Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Casualty of Voice?

This eponymous story would most surely be a casualty of voice if we were to take its narrator as authentic Texan (if for no other reason than, as previously stated, its vocabulary: "arse" "whilst" "expiry" etc). So, better to view this "Casualty" as a Hellenistic exercise in rhetoric: what the American soldier in Iraq would say if, say, he spoke in Alexandrines. And author Scott Brown does have an assured rhetorical voice, so, content aside, the story is a pleasure to read. But on examining the content, one finds too much that is psychologically programmatic (the trope of murderous repression is jejune), and, worse, tendentiously editorializing (My Lai, as our chief objector noted, universal- and eternalized). Not the worst story I've ever read—the worst story would be the one I was never able to finish—but unworthy for its title to have become that of this anthology.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Fellini Satyricon at AFI Silver Spring

Bookmen will be discussing Petronius’ The Satyricon on October 6. Fellini’s film version will be showing at the AFI in Silver Spring Friday, April 30 at 7:00 and Saturday, May 1 at 9:45. Showtimes are subject to change. Check for details.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Author's Notes: "Pop Trickster Fool"

Kelly Cresap has kindly provided some advance reading notes for his book Pop Trickster Fool:

Heads-up—this was originally my PhD dissertation at UVA's English program. Brainiac alert! Revising afterward for U. Illinois, I worked hard to make it as accessible as possible. But I remember one person glancing through it and saying, "Hey, where are the photos?"

The gay material comes out mostly in chapters 2 and 4. I'm especially interested in hearing responses to my two-part position on camp taste in chapter 4.

In chapter 1, pages 1-16 provide a layperson's introduction to my project. Some members of the Book Men group may want to skip the more heady theoretical material in the rest of this chapter.

The "Free Andy Open Forum" section (pp. 142-176) gives an easy-access overview of Warhol's sprawling and multifaceted career. Chapter 3 is also easy-access.

We'll be discussing Pop Trickster Fool on May 5 and Kelly will join us for the second half of our discussion.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Persisting Readings

Quite a good turn out at the "Special Event" readings from Persistent Voices, about forty people, six of them Book Men, few seats unoccupied. For those who missed and those who want to remember, here is the program (thanks to Philip):

Philip Clark performed:
"Invisible History" by Walta Borawski
"Things Are Still Sudden & Wonderful" by Walta Borawski
"The Woman Who Kept the Boy Who Kept Cats" by Richard Ronan

Richard McCann performed:
"The Mystical Life" by Jim Everhard
"Future Text Panel" by Tory Dent (poem not in Persistent Voices)
"Between Us" by David Matias

Kim Roberts performed:
"As Goes Diana Ross, So Goes the Nation" by Chasen Gaver
"1970" by Joe Brainard
"Selections from I Remember" by Joe Brainard

Bernard Welt performed:
"Sonnet" by Donald Britton
"Notes on the Articulation of Time" by Donald Britton
"If I Were Bertolt Brecht" by Tim Dlugos
"Pretty Convincing" by Tim Dlugos

Wayson Jones and Michelle Parkerson performed together:
"Postscript (Dear Motherfuckin Dreams)" by Essex Hemphill

Wayson Jones performed:
"American Wedding" by Essex Hemphill
Unpublished poems by Essex Hemphill

Michelle Parkerson performed:
"Black Beans" by Essex Hemphill
"Sister Lesbos" by Donald Woods

NB: all but one of these poems are still up for discussion at future meetings!

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Habit of Art

Richard has asked me to point out that Alan Bennett's new play The Habit of Art, currently playing at the National Theatre in London, will have a "live" performance on the big screen in DC's Shakespeare Theater's Sidney Harmon Hall on May 3. Admission is general but reservations are required and may soon be unobtainable! I've just read the play and think it very well may be a text we will choose to discuss. The playscript is a more challenging read than we've done so far (actors rehearsing for a play, sometimes being themselves, sometimes the characters in the play which they're rehearsing), in particular than Bennett's The History Boys, so viewing a production first might be helpful (though I expect there'll be a local production before we get around to reading it). The log line for The Habit of Art might be "W.H. Auden and Benjamin Britten end a twenty-five year estrangement to talk about the boys (and yes, Viriginia, we do mean boys) in their lives." Britten is at the moment composing his great opera of Thomas Mann's Death in Venice (which we read some years ago) and ostensibly turning to Auden for both encouragement and the courage to "come out" in an opera so revealing of himself.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

O, Mademoisselle O! :-)

Thanks again to Ross for organizing and graciously hosting our "fifth Wednesday" discussion last night of Vladimir Nabokov's short story/memoir (or the other way around, if you prefer), "Mademoisselle O." The seven Bookmen in attendance ranged from a few (like me) who had never read any of Nabokov's fiction, to others who were already highly knowledgeable about the author's life and works, but that made for a lively discussion as we compared translations and nuances.

Whatever our disagreements about specific facets of the story (such as whether Nabokov sympathizes or empathizes with the title character), we all agreed that it is a masterpiece. Of course, like every gem, the story has some flaws, but not nearly enough to obscure its beauty. (If I'm overstating the degree of consensus, I trust that someone in attendance will correct the record.)

The story is available in several different collections, so I commend it to you all. Cheers, Steve