Wednesday, January 20, 2021

"Tea and Sympathy"--The Movie

My thanks to Patrick Flynn for passing along this commentary from Turner Classic Movies about the making of the cinematic version of Robert Anderson's 1953 play, Tea and Sympathy, which a dozen of us  (stout and true...:-) discussed tonight. As this excerpt explains, the screenwriters made many changes, which helps explain why the film didn't come out until 1956.

"The final version differed from the play in that it removed the suggestion that Tom or Bill held any latent homosexual tendencies, and it did not include a scene in which Tom swims in the nude with a gay music teacher [David Harris]. In addition, the film adds a flashback framing structure, in which Tom returns to a school reunion and, after reminiscing about the past, reads the letter from Laura expressing her remorse at having slept with him, an act that destroyed her marriage. The play ends with Laura's famous line, 'Years from now, when you talk about this--and you will--be kind.' In the film, the line ends the flashback."

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Michael Cunningham on Virginia Woolf

Almost precisely 21 years ago this week (Jan. 11, 2000), BookMen discussed Michael Cunningham's The Hours, his adaptation of Virginia Woolf's novel, Mrs. Dalloway. (I didn't join our group until the fall of 2000, so I'm sorry to say I missed out on that session.) In the Dec. 27 New York Times, Cunningham reflected on Woolf's novel, which he lauds as "revolutionary." As he observes, "Woolf was among the first writers to understand that there are no insignificant lives, only inadequate ways of looking at them." It's been a long time since I've read either novel, but Cunningham's inspiring essay has persuaded me that it's time for me to revisit them both.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

BookMen will NOT meet tonight, Jan. 6

I've already notified members of the cancellation via e-mail, but just to close the loop: In light of the extraordinary chaos unfolding at the Capitol, we're not going to meet tonight to discuss Gilgamesh. Fortunately, Bill Malone is available to facilitate our discussion on March 17, so we'll move it to that date.

Monday, January 4, 2021

"How to Read 'Gilgamesh'"

It's a running joke among my friends that my collection of New Yorker magazines, going back many years, is in pristine condition--because I almost never finish an issue before the next one comes, and then the next....  So thank God for online archives! The Oct. 7, 2019, issue contains a Books column by Joan Acocella titled "How to Read Gilgamesh" in which she compares the Andrew George translation we'll be discussing on Jan. 6 with other editions and commentaries. I found it a very helpful overview of scholarship regarding this epic and commend it to you.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

A rediscovered Tennessee Williams play

The Dec. 24-31 issue of Metro Weekly reports that Spooky Action Theater is streaming its production of a virtually unknown early play by Tennessee Williams, "The Lady from the Village of Falling Flowers," now through Jan. 14.

The play premiered at last year's Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival. Natsu Onoda Power, a multimedia stage artist and professor at Georgetown University who adapted and directed the work for the festival, has redesigned it for a virtual presentation by the local Spooky Action Theater. Dylan Arredondo, Melissa Carter and Jared H. Graham star in the work, presented by special arrangement with the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. 

An access link costs $10. Call (202) 248-0301 or visit

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

The Origins of Gay Power

Next week, we begin an anthology that I am really looking forward to: The Violet Quill Reader: The Emergence of Gay Writing, edited by David Bergman. In conjunction with the first selection, a July 1969 letter in which Edmund White describes his participation in the Stonewall Riots, Patrick Flynn kindly shared the following photo he took at the Newseum's final exhibition on gay liberation:

Monday, December 7, 2020

Remembering Deb Price

Way back in November 2003, we discussed Courting Justice: Gay Men and Lesbians v. the Supreme Court by Deb Price and Joyce Murdoch. Today's Washington Post has an obituary for Ms. Price, who passed away last month at the age of 62. It notes that in addition to publishing several books, she was the first nationally syndicated columnist on gay life. Her column originated in the Detroit News (here is their tribute to Ms. Price, as well as the New York Times obituary), but was quickly picked up by hundreds of newspapers across the country and ran from 1992 to 2010. She is survived by Ms. Murdoch, her wife.