Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Book event with Brian Francis at the 519

It went SO well.  I love Brian Francis and READ Natural Order, it is the best book ever!!!

During the events some things came up:

- comparisons were made of Natural Order to Margaret Lawrence's The Stone Angel. Brian said it did help inspire him but after writing Natural Order he went back and re-read The Stone Angel and the differences were still there.

- I asked Brian for books that he liked that I could read.  He commended The Love of a Good Woman and Too Much Happiness, both by Alice Munroe and Naked by David Sedaris.

- I asked Brian where I could find any other story he'd ever written ever.  He said he had a short story called "The Big Bang" in the book "Best Canadian Stories - 2007".

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Muscle Boy by Bud Clifton, ebook MOBI 1958

Download here.

From the back cover:

Most men fall in love with women. But some men fall in love with themselves —men like the weight-lifters of Muscle Beach.
For these body worshippers, their physique is their fortune. Whether it's being exhibited performing feats of strength, or leered at in glossy photos by thrill-seekers of every sex and taste, there's big money in those biceps. And it's often dirty money!
Teen-ager Jerry Carpenter found that out when he, for kicks and vanity, got himself involved in the sordid dealings of a notorious photographer and the strange characters that surrounded him.
What you've heard about in whispers is frankly, startlingly revealed in MUSCLE BOY, a novel that bares the naked truth about the Beefcake Kings.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Um, this isn't me.

New York City has never been an easy place to make it, but in the year 2013, it's a little tougher than usual. Race riots. Massive unemployment. Rampant crime. Vacant buildings now housing a thriving black market. A worthless currency and a broken government. Welcome to the Second Great Depression. Some have adapted to life in tomorrow's Big Apple. Like Renny, a part-time fashion photographer and full-time drug dealer who oversees a network of taxicabs running contraband through the underground party circuit. He works for Reza, an enterprising immigrant who has turned the city's nightlife down a deadly road.
Others in the city are just trying to hang on. Like Detective Sixto Santiago, part of an experimental new NYPD unit known as the Citywide Anticrime Bureau (CAB), squads of undercover cops in taxicabs who are meant to hold down the chaos just enough to keep tourists coming. Santiago's new assignment will send him after the man both Renny and Reza must ultimately answer to, a criminal visionary known only as the Slav. But Santiago's most dangerous foe just might be his new partner. From the grime of the city's taxi garages to the sterilized peaks where high finance and organized crime converge, Rivers of Gold is a kaleidoscopic vision of the near future gone hideously wrong.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

PREVIEW: The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

I was recently sent an advance review copy of the book The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker from Random House of Canada.

The novel concerns a young woman, Julia, and her life as it relates to the new earthly phenomenon "the slowing".  It seems the earth has stopped rotating as fast as it once did and is now constantly slowing, creating longer and longer days and more and more problems for the planet's inhabitants.

The events surround "the slowing" unfold and the author keeps giving little hints as to what's to come, almost at the end of every chapter.  This felt a little forced to me, every chapter would end with a line like "We didn't understand all the symptoms then, but we soon would...." and then you'd have to turn the page and start reading the next chapter right away.  While this device was perhaps a bit overused, it did work and it really did keep me turning the pages.

Julia as a character doesn't seem fully fleshed out, but her life in combination with the world events are what keeps you going. Julia as a character is a great eye into the events surrounding "the slowing" and her child's eye view reminded me of say Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird.

The end of the book feels a bit rushed, I was shocked to find I only had about 10 pages left at the point in the story I was at, but also as "the slowing" continues, physical events get overly complex and it ended up working for me, rather than have a 12 year old girl explain the theory of the earth's magnetic pull, these technical details are largely skipped over, especially as the book diverges more from scientific fact into imagined possibilities.  That being said, the story never seems bogged down with details which I appreciated.  I was kind of worried an "Armageddon" type scenario would unfold with Ben Affleck going to the moon but despite a difficult task, the author ends the book well and on a satisfying note.

The Age of Miracles is released on June 26, 2012 and will be the perfect summer read, while at the same time making you think, feel, and appreciate your electricity. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

4 From the Circle ebook MOBI 1959

Download here.

Printed in 1959.

From the inside cover:
"FOUR FROM THE CIRCLE is not the first book of short stories dealing with the theme of homophilie love. But it is a unique publication in that it presents four highly entertaining stories of people who are a part of the here-and-now world of today, people who can be readily identified by every reader, even though the characters are, for the most part, moving in a foreign setting. All of these tales have appeared in English in the tri-lingual homophile magazine, DER KREIS (The Circle), now in its 27th year of publication in Zurich. Details telling how to subscribe to DER KREIS are included in the back of this book. Some of the spelling and punctuation (particularly the French-style quotation marks) may look strange to American readers, because none of it was changed as the stories were "lifted" from the pages of DER KREIS to make up this book. But the whole, the editors hope, will make one more little volume of literature on the subject of how homosexuals live, love and feel."

The name Der Kreis (The Circle) has long been known to scholars of post-war gay European history, but often only from passing acquaintance. This journal was published in Zurich from 1942 to 1967 (and under other titles from 1932 to 1941) and was sold solely by subscription. This monthly magazine offered short stories and poems, reviews of books and films, editorials and letters to the editor, news reports and art illustrations. According to Kennedy, a typical issue contained thirty-six pages, of which sixteen were in German, eight each in French and in English, and four were illustrations. The illustrations were chiefly photographs of more or less undressed young men, but reproductions of works of art by classical and contemporary artists provided what full-frontal nudity the editor allowed to appear. Inserted by hand into each issue was a sheet of personal ads intended "for members only."

In the Heights - Toronto Centre For the Arts

Theatre has the power to change your life. It has changed mine. 
I remember the first time I saw RENT I had listened to all the songs and knew all the words before I stepped in the door. I sat and watched in wonder, I was transported in to this world. When the dancer sang the song 'Out Tonight' and she screamed at the chorus about how you go out and all the noise from the lovers and babies DIEEEEEEEEES I still remember my heart jumping. When the show was over I was crying so hard I was unable to stand. 

I remember watching the Elton John ballet LOVE LIES BLEEDING and realizing the power of dance, the effortless movements making me forget my seat, forget my body, until I was moving with them. 

I remember watching AVENUE Q for the first time about a million seats away from the stage and laughing my head off, drinking in the whole show and loving every second. 

I remember sitting in the beautiful huge new theatre downtown one hot night in summer watching NEXT TO NORMAL and feeling something I hadn't felt for a long time when the show woke me up, made me feel alive again, and for the next two months I listened to the songs every day until I knew every word, every breath. 

I remember traveling to London to see EQUUS and the border agent asking what I planned to do on my trip. When I said "See a play" she said "That's a long way to come to see a play.". It was worth it, to see emotion conveyed like that, to see someone check themselves at the door and totally become someone else was something I hadn't seen before. 

I remember going to see BARE at the University of Toronto's theatre and liking it so much I went again and again. I remember waiting outside for autographs and pictures, going back and taking friends, parents. 

And so you take chances, and you keep going to shows, and you keep seeing what's out there. 

And even though you're tired and it's freezing cold outside, you spend $90 and travel 45 minutes up town to go see IN THE HEIGHTS.  And it's tired and predictable and unrelateable and overwrought and you can't help but wondering why you bothered. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Soft Spot: Four Short Stories by Alexander Goodman ebook MOBI

Download here.

Published in 1964 and written earlier, this is a rare book with a limited printing and a fantastic slice of history of gay life.