Archive for the ‘thegay’ Category

h1

Martin’s Branwell

September 10, 2008

Douglas A. Martin’s Branwell is a novel that bleeds the line between novel and historical fact. It’s written in a style that traces the tragic story of Branwell Brontë and composites it through the lives of those involved, from golden child and hope of the family to drunken dissolute, all while the politics of family allegiance drift and Branwell falls further into oblivion. This hallucinatory narrative shifts back and forth, switches tense, shows us one reading only to challenge it later, and ultimately unfolds a tale embroidered of speculation, suspicion, and earnest confession, where one is never certain of the absolute truths.

The novel feels invitingly Nineteenth Century, a lost Jane Eyre, yet contemporary and pluralistic. Like Victorian novels it follows the main character from early childhood until death, but here the voice is many blended perspectives. The result is a dream or hallucination that feels true and harvested from the period. I’ve always had a soft spot for old British novels like Jude the Obscure, Mill on the Floss, or even Moll Flanders. This has the same sense of inevitable doom, with damp decayed surfaces, but the success of Branwell is that it doesn’t mimic these other works. It’s not a copy of style, but something hybrid and new hewn out of the pieces of something else, halfway between poetry, biopic, and a novel.

Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Air Guitar

April 10, 2008

Air Guitar is a collection of Dave Hickey’s essays ranging from popular and forgotten music, cartoons, mass culture, Donald Judd, Siegfried and Roy, the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, and even the world’s largest rhinestone. Hickey has a way of treating the subjects of art and culture as anecdotes to his personal stories. Each essay slips easily between its professed subject matter and into Hickey’s personal reminiscences that instead of derailing the topic, transform the subject into something larger than the sum of its parts.

Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

What Would Udo Do?

February 9, 2008

h1

For M

February 9, 2008

h1

Wynne Greenwood of Tracy + the Plastics talks about her installation at the Tollbooth Gallery

January 24, 2008

“How do you map a hope, a flower, a muscle, a gaze, a breath, an exhaustion, an attempt, a history, or your community? You are here.” Originally from Washington, then Brooklyn based Wynne Greenwood returned to the Northwest to premiere her piece, Maps to Radical Imagining, specifically created for the Tollbooth.

Click here for interview:

h1

On the Road

November 25, 2007

Kerouac’s On the Road is a fictionalized account of the writer’s exploits traveling across the country with Dean Moriarty. In this work the narrator uses the pseudonym Sal Paradise with Dean Moriarty being a pseudonym for Neal Cassady. The plot of the novel revolves around the narrator falling into Dean Moriarty’s mad and free orbit and how their paths intersect and part as they explore life on the road, meeting up with a cast of like minded characters, migrant workers, con men, and drifters. The novel is a psychological charting of the main character’s attitudes to the world around him and is framed through cross-country journeys traversing the continent.

Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Outline of My Lover

October 9, 2007

Outline of My Lover is a novel by Douglas A. Martin about a young man who goes off to college and falls in love with the idealized notion of a rock star. He sets out to meet this person in real life, finds him, and they date. When the relationship falters due to outside pressure and the rock star’s emotional unavailability, the main character is left reeling, unsure of his place and purpose. This novel is the narrator’s attempt to make sense out of the affair and his life. It’s a blind item and open letter rolled into a wet crepe valentine to an ex lover. Sometimes I found myself thinking the main character was too whiny and needed to move on, and my empathy seemed to lie more with the lover and not the narrator. That being said, the writing is beautiful and has an extreme forward momentum and earnestness.

Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Sexing the Cherry

October 9, 2007

I never read the backs of books or introductions. They distract and usually take away from the reading experience. I like my journey into a book to be fresh and unbiased as much as possible. Sometimes I’ll read an introduction afterwards if it offers some sort of historical context or was written by somebody I admire. Jeanette Winterson’s Sexing the Cherry is a richly depth-filled world that I utterly adored falling into. Her writing in the novel is unusually complicated, but deceptively simple. She is vast and layered. The writing doesn’t need cheating with a back cover blurb, but for some reason I found myself reading it this time. Maybe I was looking for a clue as to what the novel was supposed to be about. I know what I was getting out of it, but maybe curiosity hedged in, and needed hints as to where this bizarre story would lead. There I stumbled across the blurb from the San Francisco Chronicle intoning the book with, “ the philosophical form of Milan Kundera and told with the grace of Italo Calvino.” That solidified something for me. I don’t know if that would have occurred to me, but once read it became certain. It clarified something for me. Sexing the Cherry is Kundera, it’s Immortality with its interchangeable lives over time. Sexing the Cherry is Calvino, it’s Invisible Cities with the spinning white city where Winterson’s escaping ballerinas inhabit. I admire both Kundera and Calvino, and the Chronicle definitely tipped me towards a new understanding, but there is also something uniquely Winterson at play here.

Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Jackie Under My Skin

October 8, 2007

I have never really been drawn to Jackie Kennedy. She’s a parade who ended and all I can see is the leftover confetti and litter fading in the sun. That’s probably not what the reader wants to hear, but I was never able to access her as anything other than a cliché of gay camp. My “in” is after the fact, more from Warhol than Life magazine. She is a link to JFK, but even he is remote as we never shared overlapped time on this planet. My only memory of him is other people’s memories of where they were the day he was assassinated. Rather I don’t even have those. Nobody has ever actually told me where they were when the president died. I just know that it is something they are supposed to remember. Jackie was there, and she transformed. She survived. She was a style icon, with looks like a sedated cat who ate a canary.

Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Dennis Cooper’s Wrong

September 27, 2007

Reading Dennis Cooper after the emotional exhaustion of marathon hours driving cross-country hit me in the psychological gut. I’m vulnerable, unanchored to my life as I give up career, home, and social connections. I am feeling emotionally empty and poured out, and these stories leave me feeling emotionally empty and poured out. The stories in Wrong are packed with emotion, or devoid depending on your perspective. Relocation is my fantasy for better things like affordable living and the time that that potentially creates for writing and graduate studies. That’s why Dennis Cooper’s collection Wrong snuck in and hit me. This discrepancy in my life and a discrepancy between the youthfulness of Cooper’s characters pitted against forces seeking to exploit and disfigure them. Okay, maybe I’m being melodramatic about my life, but not Cooper’s characters. It’s just that the writing hurts.

Read the rest of this entry ?