I enjoyed this memoir and found it a quick read. I liked how he used offset italic section to replay the inner dialogues he had with himself at variouI enjoyed this memoir and found it a quick read. I liked how he used offset italic section to replay the inner dialogues he had with himself at various ages. It has the kind of raw honesty of a recovery narrative. Although hair-cutting is not my particular fetish or obsession, I could do some "identify don't compare" with the book....more
Years ago, I read Bruce Kellner's 1968 biography, Carl Van Vechten and the Irreverant Decades written when his wife was still alive, and perhaps for tYears ago, I read Bruce Kellner's 1968 biography, Carl Van Vechten and the Irreverant Decades written when his wife was still alive, and perhaps for that reason omitting many prurient details. I'd been turned on to Van Vechten by Brian Bouldrey's essay "Blue Jade." At one point I thought I might take on the project of a new biography, but that never got further than my starting the Wikipedia article on Van Vechten in 2004. These days Van Vechten is probably most noticed because of the photos of prominent mid-century figures whom he photographed; because they are in the public domain as a result of a donation to the Library of Congress, they are used to illustrate many Wikipedia articles.
White provides a chronological overview of Van Vechten's life, and quotes from letters, published writing, journals, and other primary sources. Van Vechten's homosexuality, which was elided in Kellner's book, is included, based on material such as the Yale scrapbooks which Van Vechten's will had sealed until 1990.
The book is anything but a hagiography; Van Vechten's marriages to Ana Snyder and Fania Marinoff show him as neglectful, unfaithful, and even abusive. White's illumination of the contradictions of Van Vechten's advocacy shows that the phenomenon of flawed allies is not new; at the same time as Van Vechten promoted black artists and writers at the time of the Harlem Renaissance, he also titled a novel Nigger Heaven despite warnings of the consequences.
Blazed through the book - I found it very engaging. Really regret that I didn't have the chance to meet Cheryl in person. Portrays that reality that rBlazed through the book - I found it very engaging. Really regret that I didn't have the chance to meet Cheryl in person. Portrays that reality that relationships, particularly with family, are made of a tangle of feelings, from trauma to laughter, from hate to love. Pleased to see that the book was recognized with a Lambda Award in the Bisexual Literature category. ...more
The book is about the ways homosexuality and homophobia have been represented in the mythoi (plural of mythos) of various societies.
The book is divideThe book is about the ways homosexuality and homophobia have been represented in the mythoi (plural of mythos) of various societies.
The book is divided in three sections: The True (exploring scientific facts about homosexuality), The Good (about the way that societies have placed moral values on homosexuality), and The True (the subjective view.)
Some pre-Christian cultures has a place in society for homosexuality, though it was not identical with modern homosexuality, being instead either intergenerational or involving gender crossing. Likewise these cultures had homosexuality in their myths. Christianity had no place either in its mythos or in its culture for homosexuality.
One of the things this book accomplishes is to get the reader to think about homosexuality from the cultural point of view of homophobia.
Herreda cites science as a source of our current culture's mythos, citing for example the Big Bang theory as our new creation story. In the emergence of a new space of mythos for homosexuality, perhaps science can also be its basis.
One of the most thought-provoking sections were chapter 15, on The Unfolding of the Homosexual Self, exploring theories of homosexual identity development.
A section about the power of insults, particularly homophobic insults, also presents some captivating ideas.
Somewhat fragmentary in nature, this is a pendant to his earlier journals published in Continual Lessons. I found the continued ruminations on unfinisSomewhat fragmentary in nature, this is a pendant to his earlier journals published in Continual Lessons. I found the continued ruminations on unfinished writing projects and diminishing capabilities (recurrent deaths of friends) somehow both disheartening and inspiring, reminding me to make art while I can....more
This is the second autobiographical book I've read by New Directions publisher James Laughlin, the other being The Way It Wasn't: From the Files of JaThis is the second autobiographical book I've read by New Directions publisher James Laughlin, the other being The Way It Wasn't: From the Files of James Laughlin. Both have unconventional memoir formats (though that other was compiled posthumously so I suppose form can't be attributed entirely to him.) This one is a long narrow poem with occasional interpolations of prose by others. Generally each section focuses on one person; his older relatives, girlfriends, Ezra Pound, Thomas Merton, William Carlos Williams (he published them all).
This book is sort of a dual autobiography, with Steve Abbott's words from his journals, poems, letters and cartoons included along with his daughter'sThis book is sort of a dual autobiography, with Steve Abbott's words from his journals, poems, letters and cartoons included along with his daughter's words. Having known Steve and Alysia I can say that this book captures both of them. It's nice to have the confirmation of strangers that even though they didn't know Steve and Alysia, they are also touched by her book.
It's unfortunate that Steve Abbott's books are out of print, and hopefully that will be remedied soon. There's such a variety - three books of poetry, a collection of essays, a travelogue, a pastiche of the lives of writers, a roman a clef about a man in a monastery, and an experimental novel involving lizards, queer club nights, and heresy. ...more
From page 66: "There were things I knew then that I couldn't possibly know now, and there are things I know now that I couldn't possibly know then." TFrom page 66: "There were things I knew then that I couldn't possibly know now, and there are things I know now that I couldn't possibly know then." That conflict between youthful idealism/naivete and older cynicism/wisdom (c.f. Ferdydurke) runs through this book.
I could make this review about how our ships have passed in the night and how we have each negotiated oppositional queer politics and culture in our own way. But that'll have to wait for my own memoir.
The book begins and ends with family of origin, a toxic environment of alienation, abuse, and denial. The book begins with the end of life of the family patriarch. Then there is the gradual emergence of a network of friends and community, some lifelong, some in passing, some who do not survive. And a growing political awareness, particularly catalyzed by ACT UP.
Mattilda makes two orbits through San Francisco - the first in the early 90s, punctuated by a return to New York in the late 90s, and then a return in the 2000s, the era of San Francisco's Gay Shame. The first time it's the pre-dot-com when the Mission was the place for punk rock queers, not wannabe millionaires. The second time the battle is pitched with the assimilationists and the corporate asskissers, the evictors and gentrifiers. And Willie Brown and Gavin Newsom, their kings.
Ultimately, it's a losing battle. I read an article the other day that interviewed both a queer former resident of a queer art collective that once was in the Mission (members of which are mentioned in Mattilda's book) and members of the tech startup that's replaced it. Too many people have welcomed the Trojan horse instead of rejecting it.
William Benemann examines the life of early 19th century Scottish nobleman and adventurer of the American frontier William Drummond Stewart.
After exorWilliam Benemann examines the life of early 19th century Scottish nobleman and adventurer of the American frontier William Drummond Stewart.
After exorcizing the ghost of Foucault and his thesis that homosexuality was a late-19th century construction, Benemann reads between the lines of letters, journals, novels (including two by Stewart himself), and memoirs. Stewart's longest same-sex involvement was with the part-Native, part-French Antoine Clement, whom Stewart brought back across the Atlantic.
In most cases I agree with Benemann's interpretations, though there are instances (such as a section about the role of berdaches in ceremonies, and a passage on the identity of an actor playing female Shakespearian roles in drag referred to as Miss Power) where he reaches the level of speculation.
There are some fascinating scenes, such as a proto-renaissance festival / faerie gathering in 1843, and appearances by figures such as Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau (the son of Sacajawea), Kit Carson, John James Audubon, and Alfred Jacob Miller (an artist who had Stewart as his patron.)...more
Fairly interesting alternate-history essays by a variety of writers; originally published in the 1930s. Sir John Squire comes up with an amusing twistFairly interesting alternate-history essays by a variety of writers; originally published in the 1930s. Sir John Squire comes up with an amusing twist on "If it had been discovered in 1930 that Bacon really did write Shakespeare." There are some experiments in form, such as entries from an alternative-world Baedeker in "If the Moors in Spain had won" by Philip Guedalla and pages from newspapers in "If the General Strike had succeeded" by Rev. Dr. Ronald Knox which includes some odd articles apparently off the topic such as the essay "Pigs as Water-Finders" ("Meanwhile, it seems that this particular dowser-pig has been born on the wrong side of the Atlantic. Water, we understand, is not what our American cousins cry out for: they have all too much of it. The animal, alas, like all animals, is bound down by the terms of Nature's eighteenth amendment: and it is doubtful whether even a peach-fed ham would be sagacious enough to unearth a cache of buried whisky." ...more
Fascinating book written at the turn of the century and published initially in 1919. The author is a middle-class Anglo-American from the NortheasternFascinating book written at the turn of the century and published initially in 1919. The author is a middle-class Anglo-American from the Northeastern U.S. who at times slums in New York City as a fairie among the immigrant working classes. The author had read Krafft-Ebing - the work is sort of a mix of auto-psycho-pathology, and memoir.
There's even lyrics for some self-written songs, odes to violent military men that Jennie June (the author's faerie identity) sought the attentions of. (the traditional or popular song tunes of the songs are indicated, and someone could perhaps try performing them.)
More than just a photo book, it also includes interviews with long-time participants, mothers and fathers of ball houses among them. Excellent documenMore than just a photo book, it also includes interviews with long-time participants, mothers and fathers of ball houses among them. Excellent document. Thanks to the SF Public Library for owning a copy....more
After having read the author's other published book, Autobiography of an Androgyne, I read this one. This book was supposedly aimed at a more popularAfter having read the author's other published book, Autobiography of an Androgyne, I read this one. This book was supposedly aimed at a more popular audience, while the other at doctors. This one does mention Edward Carpenter and Walt Whitman who seemed oddly absent from the other volume. Both mention Havelock Ellis and Krafft-Ebing. The book also includes narratives of a couple of other androgynes, and commentary on some newspaper stories on the murders of androgynes (to use Ralph Werther / Jennie June / Earl Lind's terminology.) ...more
I first read Rucker sometime in the mid 80s, when some early Usenet comment alerted me to the Cyberpunk writers. I haven't read all of his novels. ReaI first read Rucker sometime in the mid 80s, when some early Usenet comment alerted me to the Cyberpunk writers. I haven't read all of his novels. Real life would have to pale in comparison with the wild plots of his science fiction novels, but it's interesting here to see where the autobiographical (or as he would call it, transreal) elements of his fiction come from.
Definitely can relate to Rucker -- I'm the son of a math professor, and I have an undergrad degree in Math with a side dish of Computer Science. Even though Rudy is resigned to being a midlist author, he has managed to make a steady side career of writing, while also being a math and later computer science professor. I only wish I had the drive, chops and accomplishments he's had....more
1952 memoir by the mother of former San Francisco District attorney Terence Hallinan. Of course, at the time, Terence (or as his parents nicknamed him1952 memoir by the mother of former San Francisco District attorney Terence Hallinan. Of course, at the time, Terence (or as his parents nicknamed him, Kayo), was only 16. The book starts out with the courtship and marriage of Vivian and successful defense lawyer Vincent Hallinan. They end up having half a dozen sons (all of whom received nicknames like Dynamite, Flash, and Dangerous Dan.)
The book is written in a charming style and there are plenty of anecdotes about scrapes that the kids and their father get in. At the climax of the book, Terence has to be rescued from a high altitude near Yosemite with an early helicopter.
My least favorite part were the sections about Vivian's residential landlord business, but that is a small part of the book.
The Hallinans were classic San Francisco leftists, and there's a really surprisingly pro-gay section (for 1952!) From pages 139-140, "As to sex, when the boys were very young we taught them all about where babies come from, and--which is much harder to do--how they got there in the first place. We had a friend who was pronouncedly homosexual, and this afforded us an opportunity not only to explain that condition but to enlist their sympathetic protest against the indignities which are heaped upon such people by ignorance."
The book doesn't cover Vincent's 1952 run for President as a candidate for Henry Wallace's Progressive Party, nor the prosecution of Vivian and Vincent for tax evasion (Vivian was acquitted and Vincent served time in prison.) I would be interested in reading Vincent's 1963 autobiography A Lion In Court.
I suggest checking out the book from the SF Public Library....more