Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sarah Schulman's Book Event

October is almost over, and it feels like it has raced by. It's been wonderful and at times disorienting to be back east for the entire month; usually I'm well immersed into the dizzying hive of the fall quarter, but so far I've had a chance to think and read and write (and yes, write letters of recommendation!) and go to conferences, with breathers in between every activity, and it feels almost unreal. But wonderful nevertheless.

Since I've been in town I've had an opportunity not only to see people I haven't run into in a while, but meet folks I've known of or even have corresponded with over the years but never met face to face. Such was the case earlier today when I attended a book launch party for author Sarah Schulman, someone I admire tremendously and one of my literary heros/sheros. In addition to writing novels, plays, and a variety of nonfiction work, Sarah has been relentless in her activism over the years, particularly around issues affecting women, queer people, people of color, and working-class and poor people. She doesn't just pay lip service to these issues, she writes and fights, to use Ishmael Reed's phrase. This year the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies (CLAGS) at CUNY named her to deliver the prestigious 18th annual David R. Kessler lecture, which she'll do on November 12. Its title is "Ties That Bind: Familial Homophobia and Its Consequences." She joins an illustrious group of previous eminents that includes Samuel R. Delany, Barbara Smith, Adrienne Rich, Cherrie Moraga, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, John D'Emilio, Edmund White, Isaac Julie, Judith Butler, Douglas Crimp, and Joan Nestle.

Sarah's new novel, The Mere Future (one of my September 2009 book picks, I believe) captures her critical and activist approach, in speculative, fictional form; despite its unassuming title, the novel perceptively and incisively extrapolates from present-day New York, with its luxe-mania and unhelpful bromides and megabillionaire mayor, into a dystopic Big Apple (and US), now run by proverbial "others" and which appears to be functioning utopically, at least on the surface, but which her protagonists soon discover is as rotten as the pilings underneath the FDR Drive. I'll write more about the novel when I've had a little time to think about it more, but it was great to see Sarah yesterday, and also to run into some fellow wordsmiths I hadn't seen in a while, like Doug Jones. I also met Jack Waters and Peter Cramer; I used to receive their emails for Allied Productions, Inc., and even caught some of their work years ago (they co-ran ABC No Rio back in the mid 1980s), but had never met either of them. Until yesterday. So that was great too. Please pick up Sarah's book and if you're around NYC in November, catch her Kessler lecture.
Sarah Schulman signing her new novel
Sarah signing my copy of The Mere Future
Jack and Dominic
Jack Waters and Dominic
Charles Rice-Gonzalez, whose first novel will be out next spring (2010) from Alyson
Doug Jones


Despite Ronaldo mentioning it after his reading on Thursday, I misread an online note and thus missed the final day of William Pope.l's recreation of Allen Kaprow's seminal and oft-staged "Yard," an interactive tire sculpture that permits adults to become children and gleeful explorers again, at the Hauser & Wirth Gallery uptown.

In fact I've never seen Pope.l perform any of his pieces live, but I have been a fan of his for some time. (Interestingly I cannot recall if I've ever mentioned him on J's Theater, or just thought of him as I've expounded on someone else.) Here's a link to two YouTube videos which are about as close as I'll be getting to a real Pope.l performance for the near future. Enjoy.

And here's "jameskalm" participating in the interactive creation:

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