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Peter Cameron
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The Passions of Uxport by Maxine Kumin Harper & Row, 1968 I found this book, one of a few novels written by the Pulitzer-prize winning poet Maxine Kumin, on my bookshelf and thought I would give it a go. I'm glad I did. The book is set in a suburb... Continue reading
Posted Jan 12, 2019 at extreme legibility
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Miss Hargreaves by Frank Baker Tom Stacey Reprints, 1973 (originally published in 1940) This is a case of a book with a delightful and original premise that fails to successfully exploit it -- it goes on too long, and the reader's delight wanes, as what seemed so clever and original... Continue reading
Posted Jan 12, 2019 at extreme legibility
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Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce Penguin Classisc Deluxe (!) Edition, 2016 An unpleasant, unengaging, and frustrating book. Stephen Dedalus, the young man and artist, is shrouded by Joyce in prose that is abstract, cliched, impenetrable, and boring (often all these qualities are present simultaneously).... Continue reading
Posted Jan 12, 2019 at extreme legibility
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Left To Themselves by Edward Prime-Stevenson Vallencourt Books, 2016 This novel, written for (and about) boys, was published in 1891 and is believed to be the first book ever published to be (self-proclaimed) "homosexual" in essence. Edward Prime-Stevenson (1858 - 1942) was an American journalist and novelist living in Europe.... Continue reading
Posted Jan 12, 2019 at extreme legibility
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The Outward Side by James Colton (The Other Traveller, 1971) The Other Traveller was a publisher affiliated with the Olympia Press that published books with frank homosexual content. The Outward Side takes place in the 1960s in a small Californian town outside of San Diego. Marc Lingard is a Protestant... Continue reading
Posted Jan 12, 2019 at extreme legibility
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The Pure Lover by David Plante (Beacon, 2009) This beautiful book, subtitled A Memoir of Grief, is a memorial to Plante's long-term partner, Nikos Stangos and their relationship. They lived together in London for almost all of their adult lives. Nikos was Greek by birth, born there during the German... Continue reading
Posted Jan 12, 2019 at extreme legibility
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(Harper Perennial, 1995) I had read and enjoyed several James Wilcox novels (Modern Baptists, Miss Undine's Living Room, Sort of Rich) back in the 1980s when they were first published, but hadn't read anything of his in a long time, so when I saw a paperback copy of this book... Continue reading
Posted Aug 16, 2018 at extreme legibility
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(Gay Men's Press, 1983) An interesting and engaging novel that chronicles the "marriage" of two gay men in England. Cyril and Len meet one another at a basic training camp while performing their National Service in 1954. They exchange "conspiratorial smiles" and quickly fall in love, and begin a relationship... Continue reading
Posted Aug 15, 2018 at extreme legibility
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(Delphinium, 2018) I found this book at Rizzoli's when I went there to buy a copy Sigrid Nunez's The Friend for a friend. I had no idea that David Plante, a writer I have long admired, was publishing a new novel and was delighted to find and buy the book... Continue reading
Posted Aug 15, 2018 at extreme legibility
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(Knopf, 1973) A disappointing and somewhat tedious novel from Lessing. Perhaps it's because the main character, the dully named Kate Brown, is an unengaging and unlikable woman. After devoting herself selflessly and tirelessly to raising her four children, coddling her selfish husband, and maintaining a charming household in suburban London,... Continue reading
Posted Aug 15, 2018 at extreme legibility
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(The Hogarth Press, 1978) Another dark, disturbing and idiosyncratically brilliant book by this fascinating writer. A Heavy Feather is self-defined on the half-title page thusly: This is the story of Almayer Jenkin's progress through life. "You start alone, you finish alone, " she says. "It's fine to be alone, it's... Continue reading
Posted Apr 26, 2018 at extreme legibility
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(George H. Doran, 1918) A slight and silly but charming book set in London during WWI. Patricia Brent, an intelligent and resourceful young lady, is resigned to her fate as a spinster although she is still in her twenties. She lives as a "paying guest" in a rooming house along... Continue reading
Posted Apr 26, 2018 at extreme legibility
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(Riverhead, 2018) Sigrid had told me a year or so ago that she was working on a novel about a woman who inherits a Great Dane after the dog's owner, a friend of the woman's, dies. This sounded like a promising premise for a novel, so I felt predisposed to... Continue reading
Posted Apr 26, 2018 at extreme legibility
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(Joan Kahn/St. Martin's Press, 1983) I've read and enjoyed many books by Penelope Mortimer (The Pumpkin Eater, My Friends Say It's Bulletproof, The Home, A Villa in Summer, Daddy's Gone A-Hunting, Saturday Lunch at the Browning's), and I think I liked this one least of all. In fact, I found... Continue reading
Posted Jan 31, 2018 at extreme legibility
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Chatto & Windus/Hogarth Press, 1983 I had very much admired two other books by John Hopkins, which I had read many years ago: Tangier Buzzless Flies and The Tanger Diaries 1962 - 1979, a non-fictional and fictional account of the time Hopkins spent in Moroccoo in the '60s and '70s.... Continue reading
Posted Jan 31, 2018 at extreme legibility
Hogarth Press, 1974 Another fascinating book by this interesting and idiosyncratic writer; I think that I liked this best of the three I have read. There is something antiseptically bracing about A Source of Embarrassment that makes reading it both disturbing and delightful. The source of embarrassment is a middle-aged... Continue reading
Posted Jan 31, 2018 at extreme legibility
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New York Review of Books, 2017 (originally published by Dutton in 1988 as The House of Fear) In 1940, Leonora Carrington was living with her lover, Max Ernst, in Provence. When the Nazis invaded France, Ernst was sent to a concentration camp and Carrington "suffered a psychotic break." This memoir... Continue reading
Posted Jan 31, 2018 at extreme legibility
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Timber Press, 2005 I was intrigued by this (authorized, I think) biography of the English 20th-century writer Beverley Nichols. It follows Nichols from his birth at the turn of the century to his death in 1983. Nichols was extremely prolific, publishing more than 50 books during his lifetime, which included... Continue reading
Posted Jan 31, 2018 at extreme legibility
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(Erstwhile Press, 1979) This book is pretty much entirely devoted to John Valentine's sexual encounters with teenage boys (the youngest is 12). His sexual obsession with boys began while he was in high school, when he slept with many of his friends and often fooled around with them. He can't... Continue reading
Posted May 7, 2017 at extreme legibility
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(Norton, 2016) This new novel by a writer I have long admired is divided into three distinct parts. I loved the first two and did not like the third section very much at all, so the book was ultimately disappointing. The main character of this novel is Gustav Perl. He... Continue reading
Posted May 5, 2017 at extreme legibility
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(Virago Modern Classics, 1985) This book was originally published in 1961 by Anthony Blond Ltd. It is the story of Josephine, a young woman who has a "nervous breakdown" while a student at Oxford and is sent to a "mental asylum." Her therapy there seems to be mostly confined to... Continue reading
Posted May 5, 2017 at extreme legibility
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(Harcourt Brace, 1956) That Uncertain Feeling is Amis' s second novel, published a few years after Lucky Jim. It's a comedy in much the same vein, about the misadventures, professional and romantic, of a young Welshman. John Lewis is married to an unsentimental and practical woman names Jean. They have... Continue reading
Posted May 5, 2017 at extreme legibility
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(University of Wisconsin Press, 1999) I've had this book by my old friend Jaime Manrique on my shelf for many years, and I'm glad I finally got around to reading it. The eminent maricones Jaime writes about (in separate essays ) are himself, Manuel Puig, Reinaldo Arenas, Federico Garcia Lorca,... Continue reading
Posted May 5, 2017 at extreme legibility
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(Charles Scribner's Sons, 1963) This novella (the title novella in this book of several) by a British writer was published by Charles Scribner's Sons in the US, and The Hogarth Press in the UK, in 1963. I had never head of A. L. Barker (a woman) . Apparently, she published... Continue reading
Posted May 3, 2017 at extreme legibility
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(Secker and Warburg, 1973) I didn't manage to finish this book, but I read more than 300 of its 400 pages before I gave up. It's a messy, poorly conceived and paced novel that follows two characters who are distantly related: Hamo, a middle-aged botanist who has developed a new... Continue reading
Posted May 3, 2017 at extreme legibility