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.