Saturday, September 03, 2005

September Publishing Notes

The buzz: Regan Books will publish former New Jersey governor James McGreevey’s untitled book about how he wrestled with politics, family, and his sexuality. Touchstone will publish Disobedience, a first novel by Naomi Alderman, about the reunion of two women who were teenage lovers. Richard Labonté’s Books To Watch Out For reported that Lethe Press and the White Crane Institute, publisher of the White Crain Journal, will reprint 10 queer nonfiction classics, including Andrew Ramer’s Two Flutes Playing, Mark Thompson’s Gay Spirit, the collected works of Edward Carpenter, and previously unpublished writing by the late fairy poet and avant-garde filmmaker James Broughton. A libel lawsuit has been filed against the author, agent, and publisher of the bestselling memoir Running with Scissors. The suit—alleging defamation, invasion of privacy, emotional distress, and fraud—was filed in Middlesex Superior Court by six members of the Turcotte family of Northampton, MA, who maintain that they are the family of the eccentric psychiatrist with whom author Augusten Burroughs lived in his teens. Burroughs renamed them the “Finch” family in the 2002 book, which is being made into a movie due out next year. The family seeks “a public retraction of the book and a public statement that it is fiction and not memoir.” Lestat, the Elton John musical based on Anne Rice’s bestselling Vampire Chronicles, will have its world premiere December 17, 2005 at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco. The show will open on Broadway in March 2006. Julia Roberts will make her Broadway debut next spring in a revival of Richard Greenberg’s 1997 play Three Days of Rain. Edward Albee’s 1975 Pulitzer prize-winning play, Seascape, will be revived on Broadway in November. Walter Salles, who directed The Motorcycle Diaries, will direct a screen version of Jack Kerouac’s novel On the Road. Kenneth Branagh will film a production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, with a screenplay by Branagh and author/actor Stephen Fry. Neil Jordan’s movie version of the Patrick Gale’s novel Breakfast at Pluto will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. A film produced, directed, and starring Yukio Mishima (1925-1970), the best-known and most widely translated modern Japanese writer, has been found in a storeroom at Mishima’s home in Tokyo’s Ota Ward. Hiroaki Fujii, who co-produced the film in the 1960s with Mishima, said he found the negative of the film based on Mishima’s 1961 novel Yukoku (Patriotism). The film was made four years before Mishima’s death. Set to music by Wagner, the silent film follows an Imperial Japanese Army lieutenant who commits seppuku, or ritual suicide, rather than take part in a coup attempt. All copies of the movie were thought destroyed, at the request of Mishima’s widow. The film is expected to be released on DVD.

Kudos: Nominees for the newly initiated Quill awards, includes Magical Thinking by Augusten Burroughs in the memoir/biography category. Jesus and the Shamanic Tradition by Will Roscoe and Queering Creole Spiritual Traditions by Randy P. Conner with David Hatfield Sparks are finalists for the 2005 Ashé Journal Book Award. Aaron Smith’s Blue on Blue Ground, winner of the 2004 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize, has been published by the University of Pittsburgh Press.

Open calls: David Olin Tullis, who published and edited The Great Lawn, a gay literary magazine which was published in the 1990s, has launched CreamDrops, a new art and literary journal for gay men. The first three issues are now available online. Last month, The Big Gay Read competition was launched in the UK to find Britain’s favorite gay novel. Coordinated by queerupnorth, commonword, Time to Read, and Manchester, Salford, and Blackpool Library services, the winner will be announced at a special event during the queerupnorth Festival in May 2006. Submissions for the favorite gay novel, which need not be one of the organization’s recommended books, must be in by February, and can be made through the Web site.

On and off the Shelves: In August, Bookselling This Week reported that Alamo Square Distributors (ASDI), a book distributor that specialized in the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and sexual alternative market, would close at the end of the month. Shortly thereafter, Bert Herrmann, the founder of ASDI and publisher of Alamo Square Press, announced that he would be opening ASP Wholesale (a division of Alamo Square Press) and expected to be ready for business on September 15. Herrmann had sold ASDI four years ago to buy a retirement home in New Mexico. In an e-mail Hermann wrote, “These are hard times for wholesalers and also particularly hard times for smaller gay/lesbian/sexual alternative presses…. I have devoted much of my life to this industry and I have decided to step back to the plate and try one more time to keep our small presses alive.” In Sweden and Holland, libraries are “lending out people”—volunteers from outside of the mainstream, including gay men and lesbians, who sit in a cafeteria with library patrons, have a cup of coffee, and chat with them about their lives. These “living books” projects are meant to tear down prejudices about different religions, professions, and sexualities.

Up in Arms: In August, reported that a judge ruled that the Pleasant Valley (Iowa) School Board acted appropriately when it told teachers they may not read to their classes a book with a gay character. The 4-3 vote last December, however, allows the book, The Misfits by James Howe, to be kept in school libraries, but out of the hands of small children. The Misfits is about four 12 year olds, best friends and the target of cruel name-calling who decide they aren’t going to take it anymore. One of the characters in the book is gay. The board’s action followed a complaint from a parent who said that if sexual orientation is part of the curriculum, then the Bible and the Ten Commandments should be read aloud, too. Two other parents appealed the board’s restriction to the state, saying the decision was motivated by “moral or religious reasons.” Iowa state administrative law judge Carol Greta ruled that the board “acted out of the legitimate educational concern of age-appropriateness” when it restricted access to the book. Greta said had the board voted to remove the book entirely from schools the decision would have faced a greater degree of scrutiny. Her ruling noted that “the local board has the authority to determine what curricular materials are appropriate for the different grade levels of students in the district. It did not interpret its statutory authority in an illogical or irrational way.” The ruling does not carry the weight of law and is considered a recommendation.

Passages: Al Carmines, who as assistant rector of Greenwich Village’s Judson Memorial Theatre, helped create the experimental crucible that was the Judson’s Poets’ Theatre, and became one of the seminal forces of the Off-Off Broadway movement, died Aug. 11, 2005 at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan. He was 69. Alvin Allison Carmines was born in Hampton, Virginia, on July 25, 1936. His father worked as a fishing trawler and his mother was a substitute schoolteacher. Raised as a Protestant, he soon developed a knack for performance, and won a music scholarship. However, he didn’t go into music, but studied theology at Swarthmore. He later enrolled at the Union Theological Seminary. Upon earning his bachelor of divinity, he was hired at Judson Memorial Church. From 1961, when Carmines was hired by Judson’s senior minister Howard Moody and charged with creating a theatre, until 1981, when the effects of an aneurysm forced him to resign, Carmines wrote about 80 musicals, operas, and oratorios. He often played his music in performance and was frequently called upon to act. Carmines wrote several musicals based on the Gertrude Stein’s work, including In Circles, which set the non-linear prose of Stein to ragtime, tango, waltz, opera, barbershop quartet, jazz and other musical styles. For the production, the composer wrote and performed a different opening number every night. The show won Mr. Carmines an Obie Award in 1968. He won other Obies for Home Movies and What Happened in 1964, for Promenade in 1965, and for Sustained Achievement in 1979. Other Stein works musicalized by Carmines include Dr. Faustus Lights The Lights, A Manoir, The Making of Americans, Listen To Me, and What Happened. Another favored theme was gay life. The title of one such Carmines show, 1973’s The Faggot (in which he also appeared as an actor), drew the ire of the gay population. Carmines wrote one musical for Broadway, W.C. Fields, which closed out of town. In 2003, Carmines was presented with a lifetime achievement award from the Publishing Triangle and the Robert Chesley Foundation.

A memorial celebration of the life of gay activist pioneer and journalist Jack Nicols (1938-2005) will be held Sunday, Sept. 25 at 3:00 pm, at New York’s LGBT Community Center, 208 West 13th Street. Openly challenging psychiatry’s position at the time that homosexuality was a sickness, in 1961 Nichols and Frank Kameny co-founded the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C. In 1965, he led the first gay demonstration of a federal building—the White House—and organized the first East Coast ecumenical conference on homosexuality, later called the Washington Area Council on Religion and the Homosexual. In 1967, Nichols was interviewed by Mike Wallace in the first network (CBS) documentary on homosexuality. Nichols wrote four books, including Men’s Liberation: A New Definition of Masculinity (1975), and The Tomcat Chronicles: Erotic Adventures of a Gay Liberation Pioneer (2004). He edited the first gay weekly newspaper, GAY, and as a journalist wrote the columns “The Homosexual Citizen” and “The Homosexual Anarchist.” During the last ten years of his life, he served as the editor for the widely-read online news-journal, GayToday. Speakers at the memorial will include gay pioneer activists Dick Leitsch and Randy Wicker; authors and journalists Charles Kaiser (Gay Metropolis), George Weinberg (Society and the Healthy Homosexual), David Carter (Stonewall), and Perry Brass (How To Survive Your Own Gay Life); as well as Shelbiana Clarke Rhein, sister of Nichol’s long-time companion Lige Clarke.