Brain Pickings features (minus a few pages) all of Janice May Udry's Let's Be Enemies with pictures by Maurice Sendak. Do yourself a favor and check it out.
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Celebrated Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina comes out as gay in a new essay that he refers to as a "lost chapter" of his 2011 memoir One Day I Will Write About This Place. In Kenya, sex between men is punishable by up to 14 years in prison, though some gay-rights advocates say the law is rarely enforced. In the autobiographical story, Wainaina imagines telling his mother that he is gay. He writes, "I, Binyavanga Wainaina, quite honestly swear I have known I am a homosexual since I was five." In a video released Tuesday, he says he came out as gay because of the death of a gay friend whose family was kicked out of their church while trying to hold a memorial service for him. Wainaina told Global Post that he was also inspired by recent anti-gay legislation in Nigeria and Uganda: "There was the anti-gay bill in Uganda first, but the Nigeria one! Nigeria is a country I go to — I was there three times last year — it is a place I love, it's like a second home to me." Wainaina is the founder of the literary journal Kwani? and the winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing.
The image comes from The Guardian where you can read a review of One Day I Will Write About This Place.
BuzzFeed interviews Armistead Maupin about ending his Tales of the City series with his new book The Days of Anna Madrigal.
BF: These last three novels are different — initially you said that Michael Tolliver Lives was not a sequel, but you changed your mind about that. What was the process like of deciding to continue the series, and realizing you were writing sequels?
AM: I started out with the idea that I wanted to write a standalone novel about a middle-aged gay man who had survived AIDS. It became very clear to me early on that I had such a middle-aged gay man in the person of Michael Tolliver, and that people knew his history very well, and that would add a resonance to whatever I wrote. I didn’t want to disappoint readers who thought they were going to get the old format, the multi-character tapestry of lives that had been in the previous six novels.
And I did that. I wanted Michael Tolliver to be a tribute to my generation of gay men, to address directly the people who had survived and what they’d gone through if they were still around when they thought they were going to be dead. I thought Michael was going to be dead when I announced the end of Tales with Sure of You. But I was bound and determined not to end a work with another gay man dying. So I brought him back for that one, and then I realized the formula that I created early on was extremely effective, and I knew how to work it. I could still tell everyone’s story by using it. So as a consequence, the Mary Ann novel and the Anna one are both structured like the earlier tales.
Monday, January 20, 2014
Sunday, January 19, 2014
...to open the flood gates.
Over at Narratively, there's an article by Julia Wertz, author of The Infinite Wait, on her alcoholism and her time in rehab and what came after.
In AA, we're told to look for the similarity between us and the others around us. Sometimes this is easier or harder depending on a lot of factors. Though the number one factor tends to be how stuck and isolated you are in your own head.
But, while my brain was trying to point out the obvious and not particularly helpful fact that I did not go to rehab, I found in the article myself. Especially in these four images here. The baffling, yes, I know alcohol is killing me but I don't know how to live without it quality of the life of an alcoholic.
So, check out the article. Even if you aren't an alcoholic cause chances are someone in your life, and you are unclear what, if anything, you can do for them.
No...no...just to be clear...you can't do anything for them, but read the article anyway.
Via BuzzFeed: 10 Formative Books Every Young Gay Man Should Read
OK, so officially The Days of Anna Madrigal is not on this list, but given that it is the last of the Tales of the City books, you might as well start with Tales of the City and go to the end. Right?
Friday, January 17, 2014
I'm for this. It seems in Falcon Studio's newest movie California Dreamin' 1, condoms on models are being removed digitally post-production. I mean, this is a use of technology that I can get behind. There's nothing worse for me to see that a condom in a porn movie (yes, I know this is my own fuckupedness, but seeing the condom basically puts a condom on my brain), so why not? If you can remove it digitally, do it. You'll still be protecting the models and giving the audience what they want.
I just finished on this snowy, cold day, Justin Spring's excellent biography of Samuel Steward, English professor, tattoo artist, and historian of his own sexual life.
If we are friends on Goodreads or Facebook, you've probably already seen my little blurb about the book. I wish I could say more. I wish it were easier for me to expound on what I feel about it, but I can't. All I can really think about is how much I want to begin the book again. How I want to read everything in Spring's bibliography. How I wish I could've known Steward, Stein, Toklas, Lynes, Douglas Martin. I feel like there is a wide canyon between me and a life that occurred just a few decades ago - made a bit wider by the losses of the AIDS epidemic and even by the great social strides made post-Stonewall. Or possibly I'm just silly and don't know how good I've got it. But still...
It seems we've gone, so much, from discovering new things and insisting on a life to distraction and gadgets (I say, as I type on my gadget.)
Well, if you are reading my blog, I command you to go get a copy of Spring's The Secret Historian...it isn't just about a singular man, but of a time and how that man was evidence of that time.
Here's a bit towards the end...
Academic and popular accounts of homosexual life during the 1940s, 50s, early 60s have generally been accounts of marginalization, trauma, and victimhood. Tales of persecution, blackmail, and social ostracism were, in fact, the essential conditions of an entire generation of homosexual men who lived through a period of sexual intolerance and social opprobrium that is barely imaginable today. No wonder, then, that so few lively accounts of everyday homosexual experience survive from that time. But Steward was different: in quietly rejecting society's notion that both he and his sexual nature were abhorrent, he had the presence of mind and the force of character to insist that society was wrong, not he. His various life records demonstrate, as few others have, just how difficult a set of circumstances and prejudices surrounded and shaped his everyday existence. (Spring 411)
Via Buzzfeed: One Hundred Years of Weird Fear
Whoa! I must not have read enough Lovecraft. I totally did not know about his racism.
That Lovecraft was racist beyond even the excessive racism exhibited by other white writers of his time is not in question. The above paragraph is far from an aberration among his over 100,000 pages of letters, and he populates his fictional universe with slithering, swarthy-faced mongoloids and idiot, infanticidal black men (he almost never wrote about women of any race — an erasure that warrants an essay unto itself). As writer Phenderson Djèlí Clark points out in his excellent essay on Lovecraft, “It’s always perplexing to watch the gymnastics of mental obfuscation that occur as fans of Lovecraft attempt to rationalize his racism.” Responses tend to write off his racism as a product of his times and then be paradoxically surprised that it didn’t hinder his success. “In spite of […] his overt racism,” biographer Donald Tyson tells us, “he created a mythic world that continues to captivate the imagination of millions of readers.” The phrase “in spite of” comes up a lot, as well as allusions to a vaguely presumed-to-be anti-racist, first-person plural that is of course appalled by such bigotry.
I can sort of see why his racism didn't hinder his success, given that he was writing in a time (it became worse in the 50s) when to write about homosexuality, gay authors had to change the genders of their characters, pathologize the homosexuality, or move to Europe. Lovecraft was writing for a mostly white (male) audience, and I imagine he is still popular today mostly because people can (attempt) to brush off that racism as the quote says: as a "product of his times" though that seems like a intellectual game of obfuscation. I also imagine his popularity is a matter of white privilege.
So, what originally began as a "oo oo, a post on H.P. Lovecraft!" turned into "oh, dear, I may need to rethink this whole H.P. Lovecraft thing."
Thursday, January 16, 2014
If you've seen today's Google Doodle, you know that today is Dian Fossey's 82nd birthday.
Gorillas in the Mist was one of my favorite movies growing up...it instilled in me my love of environmental activism, Dian Fossey, strong women, primates, and Sigourney Weaver.
Happy birthday to a great woman. We are better for you having been here. We are less for you being gone.
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Via Buzzfeed: That time Cocteau Twins Fever hit Ohio in 1985
This surprises me...I can imagine people in Ohio being excited by many things...none of them involving the Cocteau Twins who played in Columbus (well, if anywhere in Ohio would be excited about this post-punk band on the 4AD label, it would be Columbus) in 1985. Click over for some real good hair.
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
“Wendy Lesser’s extraordinary alertness, intelligence, and curiosity have made her one of America’s most significant cultural critics,” writes Stephen Greenblatt. In Why I Read, Lesser draws on a lifetime of pleasure reading and decades of editing one of the most distinguished literary magazines in the country, The Threepenny Review, to describe her love of literature. As Lesser writes in her prologue, “Reading can result in boredom or transcendence, rage or enthusiasm, depression or hilarity, empathy or contempt, depending on who you are and what the book is and how your life is shaping up at the moment you encounter it.”
Here the reader will discover a definition of literature that is as broad as it is broad-minded. In addition to novels and stories, Lesser explores plays, poems, and essays along with mysteries, science fiction, and memoirs. As she examines these works from such perspectives as “Character and Plot,” “Novelty,” “Grandeur and Intimacy,” and “Authority,” Why I Read sparks an overwhelming desire to put aside quotidian tasks in favor of reading. Lesser’s passion for this pursuit resonates on every page, whether she is discussing the book as a physical object or a particular work’s influence. “Reading literature is a way of reaching back to something bigger and older and different,” she writes. “It can give you the feeling that you belong to the past as well as the present, and it can help you realize that your present will someday be someone else’s past. This may be disheartening, but it can also be strangely consoling at times.”
A book in the spirit of E. M. Forster’s Aspects of the Novel and Elizabeth Hardwick’s A View of My Own, Why I Read is iconoclastic, conversational, and full of insight. It will delight those who are already avid readers as well as neophytes in search of sheer literary fun.
Vienna is demolished by war, the city an alien landscape of ruined castles, a fractured ruling class, and people picking up the pieces. Elisabeth de Waal’s mesmerizing The Exiles Return is a stunningly vivid postwar story of Austria’s fallen aristocrats, unrepentant Nazis, and a culture degraded by violence.
The novel follows a number of exiles, each returning under very different circumstances, who must come to terms with a city in painful recovery. There is Kuno Adler, a Jewish research scientist, who is tired of his unfulfilling existence in America; Theophil Kanakis, a wealthy Greek businessman, seeking to plunder some of the spoils of war; Marie-Theres, a brooding teenager, sent by her parents in hopes that the change of scene will shake her out of her funk; and Prince “Bimbo” Grein, a handsome young man with a title divested of all its social currency.
With immaculate precision and sensitivity, de Waal, an exile herself, captures a city rebuilding and relearning its identity, and the people who have to do the same. As mesmerizing as Stefan Zweig’s The World of Yesterday, and as tragic as Hans Fallada’s Every Man Dies Alone, de Waal has written a masterpiece of European literature, an artifact revealing a moment in our history, clear as a snapshot, but timeless as well.
THE SPRING OF 1971 heralded the greatest geopolitical realignment in a generation. After twenty-two years of antagonism, China and the United States suddenly moved toward a détente—achieved not by politicians but by Ping-Pong players. The Western press delighted in the absurdity of the moment and branded it “Ping-Pong Diplomacy.” But for the Chinese, Ping-Pong was always political, a strategic cog in Mao Zedong’s foreign policy. Nicholas Griffin proves that the organized game, from its first breath, was tied to Communism thanks to its founder, Ivor Montagu, son of a wealthy English baron and spy for the Soviet Union.
Ping-Pong Diplomacy traces a crucial intersection of sports and society. Griffin tells the strange and tragic story of how the game was manipulated at the highest levels; how the Chinese government helped cover up the death of 36 million peasants by holding the World Table Tennis Championships during the Great Famine; how championship players were driven to their deaths during the Cultural Revolution; and, finally, how the survivors were reconvened in 1971 and ordered to reach out to their American counterparts. Through a cast of eccentric characters, from spies to hippies and Ping-Pong-obsessed generals to atom-bomb survivors, Griffin explores how a neglected sport was used to help realign the balance of worldwide power.
From New York Times best-seller and science fiction and fantasy mistress of adventure Mercedes Lackey, Book #3 in a new pulse-pounding saga of modern-day humans with superpowers. The metaheroes deal with supervillain Verdegris, who seeks to destroy them from within, before turning their attention back to the Thulian conspiracy.
It’s go time once again for the meta-heroes including fire-bender John Murdock, hacker-witch Vikki Nagy, healer Belladona Blue, super-quick Mercurye–and most of all for their ghostly ally, Seraphym, the spirit of the world Verdegris knows he must trap and destroy her if he is to take down the metas.
From New York Times best-seller and science fiction and fantasy mistress of adventure Mercedes Lackey together with a team of topnotch collaborators, the third entry in the blockbuster saga of superpowers–and the very human men and women who must learn to wield them.
Monday, January 13, 2014
Also, because my Google Drive is having some sort of fit where I can't download documents, thus causing me to have a DIY HTML fit...Alison Hendrix is my spirit animal.
...and the Benedict Cumberbatch/Michael Fassbinder dancing-together-thing is the reason I regret not doing so.
(Can they do this again? Please? Naked?)
Also, Jennifer Lawrence kissed Nicholas Hoult. That bitch! (Just kidding, Jennifer, dearheart...I'm just envious as bloody hell.)
...but I find this oddly satisfying.
Hey, y'all. Whassup.
It's official. I've finished backing up my entire genealogy website (including images), and therefore have more time for real life...you know...blogging.
Well...no...not really...but I am going to make more of an effort.
In other news: Season 4 and 5 of Sherlock are already planned out