Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

Book marks

Out There

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We tucked into the new paperback edition of Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You, the 2007 novel by Peter Cameron (Picador). It's the story of Manhattan teenager James Sveck, child of divorced parents who is not yet out to them. James is not an ordinary teenager. Even among other outsider teens, he is an outsider. "And the boys were all clean, their faces freshly and brutally shaved, their hair painstakingly gelled into exquisite apparent carelessness, with this electric feeling inside them, which matched the feelings in the girls, that they were all ascending, moving into a future that could only improve them, and I wondered what it was like – the miracle, the stupidity of feeling that."

It's a comic and rather dark tale. Possibly the most envelope-pushing aspect of the plot is James' secret online flirtation with his gallery-director boss.

"When I sat back down I saw that a little window had opened on my computer screen, with a message in it: Hello.

"I returned the salutation. A moment later the following message appeared: Just wanted to say that I like your profile.

"I wrote, What profile?

"On Gent4Gent: Hot and Bothered. I'm Black Narcissus. Check out my profile?

"Okay. I realized it was John. For a moment I considered typing, John, it's me, James :), but before I could John had written, Do you really work at Sotheby's?"

Red alert

Forget everything you thought you knew about Leon Trotsky , mastermind of the Bolshevik insurrection, commander of the Red Army, leader-in-exile of the anti-Stalinist Left. Trotsky: Downfall of a Revolutionary by Stanford historian Bertrand M. Patenaude (Harper) chronicles the years leading up to his assassination.

Trotsky (born Lev Davidovich Bronstein , kin to Phil) was a great orator and revolutionary, an iconic historical figure, but also a disciplined and prolific writer. He was proud that his passport for initial exile into Turkey read, occupation: writer. Patenaude provides a cogent analysis of his masterwork, The History of the Russian Revolution (published in English, 1932-33), and his biographical inquiries into Lenin and Stalin. This new account begins with Trotsky's arrival in Mexico, the only country to offer his wife Natalia and him asylum after they left France and Norway. The Mexican offer of protection came largely due to the efforts of muralist Diego Rivera<

/b> , who, with his wife, the artist Frida Kahlo; French surrealist Andre Breton; and muralists Jose Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros, all played important roles in this life. Trotsky had an unwise affair with Kahlo that, if discovered, would have put his pivotal friendship with the jealous Rivera in jeopardy. We learn she could draw from "the richest vocabulary of obscenities I have ever known one of her sex to possess."

Patenaude provides new insights into Trotsky's Mexican years right up through his violent end, at the hands of Stalinist agents, in 1940.

End notes

We stand corrected: it was not Giorgio Armani 's daughter who was spotted last week at Emporio Armani, it was his niece. She didn't need to pack a bag for her SF idyll, just pointed to the outfits she wanted to wear, which was easy-peasy since she's like a size zero.

Variety reported last week that HBO may be about to pick up a miniseries adaptation of the 1945 Joan Crawford classic Mildred Pierce, starring Kate Winslet, and written and directed by Todd Haynes , who made the art-films I'm Not There and Far from Heaven. Should we be worried or jazzed about this?

Fresh from the world premiere of his first opera, Prima Donna, at the Manchester International Festival in July, singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright will release a new live DC/DVD, Milwaukee at Last!!! (Decca) later this month. The album includes Wainwright's sold-out performance at the Pabst Theatre in Milwaukee, a performance of Noel Coward's "If Love Were All" from his Rufus Does Judy show and a version of the Irish song "Macushla." The concert was filmed by the legendary documentarian Albert Maysles.

Summer's best correction, from the NY Times: "A film review on Wednesday about Taking Woodstock misstated the setting where a song by the band Love is heard as a shy young stranger is initiated into the mysteries of LSD. It is in a van, not a tent." And it was windowpane, not brown acid.

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