felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
It's been a quiet few days. All I've wanted to do is sleep, and I haven't done much besides sleep, read, edit, and see Sean. Yeasterday and today, I've gotten caught up on LJ, which is why half your inboxes are flooded.

I've finished Un Coeur découvert by Michel Tremblay since I got out, and I've nearly finished another novel, Skinny Legs and All.

A review of Un Coeur découvert )

I guess the short of it was that it was a good novel overall, though flawed in many respects -- largely by the narrator's personality defects. I guess its lack of a real plot isn't a bad thing, as long as the reader's prepared for something more episodic than most novels.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Not much to say, except that I'm more than four-fifths finished the final edit. I wanted to be farther, but I procrastinated too much yesterday.

I'm also really enjoying Place d'Armes, by Scott Symons. It was once considered one of the two most influential English-language Canadian novels of the 1960s, but because of the cowardice among the Canadian literary set, the other influential novel -- Leonard Cohen's Beautiful Losers -- remained read and in print, while Place d'Armes got forgotten.

That's a shame because so far, Place d'Armes is a much better book -- it's much more restrained with the stream-of-consciousness stuff, so it's much more readable. And unlike Beautiful Losers, it's not just going for shock value.

(Somewhere between the vibrator-that-achieves-sentience and the threesome with Adolph Hitler, Beautiful Losers started to bore me. Nothing can shock you anymore by the time you're halfway through that book, and since its only appeal is shock value, it destroys its own audience.)

Even less than a quarter into the book, I can tell that Place d'Armes really deserves the place Beautiful Losers has in the Canadian canon, but because it's homosexually explicit -- whereas Beautiful Losers is mostly heterosexually so -- it's unlikely to take that place any time soon.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
I'd always hoped that J.K. Rowling would throw in a gay character into this decade's most popular book series. And it turns out she did.

People are saying this was dropped in out of the blue, but I actually thought that in the last book it was pretty obvious, and said so in this spoiler-filled entry.

Up until then, though, I figured Colin Creevey would just marry Ernie MacMillan.

ETA: And the answer to the question of "Is Mugglenet still homophobic?", the answer seems to be "Yes." They're deleting all threads and all posts on the subject -- it's creepy.

I stopped visiting that site -- even though it's the largest HP fansite in existence -- after they pushed out a poor bisexual girl for speculating that a character might be gay. I went back to see their reaction, and it's dead silence.

The people who run those forums seem to have missed the theme of the series entirely.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Come; let us squeeze hands all around; nay, let us all squeeze ourselves into each other; let us squeeze ourselves universally into the very milk and sperm of kindness.

Would that I could keep squeezing that sperm forever!

------ Moby Dick by Herman Melville, Chapter 94
The "sperm" here is the spermaceti oil of the Sperm Whale. I'd say the mind-in-the-gutter interpretation was unintentional, but having read "Billy Budd" -- Melville's short story about homosexuality -- and since the guy speaking here describes himself as married to another man, I know Melville wasn't quite that naive.

On that note I am finally reading Moby Dick, whose second half I skimmed for my exam, but didn't read carefully.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)

So, another precious, precious book is about to fall into my lap -- sort of a holy grail for me, except that Dan Brown is not involved, and it was not written by Mary Magdalene.

This one is Place d'Armes. The deified inventor of Canadian Literature, Malcolm Ross, said that after 1969, all Canadian novels were influenced by either Beautiful Losers or Place d'Armes.

But while those of you with a taste for Canadian culture (watches tumbleweed, listens to crickets) have likely heard of Beautiful Losers, no one's heard of Place d'Armes now unless they're a gay man who grew up in Canada in the 1960s or 1970s.

That's because Place d'Armes was a gay coming-out novel -- first of its kind in this country -- before that was really possible. I didn't find out about it myself until openly-gay politician Bill Siksay told me about it at a fundraiser. After that, I researched it.

The guy from the used bookstore I bought it from online is delivering it to me personally -- he does this apparently. I love living in an age where literature is delivered to your door as promptly as a pizza ^_^

News of the Weird

I'm not so sure I want to be connected to Laval anymore. They seem to have a slave trade operating there. Well, okay, it was only one household, but the poor woman was locked away in the house 2 years until one of the neighbours called.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)

"Never try to keep up with the Joneses...drag them down to your level. It's cheaper!"
"The time comes for everyone to do deliberately what he used to do by mistake . . . If you are effeminate by nature, you have to find some way of telling the world that you know you are, otherwise they keep telling you."
"The rest of the world in which I lived was still stumbling about in search of a weapon with which to exterminate this monster [homosexuality] whose shape and size were not yet known or even guessed at. It was thought to be Greek in origin, smaller than socialism but more deadly, especially to children."
"By the time I was twenty-eight, I had tired of the experience [of being fired]. I easily found a way of preventing its recurrence. I gave up work."
"For the first time I was forced to admit that other people existed. It was not a discovery I welcomed."
"...it was still some years before I was bold enough to decline an invitation to Hamlet on the grounds that I already knew who won."
And on war rationing: "When war was declared, I bought two pounds of henna."
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)

And The Naked Civil Servant is one of the funniest books I've ever read -- it really lives up to its reputation.

For those of you who've never come across it, it's the autobiography of a man who was very, very, very openly gay decades before homosexuality was legal in Britain. He describes the community in the 1920s and 1930s -- his run-ins with the police -- his experiences as a male prostitute.

And he does it all with a sense of humour that would've given Oscar Wilde a run for his money ^_^
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
You know, the modern fashion of having women act the women's roles in Shakespeare means that some of the humour in these plays is lost.

Take As You Like It. The big joke of the play is that Rosalind is a woman pretending to be a man. The play is chock full of double entendres, and in-jokes that the audience gets while the characters are clueless.

But if you remember that Rosalind is being played as by a boy -- since women weren't allowed onstage in England until 44 years after Shakespeare's death -- then you realize the double-entendres are actually triple-entendres, and the whole thing is a lot funnier.

To top it all off, Rosalind takes the name Ganymede. Ganymede, ferzeussakes!

For those of you who don't know, Ganymede was the beautiful teenage Phrygian boy that the Greek god Zeus fell in love with, and kidnapped to to his penthouse apartment atop Mount Olympus.

(Mythology does not record the outcome of the story, but I strongly suspect that he was reduced to a Phrygian-boy-sized bloodstain by dinnertime, as Zeus's violently jealous wife Hera did not like to have rivals.)

In the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, a ganymede was yet another word for "passive homosexual" -- intriguingly, the English Renaissance had a lot of words for that -- so Rosalind's nom-de-drag may as well be "What-a-fabulous-window-treatment."

I also hope I live long enough to see a major-motion-picture production of Romeo and Juliet where Juliet is played by a man, the way Shakespeare intended.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
The speech by Bill Siksay that [livejournal.com profile] montrealais set up was fantastic. He's an interesting speaker -- not quite as rousing among friends in a bar as when he's in parliament, but still enjoyable to listen to.

He also doesn't look like Frankenstein's Monster in person. I guess he just doesn't photograph well.

Svend Robinson showed up, too, who I've met a few times before.

After the speech, Siksay was talking about queer history, and I found out about a queer writer I'd missed named Scott Symons. His best-known work, Place d'Armes, was written way back in 1967, and Jack McLelland -- the biggest name in Canadian publishing -- said that after 1967 all Canadian novels he read were influenced either by Leonard Cohen or Scott Symons.

The reading continues apace. I am through with Protestant Elves, and have moved on to Astrophil and Stella by Philip Sidney.

The reading list terrifies me -- just looking at the list of Emily Dickinson's numbered poems makes my eyes blister. Did she really write so much? The reading list of her poetry looks like a Fibonacci Sequence left in the fridge too long.

Meanwhile, I have finished the major edit on my novel. Today I'll be writing up a list of parts that need serious work, then I'll work on those, and do one final edit before I show it to others.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Okay, Shakespeare is really creepy. I can't believe it took me so long to notice.

I mean, it's not just the co-dependent 14-year-olds with their suicide pact (Romeo and Juliet).

I'm re-reading the sonnets right now, and about 126 of them are devoted to a young man who the poet is in love/in lust with. Shakespeare goes on and on about this guy's beauty, and about how he must reproduce to preserve that beauty in another generation. Shakespeare promises the young man immortality through his poetry, and the poet laments that he has a penis because the young man is heterosexual. Then he goes on some more about the guy's beauty.

I was trying to imagine how a straight man would react to 126 poems from another man obsessing over his beauty, and whether or not he reproduces and generates good-looking children. The words "restraining order" came to mind.

On a less ethereal plane, I seem to have developed a minor peanut allergy. So far, it's nothing dangerous, but I've heard these things can get worse with repeat exposure, so I'm going to have to be careful to avoid things with nuts in them :/
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Well, now we're wading into the "appropriation of voice debate" in Canadian Lit this evening. This is going to be very interesting.

The question is, "Should writers have the moral and legal right to write about members of a minority they don't belong to?"

cut for length, musings )
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
I'm still enjoying Solomon Gursky, though it is getting a little irritating because of all the homophobia. At first, I was giving the author the benefit of the doubt -- he's not writing about nice people, and I assumed it was they, not the author, who were the bigoted.

After awhile though, it gets to be a little too much, and you have to wonder if -- among the dozens of queer predators and shallow queens, all played for laughs -- there's going to be one nice one. Mordecai Richler is misanthropic, but there are nice straight people around the margins of his story.

Minor spoilers here for Solomon Gursky )

(I need a Canadian Lit icon. If I could draw at all, and still access to Photoshop, I think I'd put together a Samurai Susanna animated icon, done in the style of a Canadian Heritage Minute. You know, something like an anime scene, followed by,

"In 1837, Canadian pioneer Susanna Moodie defeated the last ninja gang of the Duoro Township, ending the plague of ninjas that had been plaguing the Canadian wilderness, and thwarting American plans to built a space station capable of destroying Ottawa from orbit. A part of our heritage.")


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