Friday, February 16, 2018

Much at the Morgan

Two exhibitions just opened at the Morgan Library and Museum that should be of interest to any Bookman headed to the Big Apple in the next few months.

The first, Tennessee Williams: No Refuge but Writing (through May 13), is a natural follow-up to the John Lahr biography of the playwright we read back in 2016—Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh.

And the second, Peter Hujar: Speed of Life (through May 20), highlights a New York-based photographer whose name has come up in several books we’ve read—most recently, Philip Gefter’s Wagstaff (not to mention the cover photo for Hanya Yanagihara's A Little Life).

Of course, you don’t have to leave town to see Hujar’s oeuvre. He figures prominently in a new show at the Hirshhorn, Brand-New: Art and Commodity in the 1980s (through May 13).

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

John Ashbery in The Economist

As we look forward to our March 7 discussion of John Ashbery's Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, I'm happy to report that the Library of America has just issued John Ashbery: Collected Poems, 1991-2000, the second such compilation of his poetry. (The first volume appeared in 2008, and contains his first 12 books of poetry, including the one we will be discussing. It also marked the first time the Library of America had ever published the work of a living poet.)

Reviewing this new anthology, which brings together Ashbury's last seven volumes of poetry, the Jan. 25 issue of The Economist pays glowing tribute: "His ideas are both inscrutable and sublime. ... Searching high and low through the English language, he appears to have lifted stone after stone until there was nothing left hidden."

Friday, February 9, 2018

Book Tar-Baby — Revisited

Unfortunately, in the event, not so "divergent" as I had hoped. So once again Daniel Mendelsohn's "A Striptease Among Pals" to give Yanagihara fans something to chew on. Also, what I've only recently come across, Elif Batuman's "Cultural Comment" which accurately characterizes A Little Life as "a mélange of misery and lifestyle porn" but finds it ultimately more successful than either I or DM did. (I have to pass on an eminent gay writer's opinion that A Little Life is best sped-read as a "gay Gothic novel" … perhaps a wise middle ground.)

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Happy Birthday, Langston Hughes!

As Black History Month gets underway, it seems appropriate to note that Langston Hughes was born 116 years ago today.   With that in mind, I commend this Renee Watson commentary in the New York Times to you: "Remember Langston Hughes's Anger Alongside His Joy."

Although Ms. Watson does not address the poet's sexuality, she does offer this Hughes quote that should be highly relevant to LGBTQ Americans:

I tire so of hearing people say,
Let things take their course.
Tomorrow is another day.
I do not need my freedom when I’m dead.
I cannot live on tomorrow’s bread.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

M. John Harrison's "The Crisis"

My gaydar set off on this one immediately. False positive? Read for yourself (it's a really good short story all on its own). And for those of you like me unfamiliar with "mercuric sulphocyanate" — voilà  pharaoh's serpent!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

— a History!

transferring this to "Books We Have Read" I realize we didn't comment on the subtitle "A Graphic History". May mitigate some of our criticisms of the book … or not?

Monday, January 1, 2018

"No Sex Please, We're Gay"

Tip of the hat to Ken Jost for calling our attention to this critical review of Call Me by Your Name in last week's Post. A complementary critique from The New Yorker also appeared last month. (Complimentary critiques of course elsewhere abound.)