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.

26 1 / 2012

The Spectacle Salesman’s Family (2007) by Viola Roggenkamp
Paul Schiefer is a travelling spectacles salesman. Every Monday morning he leaves Hamburg on a week-long sales trip. His wife, his mother-in-law and his two teenage daughters Fania and Vera see him off with abundant hugs and kisses, and they welcome him back with equal exuberance on Friday evening - just in time for Sabbath eve. While her husband is away, Alma Schiefer defends the wellbeing of her family with an explosive mixture of ferocious love and extreme determination. Thirteen-year-old Fania is torn between the comfort of home and the fearful thrills of the unknown outside world, a sixties world that contains student protest, beehive hairdos, Israel and the Six Day War, politics, religion, revolution and …the promise of love. Sensual, funny and acerbic, The Spectacle Salesman’s Family is a brilliant, vivid portrait of Jewish life in post-Holocaust Germany that continues the Jewish tradition of memorialising, recounting the details in order to hold onto the past and its lessons.

The Spectacle Salesman’s Family (2007) by Viola Roggenkamp

Paul Schiefer is a travelling spectacles salesman. Every Monday morning he leaves Hamburg on a week-long sales trip. His wife, his mother-in-law and his two teenage daughters Fania and Vera see him off with abundant hugs and kisses, and they welcome him back with equal exuberance on Friday evening - just in time for Sabbath eve. While her husband is away, Alma Schiefer defends the wellbeing of her family with an explosive mixture of ferocious love and extreme determination. Thirteen-year-old Fania is torn between the comfort of home and the fearful thrills of the unknown outside world, a sixties world that contains student protest, beehive hairdos, Israel and the Six Day War, politics, religion, revolution and …the promise of love. Sensual, funny and acerbic, The Spectacle Salesman’s Family is a brilliant, vivid portrait of Jewish life in post-Holocaust Germany that continues the Jewish tradition of memorialising, recounting the details in order to hold onto the past and its lessons.

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

Christopher and His Kind (1976) by Christopher Isherwood, tell’s of Christopher, an Englishman, and of his life in Berlin and Berlin’s gay culture in the 1930’s, as the Nazi party begins to gain power.

Christopher and His Kind (1976) by Christopher Isherwood, tell’s of Christopher, an Englishman, and of his life in Berlin and Berlin’s gay culture in the 1930’s, as the Nazi party begins to gain power.

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.

14 8 / 2011

The Naked Civil Servant (1968) is the autobiography of Quentin Crisp, which follows his life as an effeminate and out homosexual in 1930’s Britain. Quentin works many jobs in his life, including prostitute, book designer, and nude model. The autobiography is full of witty lines and clever anecdotes from a man who would later become a gay icon.

The Naked Civil Servant (1968) is the autobiography of Quentin Crisp, which follows his life as an effeminate and out homosexual in 1930’s Britain. Quentin works many jobs in his life, including prostitute, book designer, and nude model. The autobiography is full of witty lines and clever anecdotes from a man who would later become a gay icon.