This was a frustrating, confusing read. Hurley has a way with words, but I often felt like she cared more about crafting a vivid turn of phrase than cThis was a frustrating, confusing read. Hurley has a way with words, but I often felt like she cared more about crafting a vivid turn of phrase than crafting metaphors—or a narrative!—that made sense. And that's without mentioning the constant internal contradictions—a scene or action would be described in one paragraph, and then a paragraph later was re-described in a way that did not quite gibe with the previous description, leaving me wondering what the hell was going on. A better editing job would have smoothed all of this out.
Characterization is pallid, on the whole. The "troubled orphan" mentioned in the book blurb spends most of her time being dragged around by one person or another and undergoing horrific physical and emotional trauma, while remaining an almost complete cipher. The other characters fare a little better, but, while they lust after each other almost constantly, I was often at loss to understand what exactly they found attractive in each other, since the physical descriptors Hurley doled out were so sparse.
Now the good part: despite the many political, cultural and national factions, the intrigues, the shifting alliances, the betrayals, the ménages à 4, the invasions and the genocides (both past and present), I was sucked completely into the narrative. I would put down the book and find myself trying to tease meaning out of some of the more obtuse passages until I felt driven to pick it up again.
The next book isn't scheduled to drop until next September. We'll see if I'm as interested in this world by then....more
The best part of I'll Give You the Sun is the two voices the story is told in. Noah, driven by "the ecstatic impulse" to paint, to dream, to create, tThe best part of I'll Give You the Sun is the two voices the story is told in. Noah, driven by "the ecstatic impulse" to paint, to dream, to create, tells the story from the past, and his twin sister Jude, two hours, thirty-seven minutes and thirteen seconds older, tells the story from the future. So close at one point in their lives that they were a single soul named NoahandJude, their voices and personalities are still perfectly distinct.
The worst part of I'll Give You the Sun is most of the rest of it. The lying. Oh my god, the lying. The back-stabbing. The soap-opera plotting. The shifting love triangles involving thirteen-year-olds.
I couldn't put it down, even when I was hating it.
Four stars for voice. Two stars for (ugh) the reasons listed above.
I don't remember finding out about Matthew Shepard's slaying. I was seventeen when it happened, a self-hating closeted gay Mormon, halfway through myI don't remember finding out about Matthew Shepard's slaying. I was seventeen when it happened, a self-hating closeted gay Mormon, halfway through my first semester at Brigham Young University. Did I think he deserved it, the way I thought gays deserved to die of AIDS for their sins? I hope not, but I'm afraid to remember too well.
I am the failure of the body to remain a boy, I am the remains of a boy, the body of his failure. ("I Am the Boy Who Is Tied Down", p. 7)
The first section—"Safe"—interweaves various viewpoints on Matthew Shepard's last moments with three poems describing Venus's grief at the death of Adonis. The language is brutal, visceral, and the tone moves from cold and dissociated to immediate and passionate. Reading this section, it was like I was hearing about the killing for the first time. And this time, at least, I know I didn't think he deserved it.
* * *
When I finally came out to myself as a gay man, and began to accept myself and to stop blaming myself for who and what I was, I took an entire summer to watch what I saw as the "gay canon," films I had been too afraid to watch until that point. One of the first of these was Almodóvar's masterpiece, All About My Mother.
I tell you, chica,
If you want something done, Do it with a knife. ("La Agrado Explains Plastic Surgery", p. 25)
The second section—"City of the Sad Divas"—is a collection of poems associated with All About My Mother and its characters: Manuela, who has lost her son; La Agrado and the other transsexual hookers; Huma Rojo and her heroin-addicted lover, Nina; and the city of Barcelona itself, where much of the action takes place. In these poems, the reader does not relive the film; rather, the violence and passion and filth of the film are held at arms length, looked over with a dark and dubious eye, considered, and then let go.
* * *
I've always hated Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo, although it is often gorgeous to watch, because I never believed for a minute that any of it was happening. All of the characters annoy me, the plot annoys me, and Scottie's obsession and eventual unraveling annoy me.
To be golden-haired means you are destined to be idolized;
brunettes have less fun but keep better secrets. ("Hair and Make-Up Notes, Scene 92", p. 50)
The fourth section—"The Double Bind: A Critical Text"—presents a critical analysis of Vertigo, and includes all kind of tantalizing details about the cast, director and the narrative and directorial choices in the film. I have no idea if any of these details are true; that is not the point: they are simply too delicious to resist. Each snippet, naturally, is accompanied by an associated poem. One thing that must be said in Vertigo's favor is that it is beautifully shot, composed and scored. Unlike the previous collection, these silky little poems do much more to evoke the actual feel of parts of the film.
One result of reading this section is that I have the sudden desire to see Vera Miles play the Kim Novak role (and, really, anyone else play the Jimmy Stewart role).
* * *
I've already reviewed the fourth section, "The Strange Case of Maribel Dixon," elsewhere on this site. I have nothing to add to that review except this:
Long, sexy and jumbled. Not as purely wonderful as The Last Unicorn, this is still a great book by a great writer.Long, sexy and jumbled. Not as purely wonderful as The Last Unicorn, this is still a great book by a great writer....more
Where it falls short is in having a main character (Lux) who is so thoroughly narcissistic and whose motivations are so thoroughly nonsensical that after a while it was hard for me to care what he did or what happened to him.
On the other hand, if you like Millar, you will probably not hate this, and it will at least tide you over partially until the sequel to Lonely Werewolf Girl comes out....more
I prefer the historical, nonfiction parts of the book to the fictionalized accounts that open each chapter. Still, a fairly enjoyable and informativeI prefer the historical, nonfiction parts of the book to the fictionalized accounts that open each chapter. Still, a fairly enjoyable and informative look at gay and lesbian history in America....more
A fascinating look at the evolution of same-sex unions in Scandinavia. I was expecting the authors to spend more time on the implications of their resA fascinating look at the evolution of same-sex unions in Scandinavia. I was expecting the authors to spend more time on the implications of their research for same-sex marriage supporters in America, but all in all the book was well-reasoned, interesting and informative....more
James Baldwin was not afraid of depicting racial and sexual tension and conflict in a very raw, open-wound kind of way, back when "nice" people didn'tJames Baldwin was not afraid of depicting racial and sexual tension and conflict in a very raw, open-wound kind of way, back when "nice" people didn't read books like that. He was homosexual in a time when "nice" people didn't even acknowledge the existence of such a thing. He lived through very tumultuous times—the Depression, the '60s, the '70s—and he painted portraits of what he saw in all its stark, sallow glory.
Giovanni's Room is terrible and timely, as relevant to gay relationships today as it was when it was published in 1956. The relationships depicted in the novel end badly: because of social pressures, because of the internal demons of those involved, because of pure selfishness; but we can still learn from the fate of Giovanni, the unhappy young Italian who ended up at the guillotine, and David, the self-absorbed American who helped send him there.
Go Tell It on a Mountain begins with a birthday. John Grimes has just turned fourteen. He loves his mother, is unnerved by his out-of-control younger brother, hates and is hated by his father, and both attracted and repelled by his father's church—and the charismatic young Brother Elisha. Then we learn the story of hate and love, and why the family has come to this point, through the stories of John's aunt, father and mother; and where the family must inevitable go from here.
I didn't make it through Another Country, which is why this ended up on my "gave-up-on" shelf, but it was shaping up strongly. Lots of sex and race tension. Very uncomfortable and Baldwinian....more
The graphic depictions of sex, all kinds of sex—oh yes, even that kind—move this three-volume graphic novel past the bounds of "erotica" into the realThe graphic depictions of sex, all kinds of sex—oh yes, even that kind—move this three-volume graphic novel past the bounds of "erotica" into the realm of smut. But it's such artful smut, such interesting smut, such inventive smut that I still thoroughly enjoyed it, and recommend it to anyone with an open mind and a playful approach to sexuality.
WARNING: This book is chock-full of lesbian threesomes. Not for the fainthearted....more
Despite the claims of the jacket blurb, The Fall of the Kings is not "set in the same world of labyrinthine intrigue [as [book:Swordspoint]], where shDespite the claims of the jacket blurb, The Fall of the Kings is not "set in the same world of labyrinthine intrigue [as [book:Swordspoint]], where sharp swords and even sharper wits rule"--for one thing, swords hardly figure at all in The Fall of the Kings, and sharp wits end up not counting for much. Swordspoint was a "melodrama of manners"; The Fall of the Kings is an exploration of the meaning of history, culture, tradition, relationships, academia and metaphysics. Swordspoint was ultimately about intrigue and society; The Fall of the Kings is about the subversion of both by man's innate animal needs and tendencies.
What I find very interesting is that Kushner and Sherman (a married lesbian couple) have chosen to concentrate almost exclusively on male characters, male-male relationships and male privilege. There's lots of sex, lots of skin and sweat and blood, most of it involving, belonging to or dripping off of men. I'm not complaining about this; I'm a gay man, and I like hearing about gay male relationships, no matter how torrid and anguished and doomed. But it is a non-obvious choice for the authors.
In the end, The Fall of the Kings is interesting, bloody, sexy and dark. It isn't Swordspoint come again, but in some ways it might be even better....more
There are some things I liked very much about this book. The moment of the main character's first sexual awakening is both hilarious and yet also beliThere are some things I liked very much about this book. The moment of the main character's first sexual awakening is both hilarious and yet also believable; there are moments of brilliant wit and biting sarcasm; there are scenes of such vicious depravity and cruelty that one's breath is taken away; and there are a few moments of tender love. One problem many sequels have—true sequels, in which previous characters appear in a new story—is that characters one has learned to love or hate, or who in any case have become familiar, are suddenly strange, foreign and altered. This book falls slightly afoul of this, but then there is a wonderfully disturbing scene in the dark in a country cottage that made the magic of Swordspoint come back... and besides, this book weaves its own magic quite capably, and has a different tone and purpose. So I ended up enjoying it very much, even if it wasn't Swordspoint rehashed....more
I read this book years ago when I was an impressionable Mormon closet case, and I remember being intrigued and disturbed at the time by Kushner's depiI read this book years ago when I was an impressionable Mormon closet case, and I remember being intrigued and disturbed at the time by Kushner's depiction of lust, bisexuality and homosexual relationships. When I reread it today I rediscovered its brilliance, intricacy and poignancy. The relationship between the swordsman St Vier and "his young gentleman, the University student" had a glittering, frenzied, self-destructive beauty I associate with Matt Damon's Mr. Ripley, while finding an eventual redemption the latter continually refused. St Vier, simple, balanced and pragmatic, is bewildered and sometimes terrified by Alec's tendency towards violence and self-hatred, but loves him nonetheless, going to great lengths to preserve his safety, his life and his honor. In the end, their love is shown to be the only real thing in the entire novel, as relationships and power structures are cynically undermined and manipulated at every turn....more
Johanna Sinisalo is apparently well-known in Finland. It's too bad the only pieces of hers that we have in English are this book and a short story inJohanna Sinisalo is apparently well-known in Finland. It's too bad the only pieces of hers that we have in English are this book and a short story in the Dedalus Book of Finnish Fantasy (which I have yet to read). But if Troll is representative of her writing, I have high, high hopes for more of her work.
Troll plays with several kinds of eroticism and desire as we see the central story unfold: Angel, a gay photographer, rescues a young, injured troll from a band of teenage tormenters and takes it home to nurse it. The situation is complicated by a series of encounters and a maze of desire and lust. Who desires whom and why becomes very important as the story reaches its climax. Throughout, Sinisalo has inserted bits of Finnish troll lore—partly authentic, partly invented—that lend a confident air of realism to the novel. Above all, this is less a fantasy than a novel of an alternate Finland where trolls (Felipithecus trollius) really do exist....more
I attended this play during the revival, and I struggled not to cry openly at the impossibility of Alex's situation, caught as he was between his loveI attended this play during the revival, and I struggled not to cry openly at the impossibility of Alex's situation, caught as he was between his love for his parents, his partner, his religion and his god. I purchased the book on the way out the door, and when I got home, I read it all the way through. It's not long, but it packed just as hard a punch as the live play. Pearson is occasionally unsubtle in her writing, but overall, I give this five out of five stars for the clarity she brings to the issue....more