Friday, December 19, 2014

Even if you have no scholarly articles to upload, I think it is worth signing up for for articles on subjects you might be interested in. Our own Philip Clark has already published several.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

To Grandfather's House We Go...

Those of you who used the Exact Change edition of Denton Welch's In Youth Is Pleasure for our Dec. 3 discussion know that the book also includes an early piece, I Left My Grandfather's House (actually a fragment of Welch's journal). While we are not planning to discuss that work at a regular Bookmen meeting, I have now read it and commend it to anyone who enjoyed the novel. 

In particular, because I Left My Grandfather's House is told entirely in the first person, I wasn't distracted by the concerns about the author's voice or reliability I expressed during our discussion of the novel. I also found the shorter work held together well, though for me (as with In Youth Is Pleasure), the ending is problematic. Still, on balance, anyone who enjoyed the larger work will appreciate this one.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Calling All "Intelligent Homosexuals…"

Tony Kushner's "The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures" is currently playing in town at Theater J (16th and Q St NW) and you won't want to miss it. The story line concerns an aging widowed Italian-American family patriarch who is threatening suicide on a pretext as he can not face some realities of not meeting life goals, and the reactions and interactions of three adult sons and a daughter and numerous partners/spouses/tricks/ex-hubby (currently with benefits) and sister, who all comprise a large cast of well-developed and all superbly acted characters. Kushner's writing is tighter and stronger (in my opinion) than his other noteworthy hits including both installments of "Angels in America" and "Caroline or Change" all of which I enjoyed. There is a special treat of eye-candy in the form of actor Jim Whalen in the first act, scene two, which is a post-coital nude scene hilariously acted.

The themes are numerous: Among them are: dealing with one's own aging and unrealized goals, a son or daughter attempting to distinguish one's own goals in life from those of a narcissistic parent, gay marriage and infidelity, straight marriage and sperm donation, key moments in mid to late 20th century labor history, recapturing a lost youth and good looks by employing an escort, dedication of one's life to a cause, or religion, or relationship that you loose faith in, and many more. There is no shortage of post-show contemplation of what you just witnessed.

The production is strong: sets costumes, directing, all tops. Several upcoming performances have post-show discussions with the cast, led by different types of experts, from the theater, labor movements, or gay politics, all open to the public. Friday December 5th is "The Washington Blade Night", which I imagine is to encourage more gay attendance. My performance last weekend already had an audience at about 50% gay. I look forward to discussing this show with anyone who has seen it following one of our upcoming Book Men meetings. This Theater J production has seen areas of re-writing by Kushner from its previous performances. I wonder what others think of the character "Eli" and the last scene?
—posted by: Ernie

Addition by Tim: I believe regular $45 tickets for the Friday December 5th "Blade Night" production are being discounted to $30 if you enter BLADENIGHT in the Coupon Code box. I also understand that there will be NO tickets sold at the door.

Thursday, November 20, 2014


Thanks to Ernie for bringing in and reading Frank Bidart's recent poem in the November 10 issue of the New Yorker. If you like it and want more, vote for Metaphysical Dog on our current book list (deadline: 12/3).

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

"It does one good to see their balls dangling."

The Journal of Homosexuality is intended only for the very scholarly or the very rich. Access to the current issue for example—only online and only for thirty days—is $213! David Bergman in his introductory comments on our recent reading of Thoreau referenced Walter Harding's article "Thoreau's Sexuality" in the J(H)oH (1991). Thanks to the Kouroo Contexture (which I couldn't possibly begin to explain) this article is available in occasionally odd OCR. I recommend it to anyone who might be interested. I came away persuaded that Thoreau may never have had sex with anyone or thing but that his orientation was definitely toward men.

But—stop the presses!—I've just become aware of Schuyler Bishop's new novel Thoreau in Love which imagines the six months in 1840 that Henry David spent on Staten Island (his longest time away from home). I say "imagines" because although Thoreau began his journals three years earlier and continued them for the rest of his life, 250 pages are missing (i.e. ripped out)! You needn't imagine which six months in his 44 years they cover. Christopher Bram interviews Bishop about his book.

The heading of this post, by the way, is vegetable not animal: the "balls" referring to the tubers of the potato plant, what we ordinarily just call "potatoes."

Saturday, November 1, 2014

It's all in the timing...

Greetings, Colleagues—

Hope you all got lots of Halloween treats (and tricks if applicable) yesterday!  :-)

On a more sober note, I'd like to flag a story on the front page of the Style section in today's Washington Post (11/1/14): "Mourning in America: A New Internet Way of Remembering the Long Departed."   While well worth reading on its own merits, its timing is especially fitting for two reasons.

First, as most of you probably know, Halloween was originally called All Hallows' Eve--literally, the day before All Saints Day, a major feast in the Christian calendar. And that, along with the companion Nov. 2 observance of All Souls (perhaps better known to us as Mexico's "Day of the Dead"), is an occasion to reflect on loved ones we have lost (and, for believers, "the communion of the saints").

Second, and more pertinent to our group: The story is about a site launched just last month—The Recollectors: Remembering Parents Lost to AIDS—which was co-founded by Alysia Abbott, who wrote the memoir we're currently reading:  Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father. While the article is certainly no substitute for the memoir, it gives a good thumbnail sketch of why she wrote it (and, if you'll pardon my tooting my own horn, why I scheduled it for this particular week).

Hope to see you at the Tenleytown Library this Wednesday for that discussion.

Cheers, Steve

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Intriguing Sleuthing

Re the upcoming reading, Martin Murray has written a biography of Peter Doyle that required quite a bit of intriguing sleuthing.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Review of a new biography of Tennessee Williams

Can only suffering — and alcohol — produce great literature?


The Outsider Art of Tennessee

Lost Stories by Capote Are Published

Thanks to Ernie for altering us to the news and supplying this link.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Diaries Neither Black Nor White

John has asked me to post a link to the webpage he cited during our discussion regarding the authenticity of Roger Casement's "Black" Diaries. The author Sean Murphy argues quite reasonably that whether they are forged or not is still an open question. Read for yourselves and decide!

Alexander Lives!

The Guardian Reading Group dedicated last month to a discussion of Renault's "Alexander Trilogy". There's an interesting post there by Sam Jordison, who also has a blog of his own entirely devoted to Alexander called The Second Achilles.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Diaries and Trains

Some of us wondered why Roger Casement kept his Black Diary. Oscar Wilde had this to say about diaries: "I never travel without my diary.  One should always have something sensational to read in the train." The quote appears in Brian Lacey's informative chapter on Roger Casement in his book Terrible Queer Creatures (Dublin, Wordwell, 2008).

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Mad Dogs & Stately Homes

At our discussion of Firefly last night, it seemed a lot of people hadn't heard Noel Coward. Youtube has a lot of his songs, though none of them live performances. One selection is a medley of five recordings of his most favorite, including "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" and the very witty "The Stately Homes of England."

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Nuuu— … not Nooo

From Carson McCullers "A Tree, A Rock, A Cloud":

'That was my wife.'
'Dead?' the boy asked.
Slowly the man shook his head. He pursed his lips as though about to whistle and answered in a long-drawn way: 'Nuuu—' he said. 'I will explain.'

Leo Rosten in The Joys of Yiddish lists nineteen different uses or shadings of "nu" (from the Russian, "well"). The eighteenth and nineteenth may be closest to McCullers' use above: "And so, in the course of time" & "One thing led to another, and …". Or even most simply, just "welll…."

He claims "nu" is the most used word in spoken Yiddish (after the articles and "oy"). It's so very Yiddish that a conversation might consist of "Nu?" followed by "Nu-nu." (meaning "Are you Jewish?" and "Yes.") Which raises—or as some people say, begs—the question, is the old guy Jewish? And beyond that is he "The Wandering Jew"?

I've reread the story with this question in mind, and although there are a few references to his big shnoz (a word which, by the way, does not occur in the story), I think "The Wandering Jew" is just one of many archetypes in the background of this character. Another is "The Ancient Mariner," mentioned during our discussion. But unlike either of these the man in the corner has not laughed at Jesus or killed an albatross. His "mistake" (hamartia) has been precipitateness. Like Koko (another character) he should have started small, hence the title.

A question I've got going begging, however, is whether Carson McCullers had ever heard this word before she arrived in NYC. Nuu—…?

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Hunt for Anal Vectors

A cliche from the 70s was that whenever straight men discovered their anuses the sexual revolution would have been won.

A largescale study conducted in two parts of the world has revealed that roughly one in four heterosexual men [emphasis added] have anal human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. … “There are a number of questions this study raises. For instance, how was HPV transmitted to the perianal region and anal canal of these men.” How indeed?

—from the Gay and Lesbian Review's blog.      

For the nitty gritty (of the statistical as opposed to the anecdotal variety) see the full report in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

Friday, July 18, 2014

OutWrite 2014!

The fourth annual OutWrite LGBT Book Festival occurs in two weeks (August 1-3)! It's all happening at the DC Center (where we meet on third Wednesdays). That's in the Reeves Municipal Center at 2000 14th St NW, one block from the U St Metro Station on the Green and Yellow Lines.

The weekend is full of book readings, writing workshops, book discussions, and poetry readings. In addition, several LGBT publishers will be exhibiting books you won't see anywhere else. And both new and used books will be on sale all day on Saturday August 2nd. Check it out! And here now (7/27) is the schedule.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Rebel Rebel: Arthur Rimbaud's Brief Career

'On a winter day in 1883, aboard a steamer that was returning him from Marseilles to the Arabian port city of Aden, a French coffee trader named Alfred Bardey struck up a conversation with a countryman he’d met on board, a young journalist named Paul Bourde. As Bardey chatted about his trading operation, which was based in Aden, he happened to mention the name of one of his employees—a “tall, pleasant young man who speaks little,” as he later described him. To his surprise, Bourde reacted to the name with amazement. This wasn’t so much because, by a bizarre coincidence, he had gone to school with the employee; it was, rather, that, like many Frenchmen who kept up with contemporary literature, he had assumed that the young man was dead. To an astonished Bardey, Bourde explained that, twelve years earlier, his taciturn employee had made a “stupefying and precocious” literary début in Paris, only to disappear soon after. Until that moment, for all Bardey or anyone else in his circle knew, this man was simply a clever trader who kept neat books. Today, many think of him as a founder of modern European poetry. His name was Arthur Rimbaud.' Continue reading Daniel Mendelsohn's essay in the latest
New Yorker.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Rodney Garland's "The Heart in Exile"

Following up on an earlier post, I offer my review of The Heart in Exile, a 1953 novel of London’s homosexual underworld. It is not great literature, but overall I liked it. I was never bored while reading it. I humbly nominate it for a future meeting. Please read the review on my blog.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Sappho in Poems & Songs

The Actors of Dionysus try “to put flesh on the bones of ancient greek drama.” Their latest offering is a CD The Sweetness of Honey, which will be released next month in London.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Follow ups to Wilde and Cavafy …

… in earlier posts on Wilde's journalism and Cavafy in translation in TLS letters to the editor.

Friday, June 13, 2014

yet another parallel universe

On Google+, I have created a "Community" for Bookmen DC. Anyone is welcome to join. And I will continue to maintain Bookmen on Facebook.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

"Lunch Poems" Reading, NYC, 6/11/14

The Poetry Project is putting on an all-star, fiftieth-anniversary reading of Frank O'Hara's Lunch Poems on Wednesday, June 11, at St. Mark's Church in New York City … for those of you lucky enough to be in NYC tomorrow evening.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Dialectic and Who We Are in the "Alcibiades"

Happy Pride! I happend upon this article about the Platonic dialog "Alcibiades" on the twitterverse.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Wilde World of Journalism

Oxford University Press in its edition of The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde has just published two volumes collecting his journalism. Lest anyone's eyes start watering, weep at this: each volume costs $250! But you can read about them in this review from the latest TLS.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Independent Bookstores

Indies First is the brainchild of Sherman Alexie, who asked his fellow authors to "… be a superhero for independent bookstores [and] spend an amazing day hand-selling books at your local bookstore…" Alexie also urged authors to place an indie bookstore "buy" button on their websites, as the first option among all e-retailers.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Cavafy in English accents

Everything is Greece to the wise man”, said Philostratus, in his Life of Apollonius of Tyana, at the beginning of the third century AD. The assertion was at once true and defiant: despite the dominance of Rome, Greek was the lingua franca of anyone of intellectual pretensions in the known world. The defiance was both manifest and implicit in Pausanias’s second-century catalogue raisonné of the classical monuments of mainland Hellas: his Description of Greece makes no mention of the temple which the Romans had built adjacent to the Parthenon. Pausanias ignores what all contemporary Greeks found it painful to acknowledge: their long subjection to Rome.’  —Frederick Raphael in the 28.5.14 TLS.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Another Cover of …

Valancourt Books is republishing many out-of-print books of gay interest.

"Gay Power to Gay People"

In celebration of LGBT pride month, Rainbow History Project and the Historical Society of Washington are co-sponsoring a panel discussion of the early 1970s Gay Liberation Front (GLF) and its activities in Washington DC. The panelists are Brian Miller, Kent Jarratt, Michael Yarr, and Nancy Tucker; the discussion will be moderated by Rainbow History Project board member Philip Clark. The event will take place on Saturday, June 7, 2014 at 11 a.m.. The discussion will be held in HSW's Kiplinger Library in the former Carnegie Library, 801 K St NW Washington, DC (nearest Metro: Mount Vernon Station on the Green & Yellow lines). The GLF-DC was part of the ferment that followed the Stonewall riots in 1969. The discussion is free and open to the public.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Cicero's Big Lie

The blogger, whatwouldcicerodo, gives his spin on Pro Caelio, Cicero’s speech in defense of Marcus Caelius Rufus. The events surrounding this speech also form the backdrop for Steven Saylor’s The Venus Throw, the fourth book in his "Roma sub Rosa" series. We will discuss the first one, Roman Blood, at our July 2 meeting.

Monday, May 12, 2014

What Would Cicero Do?

"The Unhealthy Sex Life of … "   —

I'm looking forward to our discussion of Roman Blood.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Adam de Hegedus / Rodney Garland Bibliography

Following up on my earlier post about "The Heart in Exile", I have made a list from the online catalogs of the British Library and Library of Congress, and also a few internet searches. The bibliography in full may be viewed on my new blog

Saturday, May 10, 2014

"Cock" on Stage

Mike Bartlett's Cock, which we voted on recently and may soon discuss, is having its DC premiere at Studio Theatre, May 14 — June 22. I'll be very interested to hear what people think of it.

UPDATE: Some BookMen at the party had seen this production and liked it. Here's Peter Mark's WP review.

Friday, May 9, 2014

"The Heart in Exile" by Rodney Garland

I happened upon this book while I was looking up the definition of “occult” in the Oxford English Dictionary Online. There was this quotation supporting the definition — “Not disclosed or divulged, secret, kept secret, communicated only to the initiated”:

A. Tomlinson et al. Consumption, Identity & Style (1991) (BNC) 153 Although in the typically occult language of the time, Garland's prescient account [in his notorious homosexual novel of 1953 The Heart in Exile] catches society at a crossroads.”

Occult, prescient, notorious, homosexual – this book seemed to have it all. I felt compelled to learn more about it. The disturbingly frank London homosexuality cover art hooked me.

There is not much information available about the author. I learned that Rodney Garland was a pseudonym used by Adam de Hegedus (1906 – 1958). He was born in Budapest and studied for a career in the Hungarian diplomatic service, but he moved to England during the 1930’s to become a writer. His published works include the following:
  • The Heart In Exile
  • World Without Dreams
  • The Troubled Midnight
  • Sorcerer’s Broth
  • Hell And High Water
I came across two published reviews of The Heart In Exile. In the New York Times, October 31, 1954, there is a review with that has following abstract:

THIS is a strange novel, perhaps because it is about strange people, in that they differ from the rest of us who call ourselves normal. And yet (as the reader will quickly learn from this sensitive and deeply perceptive story of the homosexual and his underworld) the "queer" make up a substantial segment of the population, a million males in England, at least two million in the United States.

In Time, September 20, 1954, the following tidbit was available:

…an English novel about homosexuality. Its psychiatrist-author has adopted a pseudonym to write about a psychiatrist and his life around the London "underground," where homosexuals lead their furtive existence. The book is a sociological blueprint in the fictional form of a suspense thriller. The psychiatrist tries to find out why a personable young solicitor committed suicide on the eve of his marriage. The quest leads deep into the English underground, which ranges from the cockney East End to the elegant West End and...

I bought the Amazon Kindle edition for only ninety-nine cents. That is a fraction of the cost of buying online access to read the book reviews noted above.

The sensitive and deeply perceptive homosexual underworld cover art for the U.S. edition is not as alluring as the British cover.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

"A Taste of Honey"

Wonderful discussion last night! I went hoping to improve my appreciation of Shelagh Delaney's play, and I did, understanding that the nothing that "happens" in the play is precisely the play's point. Men come, men go, the Mother-Daughter relationship survives intact.

Tony Richardson's movie is worth viewing both by lovers and disparagers of the play … complementary, sometimes contrasting. It can be seen in its entirety (with Portuguese subtitles for the hearing impaired) on YouTube (Robert's "package" arriving at 16:53).

P.S. For "Variation on a Theme," the play "Honey" was written to rebut, check out the "Latest News…" on the Terence Rattigan homepage.

Feelings can’t sometimes be helped, but the expression of them can.

Queer Revolution, Not Mere Inclusion

While perusing the twitterverse, I came across an article about this interestingly titled book — Against Equality: Queer Revolution, Not Mere Inclusion.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


If you watch the film version of "A Taste of Honey" check out Jimmie (Paul Danquah) in the second scene in which he appears where he is coming down from the ship.  What a package!!!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The slow tragic death of lgbt publishing

Some argue that the need for “gay” retailers is disappearing thanks to assimilation — that I am an American first and foremost, who just happens to act a bit fey, so I should just go to a normal bookstore and find the latest Christopher Rice or Sarah Waters. Ahh, the assimilation argument. I would love to walk into a generic bookseller and see LGBT authors prominently shelved. —Steve Berman in Salon

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Blast from the past #2

Email from first facilitator, B. Malone, May 18, 1999

Born and Died On April 29

1863–1933:  Constantin Cavafy

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone.

Very Sad News

Giovanni’s Room

—nation’s oldest surviving LGBT bookstore, to close!

I was only in it once but I remember it as being the nicest space of any of the gay bookstores. And they always were more than bookstores. They were vital community centers as anyone who lived in a city with one knew.

Please commemorate with your comments.

(Thanks to Tom for "breaking" this story.)

Monday, April 28, 2014

Looking forward to our 15th Anniversary, here is a blast from the past

Email from original Potomac Gay Men's Book Group facilitators (aka Bookmen DC) regarding first meeting of the group at the Popstop to be held on May 11, 1999. (Click on the image to read it.)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

South Carolina not such a "Fun Home" for Alison Bechdel

Greetings, Colleagues—

Nearly seven years ago, back in August 2007, we discussed Alison Bechdel's graphic novel, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. The Washington Post reports that GOP legislators in South Carolina have cut funding for the College of Charleston in retaliation for its decision to assign the book to students and perform a musical based on it on campus, among other actions.

And for good measure, they are also replacing the college president, who supported those initiatives, with the state's lieutenant governor—a Civil War re-enactor whose view of gay rights is about what you would expect.

How heartwarming it is to know that Confederate values are alive and well in the Palmetto State, isn't it?

Bemusedly yours, Steve

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Polls are Open … Vote Early & Often

From: Steve Honley
Date: April 6, 2014 9:20:51 PM EDT
To: '
Subject: Bookmen DC: Vote early and often!
Polls are open for our 2014-2015 reading list

Greetings, Colleagues—

Thanks to all who suggested books for our next reading list, which will run from July through next spring. While I am sorry it wasn't possible to include everyone's recommendations, I think we have a lot of strong choices.

As always, my profound gratitude goes to Tim Walton, who edited, formatted and distilled the many suggestions into the document below—and has added links to so you can read reviews, check out sample pages, etc. (All on top of maintaining our blog and contributing regularly to it.) Bravissimo!

Our voting process is quite informal: All you have to do is reply to this message with a yes or no added next to any/all titles that you feel strongly about. (No need to say anything about the rest.) Or, if you prefer, you can copy the listings you like into a separate e-mail and send that to me.

Either way, please respond no later than Monday, April 21, to have your votes counted. As always, early birds are much appreciated! :-)

A few reminders:

You can vote for as many or few books as you wish. No need to rank the selections or assign grades, numbers, stars, etc. Just saying yes or no is perfectly fine.

Comments are completely optional but welcome. However, if you've already read a nominated title (or something else by the same author) and wish to sing its praises--or warn the rest of us away from it—that would be helpful. Please feel free to post such comments on our blog, as well:

In keeping with our informal style, all of you are welcome to vote even if you're new to the group or haven't been to a meeting in a while. However, in the unlikely event that I have to choose between two selections in a category that garner similar numbers of endorsements for a slot on the next reading list, I will probably pick the book whose fans include more regular attendees.

If you have any other questions about the process, let me know. Otherwise, I look forward to your votes, and seeing you at a (not too distant) future meeting.

Steve Honley
Facilitator (aka Benevolent Despot)
Bookmen DC **************************************************************************************

Nominations for Bookmen DC's Summer 2014-Spring 2015 Reading List

This list isn't supposed to tell you everything you might want to know about each book, but rather to give you basic information and a description or quotation to make it easier to remember. Often subtitles suffice. Also, there's a wealth of information on (be sure not to overlook the customers' reviews), Wikipedia and, of course, Google.

The list is constructed as follows: Title. Author (Editor). Year Originally Published (decreasing within genre), Number of Pages, Publisher, Price (rounded up—usually at a discount on amazon) FICTION

Firefly. Janette Jenkins. 2013, 156pp, Europa Editions, $15 Noël Coward's last days on Jamaican retreat with manservant Patrice.

Necessary Errors. Caleb Crain. 2013, 480pp, Penguin, $16 American ESL teacher comes out in Prague after the Velvet Revolution.

The Dream of the Celt. Mario Vargas Llosa. 2010, 368pp, Picador, $16 2010 nobelist's novel of the life of Irish nationalist, early human-rights activist, and homosexual ("Black Diaries") Roger Casement.

The Metropolis Case. Matthew Gallaway. 2010, 384pp, Broadway Books, $15 Four people in 1860s Paris and 1960s New York brought together by "Tristan und Isolde".

The 19th Wife. David Ebershoff. 2008, 544pp, Random House, $15 Two polygamous Mormon families in as many centuries with of course some gay characters.

Lovetown. Michal Witkowski. 2005, 240pp, Portobello Books, $13 Culture clash between old queers and new gays as they meet in a Polish homo-haven where anything goes.

Answered Prayers. Truman Capote. 1987, 176pp, Vintage, $15 About the high and mighty who shunned TC after these fictionalized revelations.

In Youth Is Pleasure. Denton Welch. 1985, 254pp, Exact Change, $18 "Holden Caulfield's better mannered, fey, hyper-perceptive English cousin."

Roman Blood. Steven Saylor. 1991, 400pp, Minotaur, $17 Rome's first sleuth solves a real-life case for Cicero.

The Gallery. John Horne Burns. 1947, 368pp, NYRB Classics, $19 Nine portraits of American soldiers in post-WWII Naples (some Neapolitans too). Read all about it in this NY Times Magazine piece.

Billy Budd, Sailor and Selected Tales. Herman Melville. 1891, 464pp, Oxford World's Classics, $9 The "Handsome Sailor" in dumb confrontation with evil.


My 1980s and Other Essays. Wayne Koestenbaum. 2013, 336pp, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $16 For a flavor of which, see Salon's extract.

Victory: The Triumphant Gay Revolution. Linda Hirshman. 2012, 464pp, Harper Perennial, $17 "How a despised minority pushed back, beat death, found love, and changed America for everyone."

Eminent Outlaws: The Gay Writers Who Changed America. Christopher Bram. 2012, 372pp, Twelve, $28 hardback / $13 kindle. [Note: This book will not have a paperback edition.] An assessment by a gay writer (Gods and Monsters—discussed 1/2/13) who is eminent himself with the other outlaws he discusses.

AIDS, Culture, and Gay Men. Douglas A. Feldman (ed.) 2010, 296pp, University of Florida Press, $25 Essays investigating the cross-cultural parameters of men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM) phenomena.

Queer in Russia: A Story of Sex, Self, and the Other. Laurie Essig. 1999, 272pp, Duke U.P., $24 A sociologist's personal field work from the late 1980s.


Darling: A Spiritual Autobiography. Richard Rodriguez. 2013, 256pp, Penguin, $16 A major reckoning with religion, place, and sexuality in the aftermath of 9/11.

Fairyland. Alysia Abbot. 2013, 352pp, Norton, $16 Growing up 30 years ago in San Francisco with an openly gay widower dad.

Lasting City: The Anatomy of Nostalgia. James McCourt. 2013, 336pp, Liveright, $17 Growing up gay in Irish-Catholic 50s Queens.


Left-handed. Johnathan Gelassi. 2012, 128pp, Knopf, $17 "Charts the disintegration of the poet's marriage, his pursuit of a younger man who does not return his affection, and his continual search for the right missing piece."


Cock. Mike Bartlett. 2013, 108pp, Dramatist's Play Service, $8 A young man leaves his older lover and falls in love with a woman and … like everyone else is confused. She goes over to "their" place for dinner for all of them to "figure" it out and … there's a surprise guest.

Total Eclipse. Christopher Hampton. 1967, 96pp, Samuel French, $10 The play about Verlaine and Rimbaud on which the Thewlis – DiCaprio film was based.


Between: New Gay Poetry. Jameson Currier (ed.) 2013, 130pp, Chelsea Station, $14

With: New Gay Fiction. ed. Jameson Currier. 2013, 280pp, Chelsea Station, $18

Love, Christopher Street. ed. Thomas Keith. 2012, 422pp, Vantage Press, $19 26 memoir-essays of LGBT life in the Big Apple.

Gay American Autobiography: Writings from Whitman to Sedaris. David Bergman. 2009, 426pp, University of Wisconsin Press, $30

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Discussions, Readings, and Signings

The Literary Hill BookFest will be held Sunday, May 4th, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the North Hall of Eastern Market (225 Seventh St SE). The event is free and open to the public. (And volunteers are needed, if you wish to participate as more than a passer-by!)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

"A Taste of Honey"

I think we should meet for the May 7th meeting at Dulles Airport.  We can discuss "A Taste of Honey" and then board the 10:35 flight to London to see the play which is now on the Lyttelton stage of the National Theatre on the South Bank.  

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Answered Prayers: Kate McCloud

Boaty (the narrator) is invited to a dinner with Tallulah Bankhead, Dorothy Parker and Estelle Winwood. The dinner is given for Monty Clift after "Red River" is a hit. They are all drunk at the dining table and Monty passes out at the table:

   Miss Parker did something so curious it attracted everyone's attention; it even silenced Miss Bankhead.  With tears in her eyes, Miss Parker was touching Clift's hypnotized face, her stubby fingers tenderly brushing his brow, his cheekbones, his lips, chin.  Miss Bankhead said: "Damn it Dottie. Who do you think you are?  Helen Keller?"
   "He's so beautiful," murmured Miss Parker.  "Sensitive.  So finely made.  The most beautiful young man I've ever seen.  What a pity he's a cocksucker."  Then, sweetly, wide-eyed with little girl naivete, she said: "Oh.  Oh dear.  Have I said something wrong?  I mean, he is a cocksucker, isn't he, Tallulah?"
   Miss Bankhead said: "Well, d-d-darling, I r-r-really wouldn't know.  He's never sucked my cock."

Monday, March 17, 2014

Southern Gothic

Though I was unable to attend our March 5 discussion of Coleman Dowell's notorious 1977 novel, Too Much Flesh and Jabez, I did recently finish it. So I am taking the liberty of sharing a capsule review, in hopes it will encourage others who have read the book but were not at the meeting to do likewise.

While I found large chunks of the novel confusing and frustrating, I'm still glad I read it. I might even reread it at some point down the (country) road, if only to try to figure out some of what the author was aiming for. But the lurid promise of the title, so vividly expressed by the cover art on the edition we read, was not really fulfilled—though, upon reflection, that might be a good thing for those like me who have recently experienced cardiovascular issues! 

Beyond that, I would add that Dowell's setting and approach remind me quite a bit of the French-American author Julien Green (1900-1998).  It's been nearly 20 years since I read his Each Man in His Darkness, which I found in the remainders section of the 19th Street Olsson's Bookstore alongside his less impressive Moira.  I still remember being caught up the feverish world of the former novel, and feeling both disappointed and relieved to reach its end. 

Though I wouldn't recommend either book to someone not already well-versed in, and appreciative of, Southern Gothic literature, Green's style does fall into the well-worn category of "If you like that kind of thing, this is the kind of thing you'll like!" 

Which, come to think of it, might be a fitting comment about Dowell, as well.   

Cheers, Steve

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

India: You're Criminal If Gay

Vikram Seth's mother, a justice herself, comments on India's "high" court misruling last month.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Mail (Male) Call

Greetings, Colleagues--

As I mentioned last month, I am now sending periodic e-mail notifications of upcoming Bookmen meetings and other events from my personal address rather than work.  That change has generated many more error messages and bouncebacks than I normally get, so please let me know (by clicking on the link in the right-hand column of the blog that says "Steve") if you are no longer receiving those messages.  (The last one went out Jan. 30.)  Ditto if your e-mail address has changed or you no longer wish to be on the mailing list.


Steve Honley
Semi-Benevolent Facilitator
Bookmen DC

Monday, January 6, 2014

John Waters on books as gifts

Greetings, Colleagues--

Several weeks after the fact, I happened upon a New York Times Q&A ("Season's Greetings, with a Wink") with John Waters that contained the following bon mot (among others):

I always give books. And I always ask for books. I think you should reward people sexually for getting you books. Don’t send a thank-you note, repay them with sexual activity. If the book is rare or by your favorite author or one you didn’t know about, reward them with the most perverted sex act you can think of. Otherwise, you can just make out.
No comment!  Cheers, Steve

Thursday, January 2, 2014

dopey while freezing

Steve asks me to post this item that Robert has run across while reading The Leonard Bernstein Letters:

A rather nice précis of Seven Middagh. Editor Nigel Simeone claims this letter documents their "earliest contact" in what turned out to be a long, fruitful collaboration and that the misspelling "Brittle" is a "humorous reference" for Britten. The letter certainly contradicts Sherill Tippins' claim in February House that the Bowles brought Smith into the house (rather than vice versa).