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Author Topic: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)  (Read 612732 times)

Offline tfferg

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #3945 on: November 05, 2019, 02:57:30 PM »
I think Rechy's "youngman" has connotations that "young man" doesn't evoke.

Offline tfferg

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #3946 on: November 05, 2019, 03:04:36 PM »
I think Rechy's "youngman" has connotations that "young man" doesn't evoke.

I'm reading Chaos, Edmund White's collection of short stories. The first one which is quite long about an ageing gay writer is a piece of metafiction which ends on an interesting critical note. I wonder if it might perhaps refer to Edmund White himself.

Offline brian

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #3947 on: November 05, 2019, 05:10:11 PM »
I have a signed copy of Edmund White's 'My lives" I use ot attend the Sydney Writers festival and he was there one year. I also have his 'A boy's own story' I was embarrassed as I spoke to him about it then when I got home I realised I had confused it with 'The best little boy in the world ' by John Reid. I still squirm when I think I actually got to speak with a gay author and confused books. I guess he forgot about it a few minutes later but I never have. Just looking at my book shelf I see I have 'Dancer from the dance'.
I am just taking back to the library 2 books by gay authors.
One is 'New country - plays and short stories' by James Courage. He was a New Zealander born in 1903 so any sexual references are oblique
 I read he wrote 'A way of love' in 1959. Described as the first published gay novel by a New Zealander but was eventually banned. Of coure out of pirnt but I will see if it is in our library.
Also taki ng back 'Some hell' by Patrick Nathan. too dark for me , I only read the first chapter.

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #3948 on: November 05, 2019, 07:41:45 PM »
I think Rechy's "youngman" has connotations that "young man" doesn't evoke.

Perhaps it does, but that doesn't make it any the less annoying.

Offline brian

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #3949 on: November 05, 2019, 10:45:04 PM »
I was able to borrow 'A way of love' published and banned in 1959.
There were 2 copies in the library, one in the heritage centre. Banned in the '50's but important heritage in the 21st century. LOL
I guess it will be pretty mild by today's standards.

Offline Sara B

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #3950 on: November 12, 2019, 08:08:53 AM »
Found it on Kindle, just 4.23 dollars, a bargain! Now I own that and a  free audio copy of "Lie with Me"  by Philippe Besson, which I saw that you've already posted about here. Translated by Molly "Breakfast Club" Ringwald... Exciting!

Thanks to my cold I’ve spent most of the last few days at home in the warm, reading. Quite nice really, with no family, cooking etc to worry about.

So, I liked The Fancy Dancer, but didn’t love it. Very easy to read, quite gritty in places, interesting take on the varying attitudes of the Catholic Church at that time towards homosexuality (so what’s changed?) and I did like the ending. It just didn’t move me very much, not sure why.

And the other book I’ve just read was another Patrick Gale, Friendly Fire, which I liked a lot. Unlike most of his books it was written chronologically, and pretty much from the point of view of one character. Sophie is a very bright teenaged girl living in a children’s home, who wins a scholarship to a rather eccentric public (UK meaning) school, which bears some relation apparently to Winchester College, the author’s own school. She isn’t gay, but as in all PG’s novels there is always a gay thread, major or minor, and in this one fairly major. I much enjoyed the school setting and the intricacies of the relationships.
“When we grow older still we’ll speak about those two young men as if they were two strangers..... And we’ll want to call it envy, because to call it regret would break our hearts.”

Call Me by Your Name, André Aciman.

Offline tfferg

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #3951 on: November 13, 2019, 12:49:31 PM »
Thanks to my cold I’ve spent most of the last few days at home in the warm, reading. Quite nice really, with no family, cooking etc to worry about.

So, I liked The Fancy Dancer, but didn’t love it. Very easy to read, quite gritty in places, interesting take on the varying attitudes of the Catholic Church at that time towards homosexuality (so what’s changed?) and I did like the ending. It just didn’t move me very much, not sure why.

I got very worried about how Tom's life would be affected by Mrs S, but since the story doesn't end in tragedy ...

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #3952 on: November 17, 2019, 05:17:35 PM »
Over this weekend I re-read The Perfect Storm, by Sebastian Junger, which I first read back in the 1990s. Even though I remembered how it turns out, I still found it a pretty gripping read.

Offline tfferg

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #3953 on: November 18, 2019, 05:02:14 AM »
Unrequited Love: Diary of an Accidental Activist by Dennis Altman is an interesting, rather idiosyncratic memoir which blends the personal with history.

Dennis Altman, the son of Central European Jewish refugees, grew up in Tasmania. He won a scholarship to do his postgraduate studies at Cornell University, New York where he arrived in 1970.

The "unrequited love" of the title refers both to his personal and Australia's relationship with the USA. In the book, he also recounts how he came to fall into the counterculture and especially into Gay Liberation, "accidentally" becoming a gay activist. He published the classic Homosexual: Oppression and Liberation in 1971.

In Unrequited Love, he documents his doings from late 2016 to early 2019, including local Australian and international academic meetings and discussions, events he witnesses or takes part in, various other social and cultural events, opera performances, travels, and the people he meets.

These recent diary entries spark memories, insightful comments and reflections on pivotal events over the last 50 years in mainstream and gay politics and on current local and wider politics and social trends. He has met an extraordinary array of gay activists, writers, intellectuals, researchers, politicians, public figures and more.

He writes tellingly about his discoveries about memory as the years pass. He shares much of his personal life, including meeting his partner Anthony Smith and grieving his death after 20 years together. I was surprised to learn who his favourite writer is. He admits to not understanding one very significant queer phenomenon. He mentions his flaws too. He enjoys gossip, but his writing does not become salacious or too confessional.

It is a very readable book which gave me a deeper insight to the activist writer and public figure.

Offline tfferg

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #3954 on: December 08, 2019, 11:53:02 PM »
When the gay novelist Christos Tsiolkas who was brought up Greek Orthodox was an adolescent battling with his "fear, shame and terror" about his homosexuality, he first read the writings of St Paul. His commonplace (mis)understanding of the infamous condemnation of males having sex with males in I Corinthians led him to reject his religion.

In his late 20s, during  time of confusion and despair, he read more of the epistle and found "solace, compassion and understanding" in Paul's words, words that inspired his mother's continuing belief. She simply ignored the verse that alienated her son. She emphasised the teaching that we must love one another and not judge each other.

Christos Tsiolkas struggled to reconcile the "great universal truths that I find compelling in his interpretations of Jesus' words and life" on the one hand with the "oppression and hypocrisy of the Churches that claim to be founded on the very same words" on the other.

Wanting to understand who Paul was and the contradictions in the Epistles finally led Christos Tsiolkas decades later to spend a year studying everything he could from or about Saul/Paul's era. He read the whole Bible, the whole Quran, history, theology and philosophy for 14 months, travelling in Paul's footsteps. Crucially, he also read the early Christian and Gnostic texts discovered near Nag Hammadi in 1945, especially the surprising Gospel of Thomas which was excised from the canonical Bibles of the Churches.

This Thomas who was one of Jesus' disciples is not the Doubting Thomas of the canonical gospels. Christos Tsiolkas gives us the significant meaning of the Aramaic name Thomas.

The author spent another four years and seven drafts writing his ambitious new novel, Damascus published this year.

It is a dramatic, secular novel. He calls is "heretical" but "not blasphemous".

With a chronology that moves back and forth, it has multiple narrators: the historical and Biblical characters Paul (who he continues to call Saul after the conversion the road to Damascus}, his beloved companion Timothy, Jesus' brother and disciple James, leader of the Jewish Christian community in Jerusalem; the Greek woman Lydia, one of Paul's first non-Jewish converts; the entirely fictional Vrasas, a proud pagan Roman former soldier who the author imagines as the apostle's gaoler when he is under house arrest in Rome. Thomas is a key character. Other Biblical figures include Able (the English translation of Onesimus, Philemon's runaway slave who headed the church at Colossae).

Christos Tsiolkas confronts the reader with blunt, visceral scenes of the savagery, cruelty especially towards women and girls, slaves, rebels, dissidents, refugees and the poor and the extremely squalid sights and smells of the Israeli and Greco-Roman world of the first century, of the common era though none of it is gratuitous.

Damascus continues the examination of masculinity, religion, colonialism, class and sexuality that features in all his work.

The book is not a hagiography. The characters are very human, not the idealised saints of the Churches. They are complex, they develop over time through their experiences and interrelationships. Saul is deeply conflicted as he responds to his shame and self-disgust at his cruelty and his secret sexuality which torment him him throughout as he battles with doubt. The book follows the early Christian leaders' desperate struggles to maintain their faith into the fourth generation after the crucifixion and the imminently expected return of their Saviour and the Kingdom of Heaven fails to eventuate.

Paul and Thomas have very different experiences and understanding of the Yeshua (Jesus) they both love. Together with Timothy, they are shown as a triangle of tenderly affectionate homoerotic (not homosexual) and familial lovers. At times there is jealousy too.

Christos Tsiolkas does work out a personal reconciliation with Paul. He celebrates the more compassionate, even revolutionary aspects of Paul's teaching derived from the teachings of Jesus. He sees both of them in the Judaic tradition that emphasised justice and compassion. (So we can understand why he consistently calls them Saul and Yeshua.)

In the end, the most positive character is Thomas who accepts his own humanity and trusts only his eye and ears.

Fittingly, the front cover of the novel is Caravaggio's Conversion on the Way to Damascus.
« Last Edit: Yesterday at 01:13:28 AM by tfferg »

Offline Sara B

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #3955 on: Yesterday at 01:05:38 AM »
That is some dedicated research!
“When we grow older still we’ll speak about those two young men as if they were two strangers..... And we’ll want to call it envy, because to call it regret would break our hearts.”

Call Me by Your Name, André Aciman.

Offline Elisiv05

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #3956 on: Yesterday at 01:16:49 AM »
When the gay novelist Christos Tsiolkas who was brought up Greek Orthodox was an adolescent battling with his "fear, shame and terror" about his homosexuality, he first read the writings of St Paul. His commonplace (mis)understanding of the infamous condemnation of males having sex with males in I Corinthians led him to reject his religion.

In his late 20s, during  time of confusion and despair], he read more of the epistle and found "solace, compassion and understanding" in Paul's words, words that inspired his mother's continuing belief. She simply ignored the verse that alienated her son. She emphasised the teaching that we must love one another and not judge each other.

Christos Tsiolkas struggled to reconcile the "great universal truths that I find compelling in his interpretations of Jesus' words and life" on the one hand with the "oppression and hypocrisy of the Churches that claim to be founded on the very same words" on the other.

Wanting to understand who Paul was and the contradictions in the Epistles finally led Christos Tsiolkas decades later to spend a year studying everything he could from or about Saul/Paul's era. He read the whole Bible, the whole Quran, history, theology and philosophy for 14 months, travelling in Paul's footsteps. Crucially, he also read the early Christian and Gnostic texts discovered near Nag Hammadi in 1945, especially the surprising Gospel of Thomas which was excised from the canonical Bibles of the Churches.

This Thomas who was one of Jesus' disciples is not the Doubting Thomas of the canonical gospels. Christos Tsiolkas gives us the significant meaning of the Aramaic name Thomas.

The author spent another four years and seven drafts writing his ambitious new novel, Damascus published this year.

It is a dramatic, secular novel. He calls is "heretical" but "not blasphemous".

With a chronology that moves back and forth, it has multiple narrators: the historical and Biblical characters Paul (who he continues to call Saul after the conversion the road to Damascus}, his beloved companion Timothy, Jesus' brother and disciple James, leader of the Jewish Christian community in Jerusalem; the Greek woman Lydia, one of Paul's first non-Jewish converts; the entirely fictional Vrasas, a proud pagan Roman former soldier who the author imagines as the apostle's gaoler when he is under house arrest in Rome. Thomas is a key character. Other Biblical figures include Able (the English translation of Onesimus, Philemon's runaway slave who headed the church at Colossae).

Christos Tsiolkas confronts the reader with blunt, visceral scenes of the savagery, cruelty especially towards women and girls, slaves, rebels, dissidents, refugees and the poor and the extremely squalid sights and smells of the Israeli and Greco-Roman world of the first century, of the common era though none of it is gratuitous.

Damascus continues the examination of masculinity, religion, colonialism, class and sexuality that features in all his work.

The book is not a hagiography. The characters are very human, not the idealised saints of the Churches. They are complex, they develop over time through their experiences and interrelationships. Saul is deeply conflicted as he responds to his shame and self-disgust at his cruelty and his secret sexuality which torment him him throughout as he battles with doubt. The book follows the early Christian leaders' desperate struggles to maintain their faith into the fourth generation after the crucifixion and the imminently expected return of their Saviour and the Kingdom of Heaven fails to eventuate.

Paul and Thomas have very different experiences and understanding of the Yeshua (Jesus) they both love. Together with Timothy, they are shown as a triangle of tenderly affectionate homoerotic (not homosexual) and familial lovers. At times there is jealousy too.

Christos Tsiolkas does work out a personal reconciliation with Paul. He celebrates the more compassionate, even revolutionary aspects of Paul's teaching derived from the teachings of Jesus. He sees both of them in the Judaic tradition that emphasised justice and compassion. (So we can understand why he consistently calls them Saul and Yeshua.)

In the end, the most positive character is Thomas who accepts his own humanity and trusts only his eye and ears.

Fittingly, the front cover of the novel is Caravaggio's Conversion on the Way to Damascus.
I'm so going to read this, as theology is one of my major subjects and roman history a passion. Thanks, Tony! You always give such thorough reviews.
You know somebody name a Jack?


"She is too fond of books and it has turned
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Offline Sara B

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #3957 on: Yesterday at 01:19:29 AM »
Doesn’t he just!

I have quite a love/hate relationship with Paul.

The book sounds really interesting but I don’t think I could cope with the cruelty.
“When we grow older still we’ll speak about those two young men as if they were two strangers..... And we’ll want to call it envy, because to call it regret would break our hearts.”

Call Me by Your Name, André Aciman.

Offline tfferg

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #3958 on: Yesterday at 01:26:50 AM »
That is some dedicated research!

... and a remarkable achievement turning what he learnt from what was becoming an academic kind of book into a very readable novel.

Offline tfferg

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #3959 on: Yesterday at 01:43:56 AM »
I'm so going to read this, as theology is one of my major subjects and roman history a passion. Thanks, Tony! You always give such thorough reviews.

I'll very interested in your response to it, Elisa.