Tuesday, November 18, 2003

I finished reading the first volume of Felice Picano's memoirs, Ambidextrous: the Secret Lives of Children, this morning on my way to work. It's rather breathtaking, and is by far superior to all of Picano's novels save Like People In History. That's not to say that the rest of Picano's ouevre is inferior, per sé, because it's most certainly not; he's one of the finest gay authors of the last 30 years. But this is even better. In his youth - before really hitting his teenage years with full force, in fact - Picano was a teen pornographer, a glue-sniffing homosexualist, a cunt-fingering precocious preteen, and already developing his prodigious gifts as a writer. All of those and more are on display in Ambidextrous, which has been blessedly returned to print this year by Southern Tier Editions of Harrington Park Press, fast becoming of the U.S.'s finest publishing imprints. The other two volumes are titled Men Who Loved Me and A House on the Ocean, A House on the Bay, and both of those are back in print as well. I eagerly look forward to reading them. Give me Picano over Updike or Bellow any day.

Some of the best fiction I've read in the past year has been (at least semi-)directed towards young adults, Brian Bouldry's The Year of Ice and Alex Sanchez's Rainbow Boys at the head of the class. Turns out that gay fiction for teens is a burgeoning market, thank God. Salon has a superb piece on this, spun around an interview with David Levithan, author of the new addition to the "genre," Boy Meets Boy (which certainly sounds like a must-read). [You have to watch a 10-second ad to read the entire piece, but it's worth it.] Also new is Rainbow High, Sanchez's sequel to his superb first novel.

Of a completely different ilk is Melancholia and Moralism: Essays on AIDS and Queer Politics, the recent collection by Douglas Crimp (The MIT Press, 2002). This is an intellectual H-bomb in the face of the queer "establishment" (Crimp doesn't spare Andrew Sullivan any vitriol, trust) and, for that matter, the AIDS establishment. It's much needed, and always put forth clearly and intelligently. I've just read the Introduction yet and am already devastated. I'll be giving this book a permanent place on my bookshelf (and will write more about it as I make my way through it).

Speaking of AIDS, if you've any interest in the topic, or CBS's Reagans bungle, or the forthcoming HBO film of Angels In America, you absolutely must read Frank Rich from this Sunday's New York Times. His piece is titled "Angels, Reagan, and AIDS In America" and is pretty brilliantly spot-on (and spot-on brilliant), even by Rich's usual high standards.

Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't at least mention today's Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage. My optimism is guarded - courts in Alaska and Hawaii have said similar things in the past couple of years, and those states now have prohibitions against same-sex marriage in place - but it's optimism, nonetheless. My gut says that Massachusetts will take the path forged by Vermont and Governor Howard Dean (who celebrated his 55th birthday yesterday) a few years back. Consider my fingers crossed.

Finally, has there ever been a more eloquent mainstream pop record about homosexuality than Rod Stewart's 1977 "The Killing of Georgie (Parts 1 & 2)"? I think not. [Of course, if you think differently, please share with our studio audience in the Comments.]

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