Friday, March 21, 2008

Literary AIDS reading

I'll be doing a presentation for aspiring librarians and archivist at UCLA. My presentation will be on AIDS and art, specifically writing. I'm hoping to develop a list of must-have books for a library. I'm not looking for scientific, medical, or self-help books. I'm leaning toward the literary. I've got titles by Paul Monette, Randy Shilts, Tony Kushner, Essex Hemphill, Saphire, Tony Dent. Any books you'd like to suggest?


Joe said...

So many options. This was actually one of the areas of my graduate studies, so forgive me if I go overboard:
1. Michael Cunningham's A Home at the End of the World and The Hours (the second is better than the first, in my opinion).
2. Andrew Holleran's The Beauty of Men (I'd add Ground Zero to the list if you're looking for non-fiction as well).
3. Edmund White's The Farewell Symphony.
4. Jameson Currier's Dancing on the Moon (short stories rather than a novel).
5. Joseph Olshan's Nightswimmer.
6. Felice Picano's Like People in History.
7. Alice Hoffman's At Risk (which I admired more than most people did. I think people overreacted at the time to the fact that the story was about a little white girl rather than a gay man, but I don't think that diminishes the power of the book).
8. Reynolds Price's The Promise of Rest (one of my favorite books of all time. Price is a masterful storyteller.)
9. Armistead Maupin's Babycakes (in the midst of all the happenings at Barbary Lane, there are some beautiful moments about the aftermath of someone's death from AIDS. People who think that the Tales of the City books are all about frivolous matters should read this one).

That's probably more than you need and/or want. There have also been some great collections of literary analysis on the subject of AIDS and writing (Writing AIDS, AIDS: The Literary Response, Personal Dispatches), but I've kept the list to fiction.

Ask if you want more titles.

thelastnoel said...

Joe, this is great! Go ahead and e-mail me. Thanks.

Christopher said...

Hi Noel!

There are three volumes by our friend Douglas Crimp which are considered central to the topic of the art of Aids. The first is "Aids: Cultural Analysis, Cultural Activism," which is an edited volume that contains essays by lots of good people. The second is "Aids Demographics," which is about the poster art and demonstrations by Act Up and Gran Fury. Unfortunately, both of these are out of print (I believe) and, as Douglas said, there is lots of demand for a reprint of the second one, but the publisher doesn't seem to think it's a lucrative venture. (Or something to that effect.) The third is "Melancholia and Moralism," which is in print and contains some 25 years of his essays on art and Aids. It contains the critique of Randy Shilts that I was telling you about; you should check it out, because it's very provocative, and I'm afraid I did a crappy job of explaining his argument to you.

There's lots more, but I consider these three invaluable. Hope this helps!

PS: and David Wojnarowicz' "Close to the Knives."

thelastnoel said...

Oooooh, thanks Christopher.

Cheryl said...

Glad Sapphire made the cut! (And yes, A Home at the End of the World should definitely be on there. Oh, and People in Trouble by Sarah Schulman.)