Friday, September 30, 2005

October Publishing Notes

The buzz: Tommy O’Haver will direct the film version of Edwin John Wintle’s memoir Breakfast With Tiffany, about being a single gay middle-aged New Yorker who suddenly finds himself serving as guardian for his teenage niece Tiffany. The film adaptation of Brokeback Mountain won the Golden Lion award at the Venice Film festival in September. Random House will publish Summer Crossing, an early, unreleased Truman Capote novel discovered last year at the bottom of a box of Capote manuscripts and photos that had been the property of the author’s former house sitter. Capote, who died in 1984, had hired the sitter to look after his Brooklyn apartment while he was in Switzerland writing In Cold Blood. In September, the Belper Women’s Institute in England canceled writer Narvel Annable’s appearance when they learned they discovered his books dealt with homosexuality. Annable’s recent book, Lost Lad, is set in the Belper area. U.S. author Ron Suresha had a similar experience when the organizers of Boats, Books and Brushes, a local literary event in his hometown of New London, Connecticut, opted against including an appearance of the openly-gay writer. Following an outcry from social conservatives, Haworth Press canceled the publication of Same-Sex Desire and Love in Greco-Roman Antiquity and in the Classical Tradition of the West. Conservative activists had complained that one of the book’s chapters, “Pederasty: An Integration of Cross-Cultural, Cross-Species, and Empirical Data,” an essay by Bruce L. Rind, an adjunct instructor in psychology at Temple University, amounted to a defense of present-day sexual relationships between men and adolescent boys. This was not the first time that Mr. Rind’s work has come under fire. Six years ago, he and two colleagues were denounced by Congress for writing a paper that, in its critics’ eyes, soft-pedaled the long-term traumatic effects on children of sexual abuse.

Kudos: Ann Beattie is this year’s recipient of the Rea Award for significant achievements in the short story form. Beattie, one of my favorite writers, is the author of the short story collections Distortions, The Burning House, Where You’ll Find Me, Park City, Perfect Recall, and most recently Follies. Beattie has always included thoughtful and well-rounded gay characters in her fiction. Among her finest stories with gay characters are: “The Cinderella Waltz,” “The Burning Bed,” “Second Question,” “The Infamous Fall of Howell the Clown,” and “The Famous Poet, Amid Bougainvillea.”

More news from the Big Easy: PressPassQ reported that the New Orleans-based Ambush magazine will not publish for at least a month, but that its staff is safe, according to staff member Phyllis Denmark who spoke to reporter Eleanor Brown. Publisher Rip Delain-Naquin and his male registered domestic partner, production director Marsha Delain-Naquin, own a three-story building in the French Quarter which houses both the Ambush offices and their home. “We were safe and sound in the building,” Denmark said. “Then on Tuesday the looting started.” Denmark said staff left the city and that the Delain-Naquins are at a relative’s in northern Louisiana. For the last three years Ambush and the Delain-Naquins have hosted the fabulous opening night party for the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival for queer writers.


My Dinner with Andy: Last month I had a chance to have drinks and dinner with Australian/Canadian writer Andy Quan , who was in Manhattan for vacation, work, and to promote his new book Six Positions, now out from Green Candy Press. Andy has been one of my favorite gay writers ever since I read his short story “How to Cook Chinese Rice” in the 1993 anthology Queeries, one of the first books published by the Canadian publishing house Arsenal Pulp Press. Andy writes the kind of stories that other writers wish they could do, but often can’t. “How to Cook Chinese Rice” is about a gay Asian man’s search for identity, multi-layered with irony and witty details — a sort of short, gay version of Like Water for Chocolate. When Andy’s first collection of short stories, Calendar Boy, came out (and it included “How to Cook Chinese Rice”), it snagged a 2001 Lambda Literary nomination for best small press (in spite of being extremely hard to find in the U.S.). What makes Andy’s work so exciting to read is his continual innovation with structure and language — his best work often explores and deconstructs a particular thematic issue of interest to gay men (i.e. muscles in “Something about Muscle,” hair in “Hair,” serostatus in “Positive.”). Among my favorite pieces in Six Positions are “Mistakes were Made,” a disastrous hook-up as seen from both sides of the dating coin, and “Why I’m,” a searing, high-flying manifesto of what it means to be gay and male and alive in the 21st century. Andy also recently (and deservedly) snagged the Best Writer citation from London’s Erotic Awards for Six Positions. As his day job, Andy does international policy work for Australia's national HIV/AIDS organization, and he is also a singer and songwriter — he’s recently released his first CD of music and lyrics, Clean.

Open calls: Gertrude Press, the Portland, Oregon non-profit organization which publishes many gay and lesbian authors in their literary journal Gertrude, will begin publishing limited-edition poetry and fiction chapbooks in 2006, with a letterpress cover and a limited press run of 200 copies. Green Candy Press is seeking essays and memoirs of gay men with gay brothers for a new anthology titled My Gay Brother. Deadline is January 22, 2006. Bookpuppy.co.uk has launched an erotic short story competition. First prize is £100. Deadline is January 1, 2006. See the Web site for details. Forbidden Fruit, a new e-zine, is seeking gay-themed literary erotica. The e-zine will publish three times a year (January, May and September) and have a minimum of eight short stories (or serial extracts) per issue. The Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation will be awarding competitive grants for playwriting. Deadline is November 30, 2005. Plays may be full-length, a long one-act, or an evening-long collection of related one-acts. All works must present the gay and lesbian lifestyle in a positive manner and be based on, or directly inspired by, a historic person, culture, work of art, or event. See the Web site for more details.

On and off the Shelves: Women in Print, the feminist Vancouver bookstore, closed its doors on September 11, 2005. Owners Carol Dale and Louise Hager have been in the book business since the 1960s. They met working at Duthie’s bookstore and then opened their first bookstore, Hager Books, in 1974. Women in Print has been in existence for 12 years and the co-owners plan to continue selling books online at womeninprint.ca. Hager and Dale, both cancer survivors, are also looking forward to dedicating more time to volunteer work.

Hush, hush: The Publishing Triangle will hold a silent auction on Tuesday, October 18 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Remy Toledo Gallery (529 West 20th Street, 8th floor) to benefit The Triangle’s Shilts-Grahn Nonfiction Awards and the Lorde-Gunn Poetry Awards. You will have an opportunity to bid on items such as original artwork, theater tickets, CDs, DVDs, cookbooks, gourmet catering, massages, and much, much more. Mexican hors d’oeuvres will be served, courtesy of La Cocina Mexicana. All proceeds go toward the fund-raising drive for the awards. Also of note: this year the Publishing Triangle will give a new award: The Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction, open to first-book authors of any age whose work contains queer themes.

Passages: Poet Thomas Avena died August 3, 2005 in San Francisco after a twenty-year battle with AIDS. He was 43 years old. Avena first gained attention with his literary journal, Bastard Review. He was the author of a collection of poems, Dream of Order, and edited Life Sentences: Writers, Artists, and AIDS, which was awarded the Before Columbus American Book Award and the San Francisco Mayor’s Medal in 1995. He was the editor for “Project Face to Face,” an AIDS oral history and arts installation, and served as the project's writer-in-residence during its exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution's Experimental Gallery in 1991. Known for his work on issues of treatment advocacy, he addressed the National Institutes of Health and the Zurich AIDS Congress. He was the recipient of the Joseph Henry Jackson Award in Literature and the International Humanitas Award for his work in AIDS education and the arts. He was also the author, with Adam Klein, of Jerome: After the Pageant, an exploration of the life and work of the painter Jerome Caja. Mr. Avena's work also appeared in The American Poetry Review and Best American Poetry 1996.