05 7 / 2013

The Folded Leaf (1945) William Maxwell
In the suburbs of Chicago in the 1920s, two boys initiate an unusual friendship: Lymie Peters, a skinny and somewhat clumsy boy who always gets good grades, and newcomer Spud Latham, a star athlete and mediocre student. Spud accepts Lymie’s devotion without questioning it, but once high school ends and the boys enter college, tensions begin to arise between them. 
Lymie is the first to meet Sally Forbes, but she will fall in love with Spud, and this will mark the beginning of the rift between them. But this rupture will be more than Lymie can bear. William Maxwell provides the reader with a moving portrayal of adolescence and the shift from youth into adulthood.

The Folded Leaf (1945) William Maxwell

In the suburbs of Chicago in the 1920s, two boys initiate an unusual friendship: Lymie Peters, a skinny and somewhat clumsy boy who always gets good grades, and newcomer Spud Latham, a star athlete and mediocre student. Spud accepts Lymie’s devotion without questioning it, but once high school ends and the boys enter college, tensions begin to arise between them.

Lymie is the first to meet Sally Forbes, but she will fall in love with Spud, and this will mark the beginning of the rift between them. But this rupture will be more than Lymie can bear. William Maxwell provides the reader with a moving portrayal of adolescence and the shift from youth into adulthood.

31 1 / 2012

A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines (2006) Janna Levin
The narrator is a scientist herself, a physicist obsessed with Kurt Gödel, the greatest logician of many centuries, and with Alan Turing, the extraordinary mathematician, breaker of the Enigma Code during World War II. “They are both brilliantly original and outsiders,” the narrator tells us. “They are both besotted with mathematics. But for all their devotion, mathematics is indifferent, unaltered by any of their dramas … Against indifference, I want to tell their stories.” Which she does in a haunting, incantatory voice, the two lives unfolding in parallel narratives that overlap in the magnitude of each man’s achievement and demise: Gödel, delusional and paranoid, would starve himself to death; Turing, arrested for homosexual activities, would be driven to suicide. And they meet as well in the narrator’s mind, where facts are interwoven with her desire and determination to find meaning in the maze of their stories: two men devoted to truth of the highest abstract nature, yet unable to grasp the mundane truths of their own lives.

A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines (2006) Janna Levin

The narrator is a scientist herself, a physicist obsessed with Kurt Gödel, the greatest logician of many centuries, and with Alan Turing, the extraordinary mathematician, breaker of the Enigma Code during World War II. “They are both brilliantly original and outsiders,” the narrator tells us. “They are both besotted with mathematics. But for all their devotion, mathematics is indifferent, unaltered by any of their dramas … Against indifference, I want to tell their stories.” Which she does in a haunting, incantatory voice, the two lives unfolding in parallel narratives that overlap in the magnitude of each man’s achievement and demise: Gödel, delusional and paranoid, would starve himself to death; Turing, arrested for homosexual activities, would be driven to suicide. And they meet as well in the narrator’s mind, where facts are interwoven with her desire and determination to find meaning in the maze of their stories: two men devoted to truth of the highest abstract nature, yet unable to grasp the mundane truths of their own lives.

18 12 / 2011

The Kind of Girl I Am (2008) by Julia Watts, chronicles the bawdy adventures of Vestal Jenkins. Born in a dreary Kentucky coal camp during the Great Depression, Vestal uses her one natural resource—her extraordinary beauty—as her ticket out of poverty. Vestal’s bawdy adventures include a brief period of religious piety, a loveless but lucrative marriage, an unsatisfactory stint as a shopgirl and a financially rewarding foray into the world’s oldest profession. This last venture leads Vestal to find her true profession—as the madam of the most notorious brothel in Knoxville, Tennessee. Spanning decades, The Kind of Girl I Am humorously explores the changing sexual and social mores of the South and depicts an extraordinary woman’s experiences of triumph, heartbreak, friendship and forbidden love.

The Kind of Girl I Am (2008) by Julia Watts, chronicles the bawdy adventures of Vestal Jenkins. Born in a dreary Kentucky coal camp during the Great Depression, Vestal uses her one natural resource—her extraordinary beauty—as her ticket out of poverty. Vestal’s bawdy adventures include a brief period of religious piety, a loveless but lucrative marriage, an unsatisfactory stint as a shopgirl and a financially rewarding foray into the world’s oldest profession. 

This last venture leads Vestal to find her true profession—as the madam of the most notorious brothel in Knoxville, Tennessee. Spanning decades, The Kind of Girl I Am humorously explores the changing sexual and social mores of the South and depicts an extraordinary woman’s experiences of triumph, heartbreak, friendship and forbidden love.

25 11 / 2011

The City and the Pillar (1948) by Gore Vidal
Jim Williard is a young man in the 1930’s who is infatuated with his friend, Bob, who is about to leave high school for the Marines. The two friends go on a camping trip, and have sex, after which Bob leaves for the Marines.
Jim travels all over America and becomes involved with the 1940’s gay scene, meeting gay actors and soldiers.
The book is notable for being one of the first to show gay men as masculine and normal.

The City and the Pillar (1948) by Gore Vidal

Jim Williard is a young man in the 1930’s who is infatuated with his friend, Bob, who is about to leave high school for the Marines. The two friends go on a camping trip, and have sex, after which Bob leaves for the Marines.

Jim travels all over America and becomes involved with the 1940’s gay scene, meeting gay actors and soldiers.

The book is notable for being one of the first to show gay men as masculine and normal.

23 11 / 2011

Confessions of a Mask (1948) by Yukio Mishima, tells the story of a man, Kochan, who admires masculinity, and worries over his lack of it. Kochan reveres the ideal of male beauty, and the ideal of men in 1940’s Japan. Living in WWII Japan he hides his homosexuality out of shame and necessity.

Confessions of a Mask (1948) by Yukio Mishima, tells the story of a man, Kochan, who admires masculinity, and worries over his lack of it. Kochan reveres the ideal of male beauty, and the ideal of men in 1940’s Japan. Living in WWII Japan he hides his homosexuality out of shame and necessity.

16 8 / 2011

Brideshead Revisited (1945) by Evelyn Waugh, tells the story of Charles Ryder, a British army captain in WWII, looks back on his relationship with a wealthy Catholic family (living in Protestant England) that he knew as a young man in the 1920’s. He first meets the son, Sebastian Flyte, and is charmed by his flamboyance and eccentricity. Through the family Charles learns about love and religion.

Brideshead Revisited (1945) by Evelyn Waugh, tells the story of Charles Ryder, a British army captain in WWII, looks back on his relationship with a wealthy Catholic family (living in Protestant England) that he knew as a young man in the 1920’s. He first meets the son, Sebastian Flyte, and is charmed by his flamboyance and eccentricity. Through the family Charles learns about love and religion.

16 8 / 2011

I, Pierre Seel, Deported Homosexual: A Memoir of Nazi Terror (1995) by Pierre Seel, is the memoir of a frenchman living during WWII, who is imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp at age 17 due to his homosexuality. He is released, only to e conscripted into the German army to fight on the Russian front.

I, Pierre Seel, Deported Homosexual: A Memoir of Nazi Terror (1995) by Pierre Seel, is the memoir of a frenchman living during WWII, who is imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp at age 17 due to his homosexuality. He is released, only to e conscripted into the German army to fight on the Russian front.

14 8 / 2011

Zami: A New Spelling of My Name (1982) by Audre Lorde, tells the story of Audre, the child of African immigrants, growing up in 1940’s Harlem, where she faces extreme prejudice. As she grows up she has several relationships with different women, until finally leaving America for Mexico to escape the Red Scare and McCarthyism. The book deals with issues of race, sexuality and prejudice.

Zami: A New Spelling of My Name (1982) by Audre Lorde, tells the story of Audre, the child of African immigrants, growing up in 1940’s Harlem, where she faces extreme prejudice. As she grows up she has several relationships with different women, until finally leaving America for Mexico to escape the Red Scare and McCarthyism. The book deals with issues of race, sexuality and prejudice.

14 8 / 2011

The Charioteer (1953) by Mary Renault, tells the story of Laurie Odell, a WWII soldier who was wounded, and now is recovering in a hospital, where he meets and falls in love with a conscientious objector, who is a deeply religious Quaker. He also meets an old school mate he admired and fellow soldier, who also is homosexual and is comfortable with his sexuality.
Laurie struggles with his romanticized view of love and a more realistic path to happiness.

The Charioteer (1953) by Mary Renault, tells the story of Laurie Odell, a WWII soldier who was wounded, and now is recovering in a hospital, where he meets and falls in love with a conscientious objector, who is a deeply religious Quaker. He also meets an old school mate he admired and fellow soldier, who also is homosexual and is comfortable with his sexuality.

Laurie struggles with his romanticized view of love and a more realistic path to happiness.