Currently Browsing: literature

Uncommon Reader:
Uncommonly good!

If you’re British, you already know all about Alan Bennett. Some lad mag (or is it lit mag?) publishes excerpts from his diary every year, right? Then he makes that Christmas broadcast on the BBC, and you see him when you’re punting the Thames. He shows up at your birthday parties, even, and brings you your lunch when you’ve forgotten it at home. I’m sure this is true. He’s the UK’s kindly gay... read more

Fatal Flaws can be fun!

The Secret History neatly performs an exquisite balancing act: one the one hand, it’s full of classical allusions and Greek phrases and lush, evocative descriptions of lovely things, and on the other it’s absolutely deliciously tawdry, full of every seamy literary delight: sex, drugs and murder. Although basically as trashy as any episode of Jerry Springer, its patina of academic... read more

Time travel to Tenth Century Japan

What if we could visit a woman who lived over a thousand years ago? We can’t (curse you, malfunctioning time travel equipment in my basement!), but we can get close by reading the actual personal diary of a woman who lived at the court of the Emperor of Japan a thousand years ago. The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon is a spontaneous, playful diary filled with visual and sensory detail. Most importantly,... read more

My bit of Paradise: Precious Bane

When I was 16, PBS blew my mind. I was sitting up watching Masterpiece Theater on the local affiliate station, and right in the middle of this period drama they showed a man’s naked ass. PBS was, and apparently had always been, astonishingly cool. Later, my PBS affiliate aired a highly controversial documentary about gay men called Tongues Untied despite great hue and cry (and to this day, my brain... read more