I Can Give You Anything But Love

indiana-garyGary Indiana had an unusual career, as a writer, filmmaker, visual artist, actor and playwright. He briefly studied at UC Berkeley but dropped out to help a friend make pornographic films. After soaking up the sunshine noir and punk scene of 1970s Los Angeles, he moved to New York City and settled into a cheap East Village apartment — the same one he lives in today. Since 1987, Indiana has published novels, nonfiction, plays, short stories — all with an unmistakable, sardonic voice embedded in the text, and all experimenting with the traditions of form.

The title of his latest memoir, I Can Give You Anything but Love is “really about disconnection between sexual desire and love, in my life,” Indiana says. A graphic and funny memoir, it finds the author reinventing yet another genre — this time using his own personal narrative. He becomes the connective tissue that binds together a diaspora of subcultures: the beatnik-era experimental writing and happenings of downtown New York, the 1960s co-opted counterculture gone awry, the punk movement that followed, and the art and intellectual circles of the Reagan ’80s, when the AIDs crisis was wiping out a generation of young gay men like him.

(revised from the introduction to an interview with Indiana by J.C. Gabel in the L. A. Times.)

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Twenty Contemporary Authors

images-1.jpgSeveral months back I realized that there are quite a few relatively contemporary authors that are not on everyone’s reading list. One clue to this phenomenon was that the best-seller and must read lists being published around the internet and even on ink & paper publications seemed to contain the same dozen or so authors month after month with only a few new authors touted, often because their first novels either came out of some prestigious creative writing school or because they followed the rules of popular fiction espoused by the more established and possibly less imaginative best-selling authors.

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Dr. Fu-Manchu

images.jpgDespite its less than successful release, I include the film Big Trouble In Little China on my list of guilty pleasures: high on my list. It tells the story of Jack Burton, who helps his friend Wang Chi rescue Wang’s green-eyed fiancée from bandits in San Francisco’s Chinatown. They go into the mysterious underworld beneath Chinatown, where they face an ancient sorcerer named David Lo Pan, who requires a woman with green eyes to marry him in order to release him from a centuries-old curse. [Wikipedia]

David Lo Pan is certainly not the first nefarious villain from the mysterious and inscrutable land of ultra-long fingernails and wicked martial arts. You could even include Ming the Merciless in this batch of bad hombres. But isn’t it an easy cliché to engender a fictional villain with unknown magical powers from a distant and unknown country? Remember, Lamont Cranston didn’t learn the secrets to cloud men’s minds of the corner of Flatbush and Avenue J.

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