Show me the books he loves and I shall know the man far better than through mortal friends - Silas Weir MitchellI "met" Aaron through another Inside Reader and I was immediately fascinated by his story: two books so far, but basically a story that made "history", the first guy to bring another guy to a prom date, or at least to pretend to be able to. A memoir that was probably inspiration for many other young guys with the same hope for the future. Aaron is also an extremely pleasent guy to talk with online, and he is still willing to share his experience with other people, something that it's very important today. So, please, welcome Aaron Fricke and list.
Aaron Fricke's Inside Reader List
Little Me: Patrick Dennis. Grab an LGBT friend or friends, make some room on your schedule, read this book aloud together, and be prepared to laugh your gd heads off at the social climbing/grace falling exploits of one Belle Poitrine and her arch nemesis Maria Montezuma. That's what I did years ago w/ my friend Jon. (By the same author who wrote Auntie Mame.)
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Broadway (October 15, 2002)
Publisher Link: http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780767913478
Amazon: Little Me: The Intimate Memoirs of that Great Star of Stage, Screen and Television, Belle Poitrine (as told to Patrick Dennis)
Back in print at last! From the author of Auntie Mame: the bawdy, bestselling, bountifully illustrated autobiography of an imaginary diva whose life is one hilarious mishap after another. For Belle Poitrine, née Mayble Schlumpfert, all the world's a stage and she's the most important player on it. At once coy and coercive, with a name that means "beautiful bosom" in French, she claws her way from Striver's Row to the silver screen. Recalling Belle's career, which ranged from portraying Anne Boleyn in Oh, Henry to roles in both Sodom and its sequel Gomorrah (not to mention the classic Papaya Paradise), Little Me serves up copious quanitites of husbands, couture, and Pink Lady cocktails, with international adventures and a murder trial to boot. A runaway bestseller that made its way to Broadway, starring Sid Caesar in 1962 and Martin Short in 1998, Little Me is now reprinted--with all of the 150 historic, hysterical photographs depicting the funniest scenes from Belle's sordid life, including cameo appearances by the author and Rosalind Russell. Considered a collector's item, the first edition of Little Me was like a performance in book form. Now this glittering spoof of celebrity is gloriously reincarnated for connoisseurs of all things chick and cheeky.
Christopher and His Kind: Christopher Isherwood. Back in the early 80s, I had the great privilege to be introduced to Mr. Isherwood by the legendary LA gay activist, Morris Kight. At the time, I had not read anything Mr. Isherwood had written, and out of nerves, I blurted this out to him. What a relief when he laughed and made me feel as though I'd just said the most charming thing he'd ever heard. Afterward, I picked up and read this book; and by our next meeting I was able to tell him I had read something he had written.
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: University of Minnesota Press (October 2001)
Publisher Link: http://www.upress.umn.edu/Books/I/isherwood_christopher.html
Amazon: Christopher and His Kind
Originally published in 1976, Christopher and His Kind covers the most memorable ten years in the writer's life-from 1929, when Isherwood left England to spend a week in Berlin and decided to stay there indefinitely, to 1939, when he arrived in America. His friends and colleagues during this time included W. H. Auden, Stephen Spender, and E. M. Forster, as well as colorful figures he met in Germany and later fictionalized in his two Berlin novels-who appeared again, fictionalized to an even greater degree, in I Am a Camera and Cabaret. What most impressed the first readers of this memoir, however, was the candor with which he describes his life in gay Berlin of the 1930s and his struggles to save his companion, a German man named Heinz, from the Nazis. An engrossing and dramatic story and a fascinating glimpse into a little-known world, Christopher and His Kind remains one of Isherwood's greatest achievements. A major figure in twentieth-century fiction and the gay rights movement, Christopher Isherwood (1904-1986) is the author of Down There on a Visit, Lions and Shadows, A Meeting by the River, The Memorial, Prater Violet, A Single Man, and The World in the Evening, all available from the University of Minnesota Press.
Death in Venice: Thomas Mann. I've never read sadness detailed more beautifully than in this book. I am not sure whether the narrator in the book is pursuing a youth, or stalking his own lost youth; but I can say he writes about it beautifully. There's nothing really gay about this story, literally or figuratively; and I suppose that this book might be construed by some as a politically incorrect abomination, but I've never felt so inspired for having my sensibilities offended.
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial (May 31, 2005)
Publisher Link: http://www.harpercollins.com/books/Death-in-Venice-Thomas-Mann?isbn=9780060576172&HCHP=TB_Death+in+Venice
Amazon: Death in Venice
The world-famous masterpiece by Nobel laureate Thomas Mann -- here in a new translation by Michael Henry Heim. Published on the eve of World War I, a decade after Buddenbrooks had established Thomas Mann as a literary celebrity, Death in Venice tells the story of Gustav von Aschenbach, a successful but aging writer who follows his wanderlust to Venice in search of spiritual fulfillment that instead leads to his erotic doom. In the decaying city, besieged by an unnamed epidemic, he becomes obsessed with an exquisite Polish boy, Tadzio. "It is a story of the voluptuousness of doom," Mann wrote. "But the problem I had especially in mind was that of the artist's dignity."
De Profundis: Oscar Wilde. Oscar Wilde wrote this while jailed for crimes against nature, or whatever trumped up charges they came up with against him. In much of it he rails against Lord Alfred Douglas; and who can blame him under the circumstances? But underneath all the accusation there's a tone of acceptance of the vicissitudes of one's life that I find truly stunning. This is my favorite of all of Mr. Wilde's works - although, I've been told by my friend Robert Patrick, author of the play Kennedy's Children, that reading a play requires a certain talent- and I've never been very good at play reading.
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Ltd (December 5, 1999)
Publisher Link: http://www.wordsworth-editions.com/jkcm/default.aspx?pg=/book%20more%20details/&showkey=233
Amazon: De Profundis: The Ballad of Reading Gaol and Other Writings
With an Introduction and Notes by Anne Varty, Royal Holloway, University of London. De Profundis is Wilde’s eloquent and bitter reproach from prison to his lover, Lord Alfred Douglas. He contrasts his behaviour with that of his close friend Robert Ross who became Wilde’s literary executor. The Ballad of Reading Gaol is a deeply moving and characteristically generous poem on the horrors of prison life, which was published anonymously in 1898. This collection also includes the essay The Soul of Man under Socialism and two of his Platonic dialogues, The Decay of Lying and The Critic as Artist.
Earthly Powers: Anthony Burgess. I just realized that a theme is emerging on my recommended reading list - that being older gay men interrelating with younger gay men. Hmm. All I can tell you is that it wasn't deliberate, unless on some subconscious level. Actually, relations between an older and a younger gay man are one small aspect of "Earthly Powers"; but I loved all of it.
Paperback: 656 pages
Publisher: Vintage (May 6, 2004)
Amazon: Earthly Powers
'Crowded, crammed, bursting with manic erudition, garlicky puns, omnilingual jokes...which meshes the real and personalised history of the twentieth century' - Martin Amis. Kenneth Toomey is an eminent novelist of dubious talent; Don Carlo Campanati is a man of God, a shrewd manipulator who rises through the Vatican to become the architect of church revolution and a candidate for sainthood. These two men are linked not only by family ties but by a common understanding of mankind's frailties. In this epic masterpiece, Anthony Burgess plumbs the depths of the essence of power and the lengths men will go for it.
Letters to a Young Poet: Rainer Maria Rilke. A young man initiates a correspondence with Mr. Rilke asking him to critique some poetry the young man has written at school. What follows is a series of letters from Rilke to the young man that include some of the most tear-inducingly beautiful commentary on the human condition to flow out of a human soul. I learned from this work that everything an artist creates is a gift to the universe, to humanity. And this outlook is indirectly responsible for my decision to refrain from writing projects these days. I will try to explain w/ an example. Several years ago, a young man asked me- out of the blue- whether I thought people are evil. My all-too-spontaneous answer? "Dear boy, only people are evil." Unfortunately, I believed it when I said it, and I cannot say for certain that I don't believe that even now. Maybe I've become a nihilist, maybe my heart has shrunk two sizes too small, I don't know. But I do know that I won't write a book w/ that bit of preciousness lurking in my psyche. In time, hopefully, just not now.
Paperback: 76 pages
Publisher: BN Publishing (May 4, 2009)
Amazon: Letters to a Young Poet
Every page is stamped with Rilke's characteristic grace, and the book is free of the breathless effect that occasionally mars his poetry. His ideas on gender and the role of the artist are also surprisingly prescient. And even his retrograde comment on the "beauty of the virgin" (which the poet derives from the fact that she "has not yet achieved anything") is counterbalanced by his perception that "the sexes are more related than we think." Those looking for an alluring image of the solitary artist--and for an astonishing quotient of wisdom--will find both in Letters to a Young Poet.
Myra Breckinridge: Gore Vidal. If there was ever a book ripe for the picking for a movie re-make, it's this hysterical tale of one transexual's conquest of the known heterosexual universe. Okay, I exaggerate, but not about this book being a really funny book. The 1970 movie did the story no justice, but I so wish that one of Hollywood's new gay directors would give it another shot. Quentin Tarantino, I'm talking to you.
Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Abacus (April 22, 1993)
Publisher Link: http://www.littlebrown.co.uk/Title/9780349103655
Amazon: Myra Breckinridge
It is a risky (and risque) business becoming 'Woman Triumphant' - exercising total power over men like Rusty Godowski. Rusty just wants to be a Hollywood star like everyone else at Buck Loner's academy, but now that Buck's niece, Myra Breckinridge, has arrived, the curriculum is taking a wildly strange turn. Willing to risk all to be superb and unique, Myra means to prove to her old friend Dr Montag that it is possible to work out in life all one's fantasies - and survive. 'From Myra's fist appearnce on the page she was a megastar', explains her creator, Gore Vidal. Myra caused a second furore when she returned in Myron to battle it out with her eponymous alter ego, a drab little man fallen into marriage and a job in Chinese catering. Theirs is a contest of hormonal roulette, with glorious Myra off on time-travelling missions of mercy back to 1948 to try to change cinema history and to introduce her own radical theories of popuation control. Meanwhile Myron tries desperately to stay in the present as inconspicuously as Mrya will allow.
Noturnes for the King of Naples: Edmund White. What a happy accident my discovery of this book was. I was 17-years-old and in NYC to visit Paul (the guy I eventually won my First Amendment right to go to the prom with.) I was in a rush to appear terribly adult, so I pulled a book off the bookstore shelf quickly, as though I knew exactly what I was looking for. Well, the gay gods must have been watching over me that day because this book was my constant companion during senior year in high school. I read this book at the exact right time in my life when I was susceptible to the influence of Mr. White's immaculate way with language, and for that reason it feels as though this book changed my life. In the years since this book's publication, Edmund White has written many other straightforward, less baroque gay stories; but for my money, this is Mr. White letting his freak flag fly. P.S. As much as I respect Gore Vidal's opinions, I have not recognized the "vicious" content of Mr. White's work that Mr. Vidal has publicly complained about recently.
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (July 15, 1988)
Publisher Link: http://us.macmillan.com/nocturnesforthekingofnaples
Amazon: Nocturnes for the King of Naples
A hauntingly beautiful evocation of lost love, Noctunes for the King of Naples has all the startling, almost embarrassing, intimacy of a stranger's love letters. The intense emotional situation envelops the readers from the first page; like all images in a dream, White's characters are the most real people we know, thought they remain phantoms. Each chapter, each nocturne, is set in a different emotional key, but all are interconnected through such subtle modulations that the final effect is devastating.
A Room of One's Own: Virginia Woolf. This book has been described by some as a feminist tract, but it never felt stuffily political in my opinion. I must have skipped an introduction when I read it, because I didn't realize the book is based on a series of college lectures given by Ms. Woolf. I suppose I was thrown by the fact that, she compiled the lectures and published them as told by a fictional narrator. According to Wikipedia, "By taking on different identities, the narrator transcends one single voice and consequently she makes herself a force to be reckoned with." Scared of her. lol.
Paperback: 216 pages
Publisher: Mariner Books (August 1, 2005)
Publisher Link: http://www.hmhbooks.com/catalog/titledetail.cfm?titleNumber=1185243&searchString=A Room of One
Amazon: A Room of One's Own
In A Room of One's Own, Virginia Woolf imagines that Shakespeare had a sister: a sister equal to Shakespeare in talent, equal in genius, but whose legacy is radically different.This imaginary woman never writes a word and dies by her own hand, her genius unexpressed. But if only she had found the means to create, urges Woolf, she would have reached the same heights as her immortal sibling. In this classic essay,Virginia Woolf takes on the establishment, using her gift of language to dissect the world around her and give a voice to those who have none. Her message is simple: A woman must have a fixed income and a room of her own in order to have the freedom to create. Annotated and with an introduction by Susan Gubar
Judge Vaughan Walker's written opinion striking down the Proposition 8 Initiative in California Judge Walker did more than just strike down Prop 8 with this. He gave us 136 pages of the simplest language striking down all the irrational fear and hatred we've ever endured. Judge Walker questions it all in such a straightforward, logical context that , quite frankly, you'll wonder why homophobia ever arose in the first place. This is a brilliant work and Judge Walker is a brilliant man.
Read Judge Walker's ruling at: https://ecf.cand.uscourts.gov/cand/09cv2292/files/09cv2292-ORDER.pdf
About Aaron Fricke: Aaron Fricke is a gay rights activist. He was born January 25, 1962 in Providence, Rhode Island. He is best known for the pivotal case in which he successfully sued his high school for not allowing him to bring his boyfriend, Paul Guilbert, to the senior prom at Cumberland High School in Cumberland, Rhode Island.
Shortly after he came out in 1980, Fricke began seeing another male student. Fricke decided to bring him as his date to the prom. When the high school informed Fricke he could not bring him to the prom, he filed suit in U.S. District court. The presiding judge, Raymond J. Pettine, ruled in Fricke's favor, ordering the school to not only allow him and his partner to attend as a couple but also to provide enough security to ensure their safety. The case received considerable media attention, and news camera crews filmed and interviewed the couple at the dance.
The case set a precedent that has been used across the United States to establish a legal right for students to bring same sex partners to school proms and other school social events.
Fricke later wrote of his experience in a book, Reflections of a Rock Lobster: A Story about Growing Up Gay. He later collaborated with his father, Walter, on Sudden Strangers: the Story of a Gay Son and his Father, a book about their relationship and of the elder Fricke's coming to terms with his son's homosexuality. That book was published shortly after Walter Fricke's death from cancer in 1989.
Fricke's archive material, covering the period of writing the two books, is held in the San Francisco Public Library.
Reflections of a Rock Lobster: A Story about Growing Up Gay by Aaron Fricke
Paperback: 124 pages
Publisher: Alyson Books (March 1, 2000)
Amazon: Reflections of a Rock Lobster: A Story about Growing Up Gay
Reflections of a Rock Lobster has been widely praised as the best book ever written about growing up gay. It will be valuable for young people who are just beginning to understand their own and other people's sexuality, and for adults who work with teenagers and who need to know more about the 10% of the population that is gay.