elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,
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elisa_rolle

James McCourt & Vincent Virga

James McCourt (born July 4, 1941) is an American writer and novelist.

McCourt is openly gay. His life partner since 1964 is novelist Vincent Virga; they met in graduate school at Yale.
"I went through college with no sexual adventures. Several guys expressed their love for me, but I took it in stride. Never took it to heart or bed.
Enter Jimmy at Yale. When we met, I had never been to a gay bar. I had never tricked. When he told me late Spring 1965 that he was in love, I assumed it was with one of the other guys in our class. I can still see us crossing Chapel Street in New Haven going to my apartment after class having this conversation: Is it Bill? Is it Gary? Who is it?
”It’s you,” he said.
I was beyond stunned. There were no women in my life. There were no men in my life. All of that had been put on hold. I was a spiritual hooker, as I came to call myself. I was the center of the social life of my class at Yale. My apartment was the meeting place. Everyone loved me. Safety in numbers, no? I was offered a beginner’s place in Pearl Lang’s & Martha Graham’s dance companies. I came to hate Yale because the drama teacher was not a fan of my work and was pretty up-front with her rejections. I was contemplating transferring into the Director’s class where I knew I probably really belonged. But, then, Jimmy told me he loved me and I began to look at him in a different way. And then one Saturday morning when my roommate was away, Jimmy boldly slipped into my bed.
We left Yale and went to the London School of Drama. I was still not fully committed to having a love-life with Jimmy though you would never have known that from the way I behaved with him. We were lovers, passionately and relentlessly and shamelessly physical with one another whenever possible, which was all of the time. I was still not altogether convinced I was gay. Then in Paris–of all unoriginal places!?–I told him while we were walking by the Seine that I had decided I didn’t think a life with him was a good idea. He said okay. He also said goodbye and walked away leaving me standing by the Seine. I followed him back to the hotel and watched him pack his bags to go back to London alone. And then the bubble of denial burst. I began to cry hysterically. He took me in his arms. Boy, did I cry! And what did he say?
“We all have to come out in our own way.”" --Vincent Virga

Vincent Virga and James McCourt, 1987, by Robert Giard
James McCourt is an American writer and novelist. His life partner since 1964 is novelist Vincent Virga. "I told him while we were walking by the Seine [...] I didn’t think a life with him was a good idea. He said okay [...] and walked away leaving me standing [...] I followed him back to the hotel and watched him pack his bags to go back to London alone [...] I began to cry hysterically. He took me in his arms [...] And what did he say? “We all have to come out in our own way.”" --Vincent Virga







McCourt is best known for his extravagant 1975 novel Mawrdew Czgowchwz, about a fictional opera diva, and his 2003 nonfiction book Queer Street, about gay life in New York City after World War II. His latest novel, Now Voyagers,2007, is the first in a series of projected sequels to Mawrdew Czgowchwz.

McCourt has garnered praise from critics Susan Sontag and Harold Bloom, and has recently been championed by author Dennis Cooper. Sontag directed McCourt's first novel, Mawrdew Czgowchwz, to her publisher's attention, while Bloom named a later work, Time Remaining to his influential Western Canon. Mawrdew Czgowchwz was brought back in print in 2002 with a new introduction by Wayne Koestenbaum.

In October 2013, Lasting City: The Anatomy of Nostalgia, the new memory of James McCourt, will be released.
"Okay, also time for full disclosure: This year Genji is 1000 years old and Jimmy and I are together 45 years, which in terms of human relationships seems a neat equivalent. If Jimmy's classic “Mawrdew Czgowchwz” encapsulates the "divine frenzy" (in Richard Howard's description) of “divadienst”, then “Time Remaining” captures the grief and the defiantly hilarious time in our lives during the age of the devastating AIDS epidemic. And as one elderly gentleman of our persuasion said to Jimmy after a packed-out reading (during a wild snowstorm) of “Queer Street” in the now-defunct Barnes & Noble on Sixth Avenue and 22nd Street: "We really did talk that way, you know! You haven't made anything up, you know! But, of course you know! Why else would I have dragged my ass out into this demented blizzard if you didn't know?"" --Vincent Virga
"Ever since we spent 24/7 together those first years in London, we both find it difficult to be apart for any length of time. It’s always fun for the first few day but then neither of us sleeps well in beds alone, etc. I have become the U.S. Representative for a major collection of historical documents in County Mayo, where we live, and that has led to a whole new career for me on both sides of the Atlantic.
My “vision” was always that I would be able to write my fiction as my primary occupation with picture work being less a necessity and more a chosen delight or challenge. Well, the gods above me, who must be in the know, have made this my current way of life. I am profoundly grateful for my life. I feel blessed. After Children of Paradise, I hope to complete a large novel called Theatricals begun many years ago and waiting for me with a full first draft in need of a serious rewrite, etc., etc., etc. It’s about the theater in Ireland and America in the 1850s and 1860s with its climax at Antietam. And next May my third Civil War book will be published by Norton: Civil War Sketch Book. It’s about the sketch artists who documented the war at a time when the camera shutter was too slow to capture action. There will be a piece on the book in next May’s National Geographic Magazine, which just may help sell a few copies....
Jimmy is working on the first volume of his memoir, Lasting City, as well as on two pieces of fiction. He was invited to submit a piece to Triplecanopy, an online journal and we both now feel launched in the 21st century: him with that piece in the loveliest of cyberspace worlds and me with Kindle Gaywyck." --Vincent Virga


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_McCourt_(writer)
Read Time Remaining — and McCourt‘s other books — like installments of the thinking gay man‘s Encyclopédie. Absorb the crowded intensity of this novel: old movie plots, snippets of fine poetry (Schuyler! Auden! Ashbery!), situationist arguments, modern art, sassy banter on a midnight train, bad puns and brilliant ones. He helps explain the world, through a thousand little examples and citations. Maybe the texts won‘t, in the end, point to the big answer, but, to let Odette have the last word, ―All a body wants, really, is a little emphasis now and again. --Timothy Young, The Lost Library: Gay Fiction Rediscovered

James McCourt, 1987, by Robert Giard
American photographer Robert Giard is renowned for his portraits of American poets and writers; his particular focus was on gay and lesbian writers. Some of his photographs of the American gay and lesbian literary community appear in his groundbreaking book Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, published by MIT Press in 1997. Giard’s stated mission was to define the literary history and cultural identity of gays and lesbians for the mainstream of American society, which perceived them as disparate, marginal individuals possessing neither. In all, he photographed more than 600 writers. (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/digitallibrary/giard.html)


I’m a native New Yorker born September 28, 1942.

That day, my orphaned mother was mistakenly told by her surrogate mother, Mamie O’Neill, that two tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda (instead of two teaspoons) would ease her discomforts. Soon, an ambulance rushed Frances to St. Vincent’s Hospital with me being propelled into the world. In shock, my mother asked a passing nun, “Where am I?” When another nun followed hard upon to ask for my name my mother announced, “Vincent!” Turns out, St. Vincent de Paul is the patron saint of orphans....

We moved into a large city project on the East River opposite the present site of the UN until my dad moved us to Lindenhurst, Long Island in 1952. I felt kidnapped. I loved the city, especially the local movie theater–The Beacon–where they showed reruns of the golden Hollywood movies. That is where my visual vocabulary, my acute visual literacy, was born and nurtured. I learned how to look at what I see from the movies and from picture books. I joke that I look therefore I am.

I’m also a compulsive reader. I cannot remember a time when I couldn’t read. Dizzy Gillespie said that when he found the trumpet he found the best part of himself. Well, when I found the word and the image I, too, entered a luminous realm of existence.

After Lindenhurst High School, I went to St. Bonaventure University, and then to Yale Graduate School where in 1964 I met my life-partner, the writer James McCourt who had a deep and abiding friendship with the musical genius Victoria de los Angeles. (Her love and her art became a cornerstone of our lives together.) Jimmy and I went to live in London for nearly 5 years before returning home to NYC for the publication of his story Mawrdew Czgowchwz and for the making of a life in the city of my dreams.

I went through college with no sexual adventures. Several guys expressed their love for me, but I took it in stride. Never took it to heart or bed.

Enter Jimmy at Yale. When we met, I had never been to a gay bar. I had never tricked. When he told me late Spring 1965 that he was in love, I assumed it was with one of the other guys in our class. I can still see us crossing Chapel Street in New Haven going to my apartment after class having this conversation: Is it Bill? Is it Gary? Who is it?

”It’s you,” he said.

I was beyond stunned. There were no women in my life. There were no men in my life. All of that had been put on hold. I was a spiritual hooker, as I came to call myself. I was the center of the social life of my class at Yale. My apartment was the meeting place. Everyone loved me. Safety in numbers, no? I was offered a beginner’s place in Pearl Lang’s & Martha Graham’s dance companies. I came to hate Yale because the drama teacher was not a fan of my work and was pretty up-front with her rejections. I was contemplating transferring into the Director’s class where I knew I probably really belonged. But, then, Jimmy told me he loved me and I began to look at him in a different way. And then one Saturday morning when my roommate was away, Jimmy boldly slipped into my bed.

We left Yale and went to the London School of Drama. I was still not fully committed to having a love-life with Jimmy though you would never have known that from the way I behaved with him. We were lovers, passionately and relentlessly and shamelessly physical with one another whenever possible, which was all of the time. I was still not altogether convinced I was gay. Then in Paris–of all unoriginal places!?–I told him while we were walking by the Seine that I had decided I didn’t think a life with him was a good idea. He said okay. He also said goodbye and walked away leaving me standing by the Seine. I followed him back to the hotel and watched him pack his bags to go back to London alone. And then the bubble of denial burst. I began to cry hysterically. He took me in his arms. Boy, did I cry! And what did he say?

“We all have to come out in our own way.”

My first “real” job stateside was as the typesetter at The New York Review of Books. The true joy of that job was my friendship with Susan Sontag. During times of great happiness and times of crisis, Susan was there for both Jimmy and me. Both Victoria and Susan died within weeks of each other. The dedication of Cartographia is to the memory of them both: two gifted people who expanded my world in ways beyond measure. And the same can be said of the third dedicatee, James McCourt.

After leaving NYRB, I published my first novel, Gaywyck, the much-touted first gay gothic; it was followed by A Comfortable Corner, and Vadriel Vail.

My first picture-editing project was in 1973. I made a book from a John Wayne record America, Why I Love Her. Michael Korda, Editor-in-Chief at Simon & Schuster, hired me; he was pleased with my research for his own book Success. Wayne’s book was a success. Presto! I was a very happy picture editor. After complaining that art directors were moving “my” pictures around and screwing up my spreads, Michael told me to show them what I wanted. Presto! I was a designer of picture sections, one he eventually christened “the Michaelangelo of picture editors” and “my secret weapon” in a Washington Post interview.

On my last photo-editing project, adding pictures to Hillary Clinton’s It Takes A Village, I learned that most researchers now use only what’s online and don’t even know about the dusty boxes of negatives at the heart of photo agencies. As with all “my” over-150 authors,” Senator Clinton had been a hands-on colleague adjusting my Xerox collages into the picture sections for her memoir, Living History, as was her husband for his memoir, My Life. Over nearly thirty years I’ve created picture inserts for authors as diverse as John Wayne and Jane Fonda, Omar Bradley and Ethel Merman, Miles Davis and Walter Cronkite, Kitty Kelley and Wayne Barrett and Richard Rhodes. I’ve also done six picture books of my own.

Source: http://www.vincentvirga.com/
I loved Gothic romantic suspense novels when I was a teenager (Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, Phyllis A. Whitney), so I was absolutely delighted when a copy of Gaywyck passed my desk when I was editor of Lambda Book Report. Alyson republished this classic from the late 70’s in 2000; and I was thrilled to read a gay Gothic romantic suspense. Virga channeled the Bronte Sisters when he was writing this classic, in which a handsome young gay orphan goes to work as a tutor at a gorgeous brooding (and possibly haunted) mansion on Long Island (Gaywyck), complete with a sexy but mysterious master of the estate, and secrets galore. Set just before the turn of the twentieth century, Virga’s attention to historical detail gives the book an authenticity so many other, similar books sadly lack. --Greg Herren

Vincent Virga, 1987, by Robert Giard (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/dl_crosscollex/brbldl_getrec.asp?fld=img&id=112409)
American photographer Robert Giard is renowned for his portraits of American poets and writers; his particular focus was on gay and lesbian writers. Some of his photographs of the American gay and lesbian literary community appear in his groundbreaking book Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, published by MIT Press in 1997. Giard’s stated mission was to define the literary history and cultural identity of gays and lesbians for the mainstream of American society, which perceived them as disparate, marginal individuals possessing neither. In all, he photographed more than 600 writers. (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/digitallibrary/giard.html)


Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1500563323
ISBN-13: 978-1500563325
CreateSpace Store: https://www.createspace.com/4910282
Amazon (Paperback): http://www.amazon.com/dp/1500563323/?tag=elimyrevandra-20
Amazon (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MZG0VHY/?tag=elimyrevandra-20

Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher


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Tags: author: james mccourt, author: vincent virga, days of love, particular voices
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