Archive for the 'books' Category

Books: Sarah Schulman’s THE GENTRIFICATION OF THE MIND

May 21, 2012

No book has rocked my world in recent times more than Sarah Schulman’s “The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination.” Schulman borrows from urban housing development the concept of gentrification — in which complicated, racially and culturally mixed, financially marginal neighborhoods are eradicated and replaced by areas that are more bland, sterile, upscale, and/or culturally homogenous — to explore the impact of AIDS on the gay world and by extension on American life. The book lays out how difficult, messy, tragic truths have been replaced by falsehoods that are convenient or flattering to the dominant culture.

Schulman is the kind of brave writer and thinker who’s not afraid to exaggerate at the risk of going off the rails, so she does sometimes. But I respect her commitment to writing the way she wants others to. Early on, she lets readers know how she’d like us to consume “The Gentrification of the Mind”: “As a reader myself, I have always most enjoyed books that I can be interactive with. I like to fiercely agree with one idea — and fiercely disagree with the next. That kind of dynamic relationship requires a lot of ideas coming at once, from which the reader can pick and choose. Nothing bores me more than the one-long-slow-idea book, and I promise to never write one.” If you’re not arguing with her, you’re not reading the book right.

To read my review in its entirety on CultureVulture.net, click here.

 

Book: “BAM — The Complete Works”

November 8, 2011

I am thrilled to be in the beautifully produced 382-page glamorous coffee-table book BAM: The Complete Works, edited by Steven Serafin and published by the Quantum Lane Press, in celebration of the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s 150th anniversary. My contribution is a brief sidebar essay on Laurie Anderson that gets its own spread (pp. 164-165), alongside pieces by the likes of Joan Acocella, Deborah Jowitt, Susan Yung, Roger Oliver, Peter Brook, and Meredith Monk.

Books: LAVENDER CULTURE

May 6, 2010

A response to a random post on Facebook led me to reconnecting with an old friend, Allen Young. From Allen, I learned that Lavender Culture, the anthology of essays about gay culture that he and Karla Jay edited and published in 1978, is still in print from NYU Press. Allen commissioned an article from me about gay theater, and it marked my first appearance in a book. I’ll never forget the thrill of walking into the Brattle Street Bookstore in Harvard Square and seeing the book on the shelf. It was a mass-market paperback from Jove Press (a division of Harcourt Brace Jovanovich) back then; the NYU Press edition is a trade paperback, with new introductions by the editors and by Cindy Patton.

I’m touched to re-read my author’s bio from the original edition: “Don Shewey, Cambridge, Mass. Twenty-four years old, formerly an actor and classics scholar, currently a freelance writer, theatre and music critic for the Boston Phoenix, and aspiring playwright. Intensely interested in theatre, literature and my lawyer-lover John. I would like to thank the previous generation of gay activists (whose struggles enabled me to grow up gay free of guilt, shame and despair) and the women’s movement, which changed my life.”

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