Los Angeles Review No. 11by Kate Gale
The Los Angeles Review, established in 2003, is the voice of Los Angeles, and the voice of the nation. With its multitude of cultures, Los Angeles roils at the center of the cauldron of divergent literature emerging from the West Coast. Perhaps from this place something can emerge that speaks to the writer or singer or dancer or wild person in all of us,/i>
The Los Angeles Review, established in 2003, is the voice of Los Angeles, and the voice of the nation. With its multitude of cultures, Los Angeles roils at the center of the cauldron of divergent literature emerging from the West Coast. Perhaps from this place something can emerge that speaks to the writer or singer or dancer or wild person in all of us, something disturbing, something alive, something of the possibility of what it could be to be human in the 21st century.
This issue, dedicated to John Rechy, celebrates a writer who has emerged from a sordid past and has reclaimed that past in story, reaching out for the dirty parts, the wild parts, the strange. Rechy is a legend, a gay male icon who walked off the streets into a room and sat down at a typewriter to tell the hustling stories that weren’t being told before the coming of the night and AIDS changed the lives of urban gay men forever.
The Los Angeles Review continues to take on edgier work. Alex Lemon’s poem, “The Itching is Chronic,” gives you that universal itch, both personal and collective, that something is amiss with your world.
“The Very Big Man,” reminds one of “Fat” by Raymond Carver, the sense of someone who takes up more than their fair share of physical space and knows it, who moves like Don Quixote, against the world and not with it. And much of this work feels like that, the flow against a physical world that most writers experience in the act of writing. The material and physical world of the United States encourages the writer toward comfort, relaxation, enjoyment, material wealth, and the hard work that creates it. These pieces are the hard work of writers who stepped away from all that into the crisis of awareness that we call the world of the imagination.
Elizabeth Wilcox writes of quantum foam, disappearancesand that is what is required for the creative act, being willing to be erased from this day, this moment, this week, these hours, while you disappear into story and hope it all falls into place when you step back into the world, that you are not left out on the heath like King Lear’s fool.
At the end we have the LGBTQ roundtable discussion which raises important questions about writing and genre, especially in light of Helen Vendler’s recent attack on the Rita Dove anthology. Who should be included? What rates as an important voice? Who wants to listen?
This round table examines identity, shock value in writing, erotica, brutality and otherness. We aren’t writing for all gay experience, these writers argue; there are multiple experiences, but we hope we are writing work that is good, that opens dialogueand isn’t that part of what we want good writing to do, to make us think? These writers argue that writers are marginalized and that being a gay writer or a gay writer of color is a further marginalization. Whether straight or gay, we don’t write to make a point, or to take a stand, we write because we are “grappling with the human condition,” and because we think we have a good story to tell.
- Red Hen Press
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