Monday, September 30, 2013

Oct. 2 at AFSA — NOT Tenley

Short of a deus ex machina intervening to save the day, it looks like the federal government will shut down on Oct. 1, however temporarily. And that, in turn, normally means that the D.C. government—including the library system—would also shut down.

Mindful that Mayor Gray has sought to forestall an automatic closure by designating all municipal employees essential, I stopped by the Tenleytown Library on Friday to find out whether they had any guidance. The librarian I spoke with said that as far as she knows, if Uncle Sam closes, they still will, too.

Accordingly, let’s play it safe and move this Wednesday’s meeting to my office building in Foggy Bottom, where we meet on third Wednesdays: 2101 E St. NW. (AFSA headquarters).

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Payette River Watershed

—cuz inquiring minds want to know!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Is "Necessary Errors" a Necessary Book?

Last month I flagged a fascinating Salon essay by Daniel D'Addario titled "Where's the Buzzed-About Gay Novel?" that I thought painted an (overly?) bleak picture of prospects for a breakthrough in the genre. So I'm delighted to report that reports of the death of gay literature may have been premature. Here's how D'Addario's latest Salon posting begins:

Earlier this summer, Salon asked where the buzzed-about gay novel was — the major literary novel taken seriously by critics and audiences that managed to convey in frank tones what it was like for gay people just as so many major literary novels do for straight people.

While Caleb Crain’s "Necessary Errors" may not quite be that book — it’s too particular about time and place to be extrapolated seamlessly to life in America 2013 — it’s a step in the right direction. The book, about which James Wood recently raved in The New Yorker (“'Necessary Errors' is a very good novel, an enviably good one, and to read it is to relive all the anxieties and illusions and grand projects of one’s own youth,” the critic wrote), tells the story of Jacob, a callow youth who, having just graduated college in 1990, heads to Prague to escape anything and everything that can’t be set aside for a drink at the local gay bar or an impromptu trip to another city.

Jacob meets men, sleeps with men, hangs around with friends, drinks, travels — the whole thing is episodic in exactly the manner one’s early 20s are.  And yet the novel is notably gay in its sensibility as well as its subject matter--it's hard to imagine a novel about a man cycling through women bearing as little explicit moral judgment as does "Necessary Errors." We spoke to Caleb Crain about the degree to which his book is marketable to an audience publishers fear might not pick up a gay-themed book, about the creation of a protagonist, and about the debate over whether characters must be likable.

The interview follows at that point. Color me intrigued! 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Searching for the Seventies

Preceding back in time (v.i.), you have till Sunday to catch the Documerica Photography Project at the National Archives. Maybe a hundred photos from 1972-1977. Guess how many gay photos there are? Well, none, explicitly. But consider:

Can anyone do the Hustle?  Here's the caption:

Chicano teenager in El Paso's second ward. A classic barrio which is slowly giving way to urban renewal.

See if you can spot the two guys in the background who are about to not so slowly be doing a little "urban renewal."