Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Review: Here and Always Have Been

I don’t usually deal with modern fiction on this blog, but the very nice Kenneth “Craigside” offered to send me his book to review (free book! For free!). How can I resist? Here and Always Have Been is a collection of erotic and semi-erotic short stories ranging in time from prehistoric cavemen to the 1950’s.

I have to say first that I liked a lot of the little things and the plots. He displays a lot of original thought. There are a lot of funny bits that made me smile or laugh out loud. Clearly he did some research and at least knows his way around a list of dead white queers. I was disappointed that there was not really a lot of historical detail for him to have gotten wrong, though- it wasn’t the emphasis, merely the setting.

The porny bits are not really to my taste, which is partly biological on my part and partly the style and tone, which somehow manages to be coy and clinical simultaneously. The settings, actions, and characters are not very realistic, not because he didn’t do his research but because they’re driven by sexual fantasy rather than true character development. I like emotion powering my sex rather than kink, which takes a pride of place in many stories. I think my favorite story was “The Ballad of Sadie”, which has no sex but only innuendo, and in the others I liked such as “The Last Roman God”, “Saladin’s Loom”, and “Will’s Best Bed” it was the ideas I enjoyed more than the execution. (Saladin's men kidnap Richard Lionheart with a sexy plan to get him out of the Holy Land? Tell me more!) A lot of these stories were disappointing because they have such potential and I didn’t see it filled the way I’d like.

Overall impression: it’s clear to me he’s new to the genre. He sent me the book for my history perspective, and I had no problems there, but the writing is unpracticed. I enjoyed it at first, but it wore thin after reiterations of the same thing over and over with different names and kinks. Very possibly a lot of my critique comes of my not being the target market- I don’t generally enjoy the style of mainstream erotica.

All that said, I’d like to read his next work, if he chooses to continue on this path. I love witnessing people improve, and Kenneth Craigside shows some promise.

Go buy it. Maybe you'll like it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

LJ options

So I totally could have made an RSS feed and been versatile, but Livejournal is what I know, so I made an LJ to crosspost everything at:

Fun! Icons! A better user interface (imho)! Go. Put me on your friends. And even if I go months without posting, there one will come one day, like a surprise present. It'll be great.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

"New" schools of thought on Puritan sexuality?

I have a really good book here by Richard Godbeer, Sexual Revolution in Early America. His first chapters detail the research into Puritan sexuality (and, following logically, homosexuality), which I found pretty surprising, though I hadn't really looked into the subject that much. He cites Nathaniel Hawthorne as creating or at least spreading the image of the dry, strict, hardhearted Puritan.

From page 77:
"Ministers encouraged their flock to feel Christ's love as a romantic, voluptuous experience. 'Here he comes,' rhapsodized [Samuel] Willard, 'to give us the caresses of his love, and lay us in his bosom and embraces. And now, oh my soul! Hast thou ever experienced the love of a savior?' The redeemed would 'ly in Christ's bosom, and be ravished with his dearest love, and most intimate embraces.'"

Earlier in the chapter he quotes some Edward Taylor.
Page 53:
"In poetry written between the 1680s and 1720s, Taylor envisaged Christ as "a spotless male in prime" and addressed his savior in language of utter infatuation:
Thou art the lovli'st object ever spread
With brightest beauty object ever wore
Of purest flashes of pure white and red
That ever did or could the love allure.
Lord make my love and thee its object meet
And me in folds of such love raptures keep."

Cotton Mather is quoted of the phrase "heavenly ejaculations". Not really scientific, because he also meant "spontaneous prayer", but it did give me a little pause.

It occurred to me that the Ganymede metaphor for souls going up to Christ makes an odd sense in this new light. Also this is a really short version of his stuff, go read the book, there's a lot more where this came from and it looks less sketchy when you don't read it on the internet.

Oh yeah! Katz! His comment is less funny now that I've gone and looked it up. But it does indicate that the above short statements were pretty well accepted historical fact even in the 1980s. His footnote, from page 43 of Gay/Lesbian Almanac: "My reading of the documents, and my stress of the Puritans' negative valuation of erotic lust (as opposed to child production), contradicts the now generally accepted interpretations of Edmund Morgan, William and Mallerville Haller, and other historians responsible for the revisionist line that the Puritans were not as "Puritanical" as the popular stereotype would have it. The stereotype, I think, is closer to reality than the prevailing revisionism."


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

In which our hero returns from the grave

Been in Florida. Sorry.

I have a couple topics for posts lined up. Uno: the Epic (and funny) Historian Infighting between Gary Leupp and Paul Schalow, as documented in Monumenta Nipponica. Dude, you guys are two of the (maybe) four (white) people in this field! I thought you'd be buds or something. Dos: 17thC Puritan homoerotic visions of Your Relationship With Jesus Christ, and the following cries of "Revisionism!", especially coming from Katz where I hadn't expected that much vitriol. That's a fun sentence. When did you last see "Puritan" and "homoerotic" in the same place?