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Peter Cameron
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Kitty by Warwick Deeping (Knopf, 1927) I enjoyed reading this book very much, although my opinion of it sank lower and lower as I read more and more. It's not a terrible book by any means -- just not very well-written and melodramatically conceived and executed. But it is a... Continue reading
Posted Jan 26, 2021 at extreme legibility
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*The Young Have Secrets by James Courage (Jonathan Cape, 1954) This book, set in New Zealand, is about a young boy, Walter, who has been sent by his wealthy parents, who own a sheep "station" to Christchurch to attend a small private school and board with the family of the... Continue reading
Posted Jan 20, 2021 at extreme legibility
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*Boy by James Hanley (Knopf, 1932) Boy is the story of Arthur Fearon, a 15-year-old boy who lives with his impoverished parents in Liverpool. They take him out of school, where he is happy and flourishing (he wants to continue his studies and become a chemist) and send him to... Continue reading
Posted Jan 20, 2021 at extreme legibility
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The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes by Janet Malcolm (Knopf, 1994) This is a brilliant and fascinating book that attempts to untangle the webs of controversy and conflict surrounding the many biographies of Sylvia Plath, which uses Anne Steveson's biography, Bitter Fame, as a focal point. That biography,... Continue reading
Posted Jan 20, 2021 at extreme legibility
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*They Wouldn't Stop Talking by John Pollock (Anthony Blond, 1964) Because I so enjoyed reading Pollock's The Grass Beneath the Wire (see below), I bought his two other novels, and read this one first. It's October, which means the season is over and everyone has left the Italian island of... Continue reading
Posted Jan 20, 2021 at extreme legibility
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Loving by Henry Green (Anchor, 1953) I read this book many years ago, in college, I believe, and remember I didn't quite know what to make of it. Well, reading it again 40 years later hasn't changed my response -- I still find it somewhat maddening and inscrutable. Loving is... Continue reading
Posted Jan 20, 2021 at extreme legibility
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Lapsing by Jill Patton Walsh (St. Martin's, 1987) This is a novel about a young English woman named Tessa. Tessa is a devout Catholic and most of the novel centers around her years in Oxford (evoked in great detail) in the early 1960s, where she studies literature and is a... Continue reading
Posted Jan 20, 2021 at extreme legibility
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*The Grass Beneath the Wire by John Pollock (Anthony Blond, 1966) I'm not exactly sure why, but I loved reading this book -- I didn't want to put it down and didn't want it to end. The characters are not sympathetic and the books is thoroughly dark and depressing, but... Continue reading
Posted Jan 19, 2021 at extreme legibility
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A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler; translated by Charlotte Collins (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2016) I bought this book for $1 at the Dollar Tree because it looked interesting -- a short novel, originally published in Germany, about a solitary rural man's life throughout much of the 20th century. It... Continue reading
Posted Jan 19, 2021 at extreme legibility
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The Index of Self-Destructive Acts by Christopher Beha (Tin House, 2020) The Index of Self-Destructive Acts is a big, ambitious New York City novel -- rather similar in scope and tone to Bonfire of the Vanities (I imagine). Its wealthy and privileged characters are well-developed and interesting, and the book... Continue reading
Posted Jan 19, 2021 at extreme legibility
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*Sanctity or There's No Such Thing as a Naked Sailor by Dennis Selby (Simon and Schuster, 1969) The oddest thing about this very odd book is that it was published by a mainstream publisher in 1969. I'd love to know who acquired it at S&S, and what they were thinking.... Continue reading
Posted Jan 19, 2021 at extreme legibility
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*Obsession by George Hayim (W. H. Allen, 1970) This autobi ographical novel is an account of George Hayim's doomed and dangerous affair with a (mostly) straight French boy of Moroccan descent. George meets the young and sexually magnetic Edouard in Paris, and brings him to England, so that Edouard can... Continue reading
Posted Jan 19, 2021 at extreme legibility
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Nancy by Rhoda Broughton (Richard Bentley and Son, 1893) I came across a reference to Rhoda Broughton in a novel I recently read -- or perhaps it was the biography of Beverly Nichols? It was mentioned as being seen on a character's book shelf and was, I believe, an indication... Continue reading
Posted Jan 18, 2021 at extreme legibility
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Corrigan by Caroline Blackwood (New York Review of Books, 2002; originally published by William Heinemann in 1984) An odd, compelling book, ambitiously and originally conceived but rather repetitively executed. Mrs Devina Blunt is a genteel and well-off British widow who lives in a charming house in Wiltshire, where she and... Continue reading
Posted Jan 18, 2021 at extreme legibility
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Relative Successes by A. L. Barker (Chatto & Windus/The Hogarth Press, 1984) Another smart and astringent book by a writer who continues to intrigue me. Relative Successes is a book in three parts. The first part relates a summer in southern Frances, as experienced by two teenage British schoolboys, Jessell... Continue reading
Posted Jan 18, 2021 at extreme legibility
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*No End to the Way by Neville Jackson (Barrie and Rockliff, 1965) This is an interesting novel about homosexuality in Australia in the mid-1960s. It is set in a small western city -- Perth? -- and chronicles the relationship of Ray and Cor, two men in their 30s who meet,... Continue reading
Posted Jan 18, 2021 at extreme legibility
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*Lord Dismiss Us by Michael Campbell (G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1968) Lord Dismiss Us is a big, ambitious, and mostly successful novel about homosexuality in English public schools, circa 1960. The novel is set entirely at Weatherhill, a small (200 students, all boys) second-rate (one boy is sent there because... Continue reading
Posted Dec 28, 2020 at extreme legibility
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*The Chameleons by John Broderick (Ivan Obolensky, Inc., 1961) The Chameleons is a short novel set in a small village outside of Dublin about a strange group of nastily inter-related people: Michael Glynn, a middle-aged, closeted homosexual, bedridden with rheumatoid arthritis; Stephen, a creepy (mostly) homosexual young man who cares... Continue reading
Posted Dec 28, 2020 at extreme legibility
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Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (Delacourt Press [Seymour Lawrence], 1969) I was underwhelmed and disappointed in Slaughterhouse-Five, which I had been led to believe was a classic of anti-war and counter-culture literature. Like so much auto-fiction being published today, Vonnegut writes himself into the story of Billy Pilgrim, his stand-in; in... Continue reading
Posted Dec 28, 2020 at extreme legibility
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Scented Gardens for the Blind by Janet Frame (George Braziller, 1964) I read this book because I had so admired and enjoyed Frame's Owls Do Cry, but I was very disappointed. The three characters here are all crazy in different unbelievable ways, and Frame attempts to capture, or convey, their... Continue reading
Posted Dec 28, 2020 at extreme legibility
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Couples by John Updike (Knopf, 1968) I suppose the reason I've never read John Updike's Couples is because, based on everything I've ever heard about it, I thought I would hate it. It is, in many ways, a hateful book--in every sense of that word--but I didn't hate it. It... Continue reading
Posted Jun 10, 2020 at extreme legibility
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*Men and Cupid: A Reassessment of Homosexuality and of Men's Sexual Life in General by Harold Martin (The Fortune Press, 1965) This book, as its subtitle suggests, is an exploration of and explanation for (male) homosexuality written by an apparently crackpot layman and published during the interval between which the... Continue reading
Posted Jun 9, 2020 at extreme legibility
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The Bachelor by Stella Gibbons (Longmans, 1944) The only book I've read by Stella Gibbons is the creepily hilarious Cold Comfort Farm, so when I came across some of her other books I bought them and began with The Bachelor. It's a novel set in a country house just outside... Continue reading
Posted Jun 8, 2020 at extreme legibility
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The Bachelors by Muriel Spark (J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1961) An early novel--the fourth?--of Spark's many novels, The Bachelors is set in London and revolves around two groups: one (mostly, or ostensibly, heterosexual) bachelors, the other a group of spiritualists, who conduct seances with a venal criminal as a... Continue reading
Posted Jun 8, 2020 at extreme legibility
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My Own Unaided Work by Hermione Gingold (Werner, Laurie, 1952) A collection of sketches, monologues, lyrics, and a short autobiography by the truly fabulous La Gingold. Her uncanny intelligence and sly, original sense of humor are much evident in these souffle-like pieces, that are delicious but melt like spun sugar... Continue reading
Posted Jun 8, 2020 at extreme legibility