The raw, intense vibrancy of the way WTF! is written does two things. First, it makes you feel like you're right there with someone going through a psThe raw, intense vibrancy of the way WTF! is written does two things. First, it makes you feel like you're right there with someone going through a psychotic episode. Second, you get to share in a journey from sickness to wellness....more
While my partner Joshua and I were in Adelaide for Writers' Week, I came across this book in Paddy's Bookshop on South Rd, two days before Marr gave aWhile my partner Joshua and I were in Adelaide for Writers' Week, I came across this book in Paddy's Bookshop on South Rd, two days before Marr gave a lecture there.
This is the second of his books I've owned, but the first I've owned. He writes well-researched, well thought out and funny essays on contemporary issues (well they were contemporary in the late 1990s). I loved this book and it's useful for anyone who wants to some backstory for the rise of the Religious Right in Australia....more
This is the first Christos Tsiolkas book I've read since Loaded. The situations in these stories are confronting, the characters compelling, the storyThis is the first Christos Tsiolkas book I've read since Loaded. The situations in these stories are confronting, the characters compelling, the storytelling masterful. If you want to start somewhere with the current renaissance in short stories, you would be thrilled to start here....more
This book was really well written with a great story. Even though it was years ago that I read it, some of the characters still stick in my head -- an impressive feat for an author when someone reads as many books as I do.
Altman asks a single core question in this book: Do we still have need for an identity based on sexuality?
In his seminal 1971 Homosexual: Oppresion &aAltman asks a single core question in this book: Do we still have need for an identity based on sexuality?
In his seminal 1971 Homosexual: Oppresion & Liberation, foretold the coming of “polymorphous perversity” – time when people would be free of labels around their sex lives.
He starts End of the Homosexual with a step back in time, looking at the world before gay liberation. He asks in one chapter, “What has changed? What remains the same?”
The next section covers the “Triumph – and Tragedy” period of gay history. The years following Stonewall, when for the first time gay was affirmed as good. The sidelining and segregation of women by the gay male community. The devastation of HIV/AIDS and how it rewrote the rules of the game. The rise of queer theory in the 1990s. The globalisation of the gay identity and the tropes that make it up.
The last section looks at what the world is like today. Is normalisation a good thing? Is same sex marriage a good thing? These are important questions because only a short time ago being non-mainstream and having the freedom to invent our own rules was part of the gay identity.
I read Homosexual in 1995 when I was 19, taking Dennis Altman’s “Gender Politics” subject at La Trobe University. A year before, I made an awkward attempt to come out to him after spending four years in a Christian cult.
In the years since, as I’ve seen the world become more accepting and sexual identity more fluid, I’ve remembered Altman’s discussion of “polymorphous perversity”. The full extent of it didn’t hit home until I met my partner last year. If you had to give him a label, he’d pick pansexual. He rarely finds men attractive; he notices women every day. He chooses to be in a monogamous relationship with me because of my personality. It’s always a challenge explaining our relationship to outsiders, especially gay men.
What makes Altman so appealing is his humility. He’s contributed so much to the development of the LGBTIQ communities, yet in this book he’s willing to re-evaluate his earlier thinking. He asks new questions that matter.
This book is my must-read LGBTIQ book for 2013 and I think it will become another classic....more
My partner and I host travellers from around the world. Our guests tell us stories like these three from Damon Galgut.
The “In a Strange Room” of the tMy partner and I host travellers from around the world. Our guests tell us stories like these three from Damon Galgut.
The “In a Strange Room” of the title refers to what happens as you travel. Each morning you wake up and find yourself in an unfamiliar room.
This book is not a novel, but three independent stories first published in the Paris Review, and linked together by theme. Galgut titles the stories based on the role the narrator plays in each one: follower, lover and guardian. Each of the stories reveals how powerful emotions become as you travel and how it’s rare to have a storybook ending to your time with the people you meet.
While this book tells stories about travel in Greece, Africa and India, the author’s focus is on the people he meets and not the places. You won’t get a sense of visiting any of the places that he travels through, but you will get a sense of some of the national characteristics that define his fellow travellers. That said, he avoids resorting to stereotypes.
You may be, like me, someone who has never travelled outside your country. Galgut’s book will help you feel what it’s like to travel....more
More than at any time in the past, you now deal with more of the Other in your everyday lives.
While focused on American culture, this book is relevantMore than at any time in the past, you now deal with more of the Other in your everyday lives.
While focused on American culture, this book is relevant to Australia too. The first part looks at a comprehensive but not complete list of different types of Otherness you will encounter. The second part looks at the complexities of dealing with the Other in a globalised world. The third part looks at the way technology, rather than bringing us together, is helping us become more fragmented as we find people who share our affinities and exclude others.
Two key ideas in this book earned my respect. The first echoes something I, as a gay man, have written about in the past: tolerance is unacceptable. You tolerate mosquitos at a BBQ, you should never apply the term or what it means to people. Accept people instead. The second idea is a reflection of a Buddhist approach to life: look for the common ground you share with people, no matter how Other they seem.
This book can certainly help you become "OtherWise," and stop being "OtherDumb" or "OtherDim."...more
Years ago I saw this book in an independent bookshop and recognized it as high-quality. I never guessed it was be as good as it is.
This book uses "gayYears ago I saw this book in an independent bookshop and recognized it as high-quality. I never guessed it was be as good as it is.
This book uses "gay" in the broadest sense. Apart from covering male history, it also goes into the even more hidden history of lesbians, trans people and hermaphrodites. As it's edited by an Australian, when it says "world history" it actually means a global history rather than a history from the US, England and perhaps Europe. It covers Western, Middle Eastern, Asian cultures and it has two chapters on indigenous cultures.
The only reason I gave this book four stars instead of five is it's not well-written. This is because it's written by academics for a general audience, and it's rare for academics to be gifted writers. Specifically, it has some flaws like mentioning interesting details but not giving enough information about them to satisfy a reader. Put this aside however and you will learn more about hidden gay history than you will find in any other book.
If you have any interested in gayworld, then this book is a one-of-a-kind and must-read....more
How do you handle the days following the death of your lover of 13 years, when neither your family or her father know you're a couple?
In Hood, Pen hasHow do you handle the days following the death of your lover of 13 years, when neither your family or her father know you're a couple?
In Hood, Pen has lost Cara, the woman she's loved since high school. While Pen was always faithful to Cara, Cara had many other lovers. For Pen, Cara was all she needed; for Cara, Pen was the sun she orbited and kept returning to.
Part of the reason this relationship worked is that Pen is disturbingly passive. Her and Cara remain closeted about their relationship, and the lack of courage here carries into other areas of her life. The story is a rewarding read of a couple working out how to be together – the heart of any romance – and what to do when you find yourself permanently apart from the person you love. The book's mood is melancholy – if it were music, it would be Bach's funeral dirges.
Many romances are about getting together, obstacles that separate the couple, and finally coming together again in the end. This book is romance from a different perspective - after the relationship is over, and not by either person's choice. I recommend it for people who are in love, as it will be a conversation starter on some hard topics, and people who dream of finding true love....more
Both times I've met Matthew Mitcham, he's been lovely and down to earth. The second time I met him, he recalled our first meeting which impressed me aBoth times I've met Matthew Mitcham, he's been lovely and down to earth. The second time I met him, he recalled our first meeting which impressed me and won me over more than he already had.
Before reading this book, I knew a little of his story: he'd overcome depression to get back on the diving board. What I never knew, what was kept secret, was his drug use, and after his Olympic gold medal win, his addiction to crystal meth. This memoir tells how he overcame addiction and has come to live a life of 100% honesty.
Matthew's story echoes my own. For similar reasons, I had my own addictions that I've battled and overcome. His partner is 10 years older, my partner is 18 years younger. Matthew's story is so important because it shows that no matter how tough life gets, life is worth living.
This is a must-read for every young gay person, as well as anyone who has battled addictions and mental health....more
You know how when it comes to some books, you have person after person tell you, "You've got to read this book"? That's how it was for me with MiddlesYou know how when it comes to some books, you have person after person tell you, "You've got to read this book"? That's how it was for me with Middlesex. For years my friends have recommended it to me and it's been on my list of books to get around to, one day. That day came when we picked it to read at the book club.
The story it tells is of the hermaphrodite Cal, born that way thanks to a hideously inbred family: Cal's grandparents were brother and sister, and Cal's parents were first cousins (I think). At its heart, the story is one of consequence, of causes set in motion years before Cal was born, but Cal is the one who has to live with them.
My chief problem with the book is that I found the subject matter detestable. After each reading session, I was left with a sick taste in my mouth. Overall the book is well-written, and on any other topic I think I'd enjoy Jeffrey Eugenides.
While so many people have recommended this book to me, I won't be joining their ranks and tell you to read this book. I don't think it's worth the effort....more
For most of the book, I was only prepared to give it two stars. But then I realized how skilled Ellis was as a writer. Clay starts as a moral wreck alongside his friends, but then becomes disenchanted with their heartless approach to life and other people.
There's definitely a place for this kind of literature, especially if you feel listless or depressed, and I'd be open to reading more books by Bret Easton Ellis....more
Thanks to popular culture, everyone morphs into other people from time to time. What makes Tom Cho stand out is that he writes about his morphings, inThanks to popular culture, everyone morphs into other people from time to time. What makes Tom Cho stand out is that he writes about his morphings, in a way entertaining and profound.
In the 18 stories/sections/chapters in this book, Cho draws on his experiences as a Chinese Australian fitting into mainstream culture by becoming something other than himself. In these fictions, his family are just as happy to join him on his journey.
Cho has a vivid imagination and he writes in a graphic way, graphic in the sense that you can see what he's describing as if you're watching it happen. The way he tells his stories is fresh and innovative, and in the hands of other writers would mean a brain-straining effort to learn how to read the work, but Cho always gives you the cultural clues you need to "get" the stories and enjoy them.
Write a memoir, especially if you're gay and bookish, and you're likely to connect to this book on many levels.
Bechdel's graphic novel is loaded withWrite a memoir, especially if you're gay and bookish, and you're likely to connect to this book on many levels.
Bechdel's graphic novel is loaded with an emotional detachment from her childhood about her relationship with her closeted gay father and literary allusions.
The first full draft of my memoir a narrative devoid of emotion. But while I worked on bettering myself and dealing with my past so I could move beyond this in my writing, Bechdel turns it to her advantage.
As for literary allusions, I started reading when I was six and the more traumatic my life became, the more books I read, and the more detached I became from the kids around me.
One thing I'll be ever grateful to this book for is it's given me some insights into how to understand James Joyce's impenetrable tome, Ulysses....more
The best description I've heard of this book is how Peter Blazey described it when it was released: it's so popular because it's gay Mills & Boon.The best description I've heard of this book is how Peter Blazey described it when it was released: it's so popular because it's gay Mills & Boon.
It's a memoir that reads like fiction, telling the love story of Tim Conigrave and John Caleo who meet in high school and remain lovers for life. It's also a story of love in the time of AIDS - a time not past, even though people are living longer with the new treatments available.
Apart from the powerful story, what makes this book work is the playwright Tim's ability to write authentic dialogue that propels you from one scene to the next. The prose is so simple, almost sparse, yet it packs an emotional wallop that you'll need whole boxes of tissues to clean up.
It's a book that's perhaps more relevant now than when it was first published -- it gives a warts-and-all view of a long-term gay relationship and unintentionally makes a compelling case for same-sex marriage....more