I recently was reminded that not everyone shared many of the experiences I mention on this weblog. Specifically visiting City Lights Bookstore and the entire San Francisco experience I enjoyed back in the 1960s. Just today I was pointed towards an excellent introduction to City Lights and San Francisco available on YouTube, This is part 3 and it really takes me back to my college days, Jack Hirshman, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and the City Lights Bookstore.
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Gary 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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Isabel Allende is a fairly new author for me. I have been collecting her books in both paper and electronic versions for some time but just haven’t gotten around to reading them.This last month I decided to jump right in with the author’s newest novel,, The Japanese Lover. I’ll admit that the title reminded me of Marguerite Duras whom I greatly admire. As might be expected, the two authors are quite different.
Now I didn’t expect Allende to be writing the nouveau roman, maybe a liltle magic realism, but I found her novel somewhat pedestrian and I definitely felt she jammed too many themes into the book without every really fulfilling any of the promise. Is it a love story? A story about a war orphan? Concentration camps? Rich people? Poor people? Old people? the Japanese internment? the war? a botany primer? San Francisco society? homosexuals? Child pornography? Overcoming the past? Imagining a future? Dog walking?
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I don’t believe that I have ever heard a critic or a reader accuse William T. Vollmann of writing tight, exacting prose. Fact is, most of Vollmann’s work is a little shaggy. But it’s still good, fleas and all. If you are interested in a gritty representation of the world of sex, drugs, and hobos riding the rails, then I recommend Vollmann’s novel Royal Family. This big, hairy novel is the third text in Vollmann’s Prostitution Series which started with Whores For Gloria, followed by Butterfly Stories. In these novels the author deals with sex trade, street drugs, violence, social hierarchy, spiritual awakening, death, Lady Boys, and the best way to hop a train to Barstow. I don’t believe there is a strong requirement to read the novels in order but since they go from shorter to longer, it might be a good idea.
Continue reading “Lost On a Path Through the Dark Forest”