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A Guy's Moleskine Notebook

Thoughts and reflections on works of fiction and literature. Pondering of life through pictures and words. Babbling about gay rights. Travelogues and anecdotes.

  • [1] Annie Proulx: Brokeback Mountain
  • [2] Arthur Golden: Memoirs of a Geisha
  • [3] Yu Hua: To Live
  • [4] Alan Hollinghurst: The Line of Beauty
  • [5] Colm Toibin: The Master
  • [6] Carlos Ruiz Zafon: The Shadow of the Wind
  • [7] William James: The Varieties of Religious Experience
  • [8] Charles Higham: The Civilization of Angkor
  • [9] Graham Greene: A Burnt-Out Case
  • [10] Dai Sijie: Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch
  • [11] Alan Hollinghurst: The Swimming-Pool Library
  • [12] Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita
  • [13] Colm Toibin: The Blackwater Lightship
  • [14] Alan Hollinghurst: The Folding Star
  • [15] Ross King: Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling
  • [16] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov
  • [17] Jonathan Franzen: The Corrections
  • [18] Colm Toibin: The Story of the Night
  • [19] John Banville: Shroud
  • [20] Leo Tolstoy: Resurrection
  • [21] Peter Hessler: River Town, Two Years on the Yangtze
  • [22] Ian McEwan: The Atonement
  • [24] Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love in the Time of Cholera
  • [25] Ignacio Padilla: Shadow without a Name
  • [26] Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose
  • [27] Richard Russo: Straight Man
  • [28] Fyodor Dostoevsky: Notes from Underground
  • [29] Alan Hollinghurst: The Spell
  • [30] Hermann Broch: The Death of Virgil
  • [31] James Baldwin: Giovanni's Room
  • [32] Ken Kesey: One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • [33] Xingjian Gao: One Man's Bible
  • [34] C. Jay Cox: Latter Days
  • [35] Harper Lee: To Kill A Mockingbird
  • [36] William Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew
  • [37] Daniel A. Helminiak: What The Bible Really Says about Homosexuality
  • [38] James Baldwin: Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone
  • [39] Kenji Yoshino: Covering - The Hidden Assault of Civil Rights
  • [40] Italo Calvino: If, On a Winter's Night A Traveler
  • [41] Arthur Phillips: The Egyptologist
  • [42] George Orwell: 1984
  • [43] Michael Warner: The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and Ethics of Queer Life
  • [44] Andrew Sullivan: Virtually Normal
  • [45] Henry James: The Wings of the Dove
  • [46] Jose Saramago: Blindness
  • [47] Umberto Eco: The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
  • [48] Dan Brown: Da Vinci Code
  • [49] Kazuo Ishiguro: Never Let Me Go
  • [50] Ken Follett: The Pillars of Earth
  • [51] Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace
  • [52] Michael Thomas Ford: Alec Baldwin Doesn't Like Me
  • [53] Jonathan Franzen: How To Be Alone
  • [54] Jonathan Lethem: The Fortress of Solitude
  • [55] Matthew Pearl: The Dante Club
  • [56] Zadie Smith: White Teeth
  • [57] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Double
  • [58] Jose Saramago: The Double
  • [59] Andrew Holleran: Dancer from the Dance
  • [60] Heinrich von Kleist: The Marquise of O & Other Stories
  • [61] Andrew Holleran: In September, the Light Changes
  • [62] Tom Perrotta: Little Children
  • March 07, 2006


    A Potpourri of Heartbreaking Films and Stories

    Over dinner with Bill at the landmark Thailand Restaurant that perches over the Castro, our conversation inevitably nudged to the direction of the Oscar result. Brokeback Mountain, with all the pre-Oscar nominations and hype, took only Best Director and Best Original Film Score. We speculated political reason, unfortunately, played a remarkable role in influencing the result. Anyway, I was not as disappointed as the dramatic San Francisco Oscar Party bunch at Concourse. Some shed tears as Crash won Best Picture and pulled off a major Academy Awards upset. Our proxy disheartening mood over Brokeback Mountain quickly mollified as we solaced ourselves that in spite of the Oscar defeat Anne Proulx had penned a very touching, heartbreaking story portrait-painting the intimate relationship between two gay cowboys.

    Then I told Bill that Brokeback Mountain reminds me of a Hong Kong film from 2001 called Lanyu, directed by Stanley Kwan. The much-discussed film between two gay men in Beijing, played by Hu Jun and Liu Yeh, bears some striking resemblance to Brokeback Mountain. Handong, head of a lucrative trading company and Lan Yu, a country boy who goes to college in Beijing meet often, and the boy is soon very secure in his love for the man. But the lustful Handong insists that he wants a play-mate, not a lifelong companion, and warns Lan Yu that they will eventually break up.

    "When people get to know each other too well," he says, "inevitably they part." Meanwhile he showers expensive gifts to Lan Yu, expecting to deflect the boy's love by turning it into gratitude or dependency. Lan Yu is indomitable until the night he arrives at Handong's apartment and finds his lover in the process of seducing a college athlete. Reminiscent of The Wedding Banquet, Handong conceals his love for men with the seal of a vow to a woman whom he meets at work. But neither he nor Lanyu can forget about one another...

    I admire Lanyu's love for Handong during a time when people often understate the meaning of the word love. What does one mean when he says he loves someone? But Lanyu has been faithful and loyal to this love, which has been proven real and indefatigable through time and devotion. In the novel The Spell, which I have recently read, what Alan Hollinghurst writes one of his characters so hits home with Lanyu:

    "...he's only had one real affair in his life, with Justin, who I would have thought was totally inappropriate. Anyway it was a big deal for two years, until, of course, Justin broke his heart. The first night he told me he hadn't touched another man for a year. Then he talked and talked all next day. He was still very mellow from the night before. He's not jaded. I sound like I'm a hundred years old but it was so sweet to be out with someone who finds everything new and amazing. He's quite serious too. He kept analysing everything he felt."

    Who doesn't want to find someone like Lanyu?


    Blogger Jef said...

    I've noticed that my concept of love changes and evolves with each year. When I was younger, I felt that if you were unfaithful to your partner, it meant that you did not love them. However, as I have grown older, and noticed that what motivates people in general to have sex outside their primary relationship often has little to do with the love they have for another, but unfinished business inside themselves, I now believe that you can love your partner and still have sex with someone else.

    For the record, my partner and I have been monogamymous, but if he came to me and stated that he wanted to experience sex with anotherman--I'm his first--I would listen and we would discuss it. I can't guarantee that I would approve, but I think the fact that I'm willing to discuss the possibility is a great sign of growth on my part.

    3/12/2006 6:34 PM  

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