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Donna Minkowitz’s New Book, Examining the Masculine Ideal, Singing Pages from Morrissey’s Autobiography, and Other LGBT News

Donna Minkowitz’s New Book, Examining the Masculine Ideal, Singing Pages from Morrissey’s Autobiography, and Other LGBT News

Author: William Johnson

October 17, 2013

In the News

Golem Rising 

Lesbian love, familial relationships, and Jewish mysticism collide in a new book from author and rabble-rousing journalist Donna Minkowitz. Growing up Golem:  How I Survived My Mother, Brooklyn and Some Really Bad Dates (Magnus) chronicles Minkowitz’s harried struggle to juggle her family, career, and personal life.

From the publisher:

The author’s mother told Minkowitz that she could do Jewish magic and, growing up, Minkowitz completely believed her. Her mother, an unusually domineering figure, exerted even more sway over Minkowitz than mothers typically do over their children, so it is the “magical realist” premise of the book that instead of giving birth to her, her mother actually created Minkowitz as her own personal golem, a little automaton made of clay.

In the book, Minkowitz struggles to control her own life as an adult, even as she publicly appears to be a radical, take-no-prisoners lesbian journalist. In her career, dating, and especially with her own eccentric family, Minkowitz finds herself compelled to do what other people want, to horrible and hilarious effect. In sex, for example, she often feels like “a giant robot dildo.”

Matters come to a head when a disabling arm injury renders her almost helpless (and permanently unable to use a computer). She must find a way to work, find people who love her, and stand up for her own desires—against the bossing she’s always tolerated from girlfriends, mother, and every other single person—before her injury gets even worse.

Watch the book trailer for the genre-bending memoir here.

Sing Your Life

Morrissey’s new autobiography, the astutely titled Autobiography (Penguin Classics)has been released in the UK this week. What better way to celebrate then to break out in slightly tongue-in-cheek song. Sing your life boys and girls! Sing your life! [Dangerous Minds]

The History of the Hunk 

How did the ripped male form become a physical “ideal”? What is the history of physical masculinity? What was considered a “hot” body in London circa 1908? A new book seeks to provide some answers. Universal Hunks: A Pictoral History of Muscular Men Around the World, 1895-1975  maps the history of the hunk and examines cross-cultural ideas of male beauty.

The Atlantic reports:

In Hunks, authors David L. Chapman and Douglas Brown trace the origins of the sculpted, nearly nude, or totally bare male silhouette across the globe. Their journey begins in Europe with Anglo-German “physical culturalist” Eugen Sandow and ends in South America with a snapshot of Hercules Cement—not because the West is the fount of all masculine identity or idealization, but because it was a tremendous exporter of those concepts at the time. The “male body factored prominently in the construction of modern national identities,” write Chapman and Brown, and as the imperial powers of the day disseminated their own religious and sociopolitical standards, they also strove to shape the actual bodies of the people they encountered.

Still, the exchange (or replacement) isn’t so cut and dry.

In India, Sandow’s gospel of personal strength became interwoven with Indian nationalism and independence. In Senegal, where wrestling has its own tradition that predates European influence, the snapshots of warriors actually highlight the colonial interests of the photographers. And in the United States and beyond, models posing in men’s magazines celebrated physical health and wellness, but also doubled as pin-ups for consumers of gay subculture. All of these photos generate a syncretic view of buffness that reveals the ways in which muscled men are more than stereotypical gym rats; they can also be cultural ambassadors.

Read more about the book here. [The Atlantic]

A Home Fit for a Bibliophile 

If you are reading this blog post chances are you are a bookworm. So for all you book lovers out there looking for some interior design tips, Buzzfeed has some ideas how to make your house a home. [Buzzfeed]

Fear Can be Fun

Halloween is almost upon us, which means it is a perfect opportunity to take some time to scare yourself witless. There is something cathartic about getting through a really terrifying novel. Witnessing the worst and surviving it (in art anyway) has a way of inspiring an eerie sense of elation–exhilarating dread is what I like to call it. With that in mind, check of out Flavorwire‘s list of the 50 most terrifying novels. The authors and novels showcased on this list will surely have you sleeping with the lights on–I’m looking at you Clive Barker.

And in keeping with the Halloween spirit, Lethe Press has released some of their more popular queer horror titles as audio books. Check some of them out here and here and here. [Flavorwire] [Lethe Press]



William Johnson photo

About: William Johnson

William Johnson is the former Deputy Director of Lambda Literary.

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