Monday, June 11, 2018

"The End of Eddy" ends in "A History of Violence"

As referenced in John's post below, Édouard Louis' third book Qui a tué mon pere has occasioned quite a stir in Paris. Coincidentally, his second book A History of Violence has been translated and appears in America next week. How many of us will be able to not read it right away!?

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Édouard Louis in today's Post

"How a 25-year-old writer became France’s most outspoken advocate for the working class."

Thursday, June 7, 2018

The Gay Novel is Dead

I think as such it has had its day. It rose in the Seventies, Eighties, Nineties in response to these new opportunities and new challenges and the two big clarities — the one of liberation and the one of Aids — and there was an urgency, a novelty to the whole thing. In our culture at least those things are no longer the case. I observe that the gay novel is dissolving back into everything else and we are living increasingly in a culture where sexuality is not so strongly defined.

—Alan Hollinghurst quoted in The Times, 4.6.18.  Matthew Todd disagrees.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

"The Long Black Line"

… postulants, novices, brothers — it's all there, what you'd expect in a first-year Jesuit seminary including a "manuductor" (clue: not man-uductor) and more, or rather less, some things that don't happen — in John L'Heureux's short story in the May 21 issue of The New Yorker  (L'Heureux author of The Medici Boy  which we read almost two years ago and whom I continu- ally think I may have short-changed).

In the same issue a review of Jeffrey C. Stewart's new biography of Alain Locke The New Negro, whose life was so interesting and influential that I thought we must put it on our reading list until I came to reviewer Tobi Haslett's final conclusion of the book (not the man):

At more than nine hundred pages, it's a thudding, shapeless text, despotic in its pedantry and exhausting in its zeal, marked by excruciating attention to the most minuscule irrelevances.

Nine-hundred pages would pretty much have done it (doomed it) for me, but don't pass up the chance to learn about the dandy philosophe of the Harlem Renaissance and more.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

"The Unseen Guest"

One of the first books I read as a member of our group, way back in 2000, was Mark Merlis' second novel, An Arrow's Flight.  It made such a profound impression on me that I've reread it several times over the years, most recently last week.

As we prepare to discuss Martin Duberman's Hold Tight Gently: Michael Callen, Essex Hemphill and the Battlefield of AIDS next week, I'd like to share the following passage from the final chapter of the Merlis.  (The names of the characters won't resonate unless you've read the book or are fluent in Greek mythology, but I'm confident you'll see the connection anyway.)

The future grew a little murky. Pyrrhus hadn't been tested. After his year in the city as—practically a public utility, and then whatever new adventures he'd found in the intervening years, he hadn't been tested. Maybe Leucon wouldn't have, either, not if he'd had Pyrrhus' career; maybe he wouldn't have wanted to know, either. Because there wasn't much chance, was there, that Pyrrhus was fine?
    Even I don't want to know. I suppose he probably wasn't. I mean, if it were possible to trace the course of things, the most direct chain would surely be: snake to Philoctetes, Philoctetes to Pyrrhus, Pyrrhus to Corythus, Corythus to the HUNDREDS OF US he glimpsed that night at Pterelas's, the great world that waited to embrace him when he got out of the navy and into civvies for good.
    That would be the simplest tree: Philoctetes the root, Pyrrhus the trunk, all the myriad branches traceable finally to Corythus, who stepped off the ship one day and, with his innocent, bucktoothed smile, brought the unseen guest to the great party that was still going on in the city.
    Perhaps this was all written down somewhere.  But all Destiny's scribblings, if compiled into one unimaginable volume, would not yield a message.  She has no point to make.  Corythus was innocent. Even the snake was innocent.  Philoctetes innocently misstepped, the snake innocently bit.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Setting Bookmen DC's historical record straight (so to speak...:-)

Earlier this week, I posted an item hailing our group’s 19th anniversary.  In response, Tom Wischer and Tim Walton have both kindly provided useful details that I inexplicably had forgotten.  (Thanks, guys!)  To wit:

The original incarnation of our group, then known as the Potomac Gay Men’s Book Group, met for the first time on May 11, 1999.  Not long after that, we began informally calling ourselves Boys & Books, which quickly got shortened to BoysnBooks.

In 2007, we “grew up” (as Tim, then our facilitator, put it in a notice to members) and changed our name to Bookmen DC (initially, and briefly, rendered as Book Men DC).  And so we have remained ever since!

Early next year I’ll invite your ideas for marking our 20th anniversary.  In the meantime, here's wishing you all a relaxing holiday weekend and good reading.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Votes Are In!

Thanks to everyone who voted on the titles collectively nominated by our group for the next iteration of the reading list.  Below, you’ll find the list of “winners” that will be slotted into our discussion schedule beginning this fall and going into next year.

FICTION
The Sparsholt Affair  by Alan Hollinghurst.
Lily and the Octopus  by Steven Rowley.
Very Recent History  by Choire Sicha
The Immoralist  by André Gide

NON-Fiction
Rednecks, Queers and Country Music  by Nadine Hubbs
Masked Voices : Gay Men and Lesbians in Cold War America
by Craig M. Loftin
Insult and the Making of the Gay Self  by Didier Eribon

BIOGRAPHY / MEMOIR
True Homosexual Experiences: Boyd McDonald and Straight to Hell
by William E. Jones
Becoming a Londoner  by David Plante

POETRY
Don’t Call Us Dead  by Danez Smith
Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror  by John Ashbery
(All the poems before the title poem, which we discussed 3/17/18.)

ANTHOLOGIES
The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle  by Lillian Faderman