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