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Rewriting the History of 1970s Gay Liberation

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From the New Books Network's Book of the Day Podcast

In Stand by Me: The Forgotten History of Gay Liberation (Basic Books, 2016), the acclaimed historian Jim Downs rewrites the history of gay life in the 1970s, arguing that the decade was about much more than sex and marching in the streets. Drawing on a vast trove of untapped records at LGBT community centers in Los Angeles, New York, and Philadelphia, Downs tells moving, revelatory stories of gay people who stood together—as friends, fellow believers, and colleagues—to create a sense of community among people who felt alienated from mainstream American life.


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What make comfort food what it is...


Doughnuts or Donuts? Krispy Kreme or Dunkin’? All of the Above?

Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant Embrace a Gluttony of Options


There is a famous deleted scene that didn’t make it into Pulp Fiction where Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) interviews Vincent Vega (John Travolta) with a video camera while he waits to take her to dinner at Jack Rabbit Slims.

Mia says that on important topics there are only two ways a person can answer, and how they answer tells you who they are. “For instance, there are only two kinds of people in the world,” she says, “Beatles people and Elvis people. Now Beatles people can like Elvis, and Elvis people can like the Beatles, but nobody likes them both equally. Somewhere, you have to make a choice, and that choice tells you who you are.”


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Book Review of "Counting Down Elvis – His 100 Finest Songs", by Mark Duffett


Counting Down Elvis – His 100 Finest Songs by Mark Duffett is a well-researched anthology of Elvis’s songs during his meteoric rise to fame. It is far more than a list of the songs. Duffett provides the genesis of each song, and many of the stories behind the songs were fascinating. One example was the song, “Love Me Tender,” which Duffett rates as the King’s 33rd best song. That song was adapted from a civil war song called. Aura Lee,”  which was credited to George Poulton and William Fosdick in the 1860s. If you Google “Aura Lee” and play the ballad, you will instantly recognize the similarity.   The words were changed for Love Me Tender, but the underlying tune remained.

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Your Week in Virtual Book Events, Nov. 16th to Nov. 22nd

Including the Kick-Off of the Online Miami Book Fair


Miami Book Fair Online
Sunday, November 15 – Monday, November 23rd
The Miami Book Fair is virtual this year, with all free and on demand content available starting November 15th. More than 300 authors in conversation will be streaming including, but not limited to Margaret Atwood (Dearly), Kwame Alexander (The Undefeated), Tommye Blount (Fantasia for the Man in Blue), Judy Blume (Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret), Mahogany L. Browne (WOKE: A Young Poet’s Call to Justice), K-Ming Chang (Bestiary), Billy Collins (Whale Day), Tony DiTerlizzi (The Broken Ornament), Mark Doty (What is the Grass: Walt Whitman in My Life), Glory Edim (Well-Read Black Girl), and more. Sign up to create your profile and build your watchlist in advance here.

Ten Evenings with Lily King
Monday, November 16, All-day
Pittsburg Arts & Lectures brings prize-winning novelist Lily King to speak about her newest book, Writers & Lovers, for their virtual event season. Tickets are $15, $10 for students. Registrants will receive a link to the pre-recorded event you can watch at any time. Get your virtual pass here.


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Book Review of "The Enigma Threat", by Charles V, Breakfield & Roxanne E. Burkey


The Enigma Threat by Charles V, Breakfield & Roxanne E. Burkey starts off with their iconic supercomputer ICABOD being targeted for destruction by CESPOOL, a UN-sanctioned agency charged with the responsibility of finding all independently owned AI-enhanced supercomputers and destroying them.   Tragically the R-Group is unable to stop ICABOD’s demise and the arrest of Quip. Their old nemesis, the MAG, celebrate this turn of events. For readers of the Enigma series, the end of the iconic ICABOD is a sad development.


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Here are the best reviewed books of the week.

Here are the best reviewed books of the week.

Book Marks

November 13, 2020, 10:07am

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Danielle Evans’ The Office of Historical Corrections, Jonathan Lethem’s The Arrest, Jo Nesbø’s The Kingdom, and Celia Paul’s Self-Portrait all feature among the best reviewed books of the week.

Brought to you by Book Marks, Lit Hub’s “Rotten Tomatoes for books.”


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Thank you Veterans

"We remember those who were called upon to give all a person can give, and we remember those who were prepared to make that sacrifice if it were demanded of them in the line of duty, though it never was. Most of all, we remember the devotion and gallantry with which all of them ennobled their nation as they became champions of a noble cause." -- Ronald Reagan

Book Review of "Farm Boy, City Girl", by John Dawson


Farm Boy, City Girl: From Gene to Miss Gina, by John “Gene” Dawson, is a riveting tell-all memoir that includes intimate details of growing up on share-cropper farms in Iowa during the Tryin’ Thirties. Gene experienced many backbreaking chores as the oldest son of a farmer struggling to make-a-living for his family during the depression, dustbowl, and drought. His recollections provide vivid historical references to the living conditions and farming practices in the 1930s and even information for today’s scientists studying global warming.


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Oscar Levant and Oscar Wilde: Masters of Staving Off Melancholy with Wit


David Lazar on Two Wounded Men Who Frustrated Expectations


Oscar Levant is a melancholy figure, full of barbed wit, self-loathing, and “Rhapsody in Blue,” which he performed more than any other 20th-century pianist. You may not know who he is, though Jack Paar used to go off the air after a time saying, “Goodnight Oscar Levant, wherever you are.” Jimmy Durante used to say, “Goodnight Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are,” and no one ever knew who she was, which he must have found disconcerting.

Oscar Wilde, you undoubtedly know, but you may think of him staring languidly into the camera, dressed as a dandy, self-pleased.


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Book Review of "One Boy's War", by Nancy McDonald


One Boy's War, by Nancy McDonald, is the anticipated sequel to Boy from Berlin.  These young adult novels are true-to-life adventures inspired by historical events. The plot of One Boy's War follows the exploits and struggles of ten-year-old Kafer Avigdor as he and his family strive to survive war-torn Europe in 1940.

The tribulations of war are immediately apparent from the opening paragraphs, told in Kafer's voice.  Kafer, his older sister, brother, and mother are traveling on the ocean liner SS Somerville sailing from London to Halifax when the ship is hit by a German torpedo. His terrifying ordeal includes boarding a tossing lifeboat, a miraculous rescue, and a mysterious stranger.


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Book Review of " Citadel of the Fallen", by JR Konkol


Readers of thriller fantasies will be engrossed by Citadel of the Fallen, by JR Konkol. A group of quirky teenagers living in an isolated citadel hidden deep within a magical rainforest is confronted with multiple challenges. Each of the main characters is endowed with distinct personalities, talents, and mystical faculties. The youth are in quest of adulthood and are also being trained in a variety of mystical traits. 

While on a training mission, the group is attacked by a gigantic, magical boar with a broken tusk. The ensuing battle introduces each of the characters. Liam, the elder, and Conner are brothers with opposing but complementary talents. They vie for their father’s attention while trying to maintain a brotherly relationship. They and the others study the arcane sciences of alchemy and runecraft. Medieval armor and arms enhanced with magic enlighten battle scenes as the group faces off against terrors.

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No One Gets Sylvia Plath

Courtesy the Lilly Library.

Emily Van Duyne on Loving, and Misunderstanding, an Icon

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In researching my book-in-progress, Loving Sylvia Plath, I came upon a 2019 article in the Los Angeles Review of Books called “Who Gets Emily Dickinson?” Not, as the title suggests, a piece about who has the privilege of understanding the enigmatic poet’s work and life; it was instead a complex treatment of ownership. Dickinson famously eschewed marriage, and died single, making the question of who inherited her work exactly that—a question. Dickinson insisted during her lifetime that only she got herself, reportedly telling her niece, as they stood in her small bedroom which doubled as her writing study, “Mattie—Here’s freedom!” and made, with an imaginary key, to lock the door from within.

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Book Review of "CC's Road Home", by Leah B. Eskine


CC's Road Home, by Leah B. Eskine, is a young adult novel that takes place in the early sixties. It is a story about teenage pregnancy in an era where the subject was gingerly tiptoed around. Back then, shame would rain down even on a family of any young pregnant unwed girl. 

Eskine's beginning chapters captivates the reader who'll wonder why an estranged, alcoholic mother would be abandoning her teenage daughter.  The protagonist, Cicely, also known as CC, is a sixteen-year-old girl from New Orleans whose mother is leaving her in Ruston, Louisiana, a small town in the northern part of the state.  It isn't total abandonment; she is just relinquishing Cicely to the grandparents who own a small farm.  It is a safe place where Cicely can hide away while she takes care of her problem.  Back then, pregnant teens — unlike today — had no choice. They were kicked out of school, and if they were also employed, they were terminated. Where was a 16-year-old girl to turn?


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Take a break from the news by reading about voter shenanigans in William Kennedy’s Roscoe.

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John Freeman

November 3, 2020, 12:40pm

As you read this sentence, voting is underway in a historic US election, a stressful contest, to put it mildly, but in this season of taking heart in the dark cackle of historical déjà vu, perhaps it’s worth remembering that while our times are strange and dangerous, chaos has been here before. A vote is a mighty thing and so it has always been under threat. Buffeted by disinformation and robo calls, stormed by forces of intimidation and violence, by the besuited bigotry of legal challenges, it has never simply been secure. Indeed, one meaning of democracy is not just the right to vote: but the responsibility to protect it.


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Book Review of "Snapshots", by Eliot Parker


Snapshots is a collection of eleven separate ingenious tales penned by author Eliot Parker.  There is richness in his detail with an accurate depiction of human passions and frailties. Stories that tell of a brother gone bad, a minor drug dealer sentenced to big time in prison, a sheriff who meets a nightmare, a tale about baseball, and much more. Parker has given us a treasury of tales that represents an astonishing range of short stories.  It’s a collection of tales in various hues and timbres. All these stories have one point in common—the consistent quality of Parker’s storytelling.


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