Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests








Monday, November 28, 2022

Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth - 1969 - 268 pages

 



Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth -1969-268 Pages 


Philip Roth 


Born - March 19,1933 -Newark, New Jersey 


Pulitzer Prize - 1977 


Died - November 22, 2018 - Manhattan, New York State 


As I read Portnoy's Complaint several thoughts came to mind. It is a work of genius, it has something to potentially offend  Christians, Jews, Women, and African Americans.  Having recently read Lysistrata by Aristophenes I imagined him thinking next time I stage the play I will include a scene with the sex starved women of Athens working each other over with strap ons.  I am  sure Howard Wolowitz has a copy in his room, well hidden from his mother, with numerous pages folded over. 


The story is narrated as Alexander Portnoy, about 30, talking to his psychiatrist.  Alexander is the human rights commissioner for New York City. He always excelled in school but to the dismay of his parents he is still single and has failed in his duty to give them grandchildren, breaking their hearts, while he lives  like a selfish immature  playboy Goyim. 


I don't want to go into much of a recap of Alexander's long rant.  A lot of it is devoted to issues he had with his mother.  He goes into his father's work as an agent for a big insurance company. There is a lot of racism directed toward his father's African-American clients.  Then in the defining moment of his life he discoverers the joy of masterbation.  He goes on a on about doing this in the bathroom room while his mother pounded on the door yelling that she was concerned he was staying in there because he was sick.  He ends up masturbating, he uses slang of course, all over the place. 


Moving on, we learn he see Christians as believing in a ridiculous figure as there God. He also sees Rabbis as pompous hypocrites just looking for an easy job. 


He develops a thing for Christian girls, shiskas, an expression I recently heard on a Seinfeld episode in which a Rabbi told Elaine that her idea that Jewish men liked Shiskas was a myth. ("You've got ‘shiksappeal.’ Jewish men love the idea of meeting a woman that's not like their mother.”

— George Costanza, Seinfeld, Season 9, Episode 3) 


Then Alexander meets a woman he calls "The Monkey".  She is a high priced fashion model, from a family of illiterate West Virginians. For a brief period she was married to the third richest man in France.  Upon meeting her, Karen Black played her in the movie, Alexander tells her he wants to f××k her, she finds that insulting so he says ok "how about I eat your p***y until you passout".  She accepts this much more refined offer and a long  obsessive relationship takes control of Alexander's life.  Alexander loves having sex with her. He is very into oral sex giving and getting and the monkey is an expert on this.  Of course his parents engage in massive emotional Blackmail about why he is not settled down giving them grandchildren like every other Jewish man his age has done. Meanwhile The Monkey is mad because he won't marry her or introduce her to his parents.  He gives her books to read which of course she ignores. 



The language in the book is totally x rated. Alexander is also obsessed with his own semen, once getting some in his eye. He masterbates on a subway, pressing up on a woman in the crowd.  Sometimes at his office he goes into the bathroom at least twice a day to relief his stress. 


I enjoyed this book a lot. Would I recommend it to my three daughters 24, 26, and 29. Not in a  million years.
















Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth -1969-268 Pages 


Philip Roth 


Born - March 19,1933 -Newark, New Jersey 


Pulitzer Prize - 1977 


Died - November 22, 2018 - Manhattan, New York State 


As I read Portnoy's Complaint several thoughts came to mind. It is a work of genius, it has something to potentially offend  Christians, Jews, Women, and African Americans.  Having recently read Lysistrata by Aristophenes I imagined him thinking next time I stage the play I will include a scene with the sex starved women of Athens working each other over with strap ons.  I am  sure Howard Wolowitz has a copy in his room, well hidden from his mother, with numerous pages folded over. 


The story is narrated as Alexander Portnoy, about 30, talking to his psychiatrist.  Alexander is the human rights commissioner for New York City. He always excelled in school but to the dismay of his parents he is still single and has failed in his duty to give them grandchildren, breaking their hearts, while he lives  like a selfish immature  playboy Goyim. 


I don't want to go into much of a recap of Alexander's long rant.  A lot of it is devoted to issues he had with his mother.  He goes into his father's work as an agent for a big insurance company. There is a lot of racism directed toward his father's African-American clients.  Then in the defining moment of his life he discoverers the joy of masterbation.  He goes on a on about doing this in the bathroom room while his mother pounded on the door yelling that she was concerned he was staying in there because he was sick.  He ends up masturbating, he uses slang of course, all over the place. 


Moving on, we learn he see Christians as believing in a ridiculous figure as there God. He also sees Rabbis as pompous hypocrites just looking for an easy job. 


He develops a thing for Christian girls, shiskas, an expression I recently heard on a Seinfeld episode in which a Rabbi told Elaine that her idea that Jewish men liked Shiskas was a myth. ("You've got ‘shiksappeal.’ Jewish men love the idea of meeting a woman that's not like their mother.”

— George Costanza, Seinfeld, Season 9, Episode 3) 


Then Alexander meets a woman he calls "The Monkey".  She is a high priced fashion model, from a family of illiterate West Virginians. For a brief period she was married to the third richest man in France.  Upon meeting her, Karen Black played her in the movie, Alexander tells her he wants to f××k her, she finds that insulting so he says ok "how about I eat your p***y until you passout".  She accepts this much politor offer and a long  obsessed relationship takes control of Alexander's life.  Alexander loves having sex with her. He is very into oral sex giving and getting and the monkey is an expert on this.  Of course his parents engage in massive emotional Blackmail about why he is not settled down giving them grandchildren like every other Jewish man his age has done. Meanwhile The Monkey is mad because he won't marry her or introduce her to his parents.  He gives her books to read which of course she ignores. 


The language in the book is totally x rated. Alexander is also obsessed with his own semen, once getting some in his eye. He masterbates on a subway, pressing up on a woman in the crowd.  Sometimes at his office he goes into the bathroom at least twice a day to relief his stress. 


I enjoyed reading this book, would I suggest it to my three daughters 24, 26, and 29? Not in a million years.
















Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth -1969-268 Pages 


Philip Roth 


Born - March 19,1933 -Newark, New Jersey 


Pulitzer Prize - 1977 


Died - November 22, 2018 - Manhattan, New York State 


As I read Portnoy's Complaint several thoughts came to mind. It is a work of genius, it has something to potentially offend  Christians, Jews, Women, and African Americans.  Having recently read Lysistrata by Aristophenes I imagined him thinking next time I stage the play I will include a scene with the sex starved women of Athens working each other over with strap ons.  I am  sure Howard Wolowitz has a copy in his room, well hidden from his mother, with numerous pages folded over. 


The story is narrated as Alexander Portnoy, about 30, talking to his psychiatrist.  Alexander is the human rights commissioner for New York City. He always excelled in school but to the dismay of his parents he is still single and has failed in his duty to give them grandchildren, breaking their hearts, while he lives  like a selfish immature  playboy Goyim. 


I don't want to go into much of a recap of Alexander's long rant.  A lot of it is devoted to issues he had with his mother.  He goes into his father's work as an agent for a big insurance company. There is a lot of racism directed toward his father's African-American clients.  Then in the defining moment of his life he discoverers the joy of masterbation.  He goes on a on about doing this in the bathroom room while his mother pounded on the door yelling that she was concerned he was staying in there because he was sick.  He ends up masturbating, he uses slang of course, all over the place. 


Moving on, we learn he see Christians as believing in a ridiculous figure as there God. He also sees Rabbis as pompous hypocrites just looking for an easy job. 


He develops a thing for Christian girls, shiskas, an expression I recently heard on a Seinfeld episode in which a Rabbi told Elaine that her idea that Jewish men liked Shiskas was a myth. ("You've got ‘shiksappeal.’ Jewish men love the idea of meeting a woman that's not like their mother.”

— George Costanza, Seinfeld, Season 9, Episode 3) 


Then Alexander meets a woman he calls "The Monkey".  She is a high priced fashion model, from a family of illiterate West Virginians. For a brief period she was married to the third richest man in France.  Upon meeting her, Karen Black played her in the movie, Alexander tells her he wants to f××k her, she finds that insulting so he says ok "how about I eat your p***y until you passout".  She accepts this much politor offer and a long  obsessed relationship takes control of Alexander's life.  Alexander loves having sex with her. He is very into oral sex giving and getting and the monkey is an expert on this.  Of course his parents engage in massive emotional Blackmail about why he is not settled down giving them grandchildren like every other Jewish man his age has done. Meanwhile The Monkey is mad because he won't marry her or introduce her to his parents.  He gives her books to read which of course she ignores. 


The language in the book is totally x rated. Alexander is also obsessed with his own semen, once getting some in his eye. He masterbates on a subway, pressing up on a woman in the crowd.  Sometimes at his office he goes into the bathroom at least twice a day to relief his stress. 


I enjoyed reading this book, would I suggest it to my three daughters 24, 26, and 29? Not in a million years.
















Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth -1969-268 Pages 


Philip Roth 


Born - March 19,1933 -Newark, New Jersey 


Pulitzer Prize - 1977 


Died - November 22, 2018 - Manhattan, New York State 


As I read Portnoy's Complaint several thoughts came to mind. It is a work of genius, it has something to potentially offend  Christians, Jews, Women, and African Americans.  Having recently read Lysistrata by Aristophenes I imagined him thinking next time I stage the play I will include a scene with the sex starved women of Athens working each other over with strap ons.  I am  sure Howard Wolowitz has a copy in his room, well hidden from his mother, with numerous pages folded over. 


The story is narrated as Alexander Portnoy, about 30, talking to his psychiatrist.  Alexander is the human rights commissioner for New York City. He always excelled in school but to the dismay of his parents he is still single and has failed in his duty to give them grandchildren, breaking their hearts, while he lives  like a selfish immature  playboy Goyim. 


I don't want to go into much of a recap of Alexander's long rant.  A lot of it is devoted to issues he had with his mother.  He goes into his father's work as an agent for a big insurance company. There is a lot of racism directed toward his father's African-American clients.  Then in the defining moment of his life he discoverers the joy of masterbation.  He goes on a on about doing this in the bathroom room while his mother pounded on the door yelling that she was concerned he was staying in there because he was sick.  He ends up masturbating, he uses slang of course, all over the place. 


Moving on, we learn he see Christians as believing in a ridiculous figure as there God. He also sees Rabbis as pompous hypocrites just looking for an easy job. 


He develops a thing for Christian girls, shiskas, an expression I recently heard on a Seinfeld episode in which a Rabbi told Elaine that her idea that Jewish men liked Shiskas was a myth. ("You've got ‘shiksappeal.’ Jewish men love the idea of meeting a woman that's not like their mother.”

— George Costanza, Seinfeld, Season 9, Episode 3) 


Then Alexander meets a woman he calls "The Monkey".  She is a high priced fashion model, from a family of illiterate West Virginians. For a brief period she was married to the third richest man in France.  Upon meeting her, Karen Black played her in the movie, Alexander tells her he wants to f××k her, she finds that insulting so he says ok "how about I eat your p***y until you passout".  She accepts this much politor offer and a long  obsessed relationship takes control of Alexander's life.  Alexander loves having sex with her. He is very into oral sex giving and getting and the monkey is an expert on this.  Of course his parents engage in massive emotional Blackmail about why he is not settled down giving them grandchildren like every other Jewish man his age has done. Meanwhile The Monkey is mad because he won't marry her or introduce her to his parents.  He gives her books to read which of course she ignores. 


The language in the book is totally x rated. Alexander is also obsessed with his own semen, once getting some in his eye. He masterbates on a subway, pressing up on a woman in the crowd.  Sometimes at his office he goes into the bathroom at least twice a day to relief his stress. 


I enjoyed reading this book, would I suggest it to my three daughters 24, 26, and 29? Not in a million years.
















Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth -1969-268 Pages 


Philip Roth 


Born - March 19,1933 -Newark, New Jersey 


Pulitzer Prize - 1977 


Died - November 22, 2018 - Manhattan, New York State 


As I read Portnoy's Complaint several thoughts came to mind. It is a work of genius, it has something to potentially offend  Christians, Jews, Women, and African Americans.  Having recently read Lysistrata by Aristophenes I imagined him thinking next time I stage the play I will include a scene with the sex starved women of Athens working each other over with strap ons.  I am  sure Howard Wolowitz has a copy in his room, well hidden from his mother, with numerous pages folded over. 


The story is narrated as Alexander Portnoy, about 30, talking to his psychiatrist.  Alexander is the human rights commissioner for New York City. He always excelled in school but to the dismay of his parents he is still single and has failed in his duty to give them grandchildren, breaking their hearts, while he lives  like a selfish immature  playboy Goyim. 


I don't want to go into much of a recap of Alexander's long rant.  A lot of it is devoted to issues he had with his mother.  He goes into his father's work as an agent for a big insurance company. There is a lot of racism directed toward his father's African-American clients.  Then in the defining moment of his life he discoverers the joy of masterbation.  He goes on a on about doing this in the bathroom room while his mother pounded on the door yelling that she was concerned he was staying in there because he was sick.  He ends up masturbating, he uses slang of course, all over the place. 


Moving on, we learn he see Christians as believing in a ridiculous figure as there God. He also sees Rabbis as pompous hypocrites just looking for an easy job. 


He develops a thing for Christian girls, shiskas, an expression I recently heard on a Seinfeld episode in which a Rabbi told Elaine that her idea that Jewish men liked Shiskas was a myth. ("You've got ‘shiksappeal.’ Jewish men love the idea of meeting a woman that's not like their mother.”

— George Costanza, Seinfeld, Season 9, Episode 3) 


Then Alexander meets a woman he calls "The Monkey".  She is a high priced fashion model, from a family of illiterate West Virginians. For a brief period she was married to the third richest man in France.  Upon meeting her, Karen Black played her in the movie, Alexander tells her he wants to f××k her, she finds that insulting so he says ok "how about I eat your p***y until you passout".  She accepts this much politor offer and a long  obsessed relationship takes control of Alexander's life.  Alexander loves having sex with her. He is very into oral sex giving and getting and the monkey is an expert on this.  Of course his parents engage in massive emotional Blackmail about why he is not settled down giving them grandchildren like every other Jewish man his age has done. Meanwhile The Monkey is mad because he won't marry her or introduce her to his parents.  He gives her books to read which of course she ignores. 


The language in the book is totally x rated. Alexander is also obsessed with his own semen, once getting some in his eye. He masterbates on a subway, pressing up on a woman in the crowd.  Sometimes at his office he goes into the bathroom at least twice a day to relief his stress. 


I enjoyed reading this book, would I suggest it to my three daughters 24, 26, and 29? Not in a million years.
















Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth -1969-268 Pages 


Philip Roth 


Born - March 19,1933 -Newark, New Jersey 


Pulitzer Prize - 1977 


Died - November 22, 2018 - Manhattan, New York State 


As I read Portnoy's Complaint several thoughts came to mind. It is a work of genius, it has something to potentially offend  Christians, Jews, Women, and African Americans.  Having recently read Lysistrata by Aristophenes I imagined him thinking next time I stage the play I will include a scene with the sex starved women of Athens working each other over with strap ons.  I am  sure Howard Wolowitz has a copy in his room, well hidden from his mother, with numerous pages folded over. 


The story is narrated as Alexander Portnoy, about 30, talking to his psychiatrist.  Alexander is the human rights commissioner for New York City. He always excelled in school but to the dismay of his parents he is still single and has failed in his duty to give them grandchildren, breaking their hearts, while he lives  like a selfish immature  playboy Goyim. 


I don't want to go into much of a recap of Alexander's long rant.  A lot of it is devoted to issues he had with his mother.  He goes into his father's work as an agent for a big insurance company. There is a lot of racism directed toward his father's African-American clients.  Then in the defining moment of his life he discoverers the joy of masterbation.  He goes on a on about doing this in the bathroom room while his mother pounded on the door yelling that she was concerned he was staying in there because he was sick.  He ends up masturbating, he uses slang of course, all over the place. 


Moving on, we learn he see Christians as believing in a ridiculous figure as there God. He also sees Rabbis as pompous hypocrites just looking for an easy job. 


He develops a thing for Christian girls, shiskas, an expression I recently heard on a Seinfeld episode in which a Rabbi told Elaine that her idea that Jewish men liked Shiskas was a myth. ("You've got ‘shiksappeal.’ Jewish men love the idea of meeting a woman that's not like their mother.”

— George Costanza, Seinfeld, Season 9, Episode 3) 


Then Alexander meets a woman he calls "The Monkey".  She is a high priced fashion model, from a family of illiterate West Virginians. For a brief period she was married to the third richest man in France.  Upon meeting her, Karen Black played her in the movie, Alexander tells her he wants to f××k her, she finds that insulting so he says ok "how about I eat your p***y until you passout".  She accepts this much politor offer and a long  obsessed relationship takes control of Alexander's life.  Alexander loves having sex with her. He is very into oral sex giving and getting and the monkey is an expert on this.  Of course his parents engage in massive emotional Blackmail about why he is not settled down giving them grandchildren like every other Jewish man his age has done. Meanwhile The Monkey is mad because he won't marry her or introduce her to his parents.  He gives her books to read which of course she ignores. 


The language in the book is totally x rated. Alexander is also obsessed with his own semen, once getting some in his eye. He masterbates on a subway, pressing up on a woman in the crowd.  Sometimes at his office he goes into the bathroom at least twice a day to relief his stress. 


I enjoyed reading this book, would I suggest it to my three daughters 24, 26, and 29? Not in a million years.










Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth -1969-268 Pages



Philip Roth



Born - March 19,1933 -Newark, New Jersey



Pulitzer Prize - 1977



Died - November 22, 2018 - Manhattan, New York State



As I read Portnoy's Complaint several thoughts came to mind. It is a work of genius, it has something to potentially offend  Christians, Jews, Women, and African Americans.  Having recently read Lysistrata by Aristophenes I imagined him thinking next time I stage the play I will include a scene with the sex starved women of Athens working each other over with strap ons.  I am  sure Howard Wolowitz has a copy in his room, well hidden from his mother, with numerous pages folded over.



The story is narrated as Alexander Portnoy, about 30, talking to his psychiatrist.  Alexander is the human rights commissioner for New York City. He always excelled in school but to the dismay of his parents he is still single and has failed in his duty to give them grandchildren, breaking their hearts, while he lives  like a selfish immature  playboy Goyim.



I don't want to go into much of a recap of Alexander's long rant.  A lot of it is devoted to issues he had with his mother.  He goes into his father's work as an agent for a big insurance company. There is a lot of racism directed toward his father's African-American clients.  Then in the defining moment of his life he discoverers the joy of masterbation.  He goes on a on about doing this in the bathroom room while his mother pounded on the door yelling that she was concerned he was staying in there because he was sick.  He ends up masturbating, he uses slang of course, all over the place.



Moving on, we learn he see Christians as believing in a ridiculous figure as there God. He also sees Rabbis as pompous hypocrites just looking for an easy job.



He develops a thing for Christian girls, shiskas, an expression I recently heard on a Seinfeld episode in which a Rabbi told Elaine that her idea that Jewish men liked Shiskas was a myth. ("You've got ‘shiksappeal.’ Jewish men love the idea of meeting a woman that's not like their mother.” 


— George Costanza, Seinfeld, Season 9, Episode 3)



Then Alexander meets a woman he calls "The Monkey".  She is a high priced fashion model, from a family of illiterate West Virginians. For a brief period she was married to the third richest man in France.  Upon meeting her, Karen Black played her in the movie, Alexander tells her he wants to f××k her, she finds that insulting so he says ok "how about I eat your p***y until you passout".  She accepts this much politor offer and a long  obsessed relationship takes control of Alexander's life.  Alexander loves having sex with her. He is very into oral sex giving and getting and the monkey is an expert on this.  Of course his parents engage in massive emotional Blackmail about why he is not settled down giving them grandchildren like every other Jewish man his age has done. Meanwhile The Monkey is mad because he won't marry her or introduce her to his parents.  He gives her books to read which of course she ignores.



The language in the book is totally x rated. Alexander is also obsessed with his own semen, once getting some in his eye. He masterbates on a subway, pressing up on a woman in the crowd.  Sometimes at his office he goes into the bathroom at least twice a day to relief his stress.



I enjoyed reading this book, would I suggest it to my three daughters 24, 26, and 29? Not in a million years.














Sunday, November 27, 2022

The Queen of Gay Street by Esther Mollic -A Memoir -2022 - 189 pages


 Having recently read Lysistrata I imagined Aristophenes after reading The Queen of Gay Street thinking the next time he stages the comedy he will have the sex starved women of Athens work each other over with strap ons. Maybe Alexander Portnoy would wish he could have a three way with the author and The Monkey.


The Queen of Gay Street is a very open, at times x-rated account of the author's life when she left San Francisco in 2010 to New York City. She was tired of the preachy lesbian culture there and thought New York City might be a better place for her. She gets a job writing a column about lesbian dating for a magazine edited by Julia, the Queen of NYC lesbian life.

Her love life gets off to a state slow, spending her nights watching television with an 80 year old neighbour lady who gives her advise on how to find a man. The women in the bars are a mixture of those seeking a serious relationship to those seeking a short term sexual partner.

There are numerous graphic accounts of oral sex. The author takes us along on her dates and we suffer with her through a long abusive relationship. There is humour mixed with pain and self-discovery.

The Queen of Gay Street is available for $0.99 as a Kindle.

Esther Mollica has written for Wired, GO, Bust, Curve, Autostraddle and The Bay Area Reporter. Her short romantic comedy, Never the Bride, was featured as one of four films by up-and-coming women of color in San Francisco’s Frameline Film Festival, 2010. In 2011 she was named, “New York’s Most Eligible Lesbian Bachelorette” by Time Out New York, which ironically almost scared off her wife.

I very much enjoyed this memoir

Mel Ulm

Having recently read Lysistrata I imagined Aristophenes after reading The Queen of Gay Street thinking the next time he stages the comedy he will have the sex starved women of Athens work each other over with strap ons. Maybe Alexander Portnoy would wish he could have a three way with the author and The Monkey.

The Queen of Gay Street is a very open, at times x-rated account of the author's life when she left San Francisco in 2010 to New York City. She was tired of the preachy lesbian culture there and thought New York City might be a better place for her. She gets a job writing a column about lesbian dating for a magazine edited by Julia, the Queen of NYC lesbian life.

Her love life gets off to a state slow, spending her nights watching television with an 80 year old neighbour lady who gives her advise on how to find a man. The women in the bars are a mixture of those seeking a serious relationship to those seeking a short term sexual partner.

There are numerous graphic accounts of oral sex. The author takes us along on her dates and we suffer with her through a long abusive relationship. There is humour mixed with pain and self-discovery.

The Queen of Gay Street is available for $0.99 as a Kindle.

Esther Mollica has written for Wired, GO, Bust, Curve, Autostraddle and The Bay Area Reporter. Her short romantic comedy, Never the Bride, was featured as one of four films by up-and-coming women of color in San Francisco’s Frameline Film Festival, 2010. In 2011 she was named, “New York’s Most Eligible Lesbian Bachelorette” by Time Out New York, which ironically almost scared off her wife.

I very much enjoyed this memoir

Mel Ulm

Having recently read Lysistrata I imagined Aristophenes after reading The Queen of Gay Street thinking the next time he stages the comedy he will have the sex starved women of Athens work each other over with strap ons. Maybe Alexander Portnoy would wish he could have a three way with the author and The Monkey.

The Queen of Gay Street is a very open, at times x-rated account of the author's life when she left San Francisco in 2010 to New York City. She was tired of the preachy lesbian culture there and thought New York City might be a better place for her. She gets a job writing a column about lesbian dating for a magazine edited by Julia, the Queen of NYC lesbian life.

Her love life gets off to a state slow, spending her nights watching television with an 80 year old neighbour lady who gives her advise on how to find a man. The women in the bars are a mixture of those seeking a serious relationship to those seeking a short term sexual partner.

There are numerous graphic accounts of oral sex. The author takes us along on her dates and we suffer with her through a long abusive relationship. There is humour mixed with pain and self-discovery.

The Queen of Gay Street is available for $0.99 as a Kindle.

Esther Mollica has written for Wired, GO, Bust, Curve, Autostraddle and The Bay Area Reporter. Her short romantic comedy, Never the Bride, was featured as one of four films by up-and-coming women of color in San Francisco’s Frameline Film Festival, 2010. In 2011 she was named, “New York’s Most Eligible Lesbian Bachelorette” by Time Out New York, which ironically almost scared off her wife.

I very much enjoyed this memoir

Mel Ulm

Having recently read Lysistrata I imagined Aristophenes after reading The Queen of Gay Street thinking the next time he stages the comedy he will have the sex starved women of Athens work each other over with strap ons. Maybe Alexander Portnoy would wish he could have a three way with the author and The Monkey.

The Queen of Gay Street is a very open, at times x-rated account of the author's life when she left San Francisco in 2010 to New York City. She was tired of the preachy lesbian culture there and thought New York City might be a better place for her. She gets a job writing a column about lesbian dating for a magazine edited by Julia, the Queen of NYC lesbian life.

Her love life gets off to a state slow, spending her nights watching television with an 80 year old neighbour lady who gives her advise on how to find a man. The women in the bars are a mixture of those seeking a serious relationship to those seeking a short term sexual partner.

There are numerous graphic accounts of oral sex. The author takes us along on her dates and we suffer with her through a long abusive relationship. There is humour mixed with pain and self-discovery.

The Queen of Gay Street is available for $0.99 as a Kindle.

Esther Mollica has written for Wired, GO, Bust, Curve, Autostraddle and The Bay Area Reporter. Her short romantic comedy, Never the Bride, was featured as one of four films by up-and-coming women of color in San Francisco’s Frameline Film Festival, 2010. In 2011 she was named, “New York’s Most Eligible Lesbian Bachelorette” by Time Out New York, which ironically almost scared off her wife.

I very much enjoyed this memoir

Mel Ulm

Saturday, November 26, 2022

My Father's House by Joseph O'Connor - A Novel - forthcoming January 31, 2023 - A Novel - forthcoming January 31, 2023 - 440 pages


 My Father's House by Joseph O'Connor - A Novel - forthcoming January  2023- 440 Pages 


Set  in Nazi  Occupied  Rome  during September 1943 gestapo boss  Obersturmbannf├╝hrer Paul Hauptman rules the city with terror and violence Hunger is widespread. Rumors fester. The war’s outcome is far from certain. 

Diplomats, refugees, and escaped Allied prisoners flee for protection into Vatican City, at one fifth of a square mile the world’s smallest state, a neutral, independent country within Rome. A small band of unlikely friends led by a courageous Irish priest is drawn into deadly danger as they seek to help those seeking refuge. 

Book 1 in the Rome Escape Line Trilogy, My Father’s House is a powerful, heartbreaking literary thriller based on the true story of Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, who risked his life to smuggle thousands of Jews and escaped Allied prisoners out of Italy under the nose of his Nazi nemesis. A deadly high-stakes battle of wits ensues in this astonishing, unforgettable story of love, faith and sacrifice, exploring what it means to be truly human in the most extreme circumstances 

Having read four prior novels by Joseph O'Connor, i had high hopes for this work. I was certainly not disappointed . In addition to the plotline in 1943, there are segments set in England in 1963 and beyond, interviews with participants, a section of an unfinished memoir and an account of what happened to the Gestapo leader after the war.  

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

The Tree of Heaven by May Sinclair - 1917 - British Library Women Writers Edition-2020 with a Preface by Tanya Kirk and an Afterword by Simon Thomas


 

Part of a curated collection of forgotten works by early to mid-century women writers, the British Library Women Writers series highlights the best middlebrow fiction from the 1910s to the 1960s, offering escapism, popular appeal and plenty of period detail to amuse, surprise and inform.- From The British Library



There are currently 15 works in the British Library Women Writers Series. I am hoping to read through them. Most are fairly brief and all include author bios and expert commentaries. The Kindle Editions are under $4.00.



British Women Library Women Series Works I have so far read


Strange Journey by Maud Cairnes -1935



The Love Child by Edith Olivier - 1927




Tea is So Intoxicating by Ursula Bloom (writing as Mary Essex)- 1950



Father by Elizabeth Von Armin - 1931



O, The Brave Music by Dorothy Evelyn Smith - 1943



Mary Amelia St. Claire, writing with the pen name of May Sinclair wrote some two dozen novels, as well as numerous short stories and poems.  She was active in the struggle to secure the right to vote for English women.

Born - August 24, 1863 - Rockferry, UK

Died -  November 14, 1946 - Buckinghamshire, UK

World War One -June 28, 1914 to  November 11, 1918

The Tree of Heaven focuses on an upper middle class English family taking them from the start of the 20th century to the opening year of World War One.As novel opens, Francis is sitting under an ash tree which the family calls "the tree to heaven". She is expecting her husband Anthony to arrive for tea shortly. Like other books in the series, having tea plays an important part. They have four children, Dorthea, and three sons, John, Michael and Mickey.

We follow the children as they grow older.  Their parents do not fully approve of  the romantic partners of the children.   One son becomes committed to Freedom for Ireland. The mother gets involved in the struggle to allow women  to vote. I found the treatments of meetings of those invloved in this especially interesting.

As time marches toward 1914, the war with Germany transformed everyone into patriots. The parents fear their sons will be killed in the war.  Older women become nurses to wounded soldiers. We are there at the front.

Sinclair did not know how the war would end while writing The Tree of Heaven.  Like the other novels in the series I have read, this work vividly brought to life the era it depicts.

I will next read Sally on the Rocks by Winifred Boggs

Mel Ulm







Thursday, November 17, 2022

Women of the Assembly by Aristophenes- 392 BCE -Translated by Aaron Poochigian-2021


 

Born: 445 BC, Athens 

Died: 386 BC, Delphi


Last month I read his Lysistrata 

Lysistrata is by far the most famous ancient comedy. The central theme is that the women of Greece ban together refuse to have sex with their husbands or lovers unless the men restrain from all forms of warfare. There is very explicit sexual language. Some of the women complain that they cannot go without sex and talk about dildos. The husbands are very upset, they walk around with huge erections protruding from their tunics.

Women of the Assembly opens during a festival only for Women.  The women there agree to disguise them selves as men.  The plan is they will go to the Assembly and vote to turn the government of Athens over to Women.  They also want to do away with the notion of property, with marriages, nuclear families.  Sex is not confined to marriage.  If  a man wants to have sex with an attractive woman he must first have xex with an ugly one.  This way old or unattractive Women are not deprived of sex.

There are lengthy arguments about the soundness of these ideas.  Children will not have a designated father but will be a community responsibility.  There is debate about motivation for working if everything is owned in common.  Everyone is guaranteed an equal subsistence, no rich no poor. Slaves, not being citizens, are owned in common.

As in Poochigian's translation of Lysistrata, there is very  explicit language, that now would make the work at least R rated.  As I read this I wondered if this language was meant to shock the audience or was it just how people  in Athens in 351 BCE  talked?. Women are depicted as craving sex but tired of just being a vehicle for the penises of men. Older women resent younger women getting all the sex.

I found the debates interesting.  The depiction of women is kind of amusing.
A blog I have followed for many years, Wuthering Expectations, is doing a read through of all the surviving Greek Plays, a marvelous endeavor I wish I could have emulated.

If you are new to Aristophenes first read Lysistrata. I will in December read his Birds
ABOUT THE TRANSLATOR Aaron Poochigian earned a PhD in classics from the University of Minnesota and an MFA in poetry from Columbia University. He is the translator of, among other classical works, Sappho’s poetry (published under the title Stung with Love), Apollonius’s Jason and the Argonauts, and Euripides’s Bacchae, and has published two books of poetry—The Cosmic Purr and Manhattanite—and a novel-in-verse, Mr. Either/Or. His poems have appeared in such publications as Best American Poetry, the Paris Review, and Poetry. He lives in New York.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

1493 Uncovering The New World Columbus Created by Charles C. Mann - 2011 -506 pages

 




1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created by Charles C. Mann - 2011- 560 pages


I was completely fascinated by this incredibly informative work about the impact the arrival of Columbus on the island of Hispanola, near the current location of Santo Domingo,in 1492, had on Asia, Europe, as well as North and South America. The transformations impacted the lives of everyone. 1493 by Charles C. Mann book takes as its starting point the 1972 ground breaking

work by the historian Alfred W. Crosby in The Columbine Exchange.


In order to try to convey what Mann is doing in 1493 I think it is worth quoting at some length from his preface.


"Before Crosby looked into the matter, historians tended to explain Europe’s spread across the globe almost entirely in terms of European superiority, social or scientific. Crosby proposed another explanation in Ecological Imperialism. Europe frequently had better-trained troops and more-advanced weaponry than its adversaries, he agreed, but in the long run its critical advantage was biological, not technological. The ships that sailed across the Atlantic carried not only human beings, but plants and animals—sometimes intentionally, sometimes accidentally. After Columbus, ecosystems that had been separate for eons suddenly met and mixed in a process Crosby called The Columbine Exchange."


Mann divides his book into four sections.


Part One, Atlantic journeys begins with an account of how tobacco, cultivated in what is now the southern coastal American states, becomes a world wide rage, enriching English plantation owners. Native Americans in the region largely did not see land as something that could be individually owned. So Europeans claimed ownership and drove them out. Soon native Americans had much less land for crops and hunting. European diseases, English rats, wild pigs wrought a heavy price. Malaria, imported probably from West Africa, began to kill more than half arriving colonists as well as natives. However, Africans slaves were largely impervious to it having for generations built up an impunity. This made imported slaves a much better investment than indentured servants. Mann also details the many vegetables and fruits introduced from Africa. Mann explains how demand for slaves, in South and North America, caused different groups in Africa to go to war with each other to obtain slaves to trade for European goods, especially guns. Sugar, highly in demand in Europe, grown in the Caribbean, parts of Florida, and Brazil could only be profitably produced with slave labor. Mann details profusely the economics and horrors of slavery. Brazil became very much a slave country, the mostly young Portuguese men arrived without women and soon had children with people of African and indigenous DNA. The impact of European involvement in Brazil is now threatening to destroy the Amazon,where almost no native people now live. Mann provides lots of concrete details.


Part Two, Pacific Voyages, focus a lot on trade between the Spanish Empire and China, facilitated through ports on the South West Coast of the Philippines. Silver from Bolivia, mined by slaves ended up in the Philippines to be traded for very much in demand Chinese goods, especially silk. This silver ended up making Spanish silver coins the preferred form of money in China. Silver from South America financed wars in Europe and India. The Spanish conquistadors caused millions of deaths, largely from smallpox, and destroyed very old civilizations searching for gold. The food of China was totally changed also. Sweet potatoes, imported from the Andes,became a dominant crop.  


Part Three, Europe has two sections, "The Agro-Industrial Complex" and "Black Gold". Like the previous parts, there is an abundance of fascinating history conveyed. I will just talk a bit about how the potato, imported from the Andes, totally transformed European agricultural, ecosystems, and politics.


Potatoes can be grown with little labor. An acre of potatoes produces several times the amount of food as wheat or corn. Potatoes are very nutritional. Potatoes were planted all over Europe and became pretty much the only crop grown in Ireland. However this blessing turned into a horrible curse when in 1845 a blight from South America began to destroy seven years of potato harvests in Ireland, starving to death a large portion of the population and driving a huge amount of immigration to the USA, Australia and South America. When a society converts from one in which diverse types of indigenous crops are grown to one in which there is only one dominant non- native crop grown for cash, managed and owned by profit driven foreigners, famines often result. (Late Victorian Holocausts by Mike Davis shows how this happened in India, China, and the Philippines.)


The chapter entitled "Black Gold" deals with the impact the industrial revolution, the popularity of the motor car, World War One and Two had on the demand for rubber. Rubber originally came from South America but now over 90 percent of the world's rubber is produced in S.E. Asia. Mann tells us how this transformed the lives of residents of these 

countries who became virtual slaves to plantation owners. (I highly recommend these two books on the impact of rubber: King Leopold's Ghost-A Story of Story of Greed, Terror in Colonial Africa by Adam Hochchild, Fordlandia -The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten City by Greg Grandin (set way up river in Brazil) .


Part Four "Africa" focuses on the slave trade and the arrival of new crops from Africa. By far the biggest impact was the slave trade from Africa to North and South America. Mann also talks about slave holding among native Americans.  


There are extensive accounts of the introduction of the horse in North America,the camel in China. 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created is a beautiful book.  


Charles C. Mann is the author of the New York Times best-seller, 1493 and 1491, which won the U.S. National Academy of Sciences' Keck award for the best book of the year. A correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly, Science, and Wired, he has covered the intersection of science, technology, and commerce for many newspapers and magazines here and abroad, including National Geographic, the New York Times, Vanity Fair, and the Washington Post. In addition to 1491 and 1493, he is the co-author of five other books, one of which is a young person's version of 1491 called Before Columbus. His website 6

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Anarkali, or Six Early Deaths in Lahore—A Short Story  by Farah Ahamed 15 October, 2022 • The Markaz Review



Today's Story Can be Read Here

 I have been closely following the work of Farah Ahamed since April 15, 2015.  "Anarkali

Or Six Deaths in Lahore" is  set  in contemporary Lagore, the capital of Pakistan, This  marvellous story focuses on how six connected people die as a result of the corruption and deeply embedded cultural and religious prejudices in Pakistan.


The story is narrated by a twenty year old woman, a street sweeper and a Punjabi Christian. She is approached  in the street by a professor from London teaching at a university in Lagore. He is researching violence against Christians and he knows most sweepers are Christians. She initially thinks he takes her for a prostitute but when he tells her he just wants to pay very her well just to answer some questions she accompanied him to a tea shop. He speaks Urdu. They form a relationship which last a year, living  together before disaster strikes. He teaches her to read and introduces her to famous Urdu poets. He calls her "Anarkali", after a figure in medieval Urdu poetry.


The first person to die is one of Professor Rob's students, Jamel. A policeman come to Rob's flat, demands to know why they live together then takes them in for interrogation. With each subsequent death we are taken further into Lagore.  We learn about Anarkali's family.


I really liked the structuring of the story into six segments.  Reading this story I felt I was walking in the back alleys of Lagore.



 From the author's website -farahahamed.com

" I am a writer and editor. My stories explore people’s lives and how they are affected by culture, religion and politics.

My novel, Days Without Sun, is about friendship and survival. It follows the challenges faced by Amanullah, a traditional sweet-maker in a run-down shop in Lahore. It was shortlisted for the 2020 Screen Craft Cinematic Book Award and a finalist for the Primadonna Award 2019.


I have also written two collections of stories, one based in East Africa, the other in Pakistan.


My work has been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize (2022), the Primadonna Festival Writing Award (2019), and the Canadian CBC Books Short Story Award (2018). In addition, I was joint winner of the inaugural Gerald Kraak Award and highly commended in the London Short Story Prize. 


My essays and stories have been shortlisted for The White Review Prize, The Creative Future Award, The Thresholds Essay Prize, Screen Craft Prize, SI Leeds Literary Prize, DNA/Out of Print Award, and The Asian Writer Short Story Prize. I have also been nominated for The Pushcart and Caine prizes.


My short fiction and essays have been published in The White Review, Ploughshares, The Massachusetts Review, The Mechanics’ Institute Review, and other literary journals.


I have a Diploma in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia and an MA in Education. I was born in Kenya and have lived in Nairobi, Vancouver, Kampala and Bilbao. I currently live between London and Lahore."

Next month I hope to post on her short story, "Hot Mango Chutney", short listed for the 2022 Commonwealth Short Story Prize.


Mel Ulm