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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Papa Hemingway

HemingwayI have always suggested that Ernest Hemingway wrote some excellent short stories but that his novels, excepting The Sun Also Rises, generally sucked. Recently I have been reading some of Hemingway’s early stories as collected in the volume In Our Time. It’s funny what you notice the second (or third or fourth) time you read a story, especially in this case after having read Clancy Carlile’s The Paris Pilgrims. The way publishers have handled Hemingway’s short stores makes it very easy to reread many of them since they are collected in so many different editions (luckily there is a Complete edition so you don’t have to worry about missing any).

Think back over all the Hemingway you have read and consider the male-female relations: love, romance, sex, disfunction.  What about male-male relationships and those prominent man-against-nature scenarios stalking animals in Africa or sport fishing off Key West? Hemingway was such a guy’s guy and did all that macho stuff (even buddying up to Castro) … was he over-compensating?

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Sylvia Beach

From an unknown source passed down through the James Joyce online reading group:

Sylvia BeachIt’s the birthday of the bookseller and publisher Sylvia Beach, born in Baltimore, Maryland (1887). She opened a bookstore and lending library on the Left Bank of Paris called Shakespeare and Company, which stocked English-language books. Shakespeare and Company became known as “the unofficial living room” of the expatriate artists living in Paris, writers like Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and James Joyce. Sylvia Beach met Joyce in 1920, just as he was finishing Ulysses. He couldn’t get it published because all the big presses thought it was too obscene, so she offered to publish it for him, even though she’d never published a book before. To fund the project, she got people to buy advance copies. She had no editors, so she edited the huge manuscript herself, and she published it on Joyce’s birthday, February 2, 1922.

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