotlight

Today, a poem by Evan J. Peterson. (more…)

‘Barracuda’ by Christos Tsiolkas

Posted on September 19, 2014 by in Fiction, Reviews

Deep into Christos Tsiolkas’ Barracuda (Hogarth), Danny, the novel’s angry gay protagonist, returns to his native Australia and has a conversation with his brother. “I could have had a future,” he tells Theo as he looks back at his young life. The words could have been an apt subtitle to the book: Barracuda; or I Could Have Had a Future. Yet in the end, the novelisn’t quite as pessimistic as it might originally seem. While there is no false optimism as we are pulled through Danny’s bleak adolescence into his early adulthood, Tsiolkas does offer a quiet yet clear redemption. Hope is earned, even if in a minor key. (more…)

‘The Road to Emmaus’ by Spencer Reece

Posted on September 17, 2014 by in Poetry, Reviews

The electrifying self-reveal has long been a favorite trick of the gods. An amiable companion on horseback uncloaks himself as Odin, deity of wisdom, poetry, and victory in battle; in Genesis, Jacob rises from a wrestling match to find the challenger was Yahweh in human form. And on The Road to Emmaus, as depicted in a garish postcard in Sister Ann’s office, where Spencer Reece’s speaker remembers his older mentor and would-be lover in the title poem of his latest collection, two travelers from Jerusalem are joined by a third, who listens intently to a description of their savior before revealing himself as Christ. (more…)

John Rechy: On the Gay Sensibility, Melding Truth and Fiction, and His Literary Legacy

Posted on September 10, 2014 by in Features, Interviews

Born erudite, John Rechy, 83, is the author of twelve novels and three non-fiction works.

He was raised Mexican-American in El Paso, Texas at a time when Latino children were routinely segregated. He was assumed to be Anglo because of his light skin. A teacher “changed” his name from Juan to John. (more…)