Hit or Miss

Recent Readings:

I recieved a nice email from author K. M. Soehnlein today, thanking me for plugging his book, The World of Normal Boys. I didn’t really write anything more than “I liked it” before, and I’m not much of a book critic, so check out this review or listen to this audio excerpt.

Suffice to say, I identified with Soehnlein’s novel more than ever I have reading gay authors like Edmund White or Andrew Holleran. It’s a generation gap thing. Set in the late 70’s, the coming-out process described by Soehnlein is much closer to my own than any other I’ve read.

On the other hand, you should avoid D.A. Miller’s Place for Us : Essay on the Broadway Musical. I’ve done a bit of scholarly reading on musical theatre (and a lot my work during my masters in Library Science was focused on the bibliography of cast recordings), so I eagerly looked forward to reading this treatise on the connection between gay men and showtunes. Unfortunately, Miller’s work is a dense morase that ranges from obtuse academia to pop psychology. Leave it on the shelf.

2 responses so far (Respond)

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Boo! I really liked DA Miller’s place for us. Yes, it’s dense, but for God’s sake, it’s an academic work!

The book is not perfect, and it’s a tough read, but I found it very rewarding and (because of its density) particularly suited for re-reading.

You have to approach it with the foreknowledge that it’s not a traditional history/analysis type book. It’s a series of (sometimes intensely personal) essays couched in an academic style that involves the author deconstructing his own experience. If at times Miller seems to generalize, that’s a function of how personal the subject is – you know, when something resonates so true for yourself, you speak of it in terms that imply the whole world feels the same… I don’t believe Miller ever intended the book to be read as a dissertation on Gay Men and Musicals, so when people do try to read it that way, of course they’re disappointed.

Which is not to say that you have to like it. It’s not for everyone. And it is overly clever. But I don’t think it’s fair to tell everyone to avoid it, either.

David | 20 Nov 2000
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Point taken. I still don’t recommend it though.

Matt | 20 Nov 2000