“Septembers: Senior Muses of a Gay Man” by Ronald G. Perrier— The Rest of the Story… So Far

septembers

Perrier, Ronald G. “Septembers: Senior Muses of a Gay Man”, Archie Publications, 2014.

The Rest of the Story… So Far

Amos Lassen

September has been used traditionally to denote growing older and I had never really thought much about it even though I am in the September of my life. It really hit me on a recent trip to my hometown, New Orleans, and looking thorough my old high school yearbook. I was amazed and saddened by the number of people that are no longer alive—people I had once known well. Perrier wrote this as the continuation of his “Persistence of Vision” and while it does continue the story, it also has a lot of interesting new material.

It seems like the September of our lives is the perfect time to reflect on who we are and where we’ve been; Perrier wrote this when he reached 75 and we can be more objective—sometimes it is not easy to talk about the times that were not so good. This book is part two of Dr. Perrier’s life story as he reaches the age of 75 years—that is, 75 Septembers. He notes, too, that the old tune “September Song” describes the aging process in terms of the months of the year; when a man reaches advanced age, he is in the September of his life, and the remaining days get fewer and fewer as time is running out.

Like Perrier, I would like to know that I have influenced some people and that they will remember me. As we get older we think about the relationships we have had and the people that we have known as well as the impact we have had on people and that they have had on us. While this is not a story told necessarily, it all comes together to give us a fairly complete picture of the man. I love being able to read about a life that is so similar to my own. Perrier’s life has been full and it reminds me of a question I was asked just this morning—why is that I never married. There are always those that want us married off and who cannot comprehend a different sexuality than heterosexual. The person who asked me is a lovely older lady at my temple who explained that she has always wanted the best for me and that I should have children. Like Perrier, I have had many children—every student I ever taught is my child and I am the proud father of many successful people.

Perrier goes a step further by including some of the important people in our movement as his children, i.e. Matthew Shepard and Alan Turing. For me, it was as if we have a beautiful family in this life and each contributed something to it. Now I can only hope that Perrier can give us another book named “December” and that he has longer to live and more to write about.

 

“Persistence of Vision: The Life Journey of a Gay Man” by Ronald G. Perrier— Looking Back and Moving Forward

persistence of vision

Perrier, Ronald G. “Persistence of Vision: The Life Journey of a Gay Man”, Archie Publications 2008.

Looking Back and Moving Forward

Amos Lassen

I am constantly amazed at the number of good books that we never hear about for a myriad of reasons and this is exactly why I keep my eyes and ears open when I hear people talking about books that they have read. While I did not hear anything about this book, I did see an ad for it in a LGBT literary magazine and it made me interested to find out more about it. I am so glad I did because it fills part of the gay in our literature and reminds us that our community is everywhere (just as it should be). This is Ronald Perrier’s recollections of his life. He was raised on a farm in rural Minnesota and went on to become a college professor and it is filled with great stories as it tells us about an area of this country that I know very little about.

The differences that we might feel we share with those living in rural America turn out not to be so different after all. Perrier’s back-story is very similar to what so many of us went through and he guides through his struggles with being a Catholic boy who was born 1941 dealing with his sexuality. Most of us had to face thinking that there was no one else like us as well as shame and the feeling that we were being set apart from others. Perrier knew he wanted to be a teacher and he stuck to his goal throughout his life. He remembers being in the first grade and falling in love with teaching on the early date in his life. His first mentor and role model was his teacher at his one-room schoolhouse and who taught him from the first through the eighth grades. At the same time he was dealing with his sexual identity and his Catholic upbringing and he even had a nervous breakdown and undergoing treatment for depression at a relatively young age but this did not hinder him in seeking his goal. He eventually managed to teach over 50,000 students in his forty-year career. Reading this, I saw myself several times—the trials and tribulations were basically the same but the locations were different.

Later he met Charles Nolte, professor emeritus of theater at UMN who also became a mentor for him as well as a good friend. In fact, many of us share the memories, experiences, and images that came to define him. We see very clearly here that it is the people with whom we come into contact with that determine a lot about who we are. Perrier writes in lovely prose about people and events and to miss reading this story is sad. I was once told that in order to live a good life we have to take it one day at a time and each of those has something to teach us and that is what we see so clearly here.

“Monk with a Camera”— From the Mundane to the Sacred

monk with a camera

“Monk with a Camera”

From the Mundane to the Sacred

Amos Lassen

Nicholas Vreeland, the grandson of Diana Vreeland walked away from the worldly lifestyle that he had been raised in after having been trained to use a camera by Irving Penn. When he met a Tibetan Buddhist Monk, his life changed totally. Not long afterwards, he gave everything up and began living in a monastery in India where, for fourteen years, he studied Buddhism. Ironically, he went back to photography to help rebuild the monastery. He was appointed Abbot of the monastery by the Dalai Lama and this made him the first westerner in the history of Buddhism to ever reach such a position.

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Vreeland’s father was a diplomat to the United Nations and he had quite a background. Born in Switzerland, he was educated in Europe, North Africa, and the United States. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Vreeland pursued a career in photography working as an assistant to Irving Penn and Richard Avedon, two famous masters of the art. However, he felt something was missing in his life but that changed when he met Khylongla Rato Rinpoche, founder of the Tibet Center in New York City, who became his guru. Eventually, he settled in Tibet and took charge of building the Rato monastery there.

Through his story as directed by Guido Santi and Tina Mascara, we see the challenges facing Tibetan Buddhism in the Western world. On a more personal level, the documentary also looks at Vreeland’s struggle reconciling his passion for photography with his spiritual life and his Buddhist understandings of attachment and impermanence. There was a time when he eschewed entirely. Then came 2008 economic crash that stopped funds coming in for the monastery construction so he traveled around the world raising nearly a half million dollars through the sales of his photographs.

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We see, in the film, some really touching scenes that include the encouragement his father and brother gave him, a scene of monks rescuing an ant who steps in their path, the joy given to Vreeland’s guru by a toy parrot, and the laughter of His Holiness the Dalai Lama when in the midst of very sober rituals.

He still takes pictures, which he says can be justified to the extent that it helps others. The Dalai Lama considers him instrumental in developing American Buddhism before naming him an abbot. This the story of a man who moved from being a dandy to becoming an ascetic.

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What makes this film so fascinating is the insight into Buddhism that it provides especially in the areas of values as well a look at some of the conflict and contradiction that are part of Nicky’s spiritual journey—especially the Buddhist desire to transcend ego. When Vreeland sought to dispense with worldly things, there is something about the very nature of art that emphasizes and affirms ego. Monasticism is only part of what Vreeland went through but he also had to learn how to live in the world while embodying the values of a religious tradition. Today Vreeland is at home in both Rato and New York City. I am sure that he still struggles with avoiding the kinds of attachments that feed his ego, yet he has also has a kind of certain grace that fills his life and his relationships with others. We can all learn something about the nature of spiritualism in our lives regardless of religion and we see that here.

“The Homeport Journals” by A.C. Burch— Coming to P’town

the homeport journals

Burch, A.C. “The Homeport Journals”, Wilde City Press, 2015,

Coming to P’town

Amos Lassen

Marc Nugent ran away from New York and an abusive relationship and went to Provincetown, Massachusetts where he was able to get a job at HomePort, the Provincetown mansion of the wonderfully wealthy, reclusive and fabulous Lola Staunton. Lola rarely leaves home these days. She has a maid, Helena Handbasket, a cross dresser, who is immediately taken with Marc. He looks into accusations of murder and rape that have caused Lola to be not just separated but estranged from a childhood friend of almost sixty years. Things really begin to change when an old and thought lost journal that was thought to be lost of Lola’s father turns up and has articles about adultery, infidelity and passion seem to reflect the life that Marc left behind in New York City.

Then Marc’s ex comes to seek revenge on Marc for having bolted and this forces Marc to confront his past, his definition of family, what love really means and how much of it is he capable of sharing. Marc meets Cole Hanson, an artist/caretaker with a troubled past but who lusts for him. Because he was so badly burnt by his former relationship, Marc fights any romantic feelings that he might have and as he does he learns why Lola has separated herself from the world. It seems that her father, the Captain, now long gone, was suspected of rape and murder of a girl in Provincetown. The Captain’s long-lost journal sheds new light on the case, and Marc manages to get Cole’s to help to find out what really happened .It is the same time that Marc’s ex is seeking revenge.

Author Burch examines love from many different levels in his novel. What we really get here aside from a fascinating read is musings on love between men, love across the divides of age and social status, love of the family we create for ourselves, and the sometimes arduous struggle to love one’s self in order to truly love someone else.”

I am not sure how to categorize the book because it is actually a mishmash of genres—there is some paranormal, some mystery, a bit of romance, and an erotic sex scene—as is said in the musical “Irma La Douce”, a little bit of everything that makes life worth living. (How many straight men would remember that?).

I love the author’s vivid descriptions of Provincetown and of the characters that live there and while I had a little trouble getting into the book at first I soon realized that I had embarked, along with Marc, on quite a journey. And what a cast of characters!! This is a fun read that is not meant to be taken seriously although the prose is wonderful. The plot is quite way out unless you know P’town intimately.

I realize that I have not said a great deal about the plot but there is a “method in my madness” that has nothing to do with my being snowed in the house for some three weeks. If I begin to talk about the plot, I am in danger of giving the story away and ruining it for other readers. This is a pearl of a book and I recommend it highly (I am also thinking of how soon I can get to P’town).

“IF YOU DON’T, I WILL”— Modern Relationships

IYDIW DVD Sleeve.indd

“IF YOU DON’T, I WILL”

Modern Relationships

Amos Lassen

Sophie Fillières looks at modern relationships with the help of Emmanuel Devos (Pomme) and Mathieu Amaric (Pierre) who star in “If You Don’t, I Will”.

We see how people who are stuck stranded in a once hot romance gone cold; begin to pick at one another. Pierre and Pomme are a chic, attractive French couple, and, at first, it appears that their mutual arguing is either an ironic sign of affectation or the symptom of a rut.

if you dont

Pierre grows possessive over Pomme while they are at an art opening, and their dialogue ends with him attempting to abandon her at a bus stop. Later, he talks to Pomme briefly while she’s showering, and, though we clearly understand that she expects him to climb into the shower with her, he brutally shortens the conversation in an act of willful obliviousness.

It is impossible to guess what happens in this film; one of the trademarks of director Sophie Fillières is that she never plays put what she thinks the audience thinks is going to happen. Here instead of having cute altercations, Pierre and Pomme have painful exchanges and while we tend to feel for Pomme in the beginning we see that Pierre’s callousness is just a cover for missing something in life. Pierre allows us to understand that his attacks come from a deep feeling of feeling of continual emotional blockage that’s really confusion.

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Passion and spontaneity between the two have given way to predictability and cold shoulders. Yet there’s a lingering optimism and hope they can return to the couple they used to be, attending chic art openings and sharing a laugh like young lovers. On a hike together one afternoon, Pomme declares her independence by deciding to stay in the woods rather than return to an underwhelming life with Pierre. Pierre tries to return to “normal”, despite his worry over her whereabouts and the sense that he’s missing his better half. Meanwhile, Pomme begins an extended meditation in the forest on where her own life should go next, with our without Pierre. In the end, both are left to deal with the strength and meaning of each other’s commitment.  Pomme and Pierre seem to be very much in tune with each other even while they aren’t. (No I cannot explain that sentence).

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In the first half of the film we rely on the verbosity of the characters’ speech to try to understand who they are. Then the film takes on a structure that follows Pomme after she decides to live in the woods in order to detox from Pierre’s poison. Pomme is trying to get in touch with herself and maybe even find solace in nature. Yet there is still a great deal of uncertainty with her. While in the woods, Pomme and Pierre are surrounded by the beauty of nature but they cannot see anything but their constant bickering.

The point of the film seems to be that there is no human more self-absorbed than one who is part of a new love situation. The despair that comes with the erosion of feelings is what seems to doom our two main characters.

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Solitude provides us with an escape from the pressures and obligations that are part of our private and daily lives. Nature and being alone gives us a reprieve from the constraints of the clock and social conventions. Solitude can indeed cause purification where we leave old habits and emotions behind and begin anew.

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Their marriage is in deep trouble and both of them know it. Pomme is hurting the most; she is at the end of her rope with his little attacks on her being.

The film is an intense portrait of a marriage that is ending. Emmanuelle Devos gives a nuanced performance as a wife who takes a break from her unhappiness in order to discover in solitude what she should do with her life. Pomme’s wilderness sojourn becomes a spiritual wake-up call as she realizes that she can no longer live in the midst of loss, disappointment, and frustration. All that remains is for her to head home and test out her decision in dialogue with Pierre.

“THE BOY WHO COULDN’T SWIM”– Two Teens and a Kiss

the buy

“The Boy Who Couldn’t Swim”

Two Teens and a Kiss

 ‘Rasmus arrives in Copenhagen determined to find his mother whom he has never met. Having just arrived at Copenhagen Central Station Rasmus is approached by Nicklas who wants Rasmus to help him by keeping a stolen IPod. Rasmus does so and to return the favor Nicklas offers to give Rasmus a ride to his mother’s house. Reluctantly Rasmus accepts the offer and that kicks off a day that holds lots of fun and reveals hidden feelings.’

kiss

Two young actors have that faces that are were very expressive of their personal sense of unsureness and disconnectedness with the world, yet wishing to demonstrate a bravado and control of their personal circumstances. The opening shots of the film showed the yearning and glistening hope in the eyes of the boy, Rasmus, as he looked out the train window, contrasted with the harsh face of a middle-aged stranger sitting next to him on the train whose face showed the angry lines of a firm acceptance of his place in hard world where dreams won’t come true. One can see in that that youth is not apt to find much of value from people such as those, who are more apt to destroy their spirit than they are to ignite it.

In the train station, the other boy, Niklas, almost by a kind of bodily magnetism instantly connects with Rasmus as someone he can trust to help him by holding a stolen item while he escapes from men who are pursuing him. A while later, Niklas, having escaped from the pursuing men, meets up with Rasmus and while it seems that Rasmus has a vague destination he is heading for that he doesn’t feel like revealing to Niklas, Niklas convinces him that they need to go there together with Rasmus riding in the cart of Rasmus’s bicycle cart. And that really was the true journey, the two of them toward, or with, each other, they who share certain personal circumstances and need.

This action of them traveling together seemed to put them together in their own isolated bubble. Much of the movie was simply their traveling together throughout the city of Copenhagen from one destination to another (which I appreciated seeing, as while I have passed through Copenhagen, I haven’t seen very much of it), but the beauty of the city, the simple shared exuberance of the boys as they felt the wind in their hair and a feeling of their own motive power, and the various expressions on their faces, sometimes wide open, sometimes cautiously masked, tell the true story without a need for words. And what words there were, were pointed and expressive, and throughout those conversations the boys were continually reaching out in yearning for connection, and then drawing back into unsureness, wavering on that balance beam between “yes I need” and “no I don’t”.

The title of the movie, “The Boy Who Couldn’t Swim”, made me think of a wise Jewish saying that I learned about in a psychology book, “A father’s job is to teach his children how to swim.” While at first that seems trivial, you come to realize that “swimming” is metaphorical of leaving the safety of home and venturing out bit by bit into an alien and dangerous world (or an uncaring and exploitative one). The father is not to hang onto his children, but to help them grow up into a secure adulthood. So what of those children who have not been “taught how to swim?” How do they maneuver out in this world without having had a secure center to start out from? Perhaps they can have another chance, by finding helpers along the way, if only they can recognize them and take the risk of connecting with them when they find them.

“THE WAY THINGS GO” (“Der Laugh der Dinge”)— “Pranksters of Art”

the way things go

“The Way Things Go” (“Der Laugh der Dinge”)

“Pranksters of Art”

Amos Lassen

 Swiss artists Peter Fischli (b. 1952) and David Weiss (1946–2012) built an enormous, precarious structure 100 feet long made out of common household items—tea kettles, tires, old shoes, balloons, wooden ramps, etc. Then, with fire, water, gravity and chemistry, they created a spectacular chain reaction, a self-destructing performance of physical interactions, chemical reactions, and precisely crafted chaos worthy of Rube Goldberg or Alfred Hitchcock. The artists have been called “the merry pranksters of contemporary art” and Fischli and Weiss collaborated for 33 years, drawing global notoriety and praise for taking on big questions with humble materials and a tongue-in-cheek manner. The film now on Blu-ray for the first time, is their most acclaimed and beloved work.

The film is something of a homage to the two artists and as we watch the film we see thirty minutes of cause and effect. It all starts with a suspended and unwinding trash bag that sets a tire into motion and from there on, there is a chain-reaction with fire, water, foam, popping corks, balloons, sparks, tires, balls, cylinders and enough examples of balance, gravity, momentum, inertia and chemical reactions and as viewers we are visually stunned.

The film was made with just one take and the contraption reportedly measured more than 100 feet. There’s tension and suspense here with great fire effects.

The title is a bit misleading—this is not a film that explains something but rather a film about things that happen without explanation. The way it is edited makes it seem what we see is one long reaction rather that several shorter ones, one happening after another. I loved the experience but I also would have liked a bit of narration.

27th Annual Lambda Literary Award Finalists

27th Annual Lambda Literary Award Finalists

Note: The number of finalists in a category is determined by the number of submissions in that category.

Those with an asterisk have been reviewed here at reviewsbyamoslassen.com

BISEXUAL FICTION

Best Bi Short Stories: Bisexual Fiction, Sheela Lambert, editor, Gressive Press, an imprint of Circlet Press
*Extraordinary Adventures of Mullah Nasruddin, Ron J. Suresha, Lethe Press
Finder of Lost Objects, Susie Hara, Ithuriel’s Spear
Give It to Me, Ana Castillo, The Feminist Press
*She of the Mountains, Vivek Shraya, Arsenal Pulp Press

BISEXUAL NONFICTION

*Fire Shut Up In My Bones, Charles M. Blow, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
*Not My Father’s Son, Alan Cumming, HarperCollins Publishers/Dey Street Books
*Recognize: The Voices of Bisexual Men, Robyn Ochs & H. Sharif Williams, editors,Bisexual Resource Center

GAY EROTICA

Bears of Winter, Jerry Wheeler, Bear Bones Books
Incubus Tales, Hushicho, Circlet Press
The King, Tiffany Reisz, MIRA Books
Leather Spirit Stallion, Raven Kaldera, Circlet Press
*The Thief Taker, William Holden, Bold Strokes Books
GAY GENERAL FICTION

*All I Love and Know, Judith Frank, HarperCollins/William Morrow
*Barracuda, Christos Tsiolkas, Hogarth
Bitter Eden: A Novel, Tatamkhulu Afrika, Macmillan/Picador USA
*The City of Palaces, Michael Nava, University of Wisconsin Press
I Loved You More, Tom Spanbauer, Hawthorne Books
*Little Reef and Other Stories, Michael Carroll, Terrace Books, an imprint of the University of Wisconsin Press
Next to Nothing: Stories, Keith Banner, Lethe Press
Souljah, John R Gordon, Angelica Entertainments Ltd/Team Angelica Publishing
GAY MEMOIR/BIOGRAPHY

*Body Counts: A Memoir of Politics, Sex, AIDS, and Survival, Sean Strub, Scribner
Charles Walters: The Director Who Made Hollywood Dance, Brent Phillips, University Press of Kentucky
Closets, Combat and Coming Out: Coming Of Age As A Gay Man In The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Army, Rob Smith, Blue Beacon Books by Regal Crest
*Inside a Pearl: My Years in Paris, Edmund White, Bloomsbury
Letter to Jimmy, Alain Mabanckou, translated by Sara Meli Ansari, Counterpoint/Soft Skull Press
*The Prince of Los Cocuyos, Richard Blanco, HarperCollins/Ecco
*Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh, John Lahr, W. W. Norton & Company
*Wagstaff: Before and After Mapplethorpe, Philip Gefter, W. W. Norton & Company/Liveright
GAY MYSTERY

*Blackmail, My Love: A Murder Mystery, Katie Gilmartin, Cleis Press
*Boystown 6: From the Ashes, Marshall Thornton, MLR
*Calvin’s Head, David Swatling, Bold Strokes Books
*DeadFall, David Lennon, BlueSpike Publishing
Fair Game, Josh Lanyon, Carina Press
*A Gathering Storm, Jameson Currier, Chelsea Station Editions
Moon Over Tangier, Janice Law, Open Road Media
*The Next, Rafe Haze, Wilde City Press
GAY POETRY

[insert] boy, Danez Smith, YesYes Books
Clean, David J. Daniels, Four Way Books
Don’t Go Back To Sleep, Timothy Liu, Saturnalia Books
ECODEVIANCE: (Soma)tics for the Future Wilderness, CAConrad, Wave Books
The New Testament, Jericho Brown, Copper Canyon Press
Prelude to Bruise, Saeed Jones, Coffee House Press
*This Life Now, Michael Broder, A Midsummer Night’s Press
This Way to the Sugar, Hieu Minh Nguyen, Write Bloody Publishing
GAY ROMANCE

The Companion, Lloyd A. Meeker, Dreamspinner Press
Everything’s Coming Up Roses: Four Tales of M/M Romance, Barry Lowe, Lydian Press
*Foolish Hearts: New Gay Fiction, Timothy Lambert and R.D. Cochrane, Cleis Press
Like They Always Been Free, Georgina Li, Queer Young Cowboys
*Message of Love, Jim Provenzano, Myrmidude Press/CreateSpace
*The Passion of Sergius & Bacchus, A Novel of Truth, David Reddish, DoorQ Publishing
Pulling Leather, L.C. Chase, Riptide Publishing
*Salvation: A Novel of the Civil War, Jeff Mann, Bear Bones Books
LESBIAN EROTICA

All You Can Eat. A Buffet of Lesbian Erotica and Romance, Andi Marquette and R.G. Emanuelle, Ylva Publishing
Forbidden Fruit: stories of unwise lesbian desire, Cheyenne Blue, Ladylit Publishing
Lesbian Sex Bible, Diana Cage, Quiver Books
LESBIAN GENERAL FICTION

Adult Onset, Ann-Marie Macdonald, Tin House Books
Last Words of Montmartre, Qiu Miaojin, Translated by Ari Larissa Heinrich, New York Review Books
*Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932, Francine Prose, Harper Collins/Harper
Miracle Girls, MB Caschetta, Engine Books
*New York 1, Tel Aviv 0, Shelly Oria, FSG Originals / Farrar, Straus and Giroux
The Palace Blues, Brandy T. Wilson, Spinsters Ink
The Paying Guests, Sarah Waters, Riverhead Books, Penguin Random House
Yabo, Alexis De Veaux, RedBone Press
LESBIAN MEMOIR/BIOGRAPHY

Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith, Alethia Jones and Virginia Eubanks, with Barbara Smith, SUNY Press
Cease – a memoir of love, loss and desire, Lynette Loeppky, Oolichan Books
*Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger, Kelly Cogswell, The University of Minnesota Press
*The End of Eve, Ariel Gore, Hawthorne Books
*Under This Beautiful Dome: A Senator, A Journalist, and the Politics of Gay Love in America, Terry Mutchler, Seal Press
LESBIAN MYSTERY

The Acquittal, Anne Laughlin, Bold Strokes Books
*Done to Death, Charles Atkins, Severn House Publishers
The Old Deep and Dark-A Jane Lawless Mystery, Ellen Hart, Minotaur Books
Slash and Burn, Valerie Bronwen, Bold Strokes Books
UnCatholic Conduct, Stevie Mikayne, Bold Strokes Books
LESBIAN POETRY

Haiti Glass, Lenelle Moïse, City Lights/Sister Spit
Janey’s Arcadia, Rachel Zolf, Coach House Books
Last Psalm at Sea Level, Meg Day, Barrow Street Press
Like a Begger, Ellen Bass, Copper Canyon Press
MxT, Sina Queyras, Coach House Books
Mysterious Acts by My People, Valerie Wetlaufer, Sibling Rivalry Press
Only Ride, Megan Volpert, Sibling Rivalry Press
Termination Dust, Susanna Mishler, Red Hen Press/Boreal
LESBIAN ROMANCE

Christmas Crush, Kate McLachlan, Regal Crest
The Farmer’s Daughter, Robbi McCoy, Bella Books
The Heat of Angels, Lisa Girolami, Bold Strokes Books
Jolt, Kris Bryant, Bold Strokes Books
Nightingale, Andrea Bramhall, Bold Strokes Books
Seneca Falls, Jesse J. Thoma, Bold Strokes Books
Tangled Roots, Marianne K. Martin, Bywater Books
That Certain Something, Clare Ashton, Breezy Tree Press
LGBT ANTHOLOGY

Black Gay Genius: Answering Joseph Beam’s Call, Charles Stephens and Steven G. Fullwood, Vintage Entity Press
*A Family by Any Other Name: Exploring Queer Relationships, Bruce Gillespie, TouchWood Editions
Outer Voices Inner Lives, Mark McNease and Stephen Dolainski, editors, MadeMark Publishing
The Queer South: LGBTQ Writers on the American South, Douglas Ray, editor, Sibling Rivalry Press
*Understanding and Teaching US Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History, Leila J. Rupp & Susan K. Freeman, University of Wisconsin Press
LGBT CHILDREN’S/Young adult

*Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, Susan Kuklin, Candlewick Press
*Double Exposure, Bridget Birdsall, Sky Pony Press, an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing
Five, Six, Seven, Nate!, Tim Federle, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Forgive Me If I’ve Told You This Before, Karelia Stetz-Waters, Ooligan Press
Lies We Tell Ourselves, Robin Talley, Harlequin Teen
Pukawiss the Outcast, Jay Jordan Hawke, Dreamspinner Press/Harmony Ink Press
This is Not a Love Story, Suki Fleet, Dreamspinner Press/Harmony Ink Press
When Everything Feels like the Movies, Raziel Reid, Arsenal Pulp Press
LGBT DEBUT

*Death in Venice, California, Vinton Rafe McCabe, The Permanent Press
Kill Marguerite and Other Stories, Megan Milks, Emergency Press
A Map of Everything, Elizabeth Earley, Jaded Ibis Press
The Music Teacher, Bob Sennett, Lethe Press
Nochita, Dia Felix, City Lights/Sister Spit
*Part the Hawser, Limn the Sea, Dan Lopez, Chelsea Station Editions
Unaccompanied Minors, Alden Jones, New American Press
The Walk-In Closet, Abdi Nazemian, Curtis Brown Unlimited
LGBT DRAMA

The Beast of Times, Adelina Anthony, Kórima Press
Bootycandy, Robert O’Hara, Samuel French
A Kid Like Jake, Daniel Pearle, Dramatists Play Service
The Whale, Samuel D. Hunter, Samuel French
Wolves, Steve Yockey, Samuel French
LGBT GRAPHIC NOVELS

100 Crushes, Elisha Lim, Koyama Press
Band Vs. Band Comix Volume 1, Kathleen Jacques, Paper Heart Comix
Pregnant Butch: Nine Long Months Spent in Drag, A.K. Summers, Soft Skull, an imprint of Counterpoint
Second Avenue Caper, Joyce Brabner; Art by Mark Zingarelli, Hill and Wang, a division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Snackies, Nick Sumida, Youth in Decline
LGBT NONFICTION

An American Queer: The Amazon Trail, Lee Lynch, Bold Strokes Books
*Hold Tight Gently: Michael Callen, Essex Hemphill, and the Battlefield of AIDS, Martin Duberman, The New Press
The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality, Julie Sondra Decker, Skyhorse Publishing/Carrel Books
Nevirapine and the Quest to End Pediatric AIDS, Rebecca J. Anderson, McFarland
Robert Gober: The Heart Is Not a Metaphor, Hilton Als, Ann Temkin, Claudia Carson, Robert Gober, Paulina Pobocha, Christian Scheidemann, The Museum of Modern Art
Sexplosion: From Andy Warhol to A Clockwork Orange, How a Generation of Pop Rebels Broke All the Taboos, Robert Hofler, It Books/HarperCollins
The Transgender Archives: Foundations for the Future, Aaron H Devor, University of Victoria Libraries
*The Up Stairs Lounge Arson: Thirty-Two Deaths in a New Orleans Gay Bar, June 24, 1973, Clayton Delery-Edwards, McFarland
LGBT SF/F/HORROR

Afterparty, Daryl Gregory, Tor Books
Bitter Waters, Chaz Brenchley, Lethe Press
Butcher’s Road, Lee Thomas, Lethe Press
Child of a Hidden Sea, A. M. Dellamonica, Tor Books
Full Fathom Five, Max Gladstone, Tor Books
FutureDyke, Lea Daley, Bella Books
Skin Deep Magic, Craig Laurance Gidney, Rebel Satori Press
LGBT STUDIES

*After Love: Queer Intimacy and Erotic Economies in Post-Soviet Cuba, Noelle M. Stout, Duke University Press
*Charity & Sylvia: A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America, Rachel Hope Cleves, Oxford University Press
*Delectable Negro: Human Consumption and Homoeroticism within US Slave Culture, Vincent Woodard, Ed. Justin A. Joyce and Dwight McBride, New York University Press
Queen for a Day: Transformistas, Beauty Queens, and the Performance of Femininity in Venezuela, Marcia Ochoa, Duke University Press
*The Queerness of Native American Literature, Lisa Tatonetti, The University of Minnesota Press
Sexual Futures, Queer Gestures, and Other Latina Longings, Juana Maria Rodriguez, New York University Press
The Sexuality of History: Modernity and the Sapphic, Susan S. Lanser, University of Chicago Press
*Under Bright Lights: Gay Manila and the Global Scene, Bobby Benedicto, University of Minnesota Press
TRANSGENDER FICTION

Everything Must Go, La JohnJoseph, ITNA PRESS
*For Today I Am a Boy, Kim Fu, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Moving Forward Sideways like a Crab, Shani Mootoo, Doubleday Canada
Revolutionary: A Novel, Alex Myers, Simon and Schuster
A Safe Girl To Love, Casey Plett, Topside Press
Transgender Non-Fiction

Man Alive: A True Story of Violence, Forgiveness and Becoming a Man, Thomas Page McBee, City Lights/Sister Spit
Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love and So Much More, Janet Mock, Atria Books
*Trans Bodies, Trans Selves: A Resource for the Transgender Community, Laura Erickson-Schroth, Oxford University Press

“DAYS OF GRACE”— Corruption, Violence, Vengeance—Three Destinies

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“Days of Grace” (“Dias De Gracia”)

Corruption, Violence, Vengeance—Three Destinies

Amos Lassen

“Days of Grace” is set in Mexico City during three consecutive World Cup tournaments. We see three lives impacted by kidnappings. Lupe is an idealistic cop, whose job it is to investigate a crime ring and he finds that justice has no place when a human life has a price. When Susana’s businessman- husband Arturo is kidnapped, she must go outside the law to fight for his release. Iguana dreams of becoming a boxer even as he is drawn into a lifestyle that finds him guarding kidnap Victim X and facing down a kidnapping mastermind. This was writer-director-producer Everardo Gout’s Out of Competition entry at the Cannes Film Festival about a fierce Mexican cop battling baddies and drug cartels and it is full of cruelty.

The film depicts Mexico as a lawless land of drug lords, kidnappers, and corruption so endemic it goes “all the way up to the top.” The hero, a handsome young cop, is as ruthlessly macho as the snarling, tattooed killers he battles. The pace is fast and furious, there’s little time to worry about the ethics of sympathizing with him as he goes about breaking arms and cracking skulls. The action takes place in 2002, 2006 and 2010, cleverly denoted by the World Cup soccer matches on everybody’s TV.  During the games, both cops and criminals let down their guard. But not Lupo Esparza (Tenoch Huerta), a champion of justice who will stop at nothing to catch his man. He is a tall, muscular young cop who exudes intensity and honesty; a family man with a big smile and an aversion to lawbreakers.

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The movie begins at the end—we see three armed figures caught in a stand-off as a menacing dog slavers away behind them. Then we jump back to the summer of 2002, where Lupe is shaking town two young boys suspected of peddling cocaine. Aggressive and seemingly crooked, we soon see the human side of Lupe as he rushes to meet his newly born son and exhausted wife at a city hospital. Meanwhile, the second narrative strand follows the kidnap and ransom of a businessman, his head captor inspiring a seductive mix of awe and fear in those who follow him. Throughout, Gout jumps from past to present in order to flesh out the complexities of those that are featured in the story.

Mexico City is seen as a nightmarish dystopia where an individual’s hopes and dreams are crushed immediately at conception. Lupe is our pistol-toting guide into this murky underworld and he was brought into an elite narcotics squad by his congratulatory Comandante (José Sefami) after a daytime shoot-out. However, Lupe’s actions prove to have severe consequences for both himself and his young family. The film shows us contemporary Mexico with little of the tourist baiting and alcoholic charm that have been used by others.

 By constantly cross-cutting between the years, Gout is able to keep the action rolling non-stop. It’s never clear how much Lupo is involved in the kidnapping story; his screen time is spent taking revenge on other criminals. According to family legend, his grandmother was saved by Zapata himself from being raped, and the Mexican revolutionary inspires Lupo’s ham-fisted yet ingenuous crime-fighting.

There are so many subplots that sometimes it’s hard to keep the stories straight, especially when the ending throws a truly unexpected twist. But the exceptional tech work gives the film plenty of energy and excitement.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQTBpoRVmFM

“MOTIVATIONAL GROWTH”— The Mold Knows

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“Motivational Growth”

The Mold Knows

Amos Lassen

Ian Folivor (Adrian DiGiovanni) is a depressed and reclusive 30-something who finds himself taking advice from a growth in his bathroom after a failed suicide attempt. The Mold is a fungus that talks smoothly and who was born from the filth collecting in a corner of Ian’s neglected bathroom. It works to win Ian’s trust by helping him clean himself up and remodel his lifestyle. (Yes, I am serious). With The Mold’s help, Ian is able to attract the attention of, Leah (Danielle Doetsch), a neighbor he’s been ogling through his peephole.

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Ian and Leah actually find some happiness despite his unnatural circumstances. But then Ian suddenly starts to receive strange messages from his old and broken down TV set and they make him realize that The Mold may not be as helpful as it seems to be. Then strange characters and even stranger events push Ian’s life into an epic battle between good and evil that Ian is only partially aware of. Ian is a slob who hasn’t left his couch in ages and it his broken TV (that he has named Kent) that propels him to act. Without Kent, his best friend, Ian begins talking first to the audience and then after a terrible and traumatic event, he talks to the Mold (Jeffrey Combs).

The Mold calls Ian by the name Jack and tries to help him deal with life without Kent as well as how to deal with events that he has to face. These include the creepy TV repairman (Ken Brown), a violent landlord (Pete Giovagnoli), a mouthy delivery woman (Hannah Stevenson) and Leah. Somehow   Ian not only cleans up his act (and face), he cleans up the apartment. Yes, there are some really sick and gross-out scenes so this is not a movie to watch while eating. You will be surprised how dirty Ian and his apartment are and, in fact, it just might be a catalyst for cleaning the house. This is certainly not a feel-good flick. Think about this—how many films have you seen when the main character becomes best friends with slimy, dirty mold?

Ian hasn’t left his apartment in over a year— he sleeps on the couch, letting food waste and garbage pile up around him as he sits glued to his cabinet style TV set for the majority of his day. He doesn’t set alarms to be woken up and he rarely bathes, For Ian, life has become a struggle and he cannot even seem to be able to lift himself from the couch to go and use the bathroom. On the day that we meet Ian, he decided to kill himself via a toxic mixture in his bathtub. However, when he stands up on his counter to cover the exhaust, he slips and falls, hitting his head and passes out on the floor.

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Only when he comes around does he notice that amid the grime and dirt of his small and disgusting bathroom, a huge mould has been growing. It also has a face; and it talks.

Ian and the mold come to terms and have a plan. The mold informs Ian that it has a plan but it will take a week to get it all together. has something in mind for Ian; it will take a week and it informs Ian that if he follows the plan, he will be rewarded. Ian does as he is told but something else is happening in his apartment—his interaction with the mold causes Ian to hallucinate and question the reality that the mold told him He begins to realize that the “motivational growth” in his bathroom may not have the best of intentions.

Watching the film is like watching live theatre with the entire film taking place in either Ian’s living room or the bathroom, the fourth wall removed. This set-up by Ian is the strongest part of the film; the description he gives of his depression is pretty uncomfortable due to its direct honesty. Yet, it is refreshing to see someone on the big screen describe something so painful and undeniably personal.

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When the moves forward and strange things begin to happen, the movie seems to be trying a bit too hard and it begins to drag. Ian is lost in a world that is inhabited by watching too much TV, and he hallucinates himself as being a part of the programs. While this is completely bizarre, it almost seems entirely unnecessary to the rest of the movie, but once it reaches the end it seems to make sense.

Director Don Thacker has a unique vision in  this bizarre film and even though it starts to lose its steam along the way, DiGiovanni’s mostly solo performance keeps it going strong.