God Save My Queen: The Show Must Go On by Daniel Nester continues the theme from his first book–how his personality and aesthetic was shaped by Freddie Mercury and the British rock band Queen. World famous in the 1970s for such songs as “We Will Rock You,” “We Are The Champions,” “Another One Bites The Dust,” and the mock-opera epic “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the band ended its run in 1991 with the death of its flamboyant lead singer, Freddie Mercury, from AIDS. But it is a source of a deeper and more personal obsession for the author, poet and journalist Daniel Nester. As for the first volume, a short essay, or riff, accompanies, in order of album and track, of Queen’s last five studio albums The “plot points” covered here would be the band’s retreat from the United States — timed almost exactly when the author proclaims Queen his “favorite band” — as well as Queen’s triumphant performance at Live Aid, European tours, and the band’s retreat into secrecy as Freddie Mercury deals with HIV/AIDS, the decline of Mercury’s health and his eventual death. Not quite memoir, neither prose poetry nor rock book, it will, it will nonetheless, rock you.
God Save My Queen is a collection of lyrical essays drawing on a very unliterary source: the British rock band Queen. World famous in the 1970s for such songs as “We Will Rock You,” “We Are The Champions,” “Another One Bites The Dust,” and “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Queen’s music is embedded in our public consciousness, in our sports stadiums, in TV commercials, and Wayne’s World.
But it is a source of a deeper obsession for the author, poet and journalist Daniel Nester–in God Save My Queen, a short essay or riff accompanies, in order of album and track, every song recorded by the band, in chronological order, until its flopped “disco” album, 1982’s Hot Space. Part memoir, part prose poetry part rock book, Nester draws connections betwen everyone from Liza Minelli, Leni Riefenstahl, Billie Jean King, Michael Jackson and Freddie Mercury sharing a kiss in 1981, even a rant on Courtney Love’s giggling over Kurt Cobain’s mention of Freddie Mercury in his suicide note. The entries for the songs add up to a love letter to a band, and a time when all that mattered was a record player and a pair of headphones.
Dry, offbeat, and mostly profane, this debut collection of humorous nonfiction glorifies all things inappropriate and TMI. A compendia of probing essays, lists, profiles, barstool rants, queries, pedantic footnotes, play scripts, commonplace miscellany, and overly revealing memoir, How to Be Inappropriate adds up to the portrait of an artist who bumbles through life obsessed with one thing: extreme impropriety.
In How to Be Inappropriate, Daniel Nester determines the boundary of acceptable behavior by completely disregarding it. As a twenty-something hipster, he looks for love with a Williamsburg abstract painter who has had her feet licked for money. As a teacher, he tries out curse words with Chinese students in ESL classes. Along the way, Nester provides a short cultural history on mooning and attempts to cast a spell on a neighbor who fails to curb his dog. He befriends exiled video game king Todd Rogers, re-imagines a conversation with NPR’s Terry Gross, and invents a robot version of Kiss bassist Gene Simmons.
No matter which misadventure catches their eye in this eclectic series of essays, How to Be Inappropriate makes readers appreciate that someone else has experienced these embarrassing sides of life, so that they won’t have to.
A new edition of a “dazzlingly seductive” fever dream written in “brilliant poetic vernacular” (Bookforum) by a beloved poet and cultural critic, now with an introduction by Rachel Kushner.
For five years, concert pianist Theo Mangrove has been living at his family’s home in East Kill, New York, recovering from a nervous breakdown that derailed his career, and attempting to relieve his relentless polysexual appetite in the company of male hustlers, random strangers, music students, his aunt, and occasionally his wife. As he prepares for a comeback recital in Aigues-Mortes, a walled medieval town in southern France, he becomes obsessed with the idea that the Italian circus star Moira Orfei must join him there to perform alongside him.
Extravagantly (and tragicomically) describing his hallucinatory plans in a series of twenty-five notebooks, he assembles an incantatory meditation on performance, failure, fame, decay, and delusion.
“If Debussy and Robert Walser had collaborated on an opera, it would sound like this. –John Ashbery
When Orlie Breton shows up in June of 1979 to work as a paramedic in New York City’s 911 system, she finds herself plunged into a violent and magical world, populated by medics who are not terribly different from the homeless peoplethe “skels”who comprise most of their patient population.
Orlie draws parallels between her experiences to the stories and feelings represented in the works of her favorite writers, including Jack London, Walt Whitman, Rimbaud, and Mark Twain. Skels was written with the question in mind of what would happen if the ambulance world really was permeated with the works of past writers, and the skels were carrying the consciousnesses of the writers themselves. What would the protagonist have done if she had met the greatest poet of all, dirty and covered with lice, and been granted the chance to save him? Not from dying, but from his own life. With Skels Dubris shares what she saw during her own time as an EMT not literally, but more importantaly, how she felt in her soul, magical and violent and funny, filled with passion, and like it contained some ancient element that was invisible from the outside.
In the summer of 1934, “a sickly pathetic marmoset” called Mitz came into the care of Leonard Woolf. He nursed her back to health and from then on was rarely seen without her on his shoulder. A “ubiquitous” presence in Bloomsbury society. Mitz moved with the Woolfs between their London flat and their cottage in Sussex. She developed her own special relationships with the Woolfs’ spaniels, Pinks and Sally, and with various members of the Woolfs’ circle, such as T. S. Eliot and Vita Sackville-West. She accompanied the Woolfs on their holidays, including their travels through Europe, and played an important role in helping them to escape a close call with Nazis in Germany. Using letters, diaries, and memoirs, Nunez reconstructs Mitz’s life against the background of Bloomsbury in its twilight years. Although a turbulent period marked by the threat of war, the deaths of beloved friends and relations, and Virginia’s near breakdown under the strain of finishing her novel The Years, it was nevertheless a time of much happiness and productivity for the Woolfs. Tender, affectionate, and humorous, Mitz provides a glimpse of what Virginia Woolf once described as “the private side of life – the play side, ” which she believed one’s pets represented. Through Nunez’s skillful storytelling, an intimate portrait of a most uncommon household emerges – a celebration of the love that saw one monkey, two dogs, and modern literature’s most famous husband and wife through some of the worst of times.
“[Dieterich’s] writing is crisp and intelligent . . . She writes about her own reckoning with her sexuality and exploration of queer identity without becoming pat or coy, giving readers intimate access to her fears and conflicting emotions.” –NPR
For as long as she can remember, Leah has had the mysterious feeling that she’s been searching for a twin–that she should be part of an intimate pair. It begins with dance partners as she studies ballet growing up; continues with her attractions to girlfriends in college; and leads her, finally, to Eric, whom she moves across the country for and marries. But her steadfast, monogamous relationship leaves her with questions about her sexuality and her identity, so she and her husband decide to try an open marriage.
How does a young couple make room for their individual desires, their evolving selfhoods, and their artistic ambitions while building a life together? Can they pursue other sexual partners, even live in separate cities, and keep their original passionate bond alive? Vanishing Twins looks for answers in psychology, science, pop culture, art, architecture, Greek mythology, dance, and language to create a lucid, suspenseful portrait of a woman testing the limits and fluidities of love.
Exploring the realities of public piety and private philandering, Homewrecker combines fiction, nonfiction, and poetry to present a multitude of perspectives on adultery and the emotional complexity that affairs entail. Acclaimed contemporary writers share space with fresh talent in its pages, each with a different take on adultery and its aftermath. In “The Other Man,” Stephen Elliot remembers the dominatrix who two-timed him with a square. Lori Selke spins steamy erotica in “Sex and the Married Dyke,” a story about how quickly queer marriage can degenerate into extramarital queer activity. Neal Pollack’s “Confessions of a Dial-up Gigolo” recalls the early days of the Internet when anything seemed possible, even destroying the marriage of someone you’ve never met.
Fusing pornography and postfeminist theory, transcript and tell-all, these playful, penetrating poems and stories reach off the page in search of what it is to be known, both to the masses and to the “Other.”
Gertrude Stein’s work is co-opted and re-seen in an attempt to unpack the relationship between love and war; Walt Whitman makes a command performance in dismembered bits of forced formal verse; and The Exorcist and The Devil in Miss Jones are sutured together in an attempt to locate the horror of desire.
For many performance poets, the simple act of writing down the words can kill a poem’s spirit and energy. Not so with Daphne Gottlieb. In Why Things Burn, Gottlieb tackles sexuality, lesbian issues, rape, urban life, and a host of other topics with the same power of her live performances.
Gabe is a teenage Jehovah’s Witness convinced God will kill him at Armageddon for masturbating. But Gabe’s not alone: there’s Peter, who writes swear words in the margins of his papers; Jihyun, the Korean kid who subsists on Ho Hos and Doritos; and Camille, who follows Gabe around, trying to be his girlfriend. There’s also Gabe’s mom, who sleeps sixteen hours a day, and his dad, an elder who decides the fate of sinners (like the married couple who confesses to accidentally having anal sex). There’s Brother Miller, an elder with a Napoleon complex, who accompanies Gabe from door to door, encouraging him to knock with confidence, and Sister Feeney, who looks forward to the day she can move into a Spanish-style house after its owner dies at the end of the world. Luckily for Gabe, there is Uncle Jeff, who used to tour with Santana and now gives Gabe the only valuable girl advice he ever receives. It’s hard when school days are spent dodging questions about your weird religion and weekends mean preaching house to house. Life looks dreary until Gabe falls for Camille’s beautiful older sister and begins to see her as the answer to his frustrations.
An irreverent, allusive, scatalogical, tragicomic masterpiece that centers on the patrons of a run-down bar as they try to document the details of their lives in a country that appears to have forgotten the importance of remembering.
In Republic of the Congo, in the town of Trois-Cents, in a bar called Credit Gone West, a former schoolteacher known as Broken Glass drinks red wine and records the stories of the bar and its regulars for posterity: Stubborn Snail, the owner, who must battle church people, ex-alcoholics, tribal leaders, and thugs set on destroying him and his business; the Printer, who had his respectable life in France ruined by a white woman, his wife; Robinette, who could outdrink and outpiss any man; and Broken Glass himself, whose own tale involves as much heartbreak, squalor, disappointment, and delusion.
But Broken Glass fails spectacularly at staying out of trouble as one denizen after another wants to rewrite history in an attempt at making sure his portrayal will properly reflect their exciting and dynamic lives. Despondent over this apparent triumph of self-delusion over self-awareness, Broken Glass drowns his sorrows and riffs on the great books of Africa and the West. Brimming with life, death, and literary allusions, Broken Glass is Mabanckou’s finest novel–a mocking satire of the dangers of artistic integrity.