August 11th, 2011

andrew potter

The Inside Reader: Sarah Schulman

Show me the books he loves and I shall know the man far better than through mortal friends - Silas Weir Mitchell
Today guest is Sarah Schulman, American novelist, historian and playwright and early chronicler of the AIDS crisis. Sarah is a Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at the City University of New York, College of Staten Island and a Fellow at the New York Institute for the Humanities at New York University.

Fiction:

Jean Genet's Funeral Rites
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Faber and Faber (September 25, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0571251544
ISBN-13: 978-0571251544
Amazon: Funeral Rites

Jean Genet's sensual and brutal portrait of World War Two unfolds between the poles of his grief for his lover Jean, killed in the Resistance during the liberation of Paris, and his perverse attraction to the collaborator Riton. Powerfully written, and with moments of great poetic subtlety, Funeral Rites is a dark meditation on the mirror images of love and hate, sex and death. Translated by Bernard Frechtman

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Nonfiction

Parting The Waters by Taylor Branch
Paperback: 1088 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Paperback Edition edition (November 15, 1989)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0671687425
ISBN-13: 978-0671687427
Amazon: Parting The Waters

Hailed as the most masterful story ever told of the American civil rights movement, Parting the Waters is destined to endure for generations. Moving from the fiery political baptism of Martin Luther King, Jr., to the corridors of Camelot where the Kennedy brothers weighed demands for justice against the deceptions of J. Edgar Hoover, here is a vivid tapestry of America, torn and finally transformed by a revolutionary struggle unequaled since the Civil War. Taylor Branch provides an unsurpassed portrait of King's rise to greatness and illuminates the stunning courage and private conflict, the deals, maneuvers, betrayals, and rivalries that determined history behind closed doors, at boycotts and sit-ins, on bloody freedom rides, and through siege and murder. Epic in scope and impact, Branch's chronicle definitively captures one of the nation's most crucial passages.

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Most Recently Read and Enjoyed

Secret History: The Biography of Sam Seward by Justin Spring
Paperback: 496 pages
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; First Edition edition (July 19, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0374533024
ISBN-13: 978-0374533021
Amazon: Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist, and Sexual Renegade

A finalist for the 2010 National Book Award. Drawn from the secret, never-before-seen diaries, journals, and sexual records of the novelist, poet, and university professor Samuel M. Steward, Secret Historian is a sensational reconstruction of one of the more extraordinary hidden lives of the twentieth century. An intimate friend of Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, and Thornton Wilder, Steward maintained a secret sex life from childhood on, and documented these experiences in brilliantly vivid (and often very funny) detail. After leaving the world of academe to become Phil Sparrow, a tattoo artist on Chicago’s notorious South State Street, Steward worked closely with Alfred Kinsey on his landmark sex research. During the early 1960s, Steward changed his name and identity once again, this time to write exceptionally literate, upbeat pro-homosexual pornography under the name of Phil Andros. Until today he has been known only as Phil Sparrow—but an extraordinary archive of his papers, lost since his death in 1993, has provided Justin Spring with the material for an exceptionally compassionate and brilliantly illuminating life-and-times biography. More than merely the story of one remarkable man, Secret Historian is a moving portrait of homosexual life long before Stonewall and gay liberation.

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About Sarah Schulman: Sarah Schulman is the author of fifteen books, including nine novels. She has won a Guggenheim Fellowship in Playwrighting, a Fullbright in Judaic Studies, two American Library Association Book Awards, and is the 2009 recipient of the Kessler Prize for sustained contribution to LGBT studies. Sarah is Distinguished Professor at the City University of New York, College of State Island, a Fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities at New York University. She is on the advisory board of the Center for Human Rights and Social Movements at Harvard's Kennedy School. She is the US coordinator of the first LGBT Delegation to Palestine. She lives in New York.

The Child by Sarah Schulman
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Arsenal Pulp Press (September 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1551522438
ISBN-13: 978-1551522432
Amazon: The Child

The Child, a Lambda Literary Award finalist, is the eleventh and perhaps most controversial book by acclaimed lesbian writer Sarah Schulman, available for the first time in paperback. This novel explores the parameters of queer teen sexuality against a backdrop of hysteria and sanctioned homophobia, based on the 1997 sexual assault and murder of an eleven-year-old boy by a fifteen-year-old. Stew is a lonely teen who discovers love on an adult website. But when his older boyfriend is arrested in an Internet pedophilia sting, his proclivities are revealed to his family and friends, to his horror. Devastated by these revelations and left to fend for himself, he ends up committing murder. Brazen and daring in its themes, The Child is a powerful indictment of sex panic in America, and a plaintive meditation on isolation and desire.

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andrew potter

Love by the Numbers by S.L. Danielson

I believe this is one of the first stories by this author and in many ways you can see it: the novel is innocent, naïve, like it was not tainted by the ugly life, and the comparison is right on the spot since this is a story about teenagers and their first love experience. I will not say that is unrealistic, since many time people proved to me there is still hope and happiness somewhere in the world, even if it’s not the common experience, but in Love by the Numbers the power of love is able to overcome any trouble and drama.

Scott is a lucky guy; true he is a little overweight, and also quite shy, he is the classical wallflower at school, but other than that he has a loving family that fully support him and respect his being gay, so much they are the first to push him to go out and find a boyfriend. Scott is so lucky that he has not even to do that, the math teacher practically send Scott’s dream date at home with him, he needs to tutor Jared, the local baseball celebrity, in math otherwise the other guy will fail that course.

Even if Jared is the butterfly of the school, he proves to be a good guy right from the first moment, and he seems to really like spending time alone with Scott. Every time Scott highlights how different they are, how Jared is the perfect boy, a wise Jared makes clear he would give everything away for living in a supporting family like Scott. And even if Scott has not a perfect body, Jared is able to see beyond the body right to the heart of Scott.

I found both Scott than Jared a little too emotional, but maybe both of them had their issue to overcome, Jared a little more serious than Scott, since Jared was right on the spot about Scott, he has really nothing to worry about, fat and shyness are both issue he can easily overcome. And maybe Scott’s sensibility is something he has inherited by his own parents, both of them wonderful parents, but sometime a little too much wonderful, treating their 18 years old son like someone way younger; that could be explained with the fact that Scott is an only son, and very much loved, and so, well, maybe he is a little spoiled.

This is the story of the first love for both guys, and so it’s sweet and innocent, and the author decided to not look further into their life: if they have a chance to be together, if their life will be simple or complicated, this is something that is out from this contest, this is the story of a first love, and as such, real life stay out.

Amazon Kindle: Love by the Numbers

Reading List:

http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle