This is my favorite of Morrison's novels. I've read it I-don't-know-how-many times, the last time more than a decade ago. Someone I know mentioned thaThis is my favorite of Morrison's novels. I've read it I-don't-know-how-many times, the last time more than a decade ago. Someone I know mentioned that she was reading it in preparation for writing about it, and I decided to read along, to be able to discuss it with her more cogently and also to see whether it would still have such a powerful effect on me and whether I would see new things in it after so many readings. Yes and yes. Even more so. More things than ever. If I weren't going to be talking with someone who's going to be writing about it, I'd probably feel compelled to write something myself. Yes, I know that so much has already been written about this novel first published in 1977. But there's still so much more to say... it's just that substantial and remarkable. But, do yourself a favor: Don't read any substantive reviews first. The story is filled with surprising plot twists as well as such vivid characters and places; don't rob yourself of the joy of first encountering those gems as Morrison wrote them rather than second-hand. ' ...more
Don't be tricked by the inapt title. This isn't one of those faux-silly/faux-serious books by certain male humorists who have gotten so inexplicably pDon't be tricked by the inapt title. This isn't one of those faux-silly/faux-serious books by certain male humorists who have gotten so inexplicably popular. I say this because I most certainly would not have picked this up off the shelf except that Dyer's name jumped out at me and it was with the travelogues. I like travelogues, and Dyer's "But Beautiful" is one of the best books about jazz I've ever read, so I decided to give this a go.
A few chapters in, I began to wonder: Why am I reading this? Why did he write it? The travel tales were interesting enough but, um, nothing to write home about. But then, as incrementally as it sometimes happens in life, it came clear: (view spoiler)[This is the story of a crack-up. Because Dyer is such a skillful observer, it's a particularly well-described account of a crack-up. I do wish, though, that he'd ended with the touching scene (the beginning of a kind of recovery though that's not at all the right word for it) at the end of the penultimate chapter. The Burning Man chapter just irked me, as the event itself does. (Don't get me started on hipster-style androcentrism.) (hide spoiler)]...more
I first read this and the rest of the Harlem cycle (along with Himes' other novels) back in the early 90s. (Just now realizing: That's 20 years ago! TI first read this and the rest of the Harlem cycle (along with Himes' other novels) back in the early 90s. (Just now realizing: That's 20 years ago! Trite sayings concerning the swiftness of time's passage cannot capture my astonishment.) This time through, I'm paying attention to the mechanics of Himes' particularly vivid hard-boiled prose. ...more
I'm just re-reading the first 250 pages in preparation for something I'm writing, but I'll go ahead and log this so that I can give this mind-blowingI'm just re-reading the first 250 pages in preparation for something I'm writing, but I'll go ahead and log this so that I can give this mind-blowing book the five stars it deserves. Don't be daunted by the heft of it: Begemihl deftly manages his aim of producing a text that is both sufficiently scholarly and accessible for a non-specialist audience. The first half is pure text; the rest is listings of the details of same-sex behavior among apecific animals, which may be browsed. Even if you already know the gist of it (same-sex courtship, affection, pair-bonding, parenting, and sex have been observed among hundreds of species of animals), it's worth the effort to read this book, both because details matter and because, in the course of introducing and discussing these findings, Bagemihl raises numerous important questions about sex, gender, and human-animal relations. I assign the first chapter when I teach LGBTQ studies, and my students have never been sorry to read it.
Update: The first time I read this, shortly after its publication, I was mostly interested in its exhaustively researched account of same-sex sexual behavior among non-human animals and the scientific cover-up thereof. This time, I again appreciated all of that but was particularly impressed by Bagemihl's discussion of post-Darwinian theories of evolution and in particular by his own suggestion of "biological exuberance" as a frame-work by which numerous recent findings in Western science and various indigenous insights might be synthesized. So... read that chapter too....more