Woolf, in her poetically rambling way, manages to navigate through numerous subjects, including but not limited to: a history of women writing fiction...moreWoolf, in her poetically rambling way, manages to navigate through numerous subjects, including but not limited to: a history of women writing fiction, their male counterparts, the literary merits of both sexes, the dual-sexed nature of the brain, the limits placed upon women in society and to hold property, thwarts the critiques of men who dismiss the contributions and characters of women, and mediates over walks, meals and cigarettes. While she takes an indirect course, a characteristic of her fiction, she hits upon her thesis throughout: to be an artist of any merit a person needs a room to write in and a source of income; without both the artist is hard-pressed to have the time and energy in which to create. She notes that this holds true for men as well, holding up a number of authors we have long canonized who were not only from wealthy families, but highly educated; things denied women throughout most of history. What is most enjoyable is her dry humor that peppers the text, and I wish her fiction contained more of it. I would recommend reading Orlando in conjunction with this; not only does it explore the same themes of art, sex, gender and the evolution of women, but it does so with the same level of humor. It is also her most accessible work and the "love letter" to her lover, Vita Sackville-West, is a warm and sensual novel. (less)
Coming out used to be much more difficult and was ripe with dangers that today’s gay youth are wholly unaware of. Tom Cardamone’s introduction in this...moreComing out used to be much more difficult and was ripe with dangers that today’s gay youth are wholly unaware of. Tom Cardamone’s introduction in this homage to out of print gay fiction touches upon those challenges, and how once-upon-a-not-so-long-ago-time gay fiction and bookstores were the entry point for many to our community. Those days may have passed but the connection to our roots and our literature is just as strong—at least for some of us—than ever. Full disclosure, not only am I included in this collection, but I was involved with Tom from the time he originated the idea for this anthology through to the end in searching for just the right publisher; it was well worth his valiant effort. There is a lot to appreciate in this anthology, not only will it give you an idea of how broad the scope of gay lit is, as well as some worthy (albeit hard to find) books to add to your must read list, but it brings up the very real point of why fiction, especially gay fiction, is still relevant to our community; it unites us from one generation to the next as we pass down our stories of the trials faced and overcome (and the sex we had along the way). While some essays focus more on the books discussed and can read like reviews or literary criticism, what most endeared me are the very personal pieces that depict how a certain text came into the reader's life and how it may have impacted him, for good or ill, with some heart-wrenching honesty. This is a resource that should be in every gay reader’s library.
Read my essay about Lynn Hall's young adult novel, Sticks and Stones, in VelvetMafia.com to whet your appetite for this excellent book about books.(less)