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: 'thomas.wischer@live.com
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 www.Amazon.com 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: www.bookmendc.blogspot.com.

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 Amazon.com (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.