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Book Reviews

February 20, 2013

The Illustrated Life Of ALISON BECHDEL


Saint Michael’s College is pleased to present:

The Illustrated Life Of ALISON BECHDEL

Tuesday, February 26, at 7 p.m. McCarthy Arts Center

Best-selling author of Fun House: A Family Tragicomedy and Are You My Mother?

Alison Bechdel, internationally-acclaimed lesbian cartoonist/author famous for her long-running comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For, will discuss her latest graphic memoir Are You My Mother?, her creative process and her redefinition of gender roles.

Sponsored by the SMC Center for Women & Gender, Common Ground, Office of the VP for Academic Affairs, Library, English Department, Office of Student Activities, and the Student Association. 

February 04, 2013

Franklin County: RU12?’s Rainbow Reading Hour Tonight!

Rainbow reading flier

*This event will be taking place every 1st and 3d Mondays 5:30 to 6:30, starting January 7th.

Come join us for RU12?’s Rainbow Reading Hour! We want to welcome children of all ages to gather and read a story, and then do an activity together. This is a chance for LGBTQA families to meet and find community at the Bent Northrop Memorial Library in Fairfield.

Feel free to bring a favorite book or friend to join the fun! If you have any ideas, would like to volunteer, or need more information, feel free to email me at

Facebook Event

October 01, 2012

Todd Peek in Review: October 2012, In Celebration of National Coming Out Month: “Firebird: A Memoir” by Mark Doty on Growing Up Gay

ToddspeekIn Firebird, Mark Doty tells the story of a ten-year-old in a top hat, cane, and red chiffon scarf, interrupted while belting out Judy Garland's "Get Happy" by his alarmed mother at the bedroom door, exclaiming, "Son, you're a boy!"

“ ’You’re a boy’:  watershed between childhood and something else.  I have been ushered into the world where adults live; I have been warned, have been instructed to conceal my longing.  And though I will understand, someday, that without longing there’d be nothing to carry us forward, that without longing we wouldn’t be anyone at all, I can’t see that now, I‘m a child, or I was until she said, ‘You’re a boy.’ “ 

Firebird presents us with a heroic little boy who has quite enough worries without discovering that his dawning sexuality is the Wrong One. A self-confessed "chubby smart bookish sissy with glasses and a Southern accent." Mark had reckonings with his feminine side as boy. He liked to dress up in his older sister’s clothes and loved to do artistic, feminine endeavors rather than identify with being a macho boy.  He took dance lessons, and loved to paint.

Doty grew up on the move, the family following his father's engineering work across America-from Tennessee to Arizona, Florida to California. His older sister got pregnant at 17 and his mother, a frustrated artist, sank eventually into depression and alcoholism. As if growing up in this family during the 1950s and '60s weren't difficult enough, Doty's homosexuality provided additional anguish.

A lyrical, heartbreaking comedy of one family's dissolution through the corrosive powers of alcohol, sorrow, and thwarted desire, Firebird is also a wry evocation of childhood's pleasures and terrors, a comic tour of American suburban life, and a testament to the transformative power of art.

Mark Doty is a formidable poet and writing teacher, and he is to be honored through the writing of this review for National Coming Out Month, October 2012.  His poetry book, “Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems” won the 2008 National Book Award for Poetry, and the R.U.12? Library has a copy of Fire to Fire.  Come on down to the Greg B. Raney library to pick up a copy of Dog years, Fire to Fire, or Firebird:  A Memoir.  Cheers to the promise of new day with Mark Doty at the helm, as a writer and poet of the day. Ciao, Todd



September 01, 2012

Todd’s Peek In Review: For Gay Pride September 2012 “Rubyfruit Jungle” by Rita Mae Brown

Todd's Peek“Rubyfruit Jungle” is a classic read for Gay Pride Vermont 2012. The novel came out in 1973, as Rita Mae Brown’s debut writing.  Some say it is a fictionalized biography of Rita Mae Brown’s life.  The novel sold like hotcakes, also and still does to this day.  The novel was reprinted in 1983, due to popular demand as one of the single most iconic reads for the gay community.

What greater way to celebrate Gay Pride Vermont 2012, then to bring out this legendary novel,”Rubyfruit Jungle”, by Rita Mae Brown.  It is the story of Miss Molly Bolt’s life from child to adult, a soul searching lesbian and as “Rubyfruit Jungle” a woman of gay pride herself. 

The novel takes place in the sixties and seventies, and her adopted family is poor and uneducated.  Molly finds out she is a bastard by birth, as a young child, by way of her mean, adoptive mother, Carrie.  Life is hard for Molly’s adoptive family, and they move to Florida to find work and warmth from the bitter cold of the rural, state of Pennsylvania.

Continue reading "Todd’s Peek In Review: For Gay Pride September 2012 “Rubyfruit Jungle” by Rita Mae Brown" »

August 02, 2012

Todd’s Peek in Review, August 2012: The Rally Cry of Ellen DeGeneres, In Her New Book, “Seriously . . . I Am Kidding”

Toddspeek. . . “We’re all different people and we’re all allowed to be different from one another.  If someone ever says you’re weird, say thank you.  And then curtsy.  That might be too weird.  Bow.  And then tip your imaginary hat.  That’ll show them".  (p. 57, quote from Ellen DeGeneres, Seriously . . . I Am Kidding)

The feverish pitch is real.  Ellen DeGeneres is a superstar and her writing is no exception to that rally cry of Ellen DeGeneres’, to be oneself, and reach for the star from within oneself. For that, Ellen is my hero; a beautiful lesbian superstar, a famed talk show host, and an excellent, stand-up comic and actress.  Ellen is a total entertainer and a formidable writer.

So, also, being gay and being gay family is impetus for Ellen DeGeneres’ professional work.  I also hear that rally cry in her writing, so clearly, with her newest book, “Seriously . . . I Am Kidding”.  She writes recent stories of herself, as vignettes, about her life as an entertainer and her marriage to her spouse, Portia de Rossi, and the special bond they share.  

Arranged loosely around the idea of happiness and how she’s found it, the term “loosely” is used loosely, since DeGeneres veers into topics as diverse as mirrors that magnify your pores (avoid them) and the secret of life (spoiler: it’s kale). She’s at her best and wittiest when her mind leapfrogs from topic to topic, as in the segue—or lack of one—between a chapter entitled “Ideas,” in which DeGeneres recounts a thought that once came to her while hanging upside down in a Pilates machine, and “Gambling,” where the reader learns such helpful tips as if you don’t win the slot machine jackpot, don’t despair, just go to the roulette table. There’s also a smattering of serious issues—identity, homosexuality and gay marriage; inner beauty; and the dangers of labels and stereotypes—but DeGeneres handles each with humor.

Come on down to the Greg B. Raney Memorial Library, and get a copy of one of Ellen’s books. The R.U.12? Library holds copies of “The Funny Thing Is . . .”, and her new book, “Seriously  . . . I am Kidding”.   The world needs you, Ellen, rock on! Ciao, Todd


July 09, 2012

Todd’s Peek In Review, July 2012: “Kitchen” by Banana Yoshimoto: A Story Of Action And Unconditional Love

Todd's Peek". . . I have many rich dreams. I go to sleep for dreams, they are the seeds of my work.  When I do no know what to write, sometimes I find my next story in a dream.  I should probably never wake up, that way I would have more stories to write."  (Quote from an Interview with Banana Yoshimoto, online, “Bookslut”)

 Yoshimoto literary works include 12 novels and seven collections of essays, which have sold over 6 million copies on the world book market.  “Kitchen” was written in Japanese, by Banana Yoshimoto in 1988 and translated into English in 1993 marking her English language debut .

Yoshimoto’s writing style is concise, succinct, and translates beautifully so into English.  Her stories are of universal appeal, and “Kitchen” is no exception. “Kitchen” is  lyrical tale about loss, grief and familial love. Told in a whimsical style that recalls the early Marguerite Duras, "Kitchen" and its companion story, "Moonlight Shadow," are elegant tales whose seeming simplicity is the ruse of a masterful storyteller. 

When college student Mikage Sakurai is orphaned by the unexpected death of her grandmother, who she adored, she is rescued from loneliness and grief by Yuichi, a young flower shop delivery man, and his transsexual father, Eriko.  They invite her to live with them and instead of paying rent, she cooks in their aesthetically pleasing kitchen for room and board.  Mikage discovers that families come in many shapes . . . and can be found in many places.

 As a gay man and as a gay writer, I am moved and appreciate the human condition that Banana Yoshimoto sets forth.  Her writing style is triumphant at that, for the story of “Kitchen” is within the story of action and unconditional love to muse over.

Come on down to R.U.12?, to pick up a copy of “Kitchen”, by Banana Yoshimoto, for a fantastic summer read, from the Greg B. Raney Memorial Library at R.U.12?, in Winooski.   The library also holds her much acclaimed read “The Lake”. Cheers to Banana Yoshimoto, you rock!  Ciao, Todd



June 01, 2012

Todd’s June Peek 2012: Paul Russell’s “The Gay 100: A Ranking Of The Most Influential Gay Men And Lesbians, Past and Present”

Toddspeek“The Gay 100” is a compilation of the author’s, Paul Russell, top 100 gay men and lesbians of history.  He writes by notion of a timeline for the ages, by selecting men and women throughout history, who he feels are the 100 most influential gay men and lesbians of history.

The book contains short biographies of such luminaries as Socrates, Sappho, Oscar Wilde, and Gertrude Stein, among others.  At once uplifting and heart-wrenching, these 100 portraits capture the real people behind the legends and affirm that gay men and lesbians have been an integral part of history from ancient times through the present day--ensuring that those who will follow in their footsteps face a future that is brighter than ever before.

Being gay is a way of life and a way of living that needs to be understood by way of historical context. In his introduction, Russell explains the premise of the book: "One of the ways by which gay men and lesbians have survived through the centuries is by recognizing one another in the various disguises we have worn. We have survived on the consolation of knowing there are others like ourselves. . . . The men and women whose names were secretly whispered, repeated, cherished as homosexual helped create and sustain that amorphous phenomenon we know today as gay culture."

Past lives are integrative to the present. “The Gay 100” is a literary read that is also seen as conduit for history to present day. Isn’t it ironic that people have been gay for thousands of years, and now we live in a world of AIDS, where being gay is closeted, in real terms, for all the wrong reasons? 

Paul Russell writes with dignity for the meaning of “The Gay 100”, as gay history. There is no time like the present to read “The Gay l00” as a literary resource guide for the world of today.  Ciao, Todd


May 01, 2012

Todd’s May 2012, Peek in Review: ‘The Ultimate Satire’: “Kiss Of The Spider Woman”, by Manuel Puig

Todd's PeekI read the play, “Kiss Of The Spider Woman”, which had been adapted from the novel of Manuel Puig. The novel, by the Argentinean writer was published in 1976, and the play was first published in 1983.  He wrote eight novels and a total of seven plays and screenplays.  The play opens up with Molina and Valentin in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1976.  The men share a prison cell together for six months. The two characters are based on Valentin, as a Marxist revolutionary, and Molina, as a homosexual window-dresser.  They are put in prison because of their beliefs, Valentin, because of his political idealism and activism, and Molina, because he is openly gay, a heinous crime by law.  They pass the time together, by Molina referring back to his favorite movie with specific detail indulging in escapist fantasy, with Valentin , about the meaning of this movie, as query to life.

The play also sets the stage for an abysmal darkness to the prison cell. They are given little food to survive on. Valentin becomes sick due to the wrongful intent of the prison officials. In the meantime, Molina and Valentin develop a perplexing need for each other, as friend and lover.  The ulterior motive of the prison officials is to set Molina against Valentin, to find out where Valentin’s political and social unrest originates from.

Molina and Valentin are two men longing for their own truths. Their lives are also at stake.  Argentina is politically and socially corrupt. The country is derisively shaped by detente of the government and its people.  The characterization of Molina and Valentin evolve out of this satire, given the question for their own need for each other, as friend and lover. 

Molina:  I want to ask you for a going-away present.  Something that we never did, although we got up to worse.

Valentin:  What?

Molina:  A kiss.

Valentin:  It’s true.  We never did.

Molina:  But right at the end, just as I’m leaving.

Valentin: Okay. 

 “Kiss Of The Spider Woman” is a part of the Greg B. Raney Memorial Library holdings at R.U.12?.  It is a political and social satire, with infinitesimal meaning.  So it is also context for the notion of world history, as seen by Molina and Valentin.  Ciao, Todd  


April 01, 2012

Todd’s Peek For: April 2012: “Ariel” Sylvia Plath’s Poetry of Nature

ToddspeekSylvia Plath is considered to be one of the greatest poets of her day. She left behind volumes of poetry and one biography. Some say her life was arduous and completely untold, but to me, her poetry speaks of the need for love in difficult times, her verse being sharply-witted, and poignant.

“Ariel” is her last, individual work of poetry, and it was written as a mother, and a wife, and as a troubled individual for her own life. She lived from October 27, 1932-February 11, 1963. She went to Smith on a full scholarship, in the 1950’s. She married Ted Hughes, a fellow poet, in 1956 and they had two children, Frieda and Nicholas. She subsequently committed suicide sometime after that. Her life had been too frenetic and erratically fast-paced for her, as a woman, who didn’t see herself in personhood, as woman of integrity, or as a mother, and wife, or individual poet, to be reckoned with. 

Continue reading "Todd’s Peek For: April 2012: “Ariel” Sylvia Plath’s Poetry of Nature" »

March 01, 2012

Todd’s Peek in Review: March 2012 “I Am An Emotional Creature, The Secret Life Of Girls Around The World” By Eve Ensler

ToddspeekMarch 8th marks International Women’s Day, a coming together of women from all over the world.  Last year, women from thirty different countries “bridged the gap” by walking over bridges in their respective countries, as a symbol for women’s fight for world peace.   International Women’s Day is a belief in all women, as strong individuals and women that together will individually and collectively change the world.

Eve Ensler’s “I Am An Emotional Creature, The Secret Life Of Girls Around The World”, is a celebration of the authentic voice inside every girl and an inspiring call to action for girls everywhere to speak up, follow their dreams, and become the women they were always meant to be.

 Ensler writes “. . . I am an emotional creature. Things do not come to me, as intellectual theories or hard-shaped ideas.  They pulse through my organs and legs and burn up my ears. I know when your girlfriend’s really pissed off even though she appears to give you what want.  I know when a storm is coming.  I can feel the invisible stirrings in the air. I can tell you he won’t call back. It’s a vibe I share.  I am an emotional creature. I love that I do not take things lightly.  Everything is intense to me.  The way I walk in the street.  The way my mother wakes me up.  The way I hear bad news.  The way it‘s unbearable when I lose.”

Continue reading "Todd’s Peek in Review: March 2012 “I Am An Emotional Creature, The Secret Life Of Girls Around The World” By Eve Ensler" »

February 01, 2012

Todd’s February Peek in Review: “Fragments That Remain” by Steven Cobain

Todd's PeekTo celebrate Black History Month, February 2012, I read the novel, Fragments That Remain, by Stephen Cobain.  It is a contemporary novel about being black and gay, and tells of the coming out story of the protagonist of the novel, Skylar Whyte, a young, gifted black man.  It is also the story of Skylar and his family, as the dysfunctional, black family of contemporary America.  Cobain, a gay, black writer, makes searing observations about the gay, black man in American society, as the reflexive case against racial bigotry.  The gay, black man’s attitude is at stake in American society because of racial bigotry, coming from the white man’s world.

Skylar Whyte is the eldest of two sons.  His mother married his father, who is a black, racial bigot of the white world.  He is also a violent, angry man, who dislikes his son Skylar in particular. His mother Althea Whyte was poor and uneducated, when she married, Howard Whyte, a successful, black CPA.  Skylar had a brother named Kendall and a gay lover, named Evan, who is a white man.  Both Skylar and his lover, Evan, are considered to be popular actors of American Culture, as the family story enfolds and develops.  Howard Whyte, the father, who is excessively mean to his wife, Althea and his oldest son, feels that Skylar is a sissy, as a boy, wrongfully gay, with a desire to be an actor, a profession which Howard abhors most of all, as white trash.  

“Though his mother professes no more love for the dying man than Skylar does, she remains the go-between.  She’s the bridge linking Skylar to the estranged male who, over the years has called himself Skylar’s father.  With her by his side, he’ll feel less uptight, more apt to relinquish the bad blood they harbor for each other.  His mother is the mediator.  The peace pipe.  The conduit without which he can’t reach his father at all.  Better off dead . . . “

Continue reading "Todd’s February Peek in Review: “Fragments That Remain” by Steven Cobain" »

January 01, 2012

Todd’s Peek In Review: January 2012: The Real Terms of, “Alternatives To Sex”, by Stephen McCauley

ToddspeekStephen McCauley is considered to be an excellent, contemporary, gay author and a graduate of the University of Vermont.   He has written such novels as True Enough, The Object Of  My AffectionsAlternatives To Sex, and most recently, Insignificant Others.  He is a Bostonian writer and has lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts for years, which is the backdrop to his writing.

A satirist and a master of the first person narrative, McCauley writes by way of the notion of “headings” to his work, as opposed to having chapters per say.  He not only completes a thought that way, it is a distinctive style of writing.  “Headings” are a way of indexing the story make his writing come alive creating a cadence to the read.

Alternatives To Sex is an expose on being gay in Boston and having the opportunity for casual sex, through the personals.  Boston real estate agent, William Collins, the protagonist of the novel, doesn’t always approve of that kind of life style. Yet due to his penchant for nightly online cruising for hookups, he finds his sales figures slipping despite a booming market. He is a bachelor and lives alone, in a typical, old apartment building in Boston, and the tenants of the building play a role in his life, with good humor for William Collins.

 Answering the personals is what it is, and is funny and engaging, yet it is a lonely and misunderstood way of life and living for William Collins. What he ultimately discovers challenges his own assumptions about real estate, love, and desire.

Alternatives to Sex is a smart, hilarious chronicle of life in post-traumatic, morally ambiguous America -- where the desire to do good is constantly being tripped up by the need to feel good. Right now.

Come on down to R.U.12?, to pick up your own copy of “Alternatives To Sex”, or “The Object Of My Affections”, or  “True Enough”.  Read Stephen McCauley’s novels for the reality of our times, as a gay writer of gay America, after all.  Ciao, Todd



December 02, 2011

Todd’s Peek The December 2011 Review: Alison Bechdel’s, "Unnatural Dykes To Watch Out For" Is Pure Sunshine

ToddspeekAlison Bechdel cartoons bring laughter and tears to the gay community, especially so.  She lives in Vermont, and yet, her cartooning is popular the world over.   She shares her gift of lesbian cartoon strips, with people from all walks of life and persuasion.   Her humor is also spirituous and of good character for the holiday season, 2011, since she writes of her own life in the gay community, as pure sunshine, to reflect on and to understand.

“Dykes to Watch Out For” is the generic descriptor for the making of one of Alison Bechdel’s best cartoons.  So naturally, “Unnatural Dykes To Watch Out For”, flows out of that, with a meaning all its own.  She writes about her own life, as a lesbian and dyke, in America today, profiling life in the gay community, surrounded by her lesbian, best friends.  Her humor is about the absurdities of the day to day of being lesbian, and a dyke, as context to understanding life. 

For example, at the beginning of the cartoon book, there is a preface to the cast of cartoon characters, aptly described as “The Mo-centric Universe”, which means this cartoon cites the characters in “Unnatural Dykes To Watch Out For”.  It goes like this, with great illustrations, “Mo, our hapless heroine.  bookstore clerk by day, celibate by night”, “Jezanna, the typed  ‘A’ boss of madwimmin books”,” Ginger, housemate of Lois and Sparrow, teacher, doctoral candidate, and procrastinatrix extraordinaire”,” Thea, Mo’s co-worker and crush object”,” Sparrow, house-mate of Lois and Ginger, battered women’s shelter, worker, inner-growth addict “. . . There are twelve lesbian and dyke friends to the cartoon, plus one kid. They all add their own dimension of spirit and character to the lives they lead together.

Bechdel’s storylines are never contrived or boring, they are pure sunshine to behold and take in, to experience, and furthermore, to experiment with, for what you take from it, and bring home yourself, as the reader.  Because remember, above all, life in the gay community is what you make of it yourself, as seen by this refreshingly real cartooning of Alison Bechdel’s own accord.  Happy Holidays, 2011/2012! Ciao, Todd


November 08, 2011

Check out our temporary new space!


The elevator in the Champlain Mill is out of service for the next several weeks. In order to remain accessible, all public meetings, support groups and HIV testing services will now occur in the RU12? Community Center Annex located on the second floor (accessible from the 2nd fl ramp) The temporary space that the staff affectionately calls "Narnia" is located one floor above our current space, on the left side of the building if you are facing the entrance from the outside. Stay tuned as we will provide more detailed information developes.

We still have use of the full community center but the accessible 2nd floor location will be the entry point for almost all center activities. Please call if you have questions: 802.860.7812

Check out the video to see where the RU12? Community Center Annex is located. 




November 01, 2011

Todd’s Peek: The November 2011 Review: The Poignancy of “Stone Butch Blues” by Leslie Feinberg

ToddspeekStone Butch Blues is Feinberg’s first novel, written in 1993.  The book won the Lambda Literary Award, the pinnacle achievement for Leslie Feinberg, as a lesbian writer and social activist.  As a transgendered lesbian writer, Leslie Feinberg adds most poignantly to the genre of “transgendered liberation”, a literary movement of our time, which understates the need for transsexual writing in present day.

The novel, Stone Butch Blues is based on the story of Jess Goldberg, a transgender individual, who grows up in a conservative town in New York.  Consequently, the story describes the life and times for Jess Goldberg in Buffalo, New York, during the 1970’s and 1980’s. The gay community of the Buffalo area is discovering its own hardship, and ware with all, in the context of a newly forming gay community, for life in America, now and then.

Leslie Feinberg writes of Jess Goldberg and her experience as a transgender individual, in a time which is also rough and ready for the fight of Gay America, to move forward, and to be the True, Gay American Jess Goldberg is to be.  Leslie Feinberg’s roots as writer show the need for civility and docility in society, by the detail in the story and novel.  There is the need for social justice and political justice to occur in the here and now, in the writing of Stone Butch Blues.  Therefore, Stone Butch Blues is one of the most evocative stories and novels I have ever read. 

I see the adage of peace, as one of the working concepts to Stone Butch Blues.  This motif starts at home and with the heart of being human, the reader comes to understand the cry for Jess Goldberg’s coming out story.

Other books by Leslie Feinberg include:  Transgender Warriors:  Making History from Joan of Arc to Dennis Rodman, Trans Liberation:  Beyond Pink or Blue, Rainbow Solidarity in Defense of CubaStone Butch Blues is available in the library at R.U.12?.  Come on down, to the Champlain Mill in Winooski, Vermont.  Bravo and cheers to Leslie Feinberg, for writing a book that cares to speak of peace in tough times for us all.  Ciao, Todd


August 31, 2011

RU12? Provides a Weekly Snapshot of LGBT Events & Announcements Throughout the State

What's UP

Did you know that RU12? sends out the "What's UP", a weekly e-newsletter that provides a snapshot of all the LGBT events and announcements throughout the state and region?

Don't miss out! Included in each issue you'll find:

  • LGBTQ Related News
  • List of Events and Programs offered each week at The Center
  • Events offered by other organizations in Vermont that provide services to LGBTQ Vermonters
  • LGBT Social Calender for Vermont and neighboring regions.
  • Job Opportunities
  • Call to Action
  • and much more!

If you have something that you feel needs to be included in the "What's UP" please email

Sign Up for the RU12? Weekly Newsetter

August 29, 2011

LGBT Project: Seeking Photo Subjects



Tom Atwood Photography

I'm working on two new photo books/exhibitions and am asking everyone I know if they're aware of subjects.  


I'm looking for:

1) Subjects for my second book: 
Kings & Queens in Their Castles, portraits GLBT individuals at home.  
A) Referrals to anyone from my Wish List below.  
B) Any GLBT people in any city (don't need to be well known) who have a unique living space - odd, quirky, unusual.  I especially need referrals to lesbians and transgender individuals.

2) Subjects for my third book:
Which will have portraits of entertainment and media personalities at home (not gay per se).  Any actors, singers, dancers, performers, writers, directors, producers, journalists, executives or professionals in entertainment or media who have a public profile, in any city.  

Pardon the impersonal form letter format.  In any event, if you know of any subjects or know anyone who might know any of the below folks, referrals would be appreciated.  I can contact them directly, or I have an introductory email that can be forwarded (just check with me first in case I have multiple referrals to the same person).  Thanks so much!  Tom

Continue reading "LGBT Project: Seeking Photo Subjects" »

May 02, 2011

Todd’s May Peek In Review 2011: “Arkansas” a Wry, Sardonic Work by David Leavitt

Toddspeek David Leavitt’s “Arkansas”, published in 1997, is comprised of  three novellas. The term “novella” means “story” in Italian and is fictional prose usually longer in length than a short story, but shorter than a novel.  The three novellas in “Arkansas” are: “The Term Paper Artist”, “The Wooden Anniversary”, and “Saturn Street”.

David Leavitt is currently Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Florida, and is openly gay.  He is a short story writer, novelist, and essayist.  He has written such great books as  “The Language Of The Lost Cranes”, “The Indian Clerk”, and “Equal Affections”.  Leavitt’s prolific works fall into the genre of Gay Literature and Minimalism. His literary influences include such writers as Henry James, Gore Vidal and Italo Calvino.  Leavitt is truly one of America’s great gay writers and has been a finalist for the Pen/Faulkner Award for Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award, 1983.

Of the three novellas in “Arkansas”, I like best “The Term Paper Artist”.  Herein the reader sees just how wry and sardonic Leavitt writes of life in America.  The fictional story is based on Leavitt himself, a gay writer and how his own fate of irony as a writer turns out to be the satire of a life time.  This is fiction at its best, with Leavitt living out in California, describing himself as a writer of the eighties, he puts himself in the position of writing papers for male college students at UCLA.

 I read “The Term Paper Artist” with the biggest,  ironical smile on my face, because Leavitt creates a surreal image of fiction, as he portends “to pull” the whole thing off, writing term papers for sex.  Set at UCLA, male students ask him to write papers for their classes in exchange for sex he desires.  There is really no other backdrop to this scenario from the narrative of a David Leavitt’s point of view than to seal the proverbial deal with nine or ten different men.  Elaborate, seductive scheming as a worse case scenario, yet written with wry wit and sardonic humor with a provocative outcome.

What’s wrong and right about being a gay writer needing some form of love and affection from the world in which we live?  Perhaps that is for the reader to decide.  David Leavitt is indeed such a wry, gay man with the way he writes so clearly about current times and tends to poise such important moral questions of life in America today, that is.  How can we live the connection of life on a personal and social note without getting involved in the social fabric in which we live?  How do we choose right from wrong when times are cuttingly satirical and sardonic to the lives we live and nobody cares to understand that motif in writing, with a clear conscience.  That is seen in real terms for the read of “The Term Paper Artist” by David Leavitt.  

Pick up a copy of “Arkansas” from R.U.12?  We have several of David Leavitt’s books at The Center. Take on the challenge of reading David Leavitt, as the gay writer and gay man he is, sharing in the dance of intimacy to his own life and writing.  Ciao, Todd


April 11, 2011

New Group Creating a Quarterly LGBTQ Magazine for Vermont

All Interested parties are encouraged to attend next meeting:


Sunday, April 17th 6:30pm 

RU12? Community Center

Champlain Mill, Winooski


A group of LGBTQ folks of all ages are coming together to produce a new quarterly print magazine for Vermont. The magazine will be a full color, glossy, colaborative production of unique persectives throughout Vermont's queer and allied communities. Your involvement is important and can be anything - articles, photos, advertising, columnist, to name a few. The first magazine is due to release July 16, 2011 that is 1 week before Vermont Pride!!! Come be a part of something amazing!!!!

First order of business: Come up with a name!!! 

If you have questions please email


April 01, 2011

Todd’s April 2011 Peek In Review:  “Barrel Fever and Other Stories” David Sedaris As Writer And Comic

Todd's Peek I critiqued David Sedaris when he came to Burlington over a year and a half ago.  Now I have chosen to review him as a writer and comic once again.  His humor and writings I find to be rye and offbeat. “Barrel Fever and Other Stories” is no exception.  It is the first of David Sedaris’ collected essays.  Published in 1994, it was largely responsible for launching his career as a humorist into the mainstream. 

Barrel Fever” is satirical in nature, as to the absurdities of life.  A characterization of David Sedaris I find to be true and real with meaning.  So this is the thought I also wish to share about my read of “Barrel Fever” -- the notion that David Sedaris defies the odds of writing with his offbeat humor, and can always be realistically described that way. Job well done! 

His presence  in his writing is evident.  His prose style is written with his own existential take on life.  I laugh with David Sedaris’ capacity to write with his own literary style at hand.   “Barrel Fever” is particularly notorious in that it contains Sedaris’ SantaLand Diaries, the account of an elf working at a Macy’s department store during the Christmas season (the elf being Sedaris himself).  It was this essay that made Sedaris truly popular as a humorist.

Beyond SantaLand “Barrel Fever” is split into two halves. The first is composed of a series of short fictional stories and the second is made up of autobiographical sketches on Sedaris’ life, of which SantaLand is a part.

His stories and essays are filled with tenacious realism. Who is David Sedaris referring back to within the breadth and depth of his writing?  What circumstances bring the reader into the stories and essay with the scope of humor?  He evolves as a writer and a comic, by letting his intent in each story and essay in “Barrel Fever” unfold  for the pleasure of the reader.  

Enjoy and consider David Sedaris for yourself.  I bet he will make you laugh out loud, as you read on.  Pick up a copy of “Barrel Fever and Other Stories”  or one of his several books which you will find at the R.U.12?  Library.  Bravo to David Sedaris, and his read of  “Barrel Fever and Other Stories”!  Ciao, Todd


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