Resources, including Discussion Questions, for Selected LGBTQ+ and General Literature
This Book Resources page features background material, including discussion questions, for selected 🌈LGBTQ+ and general works of literature, both contemporary and classic. Although this website is completely independent, these materials are for two book groups that I’m happy to be part of, one LGBTQ+ and the other general. Hope this information will be of interest for your own discussion group (tips for starting one). Each of these diverse titles inspired lively conversations. This page will expand frequently to include additional novels, non-fiction, plays, and poetry. Also, I have recommendations for LGBTQ+ Literature, LGBTQ+ Cinema, and general Film. NEW RESOURCE! Basic Tips for Finding Book & Film Resources for Discussions.
March 16, 2022 – added many additional resources for Ocean Vuong, including videos.
ALL LINKS ARE TO FREELY AVAILABLE SOURCES. WHY NO “PAYWALL” LINKS?
Because this site welcomes an international readership, I do not highlight paywall (paid subscriber-only) articles, even from the exceptional New York Times and Washington Post, but you can find those links at the bottom section (“External links”) of Wikipedia entries. Note that some paywall-based sources do allow free access on a very limited basis. Of course, it’s always good to support a vigorous free press by subscribing.
“ABCD” RESOURCES (a term I may have coined?). Resources, for each title, are organized by: A – Author (biography, overview of works – often the Wikipedia entry, author video and/or audio), B – Book (for each specific title: reviews, criticism, book-specific video and/or audio), C – Context (form – such as novel, play etc., genre, history), and D – Discussion (questions to explore). Enjoy!
- André Aciman, Call Me By Your Name (🌈LGBTQ+ Novel, love affair of two American men in 1950s Italy)
- John Boyne, The Heart’s Invisible Furies (🌈LGBTQ+ Novel, 70 years of modern Irish history through the life of a gay ‘everyman’)
- Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods (General Non-Fiction, memoir about the complicated friendship of two middle-aged men hiking the Appalachian Trail)
- Bernardine Evaristo, Girl, Woman, Other (🌈LGBTQ+ and General Fiction, novel about the intersecting lives of a dozen diverse British women of color, of all orientations)
- Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl (General Fiction, a brilliantly twisty thriller about marriage, and murder)
- NEW! E.M. Forster, Maurice [pronounced MORR iss] (🌈LGBTQ+ Novel, a young man challenges social, and personal, prejudice to find love; 1913)
- Yaa Gyasi, Homegoing (General Fiction, about eight generations of a Black family, from slavery until today; includes a poignant LGBTQ+ male-male relationship in the early chapter “Quey”)
- Patrcia Highsmith, The Talented Mr. Ripley (🌈LGBTQ+ Novel, thriller about an irresistible sociopath with many talents)
- Alan Hollinghurst, The Sparsholt Affair (🌈LGBTQ+ Novel, Britain’s evolving LGBTQ+ attitudes from the 1940s to today, through the story of a gay father and son)
- NEW! bell hooks, Ain’t I a Woman?: Black Women and Feminism (🌈LGBTQ+ Non-Fiction, exploring connections between race, genders, and socioeconomics; hooks was a pioneer of intersectionality)
- Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth (General Fiction, children’s fantasy adventure novel; illustrated by Jules Feiffer)
- Christina Baker Kline, A Piece of the World (General Fiction, novel about the secluded, but emotionally eventful, life of the woman who inspired Andrew Wyeth’s iconic 1948 painting, “Christina’s World”)
- Larry Kramer (🌈LGBTQ+ author & activist)
- Matthew Lopez, The Inheritance (🌈LGBTQ+ Play, experiences of contemporary NYC gay men, a reimagining of Howards End, exploring themes of resilience, class divisions, and the meaning of home)
- Audre Lorde, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name (🌈LGBTQ+ Autobiographical Fiction, growing up in 1950s Harlem and becoming, in her own words, a “Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet”)
- Emily St. John Mandel, The Glass Hotel (General Fiction, experimental thriller about two siblings trapped in a pyramid scheme)
- Paul Monette, Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story (🌈LGBTQ+ Non-Fiction, memoir that explores coming out in the 1960s at Yale, and beyond)
- Cherríe Moraga, Native Country of the Heart, a Memoir (🌈LGBTQ+ Non-Fiction, relationship of a lesbian Latina author/activist and her mother who has Alzheimer’s)
- Pauli Murray, Song in a Weary Throat: Memoir of an American Pilgrimage (🌈LGBTQ+ Non-Fiction, from the trailblazing Black nonbinary civil rights and gender equality activist, lawyer, poet, priest)
- Chinelo Okparanta, Under the Udala Trees (🌈LGBTQ+ Novel, a young lesbian comes of age in war-torn 1960s Nigeria)
- Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time (aka Remembrance of Things Past) (🌈LGBTQ+ Novel, intimate epic of the narrator’s experiences, of memory and desire, in turn of the 20th century French society)
- Stephen Sondheim, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, a Musical Thriller (🌈LGBTQ+ Play, landmark musical about vengeance, justice, love… and meat pies)
- Douglas Stuart, Shuggie Bain (🌈LGBTQ+ Novel, a young boy grows up with an alcoholic mother in 1980s Glasgow, Scotland)
- NEW! Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (🌈LGBTQ+ Novel, shifting between the Vietnam war and contemporary Hartford, Connecticut, a young gay man comes to terms with his Vietnamese mother and grandmother, and his first love)
- Andy Weir, The Martian (General Fiction, realistic Science Fiction novel about an astronaut marooned on Mars)
- Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass (1855 “short” first version of 12 poems) (🌈LGBTQ+ Poetry, the foundation of modern verse, its visionary inclusiveness remains inspiring)
- Virginia Woolf, Orlando (🌈LGBTQ+ Fantasy Novel, the adventures of a young English nobleman who lives for centuries, and changes genders )
“ABCD” RESOURCES: AUTHOR, BOOK, CONTEXT, DISCUSSION
* André Aciman, Call Me By Your Name (🌈LGBTQ+ Novel, 2007)
The love affair of two American men in 1950s Italy.
- André Aciman’s website.
- André Aciman resources, from his publisher.
- Call Me By Your Name – Wikipedia.
- Call Me By Your Name (and the sequel, Find Me) – Time.
- Gay Literature – Wikipedia.
- Publisher’s Reading Guide and Discussion Questions (NOTE: downloads as a PDF).
- Thanks, Tash!
* John Boyne, The Heart’s Invisible Furies (🌈LGBTQ+ Novel, 2017)
70 years of modern Irish history as lived by a gay man.
- John Boyne’s Website
- John Boyne – Wikipedia.
- LitLovers guide, including a brief summary.
- BookRags detailed summary (free version).
- Review from The Guardian (February 18, 2017).
- Boyne’s title comes from a quotation by political theorist Hannah Arendt, referring to gay poet W.H. Auden (1970 photo).
- Boyne dedicated this novel to John Irving, author of the comparable novel, The World According to Garp (1976)
- Ireland – Wikipedia
- LGBTQ+ Culture in Ireland – Wikipedia.
- Latest LGBTQ+ News from Ireland (IrishCentral).
- The Heart’s Invisible Furies – Discussion Questions.
* Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods (General Non-Fiction, 1998)
Memoir about the complicated friendship of two middle-aged men hiking the Appalachian Trail.
- Bill Bryson – Publisher’s website.
- A Walk in the Woods (book), 1998 book by Bill Bryson – Wikipedia.
- A Walk in the Woods (film), 2015 film by Ken Kwapis, based on Bryson’s book – Wikipedia.
- Resources (websites, interviews, videos, audio, images), about the Appalachian Trail, Bill Bryson, this book, and more.
- A Walk in the Woods – Discussion Questions.
* Bernardine Evaristo, Girl, Woman, Other (🌈LGBTQ+ and General Fiction, 2019)
Intersecting lives of a dozen diverse British women of color, of all orientations.
- Bernardine Evaristo – Wikipedia.
- Bernardine Evaristo’s personal website.
- Bernardine Evaristo: The Waterstones Interview (video) from October 17, 2019, after winning the Booker Prize (she refers to her novel as “fusion fiction”). NOTE: For more interviews, search on: Bernardine Evaristo videos.
- Evaristo’s acclaimed memoir, Manifesto: On Never Giving Up (UK publication 2021), is now available in the US.
- Girl, Woman, Other – Wikipedia.
- Girl, Woman, Other – detailed synopsis – BookRags.
- Character Map for the novel’s many interconnected relationships by Mona Chalabi, and applauded by Evaristo on Twitter.
- Character list with brief descriptions, discussion topics, and additional resources – marmaladeandmustardseed.com.
- Girl, Woman, Other – many readers’ comments – Goodreads.
- Girl, Woman, Other review – The Guardian.
- Girl, Woman, Other review – NPR.
- Girl, Woman, Other (citation from the Booker Prize) – also, the Booker Prize site offers many readers’ guides for the dozens of titles. they’ve nominated since 2010, including Girl, Woman, Other guide.
- Bernardine Evaristo film and television credits – IMDb.
- Girl, Woman, Other – discussion questions – Review and Book Club Questions.
- Girl, Woman, Other – discussion questions – BookBrowse.
* Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl (General Fiction)
Brilliantly twisty thriller about marriage, and murder.
- Gillian Flynn’s website.
- Gone Girl (novel), a 2012 thriller novel by American writer Gillian Flynn – Wikipedia.
- Gone Girl (film), a 2014 film based on the novel, from director David Fincher – Wikipedia.
- Thriller Genre – Wikipedia.
- Gillian Flynn film and television credits – IMDb.
- Gone Girl – Reading Group Discussion Questions.
* E.M. Forster, Maurice (🌈LGBTQ+ Novel, 1913 but not published until 1971 because of its gay theme)
A young man challenges social, and personal, prejudice to find love. [British name Maurice is pronounced MORR iss]
- E.M. Forster – Wikipedia.
- BIOGRAPHY: A Great Unrecorded History: A New Life of E. M. Forster, by Wendy Moffat (2010). (Thanks, Susan!)
- VIDEO. E.M. Forster talks about writing – BBC interview, 1958.
- more resources forthcoming.
- Maurice – Wikipedia.
- Maurice is on my Top Ten LGBTQ+ Books list.
- more resources forthcoming.
- FREE E.M. Forster books (public domain titles) at Project Gutenberg, including A Room with a View and Howards End.
- Gay literature overview – Wikipedia.
- Overview of Gay Male Literature (2,950 BCE to the 1990s) – at this website.
- more resources forthcoming.
- Discussion questions for Maurice – BookRags.
- MORE RESOURCES FORTHCOMING.
* Yaa Gyasi, Homegoing (General Fiction)
Novel about eight generations of a Black family, from slavery until today; includes a poignant LGBTQ+ male-male relationship in the early chapter “Quey.”
- Yaa Gyasi – Wikipedia.
- Wikipedia (includes a summary, a genealogy map: the story spans eight generations, and more resources) – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homegoing_(Gyasi_novel)
- Brief Summary plus a Detailed Summary, Themes, Characters, more (LitCharts) – https://www.litcharts.com/lit/homegoing
- Publisher’s website – https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/533857/homegoing-by-yaa-gyasi/9781101947135/
- Goodreads (includes readers’ reviews) – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27071490-homegoing
- Review (notes that “Homegoing’s title comes from an old African-American belief that death allowed an enslaved person’s spirit to travel back to Africa) – https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/05/30/yaa-gyasis-homegoing
- Review (NPR) – https://www.npr.org/2016/06/07/480477931/homegoing-is-a-sprawling-epic-brimming-with-compassion
- Slavery in Africa – Wikipedia.
- Slavery in the United States – Wikipedia.
- Homegoing Reader’s Guide with Discussion Questions – https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/533857/homegoing-by-yaa-gyasi/9781101947135/readers-guide/
- Homegoing Book Guide, with discussion questions and additional resources. https://www.marmaladeandmustardseed.com/bookguidesblog/homegoing
* Patricia Highsmith, The Talented Mr. Ripley (🌈LGBTQ+ Novel)
Thriller about an irresistible sociopath with many talents.
- Patricia Highsmith – Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patricia_Highsmith
- BIOGRAPHY: The Talented Miss Highsmith: The Secret Life and Serious Art of Patricia Highsmith, by Joan Schenkar. Winner of the 2010 Lambda Literary Award. From Amazon: “Patricia Highsmith, one of the great writers of twentieth-century American fiction, had a life as darkly compelling as that of her favorite ‘hero-criminal,’ the talented Tom Ripley. Joan Schenkar maps out this richly bizarre life from her birth in Texas to Hitchcock’s filming of her first novel, Strangers on a Train, to her long, strange self-exile in Europe. We see her as a secret writer for the comics [including Marvel], a brilliant creator of disturbing fictions, and an erotic predator with dozens of women (and a few good men) on her love list. The Talented Miss Highsmith is the first literary biography with access to Highsmith’s whole story: her closest friends, her oeuvre, her archives. It’s a compulsive page-turner unlike any other, a book worthy of Highsmith herself.”
- Patricia Highsmith: Her Diaries and Notebooks 1941-1995, edited by Anna von Planta – published 2021.
- The Talented Mr. Ripley – Wikipedia.
- Tom Ripley character across five novels, 1955 to 1991, and several adaptations for film, television, and radio – Wikipedia
- Psychopathy / Sociopathy – Wikipedia
- NOTE: Regarding another classic Highsmith thriller – Strangers on a Train (Alfred Hitchcock, 1951) shot-by-shot analysis of a sequence, including a comparison with Patricia Highsmith’s original novel and the screenplay by Raymond Chandler and Czenzi Ormonde. (This page brings together my love for both literature and film.)
- Tom Ripley character across five novels, 1955 to 1991, and several adaptations for film, television, and radio – Wikipedia
- In-depth article on the novel and 1999 film, by Haley Mlotek in The Ringer, December 23, 2019.
- Psychopathy / Sociopathy – Wikipedia
- Patricia Highsmith – IMDb.
- Trailers for the three film versions of The Talented Mr. Ripley:
- Purple Noon (1960, directed by René Clément, starring Alain Delon) – trailer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWnvLNTzt-k
- The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999, directed by Anthony Minghella, starring Matt Damon) – trailer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4e-Si4oGEw
- Naan (“Criminal”) (2012 – Indian Tamil-language adaptation, directed by Jeeva Shankar) – trailer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcuqzxS-0VM
- Now in production (Added August 19, 2021), a new series entitled Ripley, from Showtime. The first season, of eight episodes, is written and directed by Steven Zaillian (Schindler’s List), and starring Andrew Scott in the title role.
- Video interview with Highsmith (20 minutes) from May 18, 1978, Thames TV.
- LGBTQ+ Genre Literature [at this site] – there is a long, fascinating tradition of LGBTQ+ Suspense/Mystery fiction, as well as in other major genres: Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror.
- Discussion questions for the novel – GradeSaver.
- Discussion questions (for the 1999 film; some also apply to the novel) – GradeSaver.
* Alan Hollinghurst, The Sparsholt Affair (🌈LGBTQ+ Novel)
Britain’s evolving LGBTQ+ attitudes from the 1940s to today, through the story of a gay father and son.
- Alan Hollinghurst – Wikipedia.
- Alan Hollinghurst – British Council | Literature
- The Sparsholt Affair, including summary – Wikipedia.
- The Sparsholt Affair, review and named “Book of the Day” by Alex Preston, from The Guardian, September 25, 2017.
- The Sparsholt Affair, review by James Lasdun, from The Guardian, October 5, 2017.
- The Sparsholt Affair, review by Heller McAlpin, from NPR, March 17, 2018.
- The Sparsholt Affair, interview with Hollinghurst by Christopher Bollen, from Interview Magazine, March 9, 2018.
- The Sparsholt Affair, readers’ comments from Goodreads.
- Video (58 mins.) of Alan Hollinghurst discussing The Sparsholt Affair, Shakespeare and Company Bookshop (Paris), November 7, 2017. (This incarnation of Shakespeare and Company, an international literary hub in the early 20th century, is reopened from lesbian savant Sylvia Beach’s original bookstore of the same name, where she debuted James Joyce’s Ulysses in 1922, among many other modernist works.)
- Video (54 mins.) of Alan Hollinghurst discussing The Sparsholt Affair, at Politics and Prose bookstore (Washington DC), March 28, 2018.
- Gay Literature – Wikipedia.
- The Sparsholt Affair, discussion questions – from the publisher.
* bell hooks, Ain’t I a Woman?: Black Women and Feminism (🌈LGBTQ+ Non-Fiction)
Explores connections between race, gender, and socioeconomics; hooks was a pioneer of intersectionality. (bell hooks, born Gloria Jean Watkins, took her pen name in honor of her maternal great-grandmother, Bell Blair Hooks; hooks used an all-lowercase spelling to focus attention on her ideas rather than her individual self.) A key quote from hooks is: “I need feminism to give me a foundation of equality and justice to stand on.”
- bell hooks – Wikipedia.
- bell hooks obituary, by Margaret Busby, The Guardian, December 17, 2021 – overview of her life and achievements.
- Here’s what bell hooks’ friends and colleagues want you to remember about her, by Jireh Deng, NPR, December 29, 2021.
- Video (27 mins.) bell hooks interviewed by John Seigenthaler, from his video series A Word on Words, 1999.
- Video (59 mins.) bell hooks interviewed at the University of Washington, spring 2005.
- VIdeo (28 mins.) bell hooks interviewed by Renee Shaw, from the KET/PBS series Connections (Season 4 Episode 1), 2008.
- Video (28 mins.) bell hooks interviewed on Freedom Forum (Season 3, Episode 25), March 29, 2016,
- Ain’t I a Woman?: Black Women and Feminism – Wikipedia.
- Book Review: Ain’t I A Woman: Black Women & Feminism, by Ahsas Sood, Feminism in India, September 22, 2021.
- *BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO hooks* The Essential bell hooks, by Stephanie Newman, from Writing on Glass, ca. 2016. Two sections are: “What are key tenets of feminism, according to bell hooks?” and “How do I apply bell hooks’ feminism in my everyday life?”
- Remembering bell hooks in Her Own Words, by Lisa Jervis, B*tch HQ, Winter 2000 print issue (posted December 15, 2021). hooks talks about her bisexuality, her vision for feminism, and more.
- The Best of bell hooks: Life, Writings, Quotes, and Books, by Lion’s Roar Staff, December 15, 2021. Includes how hooks combined Christianity, Buddhism and feminism.
- Where to Begin With bell hooks Books, by Brandie DeRusha, Book Riot, July 17, 2019.
- bell hooks quotes (illustrated) – bellhooksbooks.com
- bell hooks – Goodreads.
- hooks on feminism: Feminism Is for Everybody: Passionate Politics (2000), by bell hooks (from the publisher): “hooks offers an open-hearted and welcoming vision of gender, sexuality, and society… hooks introduces a popular theory of feminism rooted in common sense and the wisdom of experience… that appeals to all those committed to equality, mutual respect, and justice. hooks applies her critical analysis to the most contentious and challenging issues facing feminists today, including reproductive rights, violence, race, class, and work… hooks calls for a feminism free from barriers but rich with rigorous debate… hooks encourages us to demand alternatives to patriarchal, racist, and homophobic culture, and to imagine a different future.”
- hooks on men: The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love (2003), by bell hooks (from the publisher): “Everyone needs to love and be loved – even men. But to know love, men must be able to look at the ways that patriarchal culture keeps them from knowing themselves, from being in touch with their feelings, from loving… hooks… shows men how to express the emotions that are a fundamental part of who they are – whatever their age, marital status, ethnicity, or sexual orientation… hooks addresses the most common concerns of men, such as fear of intimacy and loss of their patriarchal place in society, in new and challenging ways. She believes men can find the way to spiritual unity by getting back in touch with the emotionally open parts of themselves… that have historically been the exclusive province of women.”
- Poetry by bell hooks, with an introduction – Poetry Foundation.
- The bell hooks Center, at Berea College.
- Sapphire Unbound: The Radical Imagination of bell hooks, by Sikivu Hutchinson, The Humanist, January 12, 2022.
- Reading Your bell hooks: Alone, together, or in community, this Black feminist icon always insisted on reading as a transformative act, by Judy Pryor-Ramirez, publicseminar.org, February 16, 2022.
- Explained: bell hooks, the author and activist behind the name, by Benita Fernando, The Indian Express, December 17, 2021.
- *SOJOURNER TRUTH* Compare hooks’s title with “Ain’t I a Woman?,” the extemporaneous 1851 (alternate version 1863) speech by Sojourner Truth, visionary Black abolitionist and women’s rights activist.
- Feminism – Wikipedia.
- Words of Fire: An Anthology of African-American Feminist Thought, edited by Beverly Guy-Sheftall (Professor of Women’s Studies and English at Spelman College), selections from the 1830s to present times, including bell hooks, Audre Lorde, Pauli Murray, many more – Google Books (displays 125 pages of 577 total, by permission of publisher The New Press).
- Feminist Theory online course (from 2014), at Canvas – Week 7: Race and Feminism, focuses on bell hooks.
- Extending bell hooks’ Feminist Theory (NOTE: downloads as PDF), by Hazel T. Biana, from Journal of International Women’s Studies, 2020. From Prof. Biana’s abstract: “bell hooks questioned the existing feminist discourses during her time by pointing out the lack of a solid definition of feminism and the predominance of white, privileged feminists in the movement… [hooks invited] a revolutionary feminist outlook, which uses a pluralistic lens to recognize the absence of oppressed groups and the interrogation of cultural representations. Even before ‘intersectionality’ became a buzzword…, hooks had already been talking about the interlocking webs of oppression… [For] hooks’ feminist theory, I propose three main points: the emphasis on the crossing of borders, feminist solidarity and global transgression.”
- bell hooks film and television connections – IMDb.
- Information only about VIDEO. 1995 documentary, Black Is… Black Ain’t (Wikipedia article) – bell hooks appears in this classic, feature-length documentary, about the diversity of African-American experience, by Black gay filmmaker Marlon Riggs. (NOTE: To get this video, check availability on your streaming service, request from your library, rent or buy from any source.)
- Discussion questions for Black Is… Black Ain’t (see above), featuring bell hooks, can also be applied to Ain’t I a Woman? – California Newsreel.
- Discussion questions for bell hooks (NOTE: includes extended quotations from hooks but page numbers do not refer to our book edition), from 2014 online course Feminist Theory, at Canvas.
* Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth (General Fiction)
Children’s fantasy adventure novel; illustrated by Jules Feiffer.
- Norton Juster – Wikipedia.
- Interview article with Juster, March 12, 2001, from Salon.com.
- Video of Juster, from Reading Rockets, YouTube dated April 23, 2014.
- The Phantom Tollbooth – Wikipedia.
- FREE ONLINE: The Phantom Tollbooth, complete text with the original illustrations (link found at Wikipedia).
- Resources for The Phantom Tollbooth, including overview, summary, characters, themes – GradeSaver.
- “Broken Kingdom: Fifty Years of The Phantom Tollbooth” by Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, October 10, 2011.
- Children’s literature – Wikipedia.
- Discussion questions for The Phantom Tollbooth – SparkNotes (with introduction, summary, characters, main ideas, more).
- Discussion questions for The Phantom Tollbooth – Wednesday Book Club.
- Discussion questions for The Phantom Tollbooth – All Sci. Fi.
* Christina Baker Kline, A Piece of the World (General Fiction)
Novel about the secluded, but emotionally eventful, life of the woman who inspired Andrew Wyeth’s iconic 1948 painting, “Christina’s World.”
- Christina Baker Kline – Wikipedia.
- Author’s website.
- A Piece of the World summary – BookRags.
- A Piece of the World summary in chronological order (the novel is somewhat nonlinear) – SuperSummary.
- Andrew Wyeth – Wikipedia.
- Wyeth’s painting “Christina’s World” – Wikipedia.
- Large reproduction of the painting “Christina’s World” (1948) – with notes, from the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).
- Article “The Pilgrims Who Visit the House in Andrew Wyeth’s “Christina’s World” by Shannon Mullen, The New Yorker – May 8, 2019 (may now be paywall).
- NOTE: Kline includes a wealth of resources in the afterward to her novel, including the books, articles, videos, and more that she used as research, along with her comments.
- Discussion questions – Author’s website.
- Discussion questions. – LitLovers.
- Discussion questions – BookBub.
* Larry Kramer, provocative gay author and activist (🌈LGBTQ+)
- Larry Kramer – Wikipedia.
- Larry Kramer Papers – at Yale University’s Beineke Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
- Obituary and brief profile of Kramer, “Larry Kramer, Pioneering AIDS Activist And Writer, Dies At 84” (both 4-min. audio and transcript) from NPR / All Things Considered, May 27, 2020.
- Obituary and profile, “The Benevolent Rage of Larry Kramer” by Michael Specter, from The New Yorker, May 28, 2020 (may now be paywall).
- Obituary, by Ryan Gilbey, from The Guardian, May 28, 2020.
- Yale LGBTS Mourns the Death of Larry Kramer, June 1, 2020.
- Video profile and interview (9 mins.) of Larry Kramer, on his birthday, CBS Sunday Morning, ca. June 25, 2006 (mentions “Kramer turned 71 today”).
- “On Loving and Losing Larry Kramer: An Interview With His Husband, David Webster,” by Tim Murphy, Contributing Editor, TheBody (the HIV/AIDS Resource), June 5, 2020.
- VIDEO. Fire Island is an important locale in Kramer’s work. The hour-long YouTube video, “Fire Island Pines & Cherry Grove Boardwalks” (that doesn’t reference Kramer), is a real-time walking tour, posted on December 23, 2015.
- Larry Kramer film and television credits – IMDb.
* Matthew Lopez, The Inheritance (🌈LGBTQ+ Play)
The experiences of contemporary NYC gay men in an epic two-part play that reimagines Howards End, exploring themes of resilience, class divisions, and the meaning of home.
– MATTHEW LOPEZ
- Matthew Lopez – Wikipedia.
– THE INHERITANCE
- The Inheritance – Wikipedia.
- In-depth article on Matthew Lopez and The Inheritance – The New Yorker, September 9, 2019 (may now be paywall).
- Official theatrical trailer for The Inheritance.
- Critical review (the play “will (and should!) invite vigorous debate…” – this critique includes many ‘plot spoilers’) – Slate, December 12, 2019.
The Inheritance – London (2018)
- London production review (provocative, discusses characters, themes, formal elements) – Variety (play reviewed on date of its opening), March 28, 2018.
- London production photos – The Guardian, March 19, 2018.
The Inheritance – Broadway (2019)
- Profile of Matthew Lopez, Interview Magazine, November 14, 2019.
- Interview with Matthew Lopez – Entertainment Weekly, November 18, 2019.
- Broadway production photos.
- Video Interview with Matthew Lopez. – Broadway.com, September 10, 2019.
- Video Interview with Broadway cast of The Inheritance – Broadway.com, November 16, 2019.
Videos of two key scenes in The Inheritance, from the Broadway production, plus a commemoration for World AIDS Day 2020
- End of Part 1 on YouTube (5 minutes – example of ‘Page to Stage’, notice how Stephen Daldry’s direction informs the text, using Leonardo’s “The Last Supper” in the staging, along with the evocative musical underscoring).
- Henry and Eric connect (4 minutes).
- The Walter Project – Matthew Lopez & The AIDS Memorial (15 minutes): “to commemorate World AIDS Day, we have taken Walter’s speech at the end of Act 1, divided it into 33 sections, and asked friends, colleagues, and acquaintances to record themselves delivering a short section… In this year of loss , it is vitally important to continue the tradition of remembrance that began with the unveiling of the Quilt back in 1987….”
*COMPARISON* Howards End
Along with Matthew Lopez’s The Inheritance, some people might also like to explore its inspiration, one of the most acclaimed, and beloved, novels in English literature, Howards End by E.M. Forster.
– HOWARDS END: E.M. Forster’s 1910 Novel, James Ivory’s 1992 Film, and Hettie Macdonald’s 2017 Mini-Series – the Forster masterpiece inspired Matthew Lopez to reimagine it in contemporary terms
- E.M. Forster’s Howards End (1910) (public domain) – FREE in every format: ePub, Kindle, more – or read directly online.
- FREE complete audiobook of Howards End, from Librivox (over 15,000 free public domain audiobooks, listen online or download). Librivox offers three different complete Howards End audiobooks; I prefer this version, read by Elizabeth Klett.
- Rooks Nest House (also known as “Howards” and “Rooksnest”) – Wikipedia (In Hertfordshire, Forster grew up there, living with his widowed mother; Rooks Nest’s has a fascinating history in it own right as detailed at Wikipedia – it was the model for the title location of Howards End; article includes photos).
- Howards End (1910 novel) – Wikipedia (includes plot summary).
- Howards End (novel) – SparkNotes – summary, characters, main ideas, more.
- Howards End (1992 film, directed by James Ivory) – Wikipedia.
- Howards End (2017 four-part miniseries (four hours)), adapted by Kenneth Lonergan & directed by Hettie Macdonald.
* Audre Lorde, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name (🌈LGBTQ+ Autobiographical Novel)
Powerful “biomythography” (memoir) of growing up in 1950s Harlem and becoming, in her own words, a “Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet.”
- Audre Lorde. – Wikipedia.
- Zami: A New Spelling of My Name – Wikipedia.
- Zami is on my Top Ten LGBTQ+ Books list.
- Words of Fire: An Anthology of African-American Feminist Thought, edited by Beverly Guy-Sheftall – Google Books (displays 125 pages of 577 total).
- Audre Lorde – selected poems (Poetry Foundation).
- Audre Lorde film and television credits – IMDb.
- Zami: A New Spelling of My Name – Discussion Questions.
* Emily St. John Mandel, The Glass Hotel (General Fiction)
Experimental thriller about two siblings trapped in a pyramid scheme.
- Emily St. John Mandel’s website.
- The Glass Hotel – Wikipedia.
- Thriller Genre – Wikipedia.
- The Glass Hotel Reader’s Guide.
- Thanks, Beverly!
* Paul Monette, Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story (🌈LGBTQ+ Non-Fiction)
Memoir that explores coming out in the 1960s at Yale, and beyond.
- Paul Monette – Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Monette
- Becoming a Man – Summary at BookRags.
- Becoming a Man – Summary at eNotes.
- Becoming a Man is on my Top Ten LGBTQ+ Books list.
- Two poems by Paul Monette – Poetry Foundation.
- Paul Monette’s film and television credits – IMDb.
- Paul Monette – Yale AIDS Memorial Project.
- VIDEO: Monette interviewed by Charlie Rose (17 minutes), May 25, 1994.
- Becoming a Man – FREE EXCERPT ONLY of Topics for Discussion at BookRags (Additional materials are behind a paywall).
* Cherríe Moraga, Native Country of the Heart, a Memoir (🌈LGBTQ+ Non-Fiction)
The relationship of a lesbian Latina author/activist and her mother who has Alzheimer’s.
- Cherríe Moraga’s site – books, theater, teaching, people, places and política.
- Cherríe Moraga – Wikipedia.
- From Cherríe Moraga’s Publisher
- Voices of Feminism Oral History Project (Smith College, Sophia Smith Collection of Women’s History) – Interview with Cherríe Moraga, June 6 and 7, 2005 – download PDF. https://tinyurl.com/moragainterview
- Yale University’s Brudner Prize – “The James Robert Brudner ’83 Prize, established in 2000, is awarded annually to an accomplished scholar, artist, or activist whose work has made significant contributions to LGBT studies and LGBT communities” – Cherríe Moraga won this award in 2013.
- Three Questions for Cherríe Moraga Regarding Her Memoir, “Native Country of the Heart” by Daniel A. Olivas, Los Angeles Review of Books, July 23, 2021.
* Pauli Murray, Song in a Weary Throat: Memoir of an American Pilgrimage (🌈LGBTQ+ Non-Fiction)
Autobiography of the trailblazing Black nonbinary civil rights and gender equality activist, lawyer, poet, priest.
THANK YOU! to Mary Anne, for sharing many Pauli Murray resources, added on December 19, 2021.
- Pauli Murray – Wikipedia.
- BIOGRAPHIES: Two well-reviewed recent biographies of Pauli Murray are: Jane Crow: The Life of Pauli Murray, by Rosalind Rosenberg (2017); and Pauli Murray: A Personal and Political Life, by Troy R. Saxby (2020).
- Timeline for Pauli Murray and her family (NOTE: downloads as a PDF). You can also directly view this timeline online as a series of scrolling slides in a frame (entitled “A life of reflection and action”) near the top of the page, from this Duke University exhibition.
- Title comes from Pauli Murray’s poem, “Dark Testament: Verse 8” (full text at bottom of this linked page) (“Hope is a song in a weary throat…”).
- Review of Song in a Weary Throat, “Fighting Jane Crow,” by Paula Giddings, The Nation, May 23, 1987.
- My Name is Pauli Murray (2021), documentary directed by Julie Cohen & Betsy West – IMDb. NOTE: this film is currently (January 2022) only available for streaming on Amazon Prime (that produced it) – you can get a free one-month trial of Prime, but cancel within 30 days to avoid being charged for subsequent months.
- Trailer for My Name is Pauli Murray.
- Wikipedia entry for this documentary.
- Q&A WITH THE FILMMAKERS. VIDEO (21 minutes). My Name is Pauli Murray Q&A | AFI DOCS, a conversation with My Name is Pauli Murray directors Julie Cohen and Betsy West and producer Talleah Bridges McMahon, moderated by AFI Festivals Programmer Malin Kan (includes insights into the vast scope of Pauli Murray’s papers, housed at Radcliffe), American Film Institute (AFI), June 28, 2021.
- VIDEO (4 mins.). RBG Wanted People To Know More About One Of Her Legal Heroes, TIME, October 19, 2020. (Thanks, Mary Anne!)
- “The Many Lives of Pauli Murray. She was an architect of the civil-rights struggle—and the women’s movement. Why haven’t you heard of her?,” in-depth essay by Kathryn Schulz, The New Yorker, April 10, 2017.
- Pauli Murray’s Indelible Mark on the Fight for Equal Rights by Philippa Strum, ACLU, June 24, 2020. (Thanks, Mary Anne!)
- VIDEO (1 hour and 13 mins.). Rediscovering Pauli Murray: Panel Discussion – Radcliffe Institute. MODERATOR: Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Victor S. Thomas Professor of History and of African and African American Studies, Harvard University PANELISTS: Patricia Bell-Scott (8:30), professor emerita of women’s studies and human development, University of Georgia; Brittney Cooper (18:20), assistant professor of women’s and gender studies, Rutgers University; Rosalind Rosenberg (28:46), professor emerita of history, Barnard College; Kenneth W. Mack (39:11)—Lawrence D. Biele Professor of Law, Harvard Law School; and 2016–2017 Frances B. Cashin Fellow, Radcliffe Institute—offers a brief response to the presentations. (Thanks, Mary Anne!)
- VIDEO (1 hour and 20 mins.) ‘Song in a Weary Throat’: Pauli Murray’s Life and Legacy – March 7, 2018 • A conversation featuring Rosalind Rosenberg, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, and Sangodare (Julia Roxanne Wallace). Moderated by Monica L. Miller, YouTube March 7, 2018. (Thanks, Mary Anne!)
- The Pioneering Pauli Murray: Lawyer, Activist, Scholar and Priest, National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Smithsonian, Washington, DC.
- Pauli Murray: Imp, Crusader, Dude, Priest, exhibition created by the Pauli Murray Project in 2015 in her honor, from Duke University.
- Pauli Murray’s Proud Shoes: A Classic in African American Genealogy explores Murray’s family history. This Smithsonian exhibit hosted by the National Museum of African American History & Culture includes a VIDEO link on its main page to the 1985 interview of her by Charles Kuralt.
- Pauli Murray Center for History and Social Justice. Located in Durham, North Carolina, anchored by Pauli Murray’s childhood home built by her grandparents in 1898. The Center includes many Pauli Murray resources.
- Pauli Murray and Mary Eastwood, “Jane Crow and the Law: Sex Discrimination and Title VII” – from the Alexander Street series, How and Why Was Feminist Legal Strategy Transformed, 1960-1973?, selected by Serena Mayeri (Binghamton, NY: State University of New York at Binghamton, 2007). (Thanks, Mary Anne!)
- Pauli Murray, “A Proposal to Reexamine the Applicability of the Fourteenth Amendment to State Laws and Practices Which Discriminate on the Basis of Sex Per Se,” 1 December 1962, Box 8, Folder 62, President’s Commission on the Status of Women Records, 1961-1963, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University. 98 pp.
- African American History: From Emancipation to the Present (filmed in Spring 2010) – Prof. Jonathan Holloway. “Examines Black experience in the U.S. from 1863 to 2010. Prominent themes include the end of the Civil War and the beginning of Reconstruction; African Americans’ urbanization experiences; the development of the modern civil rights movement and its aftermath; and the thought and leadership of Booker T. Washington, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, W.E.B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X.” Includes links to complete videos, transcripts, course materials (except for textbooks – see your local library). This is not an interactive course, so you can proceed at your own pace. There are no exams, grades, or course credits.
- U.S. Civil Rights Movement – Wikipedia.
- Words of Fire: An Anthology of African-American Feminist Thought, edited by Beverly Guy-Sheftall (Professor of Women’s Studies and English at Spelman College), selections from the 1830s to present times including bell hooks, Audre Lorde, Pauli Murray, many more – Google Books (displays 125 pages of 577 total, by permission of publisher The New Press).
- Poetry by Pauli Murray, with an introduction – Poetry Foundation.
- Opening seven sections of Pauli Murray’s visionary long poem, Dark Testament, are available in preview mode at Google Books. (Also, the title of Song in a Weary Throat comes from section 8 of Dark Testament – text at bottom of this linked page: “Hope is a song in a weary throat…”). Dark Testament was originally published in the winter 1944-45 issue of Lillian Smith and Paula Snelling’s journal, South Today. The complete text is part of Dark Testament: and Other Poems (retail, 2018).
- Poetry by Pauli Murray – Civil Rights Women Leaders of the Carolinas. Complete list of Pauli Murray’s books of poetry, including three complete works from Dark Testament and Other Poems. (Thanks, Mary Anne!)
- Pauli Murray College at Yale University, New Haven, CT.
- Pauli Murray Discussion Guide (NOTE: downloads as a PDF).
* Chinelo Okparanta, Under the Udala Trees (🌈LGBTQ+ Novel)
A young lesbian comes of age in war-torn 1960s Nigeria.
- Chinelo Okparanta’s site – bio, reviews, news, more.
- Chinelo Okparanta – Wikipedia.
- Under the Udala Trees – Wikipedia, includes summary and links.
- Nigeria – Wikipedia.
- Udala trees (chrysophyllum africanum, commonly known as African star apple) – Wikipedia.
- Under the Udala Trees – discussion guide.
* Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time (aka Remembrance of Things Past) (🌈LGBTQ+ Novel)
Intimate epic of the narrator’s experiences, of memory and desire, in turn of the 20th century French society.
- Proust resources (from a discussion group I organized in NYC) – background, book and film links, plus a recipe for madeleines, the tasty treats that set Proust’s intimate epic in motion (they were a hit at the NYC group!)
* Stephen Sondheim, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, a Musical Thriller (🌈LGBTQ+ Play, 1979)
Sweeney Todd is a landmark musical play about vengeance, justice, love… and meat pies. Of composer-lyricist Sondheim’s many classic musicals, this is the only one that he originated himself (his other works include West Side Story, Gypsy, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Pacific Overtures, Merrily We Roll Along, Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods, Assassins). This musical was adapted from Christopher Bond’s play, with a book (script) by Hugh Wheeler (who also wrote the book for A Little Night Music), and was directed by impresario Harold Prince (The Pajama Game, Damn Yankees, West Side Story, Fiorello!, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Fiddler on the Roof, Cabaret, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Candide (1974), Pacific Overtures, Candide (1974), Evita, Phantom of the Opera, KIss of the Spider Woman).
Because there are many outstanding materials for Stephen Sondheim, and Sweeney Todd, below I’ve HIGHLIGHTED A FEW ESSENTIAL RESOURCES (background, complete album, videos, analyses), from among the two dozen curated links on this page.
- AUTHOR (STEPHEN SONDHEIM)
- Stephen Sondheim – Wikipedia.
- The Stephen Sondheim Society – many resources.
- The Stephen Sondheim Reference Guide, compiled by Michael H. Hutchins – superb! As example, here’s the main entry for Sweeney Todd.
- SONDHEIM’S MEMOIR THROUGH HIS LYRICS (in two volumes): * Look, I Made a Hat: Collected Lyrics (1981-2011) with Attendant Comments, Amplifications, Dogmas, Harangues, Digressions, Anecdotes and Miscellany, and * Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics (1954-1981) with Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes [NOTE: This volume covers Sweeney Todd] – article on both volumes at Wikipedia.
- BIOGRAPHY: Stephen Sondheim: A Life, by Meryle Secrest, review from Publishers Weekly, June 1, 1998 (“Secrest interviewed Sondheim extensively for this full-scale 459-page biography, resulting in a portrait as subtle and sophisticated as its subject”).
- CRITICAL STUDY: On Sondheim: An Opinionated Guide (2015), by Ethan Mordden – exceptional overview of Sondheim’s life and work, by the estimable theater historian and first-rate novelist (I’ve read almost all of his books, and enjoyed every one; Mordden’s papers are in the Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library). As Mordden writes in his preface to On Sondheim: “My intention is to bring the reader closer to Sondheim’s oeuvre, to explore his unique approach to the creation of musicals while trying to position him in relation to developments in Western art, especially in twentieth-century music and theatre. Sondheim is, after all, the man who intellectualized the American musical, much as [decades earlier] Eugene O’Neill intellectualized American drama and William Faulkner intellectualized American fiction, and Sondheim should—where it is relevant—be viewed as much in the broader perspective of the arts as in the more limited survey of the musical per se….”
- “Stephen Sondheim” (NOTE: downloads as a PDF), by Raymond-Jean Frontain, archived from glbtq encyclopedia, 2002. Excellent essay reviews Sondheim’s life, work, and seeming contradictions (“Sondheim’s musicals occupy a paradoxical place in gay culture. A gay creative artist who has never created an explicitly gay character [he] has nevertheless attained gay cult status. [Sondheim, after 2002, did have an openly gay character in his often-revised Road Show – other drafts/versions, from 2003 onward, were entitled Bounce, Wise Guys, or Gold!]. Sondheim is recognized both as the most intelligent, witty, and musically audacious of composers and as a brilliantly ironic lyricist in the tradition of his gay predecessors Lorenz Hart, Noël Coward, and Cole Porter. He incarnates the paradox of a highly intellectualized gay perspective that prizes ambivalence, undercuts traditional American progressivism, and rejects the musical’s historically idealistic view of sex, romance, and the family; but that at the same time eschews camp, deconstructs the diva, and is apparently oblivious to AIDS, the post-Stonewall struggle for civil equality, and other socio-political issues that concern most gay men of his generation…”)
- *GREAT FOR SONDHEIM NEWBIES* – The Top 10 Songs by Stephen Sondheim, by Ben Rimalower, Playbill, September 28, 2013 – each song links to a full performance on YouTube (don’t miss # 1 – Judi Dench’s 1995 performance of “Send in the Clowns” from A Little Night Music).
- BOOK (MUSICAL PLAY ‘SWEENEY TODD’)
- *HIGHLY RECOMMENDED* BRIEF INTRODUCTION Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street: A Musical Thriller – Wikipedia (last section, “External links,” includes subscriber-only paywall sources such as reviews from The New York Times). NOTE: Sweeney Todd opened at the Uris Theatre (now renamed the Gershwin Theatre; with 1,933 seats it is Broadway’s largest venue) on March 1, 1979 and closed on June 29, 1980 after 557 performances and 19 previews.
- *HIGHLY RECOMMENDED* COMPLETE ALBUM Sweeney Todd – complete 1979 Broadway original cast recording (FREE with ads on YouTube (“Licensed to YouTube… on behalf of RCA Victor)” This album includes most of the show, which is over 80 percent music (songs and musical underscoring for dialogue scenes); ideal in connection with the published libretto that includes the full text.
- ORIGINAL BROADWAY PHOTOS. *ORIGINAL 1979 BROADWAY PRODUCTION – DOZENS OF FULL-COLOR PHOTOS* by the legendary Martha Swope (NOTE: downloads as a single PDF) – linked from San Francisco Opera Education.
- *HIGHLY RECOMMENDED* Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street – 1982 video of the original Broadway staging (links to information at IMDb; check availability on your streaming service, or get it from your library, rent or buy), directed by Harold Prince: this video of the national tour version filmed in Los Angeles, is close to the premiere 1979 Broadway production, including many NYC cast members such as star Angela Lansbury, with the original choreography, sets, lighting, costumes, et al. Also, here are links to TWO DOZEN *EXTENDED EXCERPTS* (SHOWING MUCH, BUT NOT ALL, OF THE COMPLETE PRODUCTION – FREE on YouTube), low-quality video and you will miss the continuity of the complete performance but it is FREE to watch. NOTE the “Play All” button in the upper-left area. Includes the very rare TV commercials for the touring theatrical company. Please do NOT evaluate this work based only on these excerpted scenes; read the libretto, listen to the album, and create your own personal Sweeney Todd, complete in the theater of your imagination.
- *VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED* VIDEO: 85-MINUTE DOCUMENTARY FOR THE 1980 ORIGINAL LONDON PRODUCTION (FREE on YouTube* Sweeney Todd: Scenes from the Making of a Musical – London Weekend Television / A South Bank Show Special, produced & directed by Alan Benson, 1980. Fascinating, in-depth, feature-length “behind the scenes” documentary of the original 1980 London production of Sweeney Todd, with candid rehearsal footage of (original Broadway) director Hal Prince directing an exceptional cast – as well as selected scenes from the fully-staged final version; and with Sondheim, at the piano, explaining – engagingly – why he wrote what he did (Sondheim performs an amazing Mrs. Lovett!), plus source playwright Christopher Bond commenting on the changes made to his original non-musical drama.
- Sweeney Todd – Resources from the San Francisco Opera, for teachers, students & audiences.
- Sondheim Notes: Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, by Larry Avis Brown – larryavisbrown.com, 2018. History and analysis of the play, including the creative disagreement between director Prince, who saw the show, with its colossal factory set in the original production [see photo from top of this section – opens in new tab], as a metaphor for the Industrial Revolution that turned “out soulless, defeated, hopeless people,” and Sondheim, who took a psychological approach to the title character, “a man bent on personal revenge, the way we all are in one way or another.”
- *HIGHLY RECOMMENDED* MUSICAL & DRAMATIC ANALYSIS OF THREE SONGS* ANALYSIS for a GENERAL AUDIENCE focusing on three musical numbers (“Prelude / Opening: The Ballad of Sweeney Todd,” “No Place Like London,” and the “Johanna Quartet”) – in the essay “The Unraveling of Sweeney Todd” by Kerry Auer Fergus, February 3, 2018 – From Score to Stage. A clear and brilliant interpretation of how Sondheim brings together his words, music, and theatrical skill.
- EXCLUSIVE TO THIS SITE: Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd: “A Little Priest” – Evolution of an Iconic Musical Number – my comparison of Christopher Bond’s non-musical source play (the brief scene that ends Act One) with Sondheim’s “A Little Priest,” plus an ingenious YouTube video cross-cutting between three different performances of “A Little Priest” (Broadway version, concert, and feature film), with additional resources (photos, musical excerpts), rehearsal footage with Hal Prince directing the 1980 London premiere production, and discussion questions for “A Little Priest.” Includes the relevant texts of Bond’s play and Sondheim’s lyrics.
- *VIDEO: FEATURE FILM* Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (director Tim Burton’s 2007 feature film) – Wikipedia. Check availability on your streaming service, get from your library, rent or buy.
- VIDEO: TRAILER for Tim Burton’s 2007 film of Sweeney Todd.
- History of the character Sweeney Todd – Wikipedia (includes links to public domain source materials such as the original “penny dreadful” serial, The String of Pearls; Or, The Barber of Fleet Street [free online] (1846) by James Malcolm Rymer & Thomas Peckett Prest (who also co-wrote the landmark precursor to Dracula, Varney the Vampyre) – Wikipedia.
- 1936 film (free, complete online), Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, from director George King – Wikipedia entry (I find this movie clunky, but the lead actor has a fabulous – real – name, Tod Slaughter; he played Sweeney over 4,000 times on stage as well as in this film.)
- London’s Fleet Street – Wikipedia. SEE BELOW, at end of this section: MAP OF SWEENEY TODD’S LONDON.
- Meat pies (traditional ingredients, unlike Mrs. Lovett’s) – Wikipedia.
- MELODRAMA, FARCE & HORROR-COMEDY. Sondheim has said that his two favorite genres are melodrama and farce; in Sweeney Todd, he combines them, respectively in the characters of Todd and Mrs. Lovett (and more). I wonder if both melodrama and farce may have a common link: both of those forms push fraught psychological, and socioeconomic, problems to the breaking point, whether that’s expressed through horror or hilarity, or a combination of both; the resulting climactic release can be possibly – hopefully – cathartic. DIRECTLY BELOW are links to 3 articles on melodrama, farce, and horror-comedy.
- Melodrama, includes excerpts from theoretical studies – Oxford Bibliographies.
- Farce – Encyclopedia Britannica.
- Horror-Comedy (“a generic hybrid that deliberately provokes an emotional shift from terror, suspense, or dread to hilarity…”) – Oxford Bibliographies.
- History of Musical Theatre – Wikipedia.
- Musical Theater and Film (Gay Connections – NOTE: downloads as a PDF), by John M. Clum [Duke University], archived from glbtq encyclopedia, 2002) – Provocative overview; or course, much has developed in the past 20 years (“Many within and without gay culture have observed a strong identification on the part of gay men with musical theater. A number of gay writers have seen the musical as a crucial element in their consciousness of their homosexuality…”)
- Hugh Wheeler – Wikipedia. Hugh Callingham Wheeler, 1912-1987, a British novelist, librettist, screenwriter (uncredited on Bob Fosse’s 1972 film, Cabaret), translator and poet; Wheeler wrote the award-winning books (theatrical jargon for ‘scripts’) for Sweeney Todd, based on Christopher Bond‘s 1970 play, as well as Sondheim’s A Little Night Music (1973), and Harold Prince‘s rollicking 1974 revision of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide that featured new lyrics by Sondheim (genius director/producer Prince was behind all of those shows); throughout his life Wheeler also wrote many mystery novels under the pen names of Patrick Quentin, Q. Patrick and Jonathan Stagge, sometimes as part of a team with three other authors.
- Stephen Sondheim Film Connections – IMDb.
- VIDEOS. Many interviews with Sondheim, using the search phrase “sondheim interviews video” – multiple sources.
- *OPERATIC COMPARISON* – Sondheim and Verdi (updated version now on a separate page). This is a brief look at Sondheim’s “Epiphany” in connection with an aria from Verdi’s operatic masterpiece, Otello (1887): Iago’s spellbinding, “Credo in un Dio crudel” (“I believe in a cruel God…”). Includes video, audio, and text links for both the Verdi and Sondheim. (This resource is inspired by Laurie, Mary Anne & Susan!)
- EXCLUSIVE TO THIS SITE: SONDHEIM OPENING NUMBERS. Comparison of selected Sondheim opening numbers, from A Funny Thing… to Sweeney Todd – original Broadway cast albums on YouTube. Also includes YouTube links to videos of selected numbers, including a comparison of Hal Prince’s original Broadway staging and an imaginative 2011 production at Stanford University.
- Sweeney Todd Discussion Questions – BookRags.
- Sweeney Todd Study Guide (45 pages) includes questions (NOTE: downloads as a PDF) – Music Theatre International / Musik und Bühne.
- Sweeney Todd Study Guide (28 pages) with many concise resources, including background articles and questions (NOTE: downloads as a PDF) – a Noise Within (Classic Theatre), Pasadena, California.
- Map of Sweeney Todd’s London (from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, edited by Robert L. Mack (Oxford University Press, copyright 2007).
* Douglas Stuart, Shuggie Bain (🌈LGBTQ+ Novel, 2020)
A young boy grows up with an alcoholic mother in 1980s Glasgow, Scotland.
- Douglas Stuart – Wikipedia.
- Shuggie Bain, including plot summary, awards, more – Wikipedia.
- Shuggie Bain synopsis (free) – BookRags.
- Booker Prize site offers many readers’ guides for the dozens of titles they’ve nominated since 2010, including Shuggie Bain (reading guide downloads as a PDF).
- Shuggie Bain – Goodreads (70,000+ ratings and 9,000+ reviews).
- “Shuggie Bain Makes It Out” by Matthew Schneier, New York Magazine / Vulture, November 9, 2020.
- “‘Shuggie Bain’ Will Lift You Up — And Tear You Up” by Scott Simon, NPR (Heard on Weekend Edition), November 14, 2020 (includes both transcript and 6-minute audio).
- “Shuggie Bain’s tale tells us that the Booker prize has matured” by Alex Clark, The Guardian, November 22, 2020.
- “Douglas Stuart on writing Shuggie Bain,” by John Self, The Irish Times, November 24, 2020.
- “A24, Scott Rudin Productions Option ‘Shuggie Bain’ for TV Adaptation,” by Eli Countryman, Variety, December 3, 2020 (preview of full article that is behind a paywall).
- VIDEO (14 mins.) “Douglas Stuart on his new book Shuggie Bain | 5×15,” YouTube, January 21, 2021.
- VIDEO (1 hour) “Douglas Stuart: The Making of Shuggie Bain,” YouTube, Edinburgh International Book Festival, August 26, 2020.
- VIDEO (1 hour) “Shuggie Bain: A Conversation with Author Douglas Stuart,” YouTube, The National Arts Club, April 7, 2021.
- AUDIO (27 minutes) “Douglas Stuart and fashion for change” by Latoya Bowman. Author Douglas Stuart is also a fashion designer. He tells Nawal Al-Maghafi about how fashion changed his life, taking him from his native Glasgow to New York City. BBC World Service, July 23, 2020.
- Glasgow, Scotland – Wikipedia.
- VIDEO (1 hour) “Walking in Glasgow, Scotland” (real-time walking tour with natural street sounds, no voice over), YouTube, POPtravel, November 26, 2019. NOTE that while this video is contemporary, Shuggie Bain is set among 1980s working class Glaswegians.
- LITERARY CONTEXT: “10 of the Best Books about Class and Poverty” – from InterestingLiterature.com – ten classics of English and American Lit. (Gaskell, Dickens, Hardy, Forster, Lawrence, Orwell, Steinbeck, more), both novels and non-fiction, that deal with themes of class and poverty.
- LITERARY CONTEXT: “Working class literature: reading guide” (dozens of British, American, international titles) – libcom.org.
- Grove Atlantic – publisher’s website offers many resources, including discussion questions. Scroll down to section Reading Group.
* Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (🌈LGBTQ+ Novel, 2019)
Shifting between the Vietnam war and contemporary Hartford, Connecticut, a young gay man comes to terms with his Vietnamese mother and grandmother, and his first love. [surname pronounced like ‘Vong’]
- Ocean Vuong – Wikipedia.
- Ocean Vuong’s website.
- more resources forthcoming.
- On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous – Wikipedia. Includes external links to paywall resources such as the New York Times review.
- On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous plot summary – contains ‘spoilers’ (from free section of BookRags).
- On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous – many awards; excerpts from reviews.
- VIDEO (3 mins). On Inside the Book, Vuong, a multi award-winning poet, introduces his first novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, and shares his hope for those who read it, PenguinRandomHouse, June 4, 2019.
- VIDEO (51 mins.). At NYC’s historic Strand Book Store, Ocean Vuong sits down with award-winning Black lesbian author Jacqueline Woodson to discuss On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, YouTube, Strand Book Store, June 7, 2019. They begin with a wonderful tribute, by putting out a special candle to the visionary Black gay author, saying that they’re “inviting patron saint James Baldwin to join us.”
- VIDEO (7 mins.). Ocean Vuong Wrote His Debut Novel in a Closet [Literally!], Late Night with Seth Meyers, June 13, 2019.
- VIDEO (9 mins.), The Waterstone’s Interview with Vuong, London, July 19, 2019 (“We spoke about language, form, sex and the opioid crisis in America, just some of the themes contained within this book.”).
- VIDEO (1 hour and 29 mins.). Vuong at the Berlin International Literature Festival, September, 2019 (YouTube video posted January 16, 2020). This was one stop on Vuong’s international tour to promote the book’s publication, including its translation into German and many other languages.
- Vietnamese Americans – Wikipedia.
- Vietnam – Wikipedia.
- Opioid Crisis – Wikipedia.
- Gay Literature Overview – Wikipedia.
- Ocean Vuong is also an award-winning poet – Poetry Foundation. Includes an introductory essay on Vuong, resources, and links to several complete poems together with audio files of Vuong reading his works.
- On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous’: A24 Developing A Film Adaptation Of Best-Selling Book, by Ben Pearson, slashfilm.com, December 25, 2020.
- Reader’s Guide and Discussion Questions for On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous – Penguin Random House.
- Discussion Questions for On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous – TBR.
- Discussion Questions for On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous – Ramonaread.
* Andy Weir, The Martian (General Fiction)
Realistic science fiction novel about an astronaut marooned on Mars.
- Andy Weir –Wikipedia.
- The Martian – Wikipedia.
- “Diary Of An AssCan: A Mark Watney Short Story” – a brief (couple of pages) prequel, by Andy Weir himself, to The Martian, about what the main character id just before leaving on his Mars mission.
- The Martian – Shmoop guide – includes resources and discussion questions. (Shmoop is always both informative and laugh out loud funny).
- The Martian – LitLovers guide – Besides a summary and other resources, there’s a podcast with two reviewers discussing both the novel and movie.
- Interview with Andy Weir about The Martian, from the author’s website.
- Readers’ comments on The Martian – Goodreads.
- Mars – Wikipedia.
- WOW! Mars in 4K ultra high definition – WOW! Mars in 4K ultra high definition, actual video of Mars from three of NASA’s Rovers.
- “How scientifically accurate is ‘The Martian’? – Ask W&M’s [the College of William & Mary] budding astrobotanists.” Students recreate the science behind The Martian, and show that it’s accurate.
- Film of The Martian – Wikipedia (2015 film directed by Ridley Scott, who also made Alien, Thelma & Louise, Gladiator).
- Discussion Guide: “Who knew potatoes, duct tape, and ‘70s reruns were the key to space survival?” – From ReadingGroupGuides.
- Discussion questions – from Mount Prospect Public Library, of Illinois.
* Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass (1855 “short” first version) (🌈LGBTQ+ Poetry)
The foundation of modern poetry, its visionary inclusiveness remains inspiring.
- Walt Whitman – Wikipedia.
- Free PDF of the 1855 “short” first version of Leaves of Grass. http://www.rosingsdigitalpublications.com/download.php?file=whitman_walt_leaves_of_grass_1855_ed.pdf
- Commentary on the 1855 edition, from the Walt Whitman Archive.
- History and context for Leaves of Grass – Wikipedia. Whitman spent his life revising this poetic, autobiographical masterpiece; this article summarizes that process and its meanings.
- Provocative article by Mark Edmundson, about Whitman, from the May 2019 issue of The Atlantic [NOTE: This may now be paywall]: “Walt Whitman’s Guide to a Thriving Democracy: America had a mind shaped by its Founders, but the country needed the poet to discover its spirit.” https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/05/walt-whitman-leaves-of-grass-american-democracy/586045/
- Leaves of Grass discussion questions – PenguinRandomHouse.
- Leaves of Grass discussion questions – Poets.org.
- Leaves of Grass discussion questions (free excerpt from GradeSaver).
- Leaves of Grass discussion questions – SparkNotes.
* Virginia Woolf, Orlando (🌈LGBTQ+ Fantasy Novel, 1928)
Adventures of a young English nobleman who lives for centuries, and changes genders.
- Virginia Woolf – Wikipedia.
- AUDIO (8 mins.) The only surviving recording of Virginia Woolf’s voice, from a BBC radio broadcast on April 29, 1937. Her talk, entitled “Craftsmanship,” is about literature and the process of writing; part of the series “Words Fail Me” – includes many photos of Woolf (thanks to Bruce for highlighting this resource.) – YouTube. (Thanks, Bruce!)
- Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain – many resources.
- Orlando – Wikipedia. This fantasy novel’s full, tongue-in-cheek title is Orlando: A Biography.
- AUDIO (3+ hours) ) Orlando (abridged) – read by Tilda Swinton – YouTube.
- Orlando – at Shmoop, that has a funny name and a wry sense of humor but excellent resources, including an introduction, detailed plot summary, characters, themes (identity, society and class, gender, et al.), analysis, quotes, more.
- “Orlando Is the Virginia Woolf Novel We Need Right Now” by Joanna Scutts, Vulture, October 12, 2018 (NOTE: behind a paywall but you can access a limited number of articles for free).
- Orlando is on my Top Ten LGBTQ+ Books list.
- “‘Different sex. Same person’: how Woolf’s Orlando became a trans triumph” by Jeanette Winterson, The Guardian, September 3, 2018. Quotes from the essay by WInterson, an acclaimed contemporary author: “Orlando has sometimes been dismissed as a romp. This is to misread it. Its gender politics were way ahead of their time.” Article also includes an excellent sidebar: “Top 10 landmarks in gay and lesbian literature” by Gregory Woods, May 4, 2016.
- “Waves, particles and pronouns – Virginia Woolf’s ‘Orlando'” by Dr. Rachel Crossland, The Royal Society, June 24, 2020. Woolf and particle physics, for general readers (who aren’t also physicists!).
- Yale Modernism Lab (aka The Modernism Lab) – collaborative research on literary modernism, resources for about 30 key authors, including Virginia Woolf (jump link). Note from Jim (not their website): LGBTQ+ modernists included are, besides Woolf, D.H. Lawrence, Dorothy Richardson, E.M. Forster, Franz Kafka (arguably), Henry James, Katherine Mansfield, Lytton Strachey, Marcel Proust, Oscar Wilde, T.S. Eliot.
- Bloomsbury Group – Wikipedia. This was one of the most influential modern movements, whose key members included Virginia Woolf, E.M. Forster, economist John Maynard Keynes, biographer Lytton Strachey, painters Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, and Woolf’s husband, the essayist and publisher Leonard Woolf
- Orlando (1992), film written and directed by Sally Potter, starring the extraordinary Tilda Swinton (when Orlando switches genders, near the midpoint, they look into a large mirror and say, “Same person. No difference at all. Just a different sex.”) – Wikipedia.
- Virginia Woolf film and television credits – IMDb.
- Vita & Virginia (2019) – Wikipedia – biographical film, from director Chanya Button, about how Vita Sackville-West became Virginia’s muse for Orlando; based on the love letters that they wrote to each other for years. Trailer for the film.
- TO LEARN MORE ABOUT VITA SACKVILLE-WEST, Woolf’s lover and the inspiration for Orlando…
- Vita Sackville-West – Wikipedia.
- Where to start reading Vita Sackville-West – from penguin.co.uk.
- FREE public domain books by Sackville-West at Project Gutenberg, including the one title also highlighted above (‘Where to start reading…”), Heritage (1919).
- Orlando discussion questions – at Shmoop.
- Orlando discussion questions (with “answers”! – NOTE: for many additional questions, at the bottom of the ‘text box’ click on “Questions 11` – 20” PLUS there are many more questions, totaling at least 50, if you keep clicking the ‘more’ links!) – from Course Hero
Begun March 20, 2021 / Updated March 16, 2022