It's both a strength as well a limitation of this "mostly" memoir that Martin Duberman is a complete New Yorker. Not to criticize, but a lot of it didIt's both a strength as well a limitation of this "mostly" memoir that Martin Duberman is a complete New Yorker. Not to criticize, but a lot of it did remind me of that classic "New Yorker" cartoon showing a Manhattanite's view of the United States - essentially the civilized world ending at the Hudson River.
My favorite parts of the book were the diary entries reflecting the time-consuming and tiring yet necessary politicking Duberman engaged with in creating and sustaining the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies - CLAGS - through the difficult years of the late 1980s and 1990s. Committee work is no fun, nor is it glamorous but it has been and will continue to be the site of many important battles for queer and other minorities.
There's an interesting wistfulness through most of the book. In part it reflects the heavy shadow of AIDS which fell across these generations. In part it also reflects the fact that as the years roll on, Duberman seems to feel increasingly alienated from the mainstream political and social LGBT movement. He reveals a general disappointment, for he clearly had much higher hopes - and greater expectations for radicalism - for the LGBT movement earlier in his life. ...more
A mythical, resonant Midwestern "noir" written with beautiful clarity - part heist drama, part fable. Garrison Keillor territory + the Coen brothers.A mythical, resonant Midwestern "noir" written with beautiful clarity - part heist drama, part fable. Garrison Keillor territory + the Coen brothers. "The Driftless Area" is a short novel that seems just the right length....more
One of the best contemporary American novels that I've read. DeLillo acutely taps into the existential unease at the heart of the American Dream. TheOne of the best contemporary American novels that I've read. DeLillo acutely taps into the existential unease at the heart of the American Dream. The text is uncannily prescient about violence, terror, disaster, and media saturation. "White Noise" reads likes an amalgam of "Mary Hartmann Mary Hartmann," Terry Gilliam's "Brazil," and late John Updike....more
Unfortunately, the platitudes outnumber the brilliant passages. This is really a series of short stories, set in occupied Naples in sumWildly uneven.
Unfortunately, the platitudes outnumber the brilliant passages. This is really a series of short stories, set in occupied Naples in summer 1944, inter-woven with a series of first person narratives about Burns' own experiences in North Africa and Italy during the war. These "promenade" sections particularly tedious to me. Throughout, Burns often strains to be profound, making broad generalizations about Americans and Italians that seem more suitable perhaps for a sociology textbook. Mr. Author, please show, don't tell us!
Among the short stories, "Momma," set in a Neapolitan "gay bar" frequented by American servicemen, is quite good. I also liked "Queen Penicillin," which relates the experience of a GI undergoing treatment for syphllis. Perhaps they could be anthologized, because they could really stand on their own....more
I like this series a lot. The books are compact, but they contain a lot of strong analysis. And Phillip Drummond does an excellent job of presenting vI like this series a lot. The books are compact, but they contain a lot of strong analysis. And Phillip Drummond does an excellent job of presenting various "understandings" of the film: commercial, genre-based, "star-driven," "auteur-driven", political, feminist. The production stills are also very well-chosen. ...more
Marietta Peabody Fitzgerald Tree (1917-1991) never graduated from college nor published a book. Sometimes characterized as the typical "limosine liberMarietta Peabody Fitzgerald Tree (1917-1991) never graduated from college nor published a book. Sometimes characterized as the typical "limosine liberal" of the 1960s and 70s, she was most known as a joiner of committees and as a member of executive boards, an often-seen name in the society pages of the East Coast from the 1940s to the early 1990s, a friend of Jackie Onassis and Bebe Paley. (She also served as an American representative to various United Nations committees in the 1960s.) Yet she clearly deserves her own biography, because her life intersected interestingly with so many currents of 20th century society and culture. She was a scion of the Peabodies, one of the great New England families of wealth and prestige. Her grandfather Peabody founded the archetypal WASP private school of Groton; her father served in an archetypal WASP profession as a member of the Episcopal clergy and eventually became a Bishop in upstate New York.
Marietta lived in the confines of her upbringing, but through her life did her best to establish an identity unique to herself. This is seen most poignantly in her two major extramarital affairs, the first with noted film director John Huston, the second with two-time Presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson II. She also had fraught relationships with her two offspring, a daughter from each of her two largely unhappy marriages. Her elder daughter, Frances Fitzgerald, became a noted journalist and wrote one of the best books on the Vietnam War, "The Fire in the Lake." The younger daughter (from her second marriage), Penelope Tree, became a "supermodel" during the "Swinging Sixties."
Caroline Seebohm is at her best in discussing the challenges and constraints of Marietta's largely unsuccessful attempts to balance her emotions with her marital and parental responsibilities. Unfortunately this 420 page book is too long. There are two many extraneous details, too much padding. A strong vigorous editor would have overseen the cutting of 150 pages from the text. (I blame the publisher.)...more