Friday, June 17, 2005

More Details Emerge

With articles today in Bookselling this Week and The New York Blade, a clearer picture is emerging on the potential restructuring of the Lambda Literary Foundation. Nomi Schwartz reported in BTW that the changes were due to "the pending sale of the building housing [the Foundation] offices, combined with the consistently precarious financial state of the Foundation throughout its history," according to a statement from the Foundation’s board. While the Lambda Book Report and the James White Review will suspend publication, the Board intends to continue its author reading series and the Lambda Literary Awards. A more detailed story in The Blade by Rhonda Smith reveals Jim Marks served as executive director of the Foundation since May 1996 except for an 18 month period from April 2001 to December 2002. Although the changes are precipitated by the Foundation’s finances, Marks was quoted in the article as saying that 2005 revenue was up about 25 percent for the first five months of the year. Marks told Smith that the organization is “a little bit over a $200,000-a-year business.” The Blade also reported that it is unclear whether the Lambda Literary Foundation’s headquarters will continue to be based in Washington, D.C.

On a personal note, I've always had a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for Jim Marks because of the gargantuan tasks he has faced keeping the Foundation running and consider him a good friend and a huge supporter of gay literature at a time when those supporters seem to be diminishing. I've also enjoyed being a part of the LBR and working with Jonathan Harper and Lisa Moore and I look forward to working with all of them in possible future venues.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Stay Tuned

Things seem to be rapidly changing at the Lambda Literary Foundation. On Tuesday of this week, the Washington D.C. staff of the Lambda Book Report was dismissed. I heard of this on Wednesday, when one of the staff members called me to ask if I would provide a job recommendation. (And which I promised that, of course, I would do whatever I could.) It seems that the future of the LBR, James White Review, and LLF-sponsored writers conference may be suspended, although the Foundation may continue the Lambda Literary Awards. On Thursday, I was contacted by a remaining board member of the Lambda Literary Foundation to clarify what had transpired at the offices regarding the Foundation's Executive Director Jim Marks. On Friday, I received the following e-mail from the Foundation. Stay tuned for further developments.

"Jim Marks tendered his resignation as Executive Director to take effect on July 1, 2005. The Board acknowledges that Jim has been key--indeed, vital--in the work of theorganization and extends its heartfelt and profound appreciation to Jim for his dedication and hard work over the years. We wish every good fortune to Jim in his future pursuits. Remaining Board Members Jim Duggins, Katherine V. Forrest, Karla Jay, and Don Weise of the Lambda LiteraryFoundation's Board of Trustees are evaluating the impact of this resignation and factoring it into other structural plans discussed at the June 3, 2005 Board meeting. It is expected that other announcements will be forthcoming."

Friday, June 03, 2005

Last Night in New York City: The Lambda Literary Awards

Last night in New York City at the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies ofthe City Univesity of New York on Fifth Avenue, the Lambda Literary Foundation presented their annual awards for best books. Lea DeLaria did a magnificent job hosting the awards and the Lambda production team headed by Ben Hodges did a terrific job of making it a special evening for all involved.

Gay Men's Debut Fiction
Clay's Way by Blair Mastbaum, Alyson Publications

Gay Men's Fiction
The Master by Colm Toibin, Scribner

Lesbian Debut Fiction
Crybaby Butch by Judith Frank, Firebrand Books

Lesbian Fiction
A Seahorse Year by Stacey D'Erasmo, Houghton Mifflin

Lesbian Poetry
Sweet to Burn by Beverly Burch, Gival Press

Gay Men's Poetry
Written in Water by Luis Cernuda, City Lights Publishers

Lesbian Mystery
Hancock Park by Katherine V. Forrest, Berkley Prime Crime

Gay Men's Mystery
Flight of Aquavit by Anthony Bidulka, Insomniac Press

Fiction Anthology
Fresh Men: New Voices in Gay Fiction edited by Donald Weise, Carroll & Graff

Nonfiction Anthology
I Do/I Don't: Queers on Marriage edited by Greg Wharton and Ian Philips, Suspect Thoughts Press

Name All the Animals by Alison Smith, Scribner

Warrior Poet: A Biography of Audre Lorde by Alexis De Veaux, W.W. Norton

Best Gay Erotica 2005 edited by Richard Labonte, Cleis Press

Almost Like Being in Love by Steve Kluger, HarperCollins

Children's/Young Adult
So Hard to Say by Alex Sanchez, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris, Little, Brown

Jesus and the Shamanic Tradition of Same-Sex Love by Will Roscoe, Suspect Thoughts Press

I am My Own Wife by Doug Wright, Faber and Faber

The Ordinary by Jim Grimsley, Tor

The Gender Frontier by Mariette Pathy Allen, Kehrer Verlag

Visual Arts/Photography
At Ease: Navy Men of World War II by Evan Bachner, Harry Abrams

LGBT Studies
For the Love of Women: Gender, Identity and Same-Sex Relations in a Greek Provincial Town by Elisabeth Kirtsoglou, Routledge

The Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation winners for Short Fiction were presented to Quiara Alegria Hudes, Dennis Jordan, and C. Kevin Smith.

The Independent LGBT Press Award was presented to Bella Books.

The Editor’s Choice Award was presented to Richard Canning for Hear Us Out (Columbia University Press).

Thursday, June 02, 2005

June Publishing Notes

The buzz: The London Daily Mail reported that Time Warner has acquired the rights to Rupert Everett’s memoirs for $1.8 million, which reportedly includes not only details of his Hollywood career but his stint as a male prostitute. Anne Rice’s next book will not be about vampires, but Jesus. Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, due out in November from Random House, will tell the story of Jesus in his own words. Universal and Red Wagon have optioned Augusten Burrough’s forthcoming memoir of his reconciliation with his abusive father. Warner Brothers has optioned Mike Albo’s novel The Underminer. Brian Singer will direct the film version of Randy Shilt’s book about San Francisco politician-activist Harvey Milk, The Mayor of Castro Street. Lily Tomlin will be part of the all-star cast of Robert Altman’s movie of Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion. Isabelle Huppert, Helen Mirren, and Dennis Hopper will star in the film adaptation of Susan Sontag’s novel In America. MTV Networks’ forthcoming gay channel Logo and LPI Media (Publisher of Advocate and Out magazines) have formed a partnership to created cobranded television specials and an online news service. The first special is expected to air in the late fall of 2005. CBS has picked up Flesh & Blood, a new sitcom from writer Joe Keenan. Stockard Channing and Henry Winkler will star. Variety reported that Fannie Flagg’s novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle-Stop Cafe is being turned into a drama headed for the Broadway stage.

Kudos: Andrew Sean Greer, the 34-year-old author of The Confessions of Max Tivoli, won the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Award, given annually to an emerging author. Tony Kushner was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in May. The Saints & Sinners Literary Festival in New Orleans inducted Patrick Califia, Jim Grimsley, Ellen Hart, and Carol Seajay into their Hall of Fame. Ellen DeGeneres won her second consecutive Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show and her first as Outstanding Talk Show Host. She has also signed to do six more seasons. Stockard Channing won for Outstanding Performance in a Family Special for Jack, about TV adaptation of A.M. Home’s novel about a father who comes out of the closet. Actress Cherry Jones was cited with an Obie Award for her performance in John Patrick Shanley’s play Doubt. Winners for the Arch and Bruce Foundation short fiction competition are: First Prize: Quiara Alegria Hudes of Pennsylvania for "Stargazers," Dennis Jordan of New York City for "Sweet Jermone," and C. Kevin Smith of Big Sur, California for "Not the Last of the Mohicans." Second Prize went to Joel A. Nichols of Philadelphia for "Angels on Water" and Wendell Ricketts of San Francisco for "Speedos and a Sweatshirt." Third Prize honors went to Donna Barr of Bremerton, Washington for "A Good Example," Carolyn Gage of Portland, Maine for "Entr’acte," Veronica Holtz of Philadelphia for "A Respectful Distance," Neil Ellis Orts of Houston, Texas for "Men Dancing," and Donald Yonker of New York City for "Everything I Know I Learned from Musical Comedy." Edmund White was named one of the Scholars & Writers at the Dorothy & Lewis B. Cullman Center at the New York Public Library.

Kerouac, past and present: A bobble-head doll of author Jack Kerouac, created as a promotion by the minor-league team, the Lowell Spinners, joined the collection at the Baseball Hall of Fame in May. It is believed to be the first literary figure so honored. The bobble-head was unveiled at the ball game of August 21, 2003 to honor the Lowell-native and helped raised more than $10,000 for Jack Kerouac Scholarships. Also recently unearthed from a New Jersey warehouse was Beat Generation, a unpublished play by Kerouac. The play recounts a day in the life of the hard-drinking, drug-fueled life of Jack Duluoz, Kerouac’s alter eager. Kerouac’s biographer Gerald Nicosia reported that the play was written in one day after the author had returned to his home in Florida following the publication of On The Road. An off-Broadway producer named Leo Gavin had expressed interest in a play. The play was never published or performed, but the third act became the basis for a film, Pull My Daisy, starring poet Allen Ginsberg. Kerouac’s agent, Sterling Lord, said the play had been submitted to several producers but was turned down. Kerouac also sent the play to Marlon Brando. Brando never responded and the two men only met once, in 1960, when Kerouac enrolled in the Actor’s Studio. After 15 minutes of the class, Kerouac asked, "Don’t they give you any drinks in this place?" Spotting Brando, he invited him for a drink. Brando refused. The play will be published in October by Thunders Mouth Press and a staged reading is scheduled for New York in January 2006. Mr. Nicosia told a reporter from the London Guardian that it was not unusual for work by Kerouac to remain unpublished. "A lot of Jack’s greatest works were never published in his lifetime. The Kerouac estate has been releasing stuff from the archives over the last 10 years... He had a brief moment in the sun, but the right wing launched a major attack on him. They saw him as a major threat to society. They really succeeded in knocking him down."

Attacks Continue: The New York Times reported in an early June 2005 article that according to the American Library Association, which asks school districts and libraries to report efforts to ban books by having them removed from shelves or reading lists, that 547 books were challenged in 2004, up from 458 in 2003. Judith Krug, director of the ALA’s office for intellectual freedom, attributed the most recent spike to the empowerment of conservatives in general and to the re-election of President Bush in particular. The same thing happened 25 years ago, she told the Times. "In 1980, we were dealing with an average of 300 or so challenges a year, and then Reagan was elected. And challenges went to 900 or 1,000 a year." The Oklahoma house approved a $6.68 million budget for state libraries in May and vowed to study local library policies on the placement of gay themed books on children’s shelves. Sally Kearn, a member of the house subcommittee that funds the libraries, had threatened to withhold extra funding for libraries over the issue o gay-themed books. Earlier in the month, the Oklahoma house voted overwhelmingly to recommend creating adult-only sections in all public libraries to shield children from gay-themed books. In late April, police in the Boston suburb of Lexington, MA arrested a father after he refused to leave his six-year-old son’s elementary school over a book that featured a gay family. The father spent the night in jail and was freed after being ordered off school property. Also in late April, Chris Crain, editorial director of the Window media newspaper chain which operates the Washington Blade and Southern Voice, among other newspapers, was beaten by seven men in Amsterdam while he was walking hand-in-hand with his boyfriend early one morning. "I hope our gay friends in Holland realize that it’s a bit too soon to declare victory and go home, now that they’ve won their legal battles," Crain wrote in a subsequent editorial in his newspapers. "Winning the hearts and minds of the people will be a much more challenging task."

Off the Shelves: Cuttyhunk, Boston’s 12-year old gay bookstore, will close in late summer of 2005. Formerly known as We Think the World of You, owner Paul Rehme will close the store to "seek new challenges, including the creation of an exciting new real estate company," as relayed on the bookstore’s Web site. The 18 year-old Tomes & Treasures, the Tampa gay bookstore, gift shop, and coffee house located for the last eight years at its current S. Howard Avenue location, closed in June 2005. Owner Bill Kanouff told the St. Petersburg Times that large bookstore chains, the Internet, and the "mainstreaming of gay culture" helped bring about the store’s demise.

Passages: Indian-born film producer Ismail Merchant, who partnered with director James Ivory to create the award-winning adaptations of E.M. Forster’s novels A Room With a View, Maurice, and Howards End, died May 25, 2005 in London. He was 68. Born in 1936 in what was then Bombay, Mr. Merchant moved to New York in 1958 and earned a master’s in business administration at New York University. His professional partnership with Mr. Ivory continued for 44-years. Mr. Ivory survives him, as do four sisters: Saherbanu Kabadia and Ruksana Khan, both of Mumbai; Sahida Retiwala of Bergenfield, N.J.; and Rashida Bootwala of Pune, India.

Activist and author Jack Nichols died on May 2, 2005, in Cocoa Beach, Fla. He was 67. The cause was complications of cancer. Nichols was born in Washington, D.C. on March 16, 1938, and came out as gay to his parents as a teenager. Along with Frank Kameny, Nichols founded the Mattachine Society, an early gay advocacy group, in Washington in 1961. In 1967, Mr. Nichols became one of the first Americans to talk openly about his homosexuality on national television when he appeared in the CBS documentary "’The Homosexuals." For years Nichols was one of the activists who campaigned to have the American Psychiatric Association remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. In 1969, after moving to New York, Mr. Nichols founded Gay, the first gay weekly newspaper in the United States, with his companion, Lige Clarke (who died in 1975). Until recently, Nichols also edited the online publication Among Mr. Nichols’s books are Men’s Liberation: A New Definition of Masculinity (Penguin, 1975); The Gay Agenda: Talking Back to the Fundamentalists (Prometheus, 1996); and The Tomcat Chronicles: Erotic Adventures of a Gay Liberation Pioneer (Harrington Park Press, 2004), which was nominated for a 2004 Lambda Literary Award in the Memoir/Autobiography category.